Geneviève Hone Bits and Bites on new borns

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

The evening of the newborns

A brand new book and a brand new baby

By Geneviève Hone
True North Perspective

Geneviève Hone is a grandmother, family therapist and social worker. With her husband, Julien Mercure (also a family therapist), she has co-authored three books on couples and family life. Her home on the web is

Hone, small image.

  Photo: Baby Charles-Etienne holds book, The Monkey Puzzle Tree. Photo by Julie St-Denis.
  Baby Charles-Etienne holds book, The Monkey Puzzle Tree, by Sonia Tilson. Photo by Julie St-Denis.

21 June 2013 — The party is in full swing. I’m not that experienced a party host, but I’ve learned to recognize the moment where a party takes a life of its own, having decided what it wants to be when it grows up. This is not a loud party, as parties go. This party will not turn into an all-nighter. I rather suspect that several of the guests are of an age where going to bed with a good book is their idea of a well spent late evening. Actually, tonight, several of the guests will have the opportunity of going home with a brand new book, as we are gathered here to celebrate the launch of a novel written by a dear friend[1].

This moment when the party settles itself into what it is going to be, is happening right now. I sense that the party has taken over and that all is well and will continue to be so. I lean against a wall, quietly observing, savoring the instant. In a few minutes, I will introduce the author, and briefly talk about the human need to share our stories. I will thank her for the gift of a novel and invite her to read a passage from her book. I must have taken that unfocused look that I’m known to have when trying to make a floating idea come within my grasp, because my husband, standing next to me, says: “I guess you’ll want to write about this.” He’s right. I will want to write about “this”… though I don’t exactly know what “this” is at this point.


Sonia’s book is hot off the press. It is elegantly wrapped in a beautiful cover and it smells good. Important for me, this, because I love the smell of most new books. I have spent many a happy moment in bookstores picking up a new book and, pretending myopia, bringing it close to my face to check if its smell is to my liking. The story Sonia tells in the book will be new to the readers, but to Sonia, it is an old story, having been in the making for months, years even. She has created this story, she has rewritten entire chapters till they were to her liking, she may have despaired at times over this story, not certain of where it would wander, how it would end. She has worked hard to make this story presentable to a public of discriminate readers.

And now Sonia has handed the book over to her readers who hopefully will recognize it as the gift it is. The readers will pick up the book, examine it, and by doing so, will enter into a relationship with it. They will love it or hate it, adopt it as a lifelong friend or not, share it with others or not, learn from it or not. The readers can’t help but be changed in some manner through their encounter with this book.

I leave my observation post, ring a small bell to get everybody’s attention and say a few words about the guest of honour who then reads a few pages from her book. People listen attentively, acknowledging the importance of what the author is doing: showing her newborn to them, so to speak. They instinctively seem to recognize the importance of the moment. The guests applaud the author; the party picks up the life it was having before the interruption and continues to do its thing: snacks are replenished, wine glasses are refilled, conversations flow, laughter sparks. All is going well. The party is having a good life.

But then something happens that the party did not see coming. The door opens to admit three new guests. One of them is a two month old baby boy who, very quickly, while doing absolutely nothing proceeds to steal the show in a very efficient manner. There is a sudden lull in conversation and laughter. Several people move away from the snacks and wine table, put aside their new book and form a loose circle around the baby and his mother. The baby continues to do nothing except breathe and placidly gaze around him.

And then, one of the ladies timidly approaches the mother to ask if she might hold the baby. I believe the mother has already understood, as all mothers eventually do, that her child is a gift that needs to be shared with the world. So she invites the lady to sit in a solid and comfortable chair and puts the baby in her arms. The baby and the lady look intently at each other, the baby adjusting to the scent and the body temperature of a stranger, the lady wearing the kind of smile usually reserved for people who have won an important prize. Across the room, the mother is munching on snacks, all the while keeping a watchful eye on her child, something she will do for many years to come, we could say forever, because that is what loving parents do.

I go back to my observation post to quietly watch this beautiful scene, wondering idly if lady and baby will be changed somewhat through this brief encounter. A few minutes go by, the lady and the baby in silent contemplation of each other. And then, the baby yawns and stretches, and the spell is broken. The lady seems to come out of some kind of trance. She takes a deep breath, and says to no one in particular: “That felt good.” The baby looks around as if trying to locate his mother. His mother is quickly by his side, having spotted the beginning of a malaise, a change in mood. She picks him up, pats him on the back, and the baby emits a splendid burp. The crowd of admirers bursts out laughing. Life goes on!

A brand new book and a brand new baby. Gifts to be contemplated and savored! Well worth a party indeed!

[1] Sonia Tilson, The Monkey Puzzle Tree, Biblioasis, Windsor, ON, 2013

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