The Day I First Saw You As A Child

Dear C, I remember this day very, very well. It happened so suddenly. You just glanced up at me in the morning light and the way you looked at me was as someone who commanded respect. In a flash, everything baby about you vanished, but it didn't sadden me at all. Instead, I was too busy being startled by the subtlety in your expression. This was someone with whom I could speak logically, someone I could level with. Someone who may understand my point of view if I just took a moment to explain it. You'd listen. You'd be rational. You'd wait. You'd understand. You appeared as though you could make a judgment. The look in your eyes ready for information, to offer your opinion, to be unsure. To laugh with me.

I remember when my friend Sarah's son Carter crossed this line, where toddler dissipates and little boy emerges. I hadn't seen him in about 6 weeks, and when I did, mid-summer, he'd changed. He gave me a glance of recognition, but it was quick and away he darted to his own business without a greeting, so unlike the mezmerized toddler I'd met outside in my yard doing laundry just a year prior, carried over to meet me on his father Rob's arm. With you as a baby tied to my back that day, it seemed so unfathomable. A child. Not a baby, not a toddler. But a little person having conversations and an imaginary life all your own.

And now it's happened. A few months ago, I was folding laundry in the basement and though I'm not sure why I allowed you down there (it's our no-kids-allowed floor), I just did. And you weren't into everything or messing with anything you shouldn't have been. You're detecting the invisible boundaries now. Those neurons, so raw at birth, exploring everything, have been pruned and are more selective now. A new growth pattern replaces it - creativity. You were just flitting around the room talking make believe. And I thought to myself, Wow. After years of work having Babies and Toddlers, it sure is nice to finally have a Child around the house.

I took you antiquing, and as you played with the cast iron train, I noticed for the first time--your little baby wrist creases are now completely, 100% gone.

And you'll always just be C, no matter how you grow or how we categorize you. There are funny little expressions you made at just weeks old that are still with you and always will be. But it's such a privilege to get to know you as you grow through all your stages. I pray to God you'll grow up and we'll get to see it all. I would say I can't wait to see the man you become, but so much of your strong personality is already there, I feel like I already know. This baby who was so mysterious in the womb (is it a boy or a girl!?) is now here and has blown away all my expectations for what having a baby is like. You've taught me how little control I have, and you've taught me to trust God even more.

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