This morning I was trying to *ahem* encourage Cooter, my seven-year old, to buckle down and get started on his math. He wasn’t in the mood for math or a pep talk today. He moaned and went prostrate across the stools at the counter.
“Ohhhh, I wish we knew everything already when we were babies,” he called out, rather dramatically.
Our Princess leaned over and patted him as she picked up her math worksheets and pencil. “Oh, buddy, but we didn’t. We have a lot to learn.”
Interesting. Why is it that I have days when neither of them really want to do their lessons in a timely fashion but I very, very rarely have a day when they are both willing and happy happy happy? Today was a good one for her. Not so much for the little fella.
The words from my little guy’s mouth have played back over and over in my head. I thought about when each of mine were babies and wondered about what exactly they knew. I remembered the precious babies I’ve held over the years and thought about what they seemed to know as well.
And you know what? Cooter might have gotten his wish. Seems like to me babies know an awful lot.
Babies know how to love. Unconditionally. They just love being held and doted on and snuggling and they love with abandon.
Babies smile. They say I love you with their gaze, their smile, and when they learn to control their arms a little better, with their touch.
Babies look people in the eyes. And they don’t turn away. My Daddy called it “imprinting.” When he held each one of my three, they would gaze up at him for as long as he was willing to hold them and gaze back. They imprinted him and stored him up in their memories.
Babies reach out for what they want. They grab the silverware, newspaper, books, keyboards, hair, hands, and another person. They aren’t afraid of going after something interesting. And they find the whole world interesting. Babies are curious and adventurous and can make anything ordinary absolutely extraordinary. They breathe life into everything around them.
Babies talk. Sometimes a lot. But they also listen. They listen so intently they can often repeat the sounds you just made.
Babies can laugh at nothing. They can cry about anything. Babies are not ones to hold their emotions in, stuffing them down deep inside so they can wreak all kinds of havoc on their hearts and minds and souls. Babies let the world know how they feel–whether it’s joy, hunger, happiness, or pain–they let the world know. And I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.
As Cooter’s words echoed in my mind, I thought about all of these things and realized how important every single one of these things is to a person’s well-being. To healthy relationships and lives. And then I realized that we as a society don’t value these things like we should. We don’t have time for sitting with someone and listening intently or gazing and memorizing precious faces. We squelch our emotions and tuck them away. We pine for things (tangible and intangible) without setting goals and working for what we want. Or we go the immediate gratification route and what we wanted only satisfies until the next want comes along. We are afraid to look people in the eyes. We assess the appropriateness of the situation before we let ourselves laugh or cry. We hold back.
And loving? We often fail to love unconditionally those who are different, who look different or act different or think differently. We don’t open up to strangers and give them a friendly smile and a wave from across the room. It doesn’t seem quite right.
I think maybe we have a lot to learn from these wee ones. And while the point didn’t get Cooter out of his math today and it sure won’t tomorrow either, I think it’s a good one. (Shhhhh, he doesn’t have to know.) I think we need to look at babies and how they are with people to see how it really should be done. How we should interact and look and be in this world. And most of all, how we should love.
Have you ever seen a baby reach out to someone they barely know? And change the world with their smile?
That right there.
We should do more of that.
We need folks and folks need us.
Love to all.