Friday, January 27, 2012

All the world, anew

The whole wide world is new to Desmond. Watching him discover it one finger or dog bark or leaf-patterned, cotton curtain at a time is the most charming and profound experience; I get to discover the world all over again with him and because of him. When you don't have a baby, you think, "Oh, infants are so boring. They just lay around looking wormy. They don't do anything." That's what I thought.

Babies are scientists, investigators, explorers, the wisest observers. Their bodies are new and fascinating territory, tiny tongues rolling around the roofs of mouths and over the edges of gum lines, penises spouting out pee (Desmond definitely now knows something's down there.), fingers attached to palms--little grabbing mechanisms. Lately he likes to put his hand in my mouth, grip my teeth and smile when I gently bite and tug at the fingers. Or else he stares at his hands, curiously turning them in front of his eyes and seeming to make a mental recording of each curve and line. It must be no coincidence that the hand is such an early discovery but remains, throughout life, one of the most challenging parts of the body to accurately draw, as if the subtle reminder that in the world there is always some pleasure left to discover, at any age, is physically embedded in our bodies.

Desmond's very laughter is new to him--both discovering what surprises cause it to occur and the millisecond during which the sound of it stuns him. The first time we heard him laugh it was at a stuffed bee that I was zooming over his head and toward his face. Now he laughs at a stuffed lion (Why? Why? What is it about that lion and not another toy lion that brings such a huge, wide grin to his face before giggles spill out of his belly and mouth?). He laughs when I pretend to eat his fingers and toes and tummy, and he laughs when he gets swooped, starting low, between my legs and then moving upward until he's over my head.

These are the discoveries I am making about Desmond: His hands are perfectly elegant and substantial at once. Little silver-dollar-sized starfish or a painter's palette with five paintbrushes. His eyes are dark and light at once, sparkling like God cut out two perfect circles of a starlit night sky and used them for Desmond's eyes. The humming moans he makes as he's trying to fall asleep, the laborious grunts that come out as he's reaching for a toy, and his startling and startled laughter all sound like chimes being jostled in the wind. Just listen.

1 comment: