My older brother has six children with his wife, three boys and three girls, and although the youngest girl is no longer the baby of that sizable family, we still call her Baby B. My niece indulges us in this, but it is worth noting that she herself is a spiritual adept and has been from a very young age. Really, all of her siblings are wonderful kids, decent and principled and considerate. Children with a lot of siblings learn fairly early on that they have to make elaborate negotiations to get through life, so they develop certain strategies around that.
Baby B. seems curiously interested in the common good. No doubt her personal history plays a role, since Baby B. would have been the youngest of the pack if her brother hadn’t arrived seven years after her. He’s a smiley, bouncy little guy who can charm anyone, but she doesn’t appear to begrudge him the attention. After so many years of having brought up the rear, Baby B. demonstrates a marked concern that no one be left behind. She has a commendable generosity of spirit, although she plainly adores the spotlight. She’s pretty vocal: she sings, she dances, she orates, she writes musical lyrics. She’s also pretty vocally committed to everyone being included in the fun.
My husband and I were reminded of her when we were surrounded by a passel of clamoring children at an Easter egg hunt this spring. Dear family friends of ours have a big celebration each year and kindly host many, many families in their home. Baby B. wasn’t in the group, but we enjoyed pretending she was, because we take such delight in her. There was another little girl her age there – let’s call her Baby G. The youngest of four, she was close to Baby B. in age and conspicuously cute herself.
Once everyone was out in the backyard, Baby G. quickly evidenced a determination not to be denied her fair share of chocolate and spun sugar. She beat the older kids to the scattered eggs and the younger ones, too. No one was safe from her swoop-and-grab. The adults were all impressed by her speed and agility; she effectively lapped the other children. Then, after the hunt was over, she began to solicit the others to see if they had additional eggs they might want to donate to her growing stash.
When persuasion failed, Baby G. was not above pilfering. I actually made her return something she took from my Easter basket.
“Where did you get that?” I asked, pointing to what she was holding in her hand.
Baby G., not missing a beat, said: “I found it.”
“Did you maybe find it my Easter basket?”
“Okay, then, sticky fingers,” I told her. “You have to put it back now.”
In the wake of her departure, some of the adults disapproved of the “sticky fingers” comment, which they considered unduly harsh. Baby G. was the youngest, they explained; I had to understand that she was the baby. She needed sharp elbows. Sure, I replied, but sharp elbows are not sticky fingers.
“If Baby B. were here,” my husband said, “I doubt she’d do the same thing.” Ever since she was an exemplary flower girl at our wedding, my husband has been Baby B.’s number-one fan.
“She might even go the other way,” I told him, “and collect Easter eggs for redistribution, taking from the egg-rich kids to give to the egg-poor.”
Together the two of us continued to spin this thick yarn of Baby B. at the Easter egg hunt. It was entirely fictive and altogether true. The culmination of this vivid, richly detailed story was my husband mock-shouting, in his best Baby B. imitation: “Does everybody have an Easter egg? Do you have an Easter egg? Do you? Attention, everyone! Does everybody have an Easter egg?”
Convinced, I cried, “Yes! That is her to a T.”
So it was at Easter that the first apocryphal tale Baby B. was told and circulated by us, unabashedly. Perhaps the virtue we ascribed her in this hypothetical situation is overstated, yet the two of us continue to testify to it today. Why, this only happened a few months ago – although it didn’t, of course, occur.
Because the spirit of the story is sound, we’ve already added it to the growing body of Baby B. lore, which you should know is also peppered liberally with accurate historical accounts. My personal favorite is set at a Christmas dinner shortly after the two of us were married, when Baby B. encouraged us to adopt a child “in a five or a six,” roughly her age at the time. To further entice us, she promised to be a reliable playmate for her new cousin-to-be, should the question of playdates ever present us some concern.
Every once in a while, without any prompting whatsoever, my husband will turn to me and whisper-yell: “Does everybody have an Easter egg?”
He knows that this will get a laugh out of me, and invariably it does. Then I addend my obligatory disclaimer, for the record. “You know that never happened, right? It’s this story we’ve told.”
My husband just shakes his head, pleased by the memory. “That Baby B.,” he concludes, “she’s too much.”