Well, our baby girl reached the six month milestone recently and I’m just amazed at how quickly her personality has started to emerge.
It seems like it was only yesterday that I referred to her as being in the “slug stage”. My wife wasn’t a big fan of this term but I thought it to be an appropriate metaphor.
After all, she’d just lay there…staring…for hours…waiting for her needs to be met. Her movements were limited to occasional reflexive twitches and any excitement I had over an emerging smile was dashed as soon as her diaper was filled with grunts of relief.
I’ll admit, I was in a rush to see her personality make an appearance. I so wanted that first smile…that connection where she finally realized that I’m actually kind of an important thing in her life.
I’d talk to her while going about my day…even if I was simply sharing the mechanics behind changing another diaper. Nothing.
I’d whisper or hum to her as I fed her in our rocking chair. Nada.
I’d drag her around in the pool with the occasional “Whee!” and “Oooo!”. Zilch.
And I’d flash a huge smile and shriek with excitement no matter what mundane task I was doing just to try and get a rise out of her. Denied.
One night I had come to bed about 3am after working on our beloved website and our daughter was stirring in her crib. I carried Kamryn to her changing table and got ready for the nightly routine.
Not wanting to awaken my wife, I said nothing. No shrieks, no loud inhales, it was just business. Powder applied and diaper fastened, I reached to pick her up and there it was.
She was looking right at me and a smile was there. Plain as day. Out of nowhere. The smile slowly faded but our eyes were locked. I whispered hello to her and soon, the smile re-emerged.
Some people pinch themselves to make sure that what they’re seeing is real, but I just looked to make sure we didn’t need another diaper change.
Nope. Clean. She was indeed smiling at me. Not wanting to leave my wife out of this moment I woke her up and we stood over her like two clowns trying to amuse an audience of one.
We managed to get a few more smiles out of her before we decided to let her get some sleep and it was that night that I realized that not one second of what I did to try and elicit a smile was wasted. In the end, it’s what led up to that moment.
So don’t wait for your baby to have the ability to smile before you go for it. Instead, give him or her every reason to smile even before the muscles can do their job.
Today, Kamryn greets me with a huge smile whether I’ve been gone a few hours or just a few seconds. It’s our connection and I just know it has to do with how often we interacted. Even if the smiles had to start out one-way.