I’m up with my baby at 3 am. Nothing traumatic, just Up. He’s awake, and someone had to be with him.
I’m darn well going to have a snack when I’m up in the middle of the night, so we’re in the kitchen, one dim light on, the one above the oven. Emmett’s on the floor facing away from it, entranced by the weird double shadow cast by the two bulbs. They’ve turned his little self into a two-headed monster–the lights each casting their own dull overlapping shadows–and where they cross there is a darker, sort of pinheaded representation of his head and shoulders. He is pawing at it as it wobbles back and forth.
His attention doesn’t keep forever, and he’s on to scooting around the floor and darting glances around the dark kitchen, which he knows well in daylight but is now a realm of mystery.
I love watching this fascination with things we adults regard very little, if we notice them. Two shadows crossing in a dimly-lit room. Sunlight coming through leaves and reflecting on walls. The wonder of a spray of fountain in the park. The really cool sound a dishwasher makes.
I imagine babies are all pretty keen observers. They need to be–how else are they going to learn the things no adult will think to show or tell them? We are their protectors, but they are filling their own little eyes and ears with a world of beauty, patterns of light, shapes of leaves, colors of sky and neighborhood, sounds of voice and heartbeat and song. All we can do is try to put them in the right places.
He seems tired of the kitchen, so I pick him up. “Bo,” he says.