Over Easy: Baby crazy in West Lebanon


For the Valley News

Published: 05-23-2024 4:30 PM

Modified: 06-01-2024 1:19 PM

Have I told you about our granddaughter? Yes? Oh, well, let me go on about her anyway.

Since July of last year, Dede and I have been grandparents to Vivian, a former preemie who has blossomed like the flowering trees that are plump and pretty and a credit to West Lebanon.

It goes without saying that “Our Vivi’’ is among the finest specimens of babyhood in this, what many say is the Greatest Nation on Earth. I used to have some doubts, but now that Vivi is here it certainly is. I am not so bold to say she is the world’s No. 1 baby, but she is in the top five.

Science could prove that this ranking is correct, but this is a matter of the heart. Since July of last year, our hearts have swelled, in a good way. We are smitten, delirious, loopy, obsessed, baby crazy. 

I consulted with an esteemed psychiatrist who told me that we have a fever, and the only cure is more Vivi. Shakespeare, if available, would say night fairies have cast an enchantment and we will henceforth wander through the realm with a dreamy visage. If ever the spell weakens even a bit, it returns as soon as we cast our eyes on a new photo or video. “Look at her,’’ one of us coos, and we are done, spent, puddles.

It’s not just us. Of late, basketball hero Caitlin Clark’s people have been reaching out to our granddaughter’s people to cement a deal in which they will legally become best friends. Taylor Swift has also sent out feelers, but Vivi’s representatives have advised her to sit that one out until the course of her celebrated relationship with football star Travis Kelce is more clear. “We don’t want her to be a third wheel,’’ said an influential member of Team Vivi.

This being 2024, both presidential campaigns have reached out as well, but people familiar with Vivi’s thinking say she wants to concentrate on the issues that are most vital to her: eating, sleeping and gumming and waving a little giraffe that is among her many close companions. And vitally, she desires change whenever something needs to be changed.

Nike seeks to use her image and likeness in a new Baby Nike sportswear line, but Vivi will only endorse products she uses and backs wholeheartedly. She is not a shopper. Most of her worldly goods come from adoring fans, starting with parents, grandparents, extended family and others currying favor.

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Much to my surprise, Dartmouth College has asked Vivi to make an early decision and commit to the Class of 2044, but a grandfather — that would be me — is recommending delay. He is still processing the college’s hard line against certain forms of protest, which has jeopardized the college’s chances of receiving a major gift upon my demise should I win a billion-dollar lottery. (Full-tilt grandparents wouldn’t have had those people arrested, by the way. They need a grandma, preferably a knitter, on the board of trustees.)

Since Dede and I are in our early 70s, actuarial tables suggest we’d better attend Vivi’s kindergarten graduation; reaching a college ceremony might be a stretch. But I feel sure she is a toddler genius and all-around prodigy, and will be on a fast-track to her first doctorate. Age 12 might be a good target.

Linguists believe Vivi’s charming babbling is an attempt to invent a new, improved human language, like Esperanto, but others say she’s setting the groundwork for mastery of at least seven major languages, plus multiple dialects. We are thrilled to hear her masterful buh-buh-buh, mah-mah-mah and dah-dah-dah. Exquisite!

I don’t know that we need experts to explain the grandparent-grandchild bond; much of it is self-evident. We get all the joy and less of the grunt work. We are not responsible for their punctuality, grades, manners, selection of prom dress, choice of friends, musical playlist, or finding a first job with insurance. We are allies against bad bosses, feckless friends and meanies of all sorts. Our nagging days are over — we are here to push their plane down the runway until they fly. Metaphorically, of course. Arthritis limits our load capacity.

I discovered an online report about a study that found that the part of the brain associated with empathy activates more strongly in grandmothers. I bet. Synapses probably explode like fireworks, or a fire hose of assurance: oh, oooh, owie, let me kiss that boo-boo. 

I might make too much of Vivi, but that is my constitutional right and supported by numerous U.N. resolutions. Many grandparents are similarly inclined. They know their grandchildren are extraordinary in every way. 

Prove us wrong, world.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.