Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Crazy Baby Shelley by Lara Candland

Crazy Baby Shelley
by Lara Candland

There's this baby called Shelley. She crawls around with a big grin on her face and three crazy ponytails on her head. I've never seen a crawling baby with enough hair for three ponytails, but Shelley's got them. Shelley sits in her high chair and spreads bright yellow goop around from her mac 'n cheese. I call her goop girl when she eats her mac 'n cheese. I call her scream face when she sees me drinking my coke and wants one in the worst way. I call her butter butt when she crawls around naked, cookie toes when I'm chewing her toes and bumble head when she's buzzing her lips like mad. Shelley's pretty cool. We get along pretty well. I've taught her a lot of things most babies don't know about. Like painting your nails. Like she knows you're supposed to wave your hands around in the air and blow on your nails when you're done painting. Her favorite shade is "Daytripper," this light purple frost. And, like, Star Wars, too. Like she can literally sing the Star Wars song. When Luke is fighting Darth Vader in the end of Empire, she gets up on her knees, rocks back and forth, and gets a seriously suspenseful look on her face. This girl knows what's going on. I'm not kidding.

Here's something about Shelley that no one really knows: everyone thinks she's my cousin from Californias (my fake cousin) baby that she couldn't take care of, but she's really Jessica's baby. We're all raising Shelley because Jessica's not really supposed to be her Mom, but Jessica tries to nurse her in secret, which trips our Mom out.

But Shelley's pretty cool.

When she was born, my Dad cursed. "Goddammit!" he said, "We can't give this girl away!"

Jessica was cool about keeping it a secret, even though my Mom came up with the plan.

So on Jessica's prom night, we're all worried about whether or not her boobs are going to fit into anything, and if she'll leak, but Jessica says, "no matter what, I'm going."

I paint Jessica's nails in "Minx," and Shelley's pissed about it. But the time I'm done, though, she's waving her hands around and blowing on her nails, and to reward her for being such a good sport, I do a pedi on Shelley in "Daytripper." I hold her fat feet and blow 'til the pedi is dry and she can crawl again. She loves being well-groomed. I don't think Shelley likes Jessica's dress, though. It doesn't fit exactly right. Still, Shelley is totally cool about it, and I'm like the only one that can tell what she's thinking. She's actually really mature.

Daniel is Jessica's date. Shelley doesn't think he minds that the top of Jessica's dress is too tight. Daniel is pretty nice. Shelley gets a good vibe from him, and that's cool with me.

Shelley and I sit on a bar stool and read magazines. I ask her which dress she thinks I should where to my prom. She picks the white strapless. She actually has really good taste. I ask her if she's sure I could get away with the strapless and all, and she's sure.

I give Shell a bottle and we watch Star Wars at bedtime. Shelley doesn't even make it to the part when C3PO comes along. She has a major crush on Luke, even though I tell her that when she1s older she'll like Han Solo better. So I drop off to sleep and we're all bundled up on the couch then I feel someone picking up Shelley. It's Jessica and Daniel. Shelley just snuggles her head right onto Jessica's shoulder. Of course Shelley likes me a lot, and our relationship is really mature, but of course she has a really strong bond with Jessica.

"She's my baby," Jessica tells Daniel. "I thought you should know."

"She is not, Jess," I say. "She's our cousin's."

"It's me and the baby or it's nothing," Jessica says. "You want me, you've got me and a baby. Just so you know."

Daniel looks at me. "OK," he says. "Baby's are cool."

Mom will kill her when she finds out. We may have to go to California again to see our "cousin" like we did last summer when Shell was born. That would be cool with Shell, though, 'cause she really likes sand, and she gets along pretty well with surfers.

"OK," Jessica says. "You kiss me, you're kissing the mother of a baby, remember. And I breastfeed and co-sleep. Do you know what that is?"

"I know what breastfeeding is," Daniel says. "It's cool." He sneaks a peak at Jessica's chest.

"Co-sleeping is just...better for mother and child," Jessica says. "Like, most culture's do it and so do I, OK?"

"I like babies," Daniel says. "I like 'em a lot."

"Cool," Jessica says. They sit on the couch and rewind Star Wars and we watch it again. I can tell they might make-out, so I say, "Jess, I'll co-sleep with Shell tonight, OK?"

I think Daniel is pretty cool, but I don't want Shelley to experience confusion.

We head out to the hammock. I sing a little Star Wars to Shelley. She sucks and sucks on her passy, which means she's not asleep, and I squeeze her toes. Finally the passy stops and she's out. I relax.

"Goodnight, young Jedi," I say.

I think her hair's long enough for a braid, and I'll try it out tomorrow. I smell her crazy baby head and fall asleep with a smile on my face.