There’s a special moment, or more accurately, a series of clustered moments in your infant/toddler’s life when he transforms from cluelessness into a sentient being.
The moment, or moments, when the lights go on. The child feels himself, sees you and the people around him. The moment when your child understands the basics like hunger and food, being tired and sleep. The moment when he realizes that you are his safety and that he can communicate his needs. The moment when he expresses his joy upon seeing you.
I had such a moment last weekend with KV, our youngest son. He was climbing up on the bench of a small picnic table, not too safely, but determined to stand up. I had told him several times not to do so with words, gestures and physically moving his body a couple of times but there he was doing it again.
In the midst of my grown-up conversation and the chaos of other kids playing, KV stood up and our eyes met. He was proud, happy and smiling. I, while concerned about his balance and gesturing to him to sit down, smiled back. We looked, saw and locked. Cognition, connection, communication — all exchanged in that moment. His personality and presence now manifested.
After 10 seconds, he looked down and step down. And, I rejoined the conversation on the grown-ups table.
He won’t remember those 10 seconds and that is how it should be. A 15-month old shouldn’t be encumbered with sentimentality or the search for meaning. His life is in the now.
For me though, that moment is forever captured and sealed.