My daughter has extraordinary amounts of energy, and her restless grabbing, pinching, poking and reaching are all assertive indicators of boundless curiosity. Most of the time, except for when she’s sleeping, she is on the move – sometimes only round in circles, sometimes to shape herself into a triangle (bum up in the air, head and feet either side), and sometimes because something caught her eye and it demands a closer look (even if impossibly out of reach).
Often, and especially after I get home from work, I struggle to keep up; her extraordinary amounts of energy surpassing, unfortunately, the efforts of a tired parent to properly appreciate it all. Nevertheless, I am always impressed and always head-over-heels in love. Colette’s unfiltered emotions and her extravagant openness and expressiveness are joyful antidotes to life’s more mundane middle-ground, which us grown-ups all inhabit.
How lucky she is! She knows nothing about insurance companies or commuting or the awfulness of reality television, yet can be transfixed for hours by any object that hovers into view (most of all the ones we won’t let her play with, like my glasses, for fear of injuries to her and breakages to them). She is guileless and beautiful, and her smile lightens any load, and her laugh is giddy and infectious, and, ah, yeah, I’m pretty smitten, aren’t I.
Colette has made me more tired more often, and less free. But – quite the trick! – she’s also changed me for the better. I can’t keep up, but I want to. And though I can’t really hope to find again an imagination that roams as freely as hers, or to be so unfailingly curious about so many different things, her example remains powerfully instructive. As a wise old colleague of mine said to me today, “babies are scientists; they aggressively pursue learning.” Colette does exactly that. She is restless and eager, and if this or that doesn’t quite work or is slightly out of reach, you better believe it’s not for lack of trying.
See the world through a baby’s eyes, if only fleetingly and faintly, and find out, in a jolt, how primed we become in adult life to take wondrous things for granted. (Look, those flickering dots in the night sky are giant stars!) We might get cynical, doubtful, or lazy, but she doesn’t.
And you really can’t spend any meaningful amount of time in the company of a baby without eventually feeling a little younger too. You get off the couch and on to the floor. You play with soft toys. And you do all sorts of crazy things to try and make the baby laugh (or even, frankly, just to seem more worthy of attention than the TV remote… your phone… the sound of the dishwasher… something behind you…). You do silly voices. You dance. And you let her pull and pick your nose, grab your ear, and tug on your earlobes with reckless abandon.
In short, this little girl of ours can run us ragged. But even as tiring as that sometimes gets, I have to admire the strength of her resolve – to keep on figuring out the world in which she finds herself, and to clamber over whatever stands between her and… what’s next. Of all the surprises of parenthood so far, this the most satisfying: in a mad kind of rush, she’s teaching me things about myself I should never have forgotten. The world is a fine old place, after all, if you put a little effort in.
Thanks Colette! What a sweetie.