Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Best Intentions

He lays on his back, lips curled over gums and the faintest suggestion of teeth.  He lifts his legs into the air, then reaches his hands, chubby knuckles still dimpled, toward his toes.  He grabs his feet and begins to rock.  Instinct and presence.  An unknowing yogi.  A Happy Baby.

He turns his head to look at me.  He sees his mom.  His mouth gapes in a signature grin.  And then he keeps turning and sees something better.

A blue fluid-filled fish.  A teether.  An object of desire.

He is more like me now, I think.  Instinct mixing with and giving way to control.  

His eyes widen, impossibly long eyelashes opening like a flower's petals to the morning sun.  He purses his lips and sets his jaw.  He rocks, hands still grasping tiny feet.  He rolls on his side.

He wants that fish.

He lifts his right arm, and like a fly swatter honing in on its prey, swoops down on it.

He misses.

Tries again.

Every movement with intent.

This time he connects, gathering the fish by its tail into his meaty palm.  Eyes wider than ever, he reels in his catch, bringing its fin closer and closer toward his mouth.  When he finally gets it there, he rubs it against his gums, so pleased, so satisfied.  Intention fulfilled.

Then he drops it.  Lets it go.  Turns away.

Looking for the next challenge.

It's a magical thing.  Bearing witness to your child starting to think, starting to work to get what he wants.  Starting to become human.

It's a scary thing.  Watching your baby becoming a child.  Starting to become human: wanting, wanting, wanting.

Then wanting more.

In what ways do you see your own habits reflected in your child(ren)?  Does it hearten you or frighten you?


  1. Sometimes it heartens (seeing them display compassion)and sometimes it frightens (watching them boss every other kid on the playground). Dang, Miss D. totally got my bossy gene.

  2. It's when they want to grow up so fast that frightens me so. But with all the external pressure it's hard to keep them safely tucked in childhood so they can truly grow.

  3. With Fynn, he feels everything. So deeply, and that he gets from his mama, and while I love that about him, I grieve a little bit because it can be a heavy burden to carry.
    This was lovely.

  4. What a provocative and wide-open post. Because we see not only our attributes that we like in ourselves, but the budding of tendencies that may be less desirable. And we wish we could tell them, right from the beginning - "you're going to have to learn to manage that temper/stubbornness/pickiness or any number of other character and personality traits that start so young.

    And of course, they have to learn on their own. As we did.

    A delicious post. Allowed me to remember my young men as they were as babies and toddlers. (And they haven't changed THAT much. They eat more, and vocabulary is a bit more stimulating. Their nature? Exactly as it was when they were babes.)

  5. I see my sassiness reflected in my daughter. I find this both good and bad. My husband has come to treasure my sassy nature. He also fears when it will appear. I understand his reluctant delight. I see this in my daughter. From what I see, I am quite heartened.

  6. Oh, boy..this question!!! (chuckle) It is often a topic of discussion around here: The 4 year old is just like me...controlling, Type A, anxious at time. The baby is just like Daddy: silly, laid back, rambunctious. The funny thing? The 4 year old prefers his Dad. The baby prefers me. Hmmm...we see a pattern. On a serious note, when I see my worst habits in my 4 year old, it breaks my heart. I wrote a post on it, once, actually...and it was one of my hardest to write and post.http://but-then-i-had-kids.blogspot.com/2009/09/you-take-after-your-mommyis-this-good.html

  7. Toddler is already a lot like me. She has a very extroverted and playful side, but also a more pensive, sensitive side. She is both serious and silly just like her mother.

    Baby is feisty and physical and verbal. Like me, she is not happy when things don't go her way.

    I think it is both fascinating and frightening to see ourselves in our children. On the one hand, it is wonderful to see who we are carrying on in the world. On the other hand, these reflections remind me just how porous and impressionable these little creatures are, how in many ways we are really shaping who they are. And given that no one of us is perfect, it is hard and humbling to know that we are all passing along our flaws and shortcomings as well.


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