Every so often, I take a trip to Babyworld. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, Babyworld pays me an unexpected visit! (Fear not, I am not referring to this terrifying world of giant kangaroos and bubble babies!)
Koba and his wife Ana have two beautiful children, Elena and Niccolo. Elena just turned five and Niccolo is probably right around one. They’re pretty adorable and fun-loving. Sometimes I’ll see Luka playing in the yard with Elena and the other young children of the apartment block, and other times Tata will come downstairs from visiting Koba’s apartment and she’ll have stolen Niccolo away so that she can play with him. Tata really likes Niccolo. In all fairness, he makes everyone go at least a little baby crazy.
I took this photo while visiting Koba’s apartment one time to give him pictures from the weekend trip to Sighnaghi. When we got there Koba’s mom answered the door and let us in. With no warning, a high pitch shriek emanated from a room just down the hall. Koba crouched down and Elena bounded out of the room into his arm and immediately began climbing all over Koba. Koba laughed delightedly and explained, “She missed me.” I thought that was pretty clear.
Suddenly, Tata and Ana popped out of the bedroom carring Niccolo who was completely wrapped in swaddling clothes. There was some concerned chatter in Georgian as Koba went over to say hi to his son. “Niccolo has a temperature,” I was told as Koba lifted Niccolo from Ana’s arms, inadvertently unwrapping the fevered infant.
I sat down to load the photos to Koba’s computer and everyone wanted to see them, when I had finished. I put them up as a slide show and Niccolo’s whining instantly stopped. His eyes widened as the photos flicked past. I think it might have something to do with his lack of understanding of object permanence. Or maybe he just thought the photos were really awesome. Either way, Niccolo forgot about his sickness and stared, enraptured, at the computer screen, grabbing for it when his parents were visible.
Elena was a little jealous of all the attention that Niccolo and the computer were getting. First she tried to get attention by playing “Iron the blanket” with her pretend ironing set. Part of me was a little mortified that Elena had a Fischer Price iron and ironing board (complete with spritzer!), but the other part of me thought it was cute that she took such obvious pleasure in (ineffectually) ironing a (not-terribly-wrinkly) fleece blanket.
Her second tactic to garner more attention for herself was to climb on the back of the couch and dive onto the cushions behind our backs while kicking her father in the head. Not like accidentally hitting his head on her way down, but more like doing a flying Ninja kick to his temple as she fell. That did get her some more attention.
When I left that night, Tata stayed behind to continue to care for adorable Niccolo and Elena had resumed her ironing. Koba had his photos and Niccolo happily watched the slideshow, fever forgotten.
About a week later, I received a pleasant surprise when I arrived home to my own apartment. Tata answered the door holding Niccolo! She really loves that baby! Sometimes she can be a real tough cookie, but Niccolo transforms her. I dumped my things on my bed and sat down in my chair only to turn around and see Niccolo curiously peering into my room.
Niccolo can’t yet walk unsupported, but he gives it a good try! He can walk across the room with the support of just one adult hand! He did almost fall several times, but he was rescued on each occasion.
My bedroom is like a Mecca for small children (of all denominations, not just small Muslim children). As I once wrote, it is decorated with all manner of Disney pictures and stickers and shelves full of stuffed animals. Niccolo’s already-wide eyes grew larger as he gazed upon the bounty of playthings I had at my disposal. “That lucky bastard!” he was probably thinking. When Tata picked him up so he could more easily look around, he went nuts trying to grab paintings off the walls and lunge at the stuffed animals. Other than the many-pieced boardgame that was knocked off my dresser (not mine! It was already there!), no damage was done. Niccolo led Tata out of the room with a wistful look backwards and Babyworld left once more.
Everyone always tries to get Niccolo to say, “Rali” and wave at me. He recognizes me, I think, but I hope he doesn’t say my name as his first word. That would be really rather unfortunate. Nonetheless, I look forward to my next excursion in Babyworld–it’s always adorable.