Baby’s Southern-drawled ‘Hi’ making my days brighter

Photo by Carolyn Bahm Harper likes to feed herself, and she approaches English peas with enthusiasm, if not accuracy. (Notice the pea on her nose). She also likes playing games with her mom, and touching fingertips is one of her favorite things to do.

By Carolyn Bahm

Baby’s Southern-drawled ‘Hi’ and wave are making my days brighter
I’ve been enjoying a long visit from my older daughter, Ginny, and her 9-month baby, Harper. It’s a joy to watch the little one cuddling with her mom or for me to spend time with both of them. It’s good to hear Ginny’s tinkling laughter in my house again.
Harper’s at the stage where she’s starting to mimic sounds and movements, and she is currently entranced with the “Baby Shark” videos. I found the 60-minute version on YouTube, and she and I have already spent a couple of hours clapping and doing the hand gestures from the video. She adds a baby booty shake at her favorite parts of the song, too. She’s not quite walking yet, but she cruises along the coffee table or the edge of the sofa and manages to do her own version of dancing when “Baby Shark” is on.
Everyone else in the house wants to invest in earplugs at this point when they hear that song start. I guess I’ve got a grandma’s patience for repetition when the baby is happy.
Her latest adorable trick is to say a long drawn-out Southern-drawled “Hiiiiiiiii” while waving her chubby baby hand. That one is worth about a million ponies. Her mom’s been trying to familiarize her with the phrase “Thank you,” and Harper occasionally emits a “Tah-too” in response.
Me? I’m just trying to teach her to say “Nana” and “Papa.” That’ll dial it up to about two million ponies that I owe her.
The natural mimicry of babies made me think of how we as adults also soak up habits, attitudes and practices from the people around us.
There’s an inspirational statement I’ve heard attributed to Michael Jordan because he’s quoted it before, but it actually traces back to the ancient philosopher Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. A similar saying is, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”
Whichever you’ve heard, the message is the same: Repetition and familiarity reinforce your actions. Familiarity leads to thoughts that lead to actions that lead to character.
Hang out with a bunch of sassy people? You might start hearing people say you’re a little too smart-mouthed too. Hang out with kind and generous people? You may find that you’re inspired to be kind and generous yourself, more often than not. It bears consideration for us to choose our companions wisely.
As for me, the people I hang out most with are my husband, my two daughters, my grandbaby, and my “work family” at The Bartlett Express. I’d be proud to soak up attitudes and thoughts from any of them.
Harper inspires gentleness and kindness, but her babyhood inability to understand all the consequences of her actions also reminds me to be protective of myself. (She’s a big fan of suddenly sticking a fat little forefinger up the nose of whoever is holding her … and scaping the inside of the nose on the way out. When she misses the nose, she’s quick to try hooking a finger inside your lip for the same scratch. OUCH! I’ve gotten good at dodging that little finger.)
My daughter’s actions remind me to be a little neater, to be a little less lazy, and to laugh whenever possible. I’m proud of who she is and for her good habits.
My husband is steady and quiet in the background, encouraging and helping all of us. And my work family is composed of good, smart, funny people who make me feel at home when I’m at the office. I like the people who are close to me, and I like how they affect me.
Of course, babies also keep it real with their innocence of social customs. You can have as pretty of a home dinner as you want, but the baby in the adjacent highchair will burp like a champion, chortle while flinging rice and noisily fill a diaper while you’re all enjoying dessert.
She wouldn’t want us to get overly full of ourselves. (Good job, Harper!)
CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Email her at; write to her at The Bartlett Express, P.O. Box 34967, Bartlett, TN 38134; or call the office at 901-433-9138.