The night became day. Little sleepy eyes opened begrudgingly. She absentmindedly grabbed at dust dancing in a sunbeam as it pierced through her window landing on her bed. Gail giggled.
“Mommy, I can’t catch the dust.”
”Why would anyone want to play with dust? Come to breakfast. Remember we’re going to see your new cousin today.”
“It must be tomorrow,” Gail giggled again. Mother had told her she could see her newest cousin tomorrow.
She knew what a baby was. After all, she had played with dolls since she was little. But her dolls didn’t really eat or cry or soil their diapers. Mother told her babies didn’t stay where you put them either. That meant they probably didn’t live in toy boxes. Gail had never played with a real baby: not one who was just born.
”Is born the right word, Mommy?”
“Yes, your cousin is newly born.”
Gail knew that a cousin was like a brother or sister who lived with your parent’s brothers and sisters. She dressed without being coaxed, getting more excited as time went by. Soon she and mother were in the car, moving past the houses and other cars and big trucks. She loved big, loud trucks. Her chest rattled when they passed by.
“Is the baby a boy or a girl?”
“A boy. His name is Jacob,” mother said.
“Well, he’ll like the big trucks like I do. But he won’t want to play with dolls,” Gail reasoned. “Can he talk?”
“Not yet! You didn’t talk when you were first born.”
“Are you sure?”
“Very sure,” mother replied patiently, stifling a laugh.
“How does he get what he wants?”
Gail had to think about this for a while. If he couldn’t talk to her, and was too small to play with, what use was he? She made a face as her excitement waned.
“What can I do with him?”
“You can rock him and tickle him,” mother said. “He’ll grab your finger and hold it. If you put your cheek to his mouth he’ll kiss you”
Grab my finger, Gail thought. That sounded OK. She wasn’t sure about kissing, but tickling was fun. That meant he could laugh. Gail giggled behind the hand she slapped over her mouth.
Mother pulled the car into the drive. Gail jumped from the car seat, ran ahead of her mother and pushed through the front door.
“Auntie Bea, where’s my new cousin? I need to see how he works. I need to teach him how to play.” Gail finally took a breath as her aunt caught her!
“He’s on a pallet in the living room waiting to meet you,” Aunt Bea said. “Be careful you don’t scare him.”
Gail walked very slowly up to the pallet, got on her knees and touched Jacob’s hand. He immediately grabbed her offered finger, turned and smiled at her.
“He knows me! Look Mommy, he’s smiling at me. Can I tickle him, Auntie Bea?”
“Yes, but be very careful. His tummy is very soft so touch him gently, like you touch your new puppy,” Auntie Bea said as she sat on the floor beside Gail.
Gail pulled her finger free and lightly touched Jacob’s tummy. It was as soft as a marshmallow. She pulled his shirt up and fluttered all her fingers gently across his bare tummy. He smiled and kicked both legs like he was running in space. She tickled him again and again. His smile began to make noise, a bubbling noise at first that shortly became louder as his mouth opened all the way. Both legs and arms were flaying as fast as they could. His eyes were opened wide. Gail was sure he was laughing, but it didn’t sound like her laugh.
“Auntie Bea, where did Jacob come from?” Gail inquired.
“He is a gift from God, who chose your uncle and me to be Jacob’s parents.”
“Then Jacob must be laughing the way God laughs. I don’t laugh like that,” Gail stated flatly. With sudden awareness she added, “God giggles real good!”
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