The first time I heard the story of Baby Island I was too little to read it on my own. Instead I listened to it every night while sitting next to my mom. My mom read a lot of stories to me when I was little that I wouldn't have been able to read otherwise. The Little House on the Prairie series, among others. Of course, it wasn't just me that she'd read to. Bedtime stories involved everyone.
Sometimes we'd only read picture books, and believe me, I sat in and listened to picture book readings well after I had surpassed the recommended reading level. Sure, I lost the privileged spot of sitting right next to Mom, but there was just something magical about hearing her read to us that I couldn't give up. I'd probably still let her read story books to me.
Usually we'd sit on the couch. The smallest child on her lap, then two on every side, and maybe one or two sprawled across the floor, or, if the pictures were too entertaining, crowded around the children flanking Mom to get a better look.
Reading a novel was always more relaxed. It would take us several nights, sometimes weeks, to get through a book. Since there are few, if any, pictures in a novel we didn't have to squeeze in so close, but that didn't mean anyone wanted to sit too far away, either. Occasionally we'd even all sit on Mom and Dad's bed while Mom read to us.
I loved listening to Baby Island, perhaps because, in the very beginning, it talks of baby-borrowing and I was always a baby-borrower, myself. It was easy to imagine that perhaps I was Mary or Jean and was left with the responsibility of taking care of all those little babies.
I started baby-borrowing the neighbour's babies very young. I'd come over and ask to play with their children and, by golly, they'd let me. We had a next door neighbour named Nancy who had a little baby named Amy. I was over there nearly everyday entertaining Amy. For hours.
Nancy decorated cakes and made dolls. I would keep Amy happy for hours at a time while she worked. She would pay me a dime. I would think I was the richest girl in the whole world.
Some twins lived up the street and they had a baby sister. I was over there all the time, also. I would play with the twins while the baby sister and mom napped. I can't remember their names right now but, trust me, I was always over there.
Later I joined in the baby-mongering crowd in High River. A bunch of us girls would flock around together after church, stalking young mothers, and taking their babies from them so that we could hold them, ourselves.
When I first had Rachel I was worried that girls like I was didn't exist anymore. Rarely did any young girl ever come up to take Rachel from me after church. I'm inclined to say that it never happened. I shouldn't have been so quick to judge, though, because somehow I forgot that we were in a newly-wed, nearly-dead ward. We had 2 nurseries, close to 15 babies too young for nursery, and about 5 Young Women. We were overrun with little rugrats, too many for any potential baby-borrowers, even the most dedicated, to get around to playing with.
Now that we're in a more normally distributed branch, I rarely know where Rachel is after church. She's always off playing with someone or other. Young Women, primary kids, Sara...
It's actually kind of nice to have baby-borrowers about again. I would have loved me.