“Tara, I hear a baby!” cried the curly-haired toddler sitting on the church lawn. Her neck stretched as she searched a far section of the audience. I turned my head, trying follow her intent gaze to its destination on our left. Then I saw it. I’d seen it earlier, dressed in a unisex-colored onesie and trying to crawl over it’s mother’s knee, then wobbling like a Weebil on a too-small picnic blanket. I had spent a few smiling moments trying to guess if the baby was a boy or a girl, but one thing was clear. The infant was barely old enough to sit up without help, but his or her delighted squeaks were telling on of my stories.
A few short years ago, I was the mother lying on a picnic blanket with an alternately curious and hungry infant. A few years ago, it was my baby who crawled over his mother and brother and father as the sun began to set behind the mountains that provided much of the backdrop for the annual play put on by the Mettawee River Theatre Company. He was the one squeaking with delight as the players in primitive masks emerged from behind the papier mache rocks and giant puppets appeared above them. He was the one who settled into nurse for a few minutes, glancing occasionally back at the scene unfolding in front of him.
It happens at the same time every summer. This tiny company of players and producers bring their puppets and props to this sleepy Vermont village, and on the field in front of the mountains, they bring Euripides and Aristophanes, Shakespeare and the tales of poets long forgotten to life. They touch on serious themes unlikely to entertain small children, but every summer they do even more than that. They enthrall them. They plant seeds of curiosity and creativity because for all the things that were seen and forgotten in my babies’ first years, these were the few moments they would take into the next.
Now their summers are littered with these moments. We’ve found a host of free outdoor productions that introduce our kids to new thoughts and new thoughts about their parents. Tonight, sitting with both my babies (one now bigger than I) in lawn chairs around our picnic basket, I can’t help but smile as I see another seed being planted near by.