It’s official: I’m developing a sixth sense.
I noticed it today for the first time, and it made me happy. It’s still developing, for sure, but it’s there where it wasn’t before. In a way, it’s many senses combined into one. It’s a sense of babies.
It’s a sense of how to react to babies, a sense of when to leave them alone and when to get in their face. It’s a sense of how to sway to make them close their eyes in your arms, and a sense of how to be firm without scaring them.
It’s a sense of when they need to burp, and when they are about to spit a spoonful of vegetables right back out.
It’s a sense of when to push them forward, and when to follow behind them just in case. It’s a sense of when they want to stop playing and just sit in your lap for a while.
It’s a sense of when they are wet, when they are currently wetting, and when it’s just gas.
It’s a sense of how they like each bite of dinner mixed on the feeding spoon, and how to trick them into eating when they don’t want to.
It’s funny how, when you work in an office that is part safe-home, you subconsciously get attuned to the various fluctuations of baby life. You start to sense those fluctuations from the other side of the building, just by picking up on the sounds that cut through the cement walls.
Today there were screams throughout the day, echoing through the office. Most of them were happy screams, with a ranging cadence only possible in early childhood, when screaming just to scream is fun. A few were sad screams, when a time-out imposed by the bo’me wasn’t taken-to kindly.
Like I said, this sixth sense of mine is still developing – and I’m far behind the babies themselves in developing it. They can already read me like a book from a mile away.
Selloane, for instance, has developed an obsession with a new game where she immediately walks up to me whenever I enter the playroom, giggling and grinning from ear to ear. I bend down, put my hands out in front of me, growl and essentially feign derangement, and she runs away screaming. Then we do it again.
But a few times today, when I went into the playroom to ask M’e Mamosa a quick question, Selloane somehow knew I was in work mode. Instead of running up to me grinning, she just walked up and clung to my pant leg nonchalantly, smiling up at me and wondering if the grown-up talk would end soon.
I looked down at her and smiled. Then I crossed my eyes and stuck out my tongue, and she screamed and ran away giggling.
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation The Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity TTL.