Saturday, August 27, 2011

Growing Up On An Island Paradise, Where Everyone Is Family

Finn (center) and the future Class of 2029 got together recently for their first class picture.
EnlargeCourtesy of Susan Philbrook
Finn (center) and the future Class of 2029 got together recently for their first class picture.
(first published on NPR's Baby Project)
I love where I live.
As I've mentioned before, I live on an island — Vinalhaven in midcoast Maine, population 1,150 or so. Living here definitely has its challenges, but I wouldn't give them up for the support network we have, or the incredible reception we've had since Finn was born. He's already had some pretty extraordinary experiences, and he's not even a month old!
For example, last week, Finn got together with his (future) high school graduating class, and we took their first class photo. All together, there are five students in the class — three were born within nine days of each other, so we've got three newborns, a 4-month-old, and the oldest is 6 months old. (Can I tell you how TINY Finn is in comparison to the bigger babies? It's mind-blowing.)
It was so fantastic to get together with the other moms — women who will be pretty important in both my life, and now Finn's. I can't really imagine this happening anywhere else, and it makes me so happy to know that they get to grow up together swimming in the quarries, riding their bikes around town, going tide-pooling, and generally getting into mischief.

Before Finn was born, he'd also gotten some pretty sweet gifts as well, including both a co-sleeper and a boat cradle made by local island artisans — one a timber framer, the other a painter. These treasured items have been passed along to Vinalhaven families throughout the past two decades, and it's so heartwarming to know that my son will be one in a long line of island children to use them.

About Sarah

Sarah Crossman, 32, and her husband, Chad, are first-time parents to Finnley James.
My very favorite thing about living here, though, is the family we have surrounding us, both biological and socially produced. I know that it makes most trips to the grocery store a bit more lengthy, but it's only because the whole community is so darn excited to welcome Finn.
I know that I won't have to worry about Finn needing to nurse when I'm downstreet shopping (as opposed to downtown shopping), because I can just pop into "Auntie Alison's" gallery and nurse him there. I know that when I go into Go Fish, Rachel is going to be thrilled to see us. Bobbie and Kristin at the bank, and Carlene at the Paper Store go out of their way to ask how Finn's doing (and how I'm sleeping), and Sharon at the post office will always make sure he's warm enough.
By far, the best part about living here, though, is that Finn will be growing up next door to one of his three sets of grandparents — my father and stepmom. They are both thrilled that we're just a few steps away from their front door and that they can just pop in and see him, even during the summer — the busiest time of year on Vinalhaven.
Finn sleeping in his dad's arms
EnlargeCourtesy of Sarah Crossman
Finn sleeping in his dad's arms
My dad writes a column for The Wind, the weekly "newspaper" that comes out every Thursday. Last week, there were three birth announcements — Finn and two of his other classmates. There was also an article written by my dad that I think pretty much sums up his adoration for his first grandson. I hope you enjoy:
As readers know I have been practicing to be a grandfather and, as practice will, it has paid off. Encouraged by my having taken that initiative, my daughter and son in law have successfully produced a fine boy. Finnley James is here and eager to get on with adolescence.
When he was 26 hours old he dragged his tired parents to a picnic and enjoyed putting names to faces and getting to know us all.
On the second day he created devotion, putting an undeniable spell on his Dad to supplement the one he'd been nurturing for months from his Mom.
On the third day he cast the same enchantment on his island grandparents, taking an obvious and understandable interest in them both.
On day four he mastered a rhythmic burp he'd been working on in the womb. It was a syncopated effort, full of complicated musical asides and cadence, not the regular and predicable little eruptions one might expect from an ordinary child.
On day five he created language, putting together full sentences, each with a subject, invariably 'I' and a verb — 'want' and a fairly predictable object and wasted no time in beginning to train the adults around him to respond to these directives, subtle and less so.
On the sixth day he created facial expressions to augment his speech and by nightfall had assembled a nice repertoire of grimaces, smirks, frowns and smiles, all having to do, it seems likely, with gas.
On day seven he rested but only between feedings and the next day attended a band concert and then a memorable assembly, the first of many, of the very appealing and photogenic Class of 2029.
—Phil Crossman

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