When she holds herself up on arms locked straight and wrinkles her nose at us, he says she looks like a ‘real baby’ now; not a tiny helpless infant.
But when she pulls her knees underneath her and rocks on all fours before scooting backwards and onto her belly again, she looks so small — too small to be rocking on hands and knees.
We put away the baby bathtub last week and bathed her in the real tub and she kicked and splashed and dipped her face into the water, spluttered and blinked and tried again.
She isn’t afraid of anything except sudden loud noises; and then her lip trembles before the tears come.
There isn’t much to be afraid of when you’re six months old, and your biggest problem is that you can’t sleep because every time you’re on your belly you remember that you’re trying to learn how to crawl.
But across the country a baby girl is killed by gunfire while her father changes her diaper in the front seat of a car. She was six months old, too.
And a springtime walk ends with a teenager putting a bullet through a 13-month-old’s head while the injured mother pleads in a robbery attempt that gains him nothing.
And a family vacation leaves a 10-year-old dead and his mother and siblings injured when out of nowhere an airport sign crashes down, crushing them.
This is the problem when you work in news: you cannot turn away from it all. I write of the tragedies here and I read of ones elsewhere and I go home and she laughs because I fake-cough, over and over.
I know her world will not be this easy forever. Someday she will see and hear the things that I see and hear and write. Someday she might experience these things herself.
But today we fake-cough and laugh, over and over, and she tries to eat the coffee-table leg and the rug beneath her and the ferret she sees on other side of the couch.
Today her biggest concern is that she doesn’t want to go to sleep.
And that’s OK with me.