Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life's First Wonderful Gift

Anyone who's raised a child knows that after those first weeks of infancy, a magical thing happens: Your child discovers the gift of joy.

There is nothing quite so spirit-filling as seeing your baby's glowing face smile at your expanding attempts to entertain him or her. And let me tell ya, my spirit's been getting its fill these past couple of weeks as Max responds with growing enthusiasm to our raspberries, kisses, and increasingly aggressive manipulations of his little body. We've moved on to the stage of arm-waving, torso-tickling, and up-and-down bouncing.

All of which is making mornings quite the happy little scene in our bedroom. After Max nurses, Sarah and I spend what seems like an eternity lying in bed, propping max on our bellies and watching him laugh and smile and yelp with glee as we run through a combination of tried-and-true happiness inducers and new attempts to push his joy to new levels. Like this week, I introduced turning him upside down and gently flipping him. He's not sure he likes it, but he hasn't complained, so I have no intention of pulling back.

One thing that's making me highly focused on fully enjoying this ritual each day is the fact that when Sarah asks me if I remember this or that from Jackson's first months, my answer is almost always no. The memories are fleeting, having been overtaken by years of school and soccer and neighborhood play and trauma and life changes and pre-adolescence. I do, however, still have total recall of lines from 70s movies, so I'm not sure why my child's development is a fading memory. The subtleties of the human brain aren't exactly my area of expertise.

What I do know is that my surviving memories of Jackson as a baby are a lot more uniformly positive than the memories I'll have of him as a pre-teen. Living with a pre-teen is like having a roommate--one who doesn't pay for anything, leaves lots of messes, and likes to insult me as many times as possible each day.

Eventually, the same will probably be true of Max, so for the time being, I'll just keep soaking up his joyful embracing of the world and try not to think about the snotty little roommate he'll eventually turn into. There will be plenty of time for that nonsense.

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