My baby has baggage, and I’m trying to understand it. BabyC carries around a little mesh drawstring bag for most of the day. The bag initially held a little set of finger puppets. A few of these remain, but BabyC has also added a variety of other small objects. Some have been there for months, while other rotate out on a daily basis. Regardless, they must have some meaning to her, because she has a hard time parting with her bag. When we leave the house or she gets ready for bed, we often have to take the time to find a safe place for it, where she knows she can find it when she returns.
Sometimes, BabyC insists on bringing the bag on our walks. I think she likes having a place to stow her little treasures.
I mean, you never know when you’ll run across an interesting rock in a mud puddle. That’s the kind of thing that you’ll want to study closer later. Or hold onto for the memory?
The other night, after BabyC was asleep, I emptied the bag to wash it and remove choking hazards to a safer place, something I have to do periodically. Here are its contents:
The baby rattles I pulled out a couple of weeks ago to pass onto a friend expecting a new baby, but BabyC slipped them into her bag. Perhaps the plastic farms animals carry some memories of her time with O, because they played with them together. The tongue depressor came from last week’s 18-month check-up with her pediatrician. The plastic eggs are the last remnants of her Easter egg hunt booty. The cards were transferred from her beloved wallet. And the seeds and stones were picked up on a rainy afternoon walk.
We grown-ups tend to think of baggage as a negative thing – emotional baggage, usually carrying self-doubt, shame, or fear; or physical baggage, the burden of too many possessions or a cluttered home.
BabyC reminds me of how much good and healthy baggage I carry with me, even as I have moved across states or into a new phase of my life: relationships built of trust and memories shared over time; photo albums; souvenirs from travel; and precious objects holding meaning to me, like my wedding band, a treasure box from my dad, and BabyC’s newborn cap from the hospital. It occurs to me that holding onto baggage is one of the things that makes us human.
I love sorting through BabyC’s baggage after her day is done. It is a little insight into what my 18-month-old finds special and valuable. I like to think that these are not mere objects to her, but that they are full of meaning. Because if this is the case, her wandering through nature or play at home is not aimless, but full of purpose.
What does your child value?