Amblin' Alameda: Everything is relative

Amblin' Alameda: Everything is relative

Morton Chalfy

This past weekend, my sweetie and I drove up to Chico. The trip entailed three hours of driving through mostly rural scenery. The Sacramento River Valley is flat and broad and hot and the road is lined with grove after grove of nut trees. It offers very different scenery and a different vibe from the Bay Area.

So, what would induce us to take this trip? Babies!

My granddaughter and her husband just moved to Chico so he could take a new and more responsible position, and their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter and their two, eight-month-old fraternal twin boys came along. The "brothers" were record-setting babies at birth, comprising together the largest birth weight of the year in Southern California of nearly 19 pounds, and now they're easily double that weight.

They look like two little Buddhas: fat cheeks, fat thighs, fat unused little feet and big, happy smiles. They are very different, one from the other, but very similar as well. All babies - and these are no exceptions - learn the world through their eyes first, but also, equally, through their mouths. They gum everything. Gum it and taste it and react to the tastes instantly and unmistakably. A smushed blueberry brings spasms of joy to their faces, while something bitter brings immediate expressions of distaste.

Hand-eye coordination is still a challenge for the twins, and it is interesting and absorbing to watch them pluck a morsel of food from their plate - say, a chunk of melon - and grasp it in their fist and convey it mouthward. They usually get pretty close with the first attempt and then finally cram it into their maw. They start chewing before the food actually gets into their mouths, but when it does, they go to work with a will.

Their big sister is loving and kind and helpful to her brothers, but also needs her fair share of attention. Since she is lively and intelligent and active and attractive, she gets it. She likes to be read to and will often "read" her books to the brothers. This bodes well for the future.

I must say that it is exhausting to bear witness to the amount of work it takes to care for even one infant. Twins plus a 3-year-old are exhausting to an exponentially higher power. Both parents are constantly dealing with one or another - happily, lovingly, carefully and tiredly. Only young, fit, athletic and intelligent individuals need apply.

And then it was time to head back home. One last kiss, one last hug, one last gentle pinch of those oh-so-fat cheeks, and we were off. We joined the long line of cars heading south toward home and were happy to be held up on that stretch of I-80 through Berkeley, where the roads meet and diverge like strands of spaghetti. Home was within sight, sort of. Home with our own bed, our own pillows, our own food and our own comfort. Home, to the green leafy confines of Alameda. Ahhh.