We went to a big, wild party this week. The food was wonderful. The music, I’m afraid, was only mediocre. After overindulging in a certain white substance, a few of the guests got rowdy. There were some brief arguments, but no actual fights broke out. At least the neighbors didn’t call the cops about the noise, which did get a little high at times both inside and outside the house. And one guest missed the whole thing because he was passed out in the bedroom.
Maybe the reason the party didn’t get completely out of hand is that most of the guests were heading home by 8:00—bedtime for some of them. But really, it was a most enjoyable evening. The music was a family rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The substance that encouraged the guests to get silly was sugar in the form of frosted cupcakes. The short-lived arguments were over toys. The inside noise was mostly little kids shouting, laughing, and shrieking. The outside noise came from one of the resident dogs out on the deck who was unhappy about missing the fun. Or maybe she was just unhappy about missing all those cake crumbs on the floor. And the passed-out guest was a toddler who had missed his nap and went soundly to sleep in his car seat on the way to the party.
The guest of honor at this shindig was celebrating her first birthday. She opened her gifts with enthusiasm, much of it focused on the wrapping paper. She dug into her birthday cupcake with both hands and managed to get more of it into her mouth than on her clothes. And she was even gracious enough to interrupt her eating long enough to bestow lovely smiles, enhanced with pink frosting, on her adoring family members armed with cameras (the grandpaparazzi, you might say).
What is it with babies and cameras? At the ripe old age of one, the birthday girl at this party is a seasoned veteran at posing and smiling. But even at a few months old, most babies have learned to stop and smile (if they happen to feel like it, anyway) whenever a parent or grandparent aims a lens in their direction.
I discovered this years ago with my first child. Once, when he was perhaps six months old, I said something to an acquaintance about the way he responded to a camera. “Oh, yes,” she said, “My little poodles do the same thing. Just point a camera at them and they sit right up and pay attention.”
Trying to bring the conversation back to the human species, particularly the especially bright and precocious representative of it that just happened to be my son, I said, “But babies really seem to know when they’re going to get their pictures taken.”
“Oh, they do,” she answered. “You’d almost think they were human.”