Do you know those dogs that they bring into schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. for people to touch and pet? I guess this has therapeutic qualities, although I wouldn't understand how. Even clean dogs smell like dog, and then you get dog fur and dander on you ...
This is the daughter of a vet talking.
Anyway, over the course of the last 24 hours I realized that Sebastian has assumed a type of Therapy Baby role.
This weekend was our alma mater's Alumni Weekend and we participated in some of the festivities. Over the course of the evening, I felt as if Sebastian changed more hands than a dollar bill. For example:
That's not even everyone, folks.
Anyway, we weren't at our table with our food and drink for more than a minute before a friend of ours came over and offered to hold Sebastian while we ate. It felt as if every time I got him back in my arms (because this momma goes through baby withdrawal very quickly), he was being reached for by someone else. Luckily they're all people we know and love, and ultimately I am happy to allow it because I want Sebastian to be good with strangers and he really is ... despite some of the faces captured above.
Last night I found it amusing.
However, this morning Jacob and I hit up mass at the small Dominican priory here in our area. It's a very small chapel which usually has standing room only by the time mass begins. We were able to nab two seats in the front and found ourselves sitting next to an elderly couple. We are frequently dropping our stuffed groundhog or rubber ball or whatever else we are usually playing with at the time, and of course people are usually nice enough to pick up the toys and hand them back to us, the parents.
This gentleman next to me, though, did something a bit different. He eagerly picked up our stuffed slobbery groundhog (unofficial mascot of our alma mater just in case you were wondering ...) and instead of giving it to me he held it out for Sebastian. The Reilly child didn't take it at first, so the gentleman continued to hold it out, eagerly waiting for him to take it. What struck me was the gentleman deliberately avoided letting me take the animal from him. It was obvious he wanted to interact with Sebastian.
Sebastian is usually good during mass noise-wise, but he's definitely active, meaning he gets passed back and forth between me and Jacob throughout the entirety of the mass, and gnaws on any and everything he can get his drooly lips on.
During the Sign of Peace, Jacob happened to be holding the wee one, and the man turned to me and with such earnestness said "Peace be with you. You have such a beautiful child" and then kissed my hand with such a humble affection. And if that wasn't moving enough for this momma ...
When it came time for us to kneel, I happened to be holding Sebastian and as I went to sit (since the chapel has no kneelers for the front row where we were and Sebastian was such a wiggle worm that I knew it would be best if I just sat myself down) this elderly gentleman also sat and immediately he leaned over and with such an eager face said to me, "I can hold him so you both can kneel." I looked at Jacob, then back at the stranger. I usually would decline an offer from someone, even someone not a stranger, but I looked at him and responded, "If you'd really like to then of course." He nodded eagerly and whispered, "Yes! Yes!"
I can't tell you how sweet it was to see the joy on that man's face. Whether or not he has grandchildren or children, I don't know. But I knelt next to him as Sebastian sat on his lap and I don't think I've seen such a contented look on a person's face for a very long time. He happily held his hand in such a way to keep Sebastian's present toy (sucking on Dad's watch band) from falling to the ground. He watched Sebastian the entire time with a smile stretched wide across his face.
Next time we stood, his wife turned and got in on the baby love and took Sebastian from her husband's arms and held him for a while. I eventually got our son back, but I also got something else -- although I'm not quite sure what it was. The way that couple was so appreciative for being allowed to hold Sebastian, and their gratitude was so moving.
Maybe I'm taking it for granted having babies in my life. Before I had my own, I was surrounded by friends and family who had children. I don't really know how to wrap up this post, because I haven't come to a conclusion on what I think about the morning's mass exchange, but it was just really beautiful. I can only speculate as to what the baby status is in their life. Maybe it's been forever since they've seen any of their own grandchildren. But all the same, they needed some baby therapy and they got it.
I've still been majorly weirded out by strangers coming up wanting to hold Sebastian (one woman practically taking him out of my arms one time ... no harm done, but I think it was a big cultural difference I experienced), but after this I might think twice before I turn someone away.
Free baby therapy.