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September 17, 2008
The crib is on wheels, so it can be right next to me in the living room. And at the dining table last night, so little Wyatt could join us for some vicarious ziti. In the night, I arose a few times to discover him being walked back and forth by his patient father. At one point, I encountered the two of them bouncing gently up and down in the dark on a large red rubber ball.

My visit to Wyatt and his parents will be a brief one -- I must be back in Florence for a wedding on Saturday afternoon. I wont' even be here long enough to get jetlagged, I hope. I have no other engagements. Just Wyatt.

Because he is still in his parents' room, I have his. It is painted robin's egg blue, and a flock of red bird decals fly across one wall. A zebra-striped rug covers the floor, and a night light shaped like an egg casts starry pinpoints of light on the ceiling.

As the night wore on, though, I turned off the night light. Atlantic Avenue brings in plenty of light on its own. Plenty of light, and plenty of sound: police cars, fire engines, people blasting out their own eardrums with their car radios turned up as loud as they will go. Pedestrians talk and laugh on their way home late.

Street noise at night has always soothed me. It never keeps me awake. When we lived on West 12th Street, the ambulances screamed east from West Street to St. Vincent's all night long. When we moved to West 11th Street, they screamed back west toward the river. In Florence, seven city buses stop on via Rucellai, where our bedroom window faces. I feel safe, hearing all those sounds. People are nearby. I am not alone. A city lives outside the window, and I am part of it.

Little Wyatt is part of it, too: a tiny native New yorker. He'll grow up with all these sounds: for him it will be the lullaby life, as it is for me. But wait a minute -- I didn't grow up with it. I was a country child. Maybe Wyatt won't love city noise at all.

They are themselves. Their environment shapes them, but not totally. Their heredity shapes them, but not totally. One of the biggest surprises about raising children is the fact that they are not copies of us. They are themselves. The world over, God didn't make any two of us alike.
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