Mid-sentence in my conversation with Brandon, I remembered something.
"The baby! I forgot about William! Let me go get him!"
Or at least it is if you are an agreeably easy-natured baby like William. Most of the time William watches the circus go by with a bemused expression on his face. 'How did I get stuck here with these crazies?' he seems to say. 'But at least they're pretty nice.' And when he gets fussy, he takes a nap for a couple of hours.
He started smiling a few months ago and hasn't stopped since, smiling at anyone who pays attention to him, waving his little fist and wriggling his whole with joy. Kathleen likes to say that William is the best anti-grouch medication in the world - if you're in a bad mood it won't last more than a minute when you're with William. I think she's right. Every night when we put William to bed Brandon and I stand over his crib, smiling at him and telling each other how cute that baby is. You'd think it would have gotten old by now - after all, we've had five before him - but it seems that it never does.
William hasn't exhibited any precocial behavior - no teething, rolling over, crawling, sitting up, or playing with toys - and is pretty much a chubby agreeable lump that is perfectly happy being held the whole time he is awake (which still isn't much longer than forty-five minutes at a time). Which is good because he gets held by a lot of people. A few weekends ago we were at the pool following an embassy event. William, who had been sleeping through it all in his crib, started fussing. I was in the pool so a friend picked him up. The next time I looked over someone else had him until he had been passed around to pretty much anyone who wasn't swimming at the time. He attended Ladies' Night last month and was past from lady to lady until he had made his way around the entire table.
His siblings all love him, fighting over whose turn it is to bathe him or feed him or dress him or play with him. A few days ago I caught Joseph trying his hardest to figure out how he could rig up some sort of seat arrangement so that Joseph could push William around in their little red play car. The children reported to me that Eleanor has now been kicked out of the kingdom and William crowned the new monarch.
I've always been anxious for my babies to grow up past the stage where they need special treatment - extra naps, early bedtimes, special meals, strollers, cribs - and they can join the rest of the crowd. But William, he can take as much time as he likes growing up. I'll keep the squishy baby around a little longer if I can.