Rereading my last blog post, I realize that I come across less like a marveling parent and more like a clipboard holding, eye-shaded accountant, eager to check a box on his daughter’s eventual development into a concert pianist/Supreme Court Justice.
The blog post started out as a bullet pointed enumeration of all the amazing things Natalie did over the weekend for the first time. Rather than just list them off, I tried to put these into a narrative, and thus gave a mistaken impression that we’re watching her development like the East German judge at the Olympics, adding points for style and difficulty and deducting for the dismount. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Natalie is creating the universe anew around herself. Each day she puts new bricks on the fundament of her comprehension. And we contemplate this process in gobsmacked wonder.
Her facial expressions alone are marvelous. When she is concentrating hard on a task, her gaze narrows to a focus that looks like it should burn scorch marks in whatever is occupying her attention. She has a toy shape sorter where she tries to put round, square, rectangular and triangular pegs through the appropriately shaped holes. When she has one ALMOST appropriately aligned, she bears down physically and mentally with a furrowed intensity that takes my breath away.
Then there is her beaming delight when she completes a task or interaction successfully. When the round peg thunks down through the wooden board, or we ask her, “Where is Big Bear’s…..EAR?” she glows with a million candlepower look of joy and triumph. Usually this is followed by spontaneous applause from everyone.
My favorite of her looks, though, is not one of triumph or concentration. It’s one of NEAR connection, when she is cogitating on something and ALMOST has the connection. If she is verging on a solution to a problem or nearing recognition of a concept, she gets a half grin and looks at us sidelong out of the corner of her eye, as if to say, “Is this right? I THINK I’ve got it…” You can almost hear the gears meshing in her little head, like the cranking of an engine the moment before it turns over and roars to life. It’s a look of expectant triumph, awaiting only confirmation.
And that’s how we feel about watching her grow in awareness and achievement. We feel like we’re watching our own universe being reassembled before our eyes. Thus it must have been for us as children when we first made that incredible intellectual leap that the square peg can indeed go through the square hole, but only when aligned EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
Every single day she adds to the edifice of her understanding. And every single day she takes our breath away. We can only sit back and marvel.