Eve rolled over for the first time today. She’s been working on it for awhile: upon laying her on her back in her jungle-themed mat, she will immediately arch her spine and curl her arms up towards her chest, gnawing on her fists and gazing back, as far behind her as she can stretch, as if immediately dissatisfied with her vantage point. Grunting as she tries to launch her tiny body sideways, stymied by its weight and girth, her efforts continually undermined by gravity.
In the past few days she’s come close, finding the momentum necessary to pitch herself onto her side. The last obstacle was her arm, jutting out and impeding her own progress. Tonight, she figured out how to tuck it in long enough to fluidly turn from back to belly. She lay there and struggled a bit to free the same arm until it was splayed like the rest of her limbs, trembling slightly as she began to work on her next milestone: finding her bearings, coordinating her feet and knees and hands so that she can scoot (and, dare I say, crawl?) more effectively. Right now, she is able to wiggle herself sideways and diagonally, sometimes even spinning in a slow, jerky circle. Relentlessly curious. Eyes following every sound, every movement. Grasping hands ever so slowly becoming more discriminating in their efforts, making the connection between touch and response, between sight and reach and got it. So many brand new skills to attain and details to discover, I wonder how exhausted her little — her growing — mind must be at the end of the day. Everything so new, so gloriously and bewilderingly foreign.
She has a limitless capacity for knowledge. Each new day will imbue her with more color and music and sensation and her awareness of What and Where will grow exponentially. Eventually, she’ll learn to question the Why and How and we will witness her synthesizing all of the magic and wonder of a life we have grown to resent at the sound of our cell phone alarms. My dad used to say, with a wry sparkle in his eye, that youth is wasted on the young. I see it now; I recognize the dead-eyed glare in my thirteen year old students who cannot see past their own classroom ennui to the incredible wealth of knowledge contained in the books we have to force them to read with bribes and book logs, their unceasing preoccupation with their own failings rather than applying that innate youthful vigor to creative pursuits, discovering their hidden wellsprings of happiness and strength. But then, of course: who better to enjoy the narcissistic wallow than the young, who have so much time to shatter their own looking glass and grow to bemoan their old follies? It’s a wholly necessary, solipsist cycle. Wasted on the young.
Eve is not yet bound to that frustrating level of self-awareness, the kind that screams its own insecurity, or wails at its shortcomings, or regrets its years spent screaming and wailing. She doesn’t know that she doesn’t know that she doesn’t know. Everything is impulse and reaction, stimuli and response, achingly pure in its immature simplicity. She rode high on her father’s shoulders through the kitchen, into the darkened hallway, ducked beneath the arch leading into our bedroom. I followed, fretting, but I couldn’t help but laugh, and Eric did too, as she clutched at him, drooling benignly onto his head, beguiling us with her toothless grin. Wide eyes, head turning, watching us as watched her.
Originally published at www.carlawaslike.com.