Brian Doyle, exceptional father and author, writes about his infant son’s timing for spouting: “He was six months old and fatter than the later Marlon Brando and I peeled his moist stuff off and leaned over to blow raspberries into his capacious belly to make him snicker and up periscope! and fire at will, captain! Good thing I wear spectacles, is all I can say.” (Children & Other Wild Animals, 76) Besides sharing the hilarity of the incident (his wife laughed so hard she had to lie down), he tells his reader as he writes, he wants that moment back again, its utter outrageousness, an infant ad lib that eludes scheming, a flash of uncensored zany, never again repeated.
It used to happen with my son, too, regularly. Never caught directly in the line of fire, I convulsed with giggles and grabbed for anything to blanket the geyser. Thinking back, I know how Doyle feels, wanting the moment, or moments like them, when kids are young and daily life has yet to be scripted, and what will later be called “accidents” are condoned as normal, even endearing, and the wonder that is in the oxygen the infant breathes is shared by all within caring distance, especially we grandparents who meld past with present, the ever-present elixir that thickens our appreciation of the miracle of life.
When my son’s son was born to him and my daughter-in-law from South America, there were more geysers. I was next to his mother when I beheld the first. She looked on and smiled, whispering under her breath, “holy water.” Holy water indeed. As for me, I slipped into that place of marveling at how in mammals, the plasmatic mix of those who come before will be passed in just a fraction of time by these babes in arms to those who come after. Like dropdown menus, such evolutionary thoughts often grace the minds of grans and granddads.