Eyes opened early last Friday—considering the day before it’d taken nine hours for a sixty minute flight to Chicago. Still, staring up to a silky Lucy, I couldn’t complain.

“Could you take her?” asked my Little One. “I’m getting ready for work.” It wasn’t meant to be. For whatever reason—perhaps a slight bug—HER baby needed MY baby (who wound up “working from home”).

Not that I didn’t go one-on-one with the bambina. Quality time would come.

“You want to take her for a walk? I heard late morning.

Baby in buggy, destination unknown, we head out. “Make a right at the very first street,” the kid said. She’d swore it was safe, yet focusing east I saw nothing but houses ahead: streets, alleys and houses. Where, I wondered, was the asylum of an air-conditioned Starbucks?

Three blocks we strode—Luce and me. Blissful, azure eyes up, she acted like it was business as usual. Moreover, sun blazing, in an intuitive moment I even thought to pull the hood down a bit. Indeed, we were both on our games!

It only got better. The corner of Byron and Southport was infested with moms strolling infants. Time for the charming grandfather thing.

“I’m not from here,” I offered. “…Visiting my kid. Is there any place to go to get my granddaughter out of the sun?”

They pointed to Lulu Belle’s, a few blocks down. Bypassing the patio, heading inside, as the buggy broke the plane of the door it all seemed familiar.

“I’ve been here before,” I told the server, ordering the “healthy omelette”.
Lucy stared, enjoying the show.
“How do you come to this baby?” asked the waitress politely, (clearly deducing I wasn’t the father).
“I just met her at the playground,” I noted, pointing outside.
(She didn’t laugh right away).

I have confidence with babies. Always have. As such, when they asked me if I’d sit the next night—so they could “have a date”—I was thrilled. Couldn’t wait, in fact, for the parents to leave.

“Don’t order your food until she’s asleep”, urged the mother. (I tried to obey).

A great night was had. Lucy fed, the only challenge, I sensed, would be the window period pre-bedtime. How could I fill it?

She has a favorite song, my Lucy. It’s the thing by Will.i.am from Sesame Street—her mantra. How many times have I watched Rooney calm her playing the upbeat video on a cell phone?

I had no IPhone…but I did have memory. Holed up in a motel last summer, had I not young Max on my lap? …And a clock to run out? With him it was Bert and Ernie; with Luce it was Will.i am.

On my lap she went: Lucy Hannah Bohrer. Or…that’s where she started. The darn sprite just wouldn’t sit still. Destined, she was, to climb the computer. It must be babies: like her cousin before her, she felt compelled to pick keys from the keyboard. It was, to be sure, Hilton Rye Brook revisited.

In any event, we did forty-five minutes of a two minute song, she and I. (The players change, of course, but the game goes on).

And so it went: two days and it all came naturally. For both of us.

Oh, I DID see the adults. Swear. A Three Stooges movie was sandwiched between dining on Friday and errands on Sunday. Good stuff, family stuff, but the undercard.

Time winding down yesterday, my daughter posed a standard question:

“What was your favorite part of the weekend, Daddy?’

Hesitate I didn’t. Pulling bags from their car, I repeated what I’d told her just hours earlier. It was the fact that THAT morning, they’d let me set my alarm, wait on the baby, feed her, and—while the house was still sleeping—go out for a walk.

Just the two of us. Before 7. Chicago time.

It occurred to me, yet again as I rode back toward Cleveland, that warmed by one’s family, the best things in life ARE free.

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