I like little kids a lot. Babies? Not so much. They scare me. Becky says that baby spit doesn't burn holes in your skin, but I don't believe it. It's not a surpise, therefore, that the first time I held baby Jessie, she set up a-howlin'. Becky laughed. I handed the baby off and didn't have physical contact with her again for a while.
It wasn't that I didn't think about Jessie; I did. I bought these hand-painted designer pajamas for her during a vacation at Cape May. I also made the usual faces at her and played the normal peekaboo games. I just didn't hold her is all.
The baby grew up, as you can see from the photo at left. She's actually an adult here, sitting in a very large chair.
I notice that somebody--Grandma Gen, probably--made sure Jessie received the obligatory teddy bear.
A note on the back of the picture, written in Becky's distinctive printing, says "This picture is to use in 15 years for blackmail."
Unfortunately, we forgot we had it, so Becky experienced the terror of Jessie's terrible teens without the benefit of this powerful deterrent.
Once Jessie began walking, I could see her for the human being she is, one who squints in the glare of a sunny beach, just like we all do.
The first time I saw Jessie in a self-supported upright position was at Becky's Church Street house. I was bewitched. There, under the kitchen table stood this amazing little person on her own two feet, with her own two hands stuck in the pockets of a pair of miniature blue jeans.
At that moment, Jessie became an individual for me, one whose present and future I would witness. She suddenly became my niece, a little girl who was as close to a child of my own as I was ever going to have.
It was going to be interesting to watch her grow and learn.