This is Old Man Baby (but those closest to him often call him Old Man).
And this is his story…
Several years ago I decided, on a whim, that I wanted to start collecting garden gnomes. My collection had grown to about 7 or 8 by the time I took my trip to Romania in 2005. I was elated to find that Romania has some sort of infatuation with garden gnomes, as they could be found in any and every gift or souvenir shop (garden gnomes and Dracula… yep, that’s Romania in a nutshell). After much debate and consideration, I settled on the above pictured gnome to take home with me. I named him Sebastian, after the little boy who had stolen my heart, and whom I would have much rather taken home with me.
Upon arriving home (I was living at my parents’ house at the time), Sebastian assumed his position on the mantle of my parents’ fireplace. One day my sister was over at the house with her two beautiful daughters, Aubri and Rylynn. Aubri took an instant interest in this new addition to my collection, and began toting him around the house with her. (Sebastian is actually made out of a lightweight, rubbery material, rather than the heavy plaster most are made from.)
Aubri already had a few baby dolls that she adored, each with their own names to tell them apart. I don’t remember the exact names, but she referred to each one as “Baby Julia” or “Baby Sarah” or whatever their respective names were. Naturally, Sebastian became “Old Man Baby”. When it was time for her to go home that night, she very sweetly asked me if she could take Old Man home with her. I, of course, said yes. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
From that day forward, she grew more and more attached to Old Man, taking him with her everywhere she went. One day I received a phone call from her asking if she could take him with her to the sand dunes. Thus began the tradition of Old Man accompanying the family on every trip or vacation. When Meghan took the girls for their annual professional photo shoot, Aubri insisted Old Man be in them too. And so he was. I got to experience a little taste of the odd looks that Meghan must get all the time as we walked through the mall that day with a garden gnome buckled into the front of our double stroller.
Old Man has become a staple in the family, and a common sight at any gathering. One night we were all hanging out to play cards at my parents’ house. We had spent the whole night around the kitchen table, and the girls had been in bed for hours, when someone finally noticed that Old Man had been sitting with us at the table the whole time, securely strapped into a high chair with a snack and a drink in front of him. (It has also been realized that there are more photos of Old Man in the family than there are of some of the rest of us).
There’s a quote from an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond that always makes me smile, and turns my thoughts towards Old Man; “Sometimes I forget how weird this family is, until someone new comes in and looks at us like that."
Although it’s been nearly 3 years since their first meeting, Aubri and Old Man are still great friends. Last year she honored him with the utmost symbol of flattery by insisting to dress up as him for Halloween (the costume is the handiwork of Meghan and my mom, as not many party stores offer Old Man Baby costumes among their line of merchandise).
Who wouldn’t want these two for their garden?!