Benson and the Baby

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One of Benson’s mother’s friends had a new baby, and everyone went to visit. “Why do we have to go and see the baby?” Benson said. “What’s interesting about babies?”

“The baby is new and we’re going to welcome him. And we’re going to see if his mother needs any help,” Benson’s mother said. “You can play with Alejandro, once we’ve seen the baby.”

Alejandro was Benson’s friend from dance class. He was very good at grand jete, which was jumping into the air with your arms out. Benson was better at tap-dancing.

The baby was very very small, tiny all over, and pink. Benson looked at him and thought that was enough. There wasn’t much that was interesting about babies. Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss and Benson’s mother all gathered around the baby and its mother and cooed like ducks, and took turns holding it and kept asking if it was their turn yet.

Benson’s mother said, “Benson, wouldn’t you like to hold the baby?”

Benson didn’t really want to hold the baby, but Aunt Lillibet made him sit down and Aunt Moss showed him how to hold his arms and his mother put the baby in them. The baby looked up him once and started to cry. Not exactly cry, more like scream.

“Jiggle him,” Aunt Lillibet said. Benson jiggled. The baby screamed on and on.

“Pat him on the back,” Aunt Moss said. “Gently now.” Benson patted the baby on the back. It screamed even more.

“Talk to him,” Benson’s mother said. “Sing to him.”

Benson couldn’t think of a single song a baby might like. He tried humming, but he couldn’t hear himself over the noise the baby was making.

“Um, I don’t think he likes me,” Benson said. He really wanted to give the baby back to someone and go outside where it was quiet, with Alejandro.

The baby’s mother, Amelie, said, “Of course he likes you. Alejandro says the same thing. He’s just hungry. Give him to me.”

Benson handed the baby over and went outside as fast as he could. He and Alejandro played hide and seek, and What’s the Time Mr Wolf, and Alejandro practised his grand jetes while Benson dug a couple of holes and sat in them and filled them in again.

When it was time to go home, Amelie said to Benson, “Thank you for coming to play with Alejandro. His little brother isn’t much fun while he’s still little, but it won’t be long before they’re playing together. Would you like to hold him again before you go?”

Benson didn’t want to, but it didn’t seem polite to say so. He sat down and Amelie put the baby in his arms. The baby looked up at him and smiled. Benson smiled back. “Hello, baby,” he said. The baby smiled and laughed. Benson made noises like a baby duck, and then he made a noise like a big digger. The baby laughed as if Benson was the funniest thing he had ever seen.

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