My little girl, Adeline, is nearly 8 months, and she has started saying "Dada." Sometimes it comes out "A da." Sometimes it isn't exactly directed at me. But lets not nitpick. The fact is that I feel a rush of joy whenever I hear her having fun with consonants.
There's another thing that has happened lately. She's starting to look into our eyes.
I mean really look. I noticed it with my two boys too: Sometime in their first year, children go from just seeing to really looking. You stare at them and you suddenly see another person staring back. So you stare some more. (A study has shown that paying extremely close attention to the eyes is something that distinguishes us even from our nearest primate relatives. So this is a deeply human response.)
When my daughter looks into my eyes, she looks without judgment, without fear. She looks with trust. It's an incredible responsiblity, this trust that a child grants his or her parents. They lock their little eyes on yours, or their little hands in yours, and you can take them anywhere. They'll go with you.
Over the weekend, George, our 3-year-old, threw up in his sleep. He looked very pale. We changed his pajamas, changed his sheets and blankets, held him close, and then lay him back down in bed. I put a plastic trash bag in a small metal trash bin that I grabbed from our bedroom, and I put it by his bed. I told him that if he felt he was going to throw up again he could use it. I didn't expect it to work.
But a minute later, just as we were going to let him sleep, without a word he pushed his blankets aside and stepped out of bed. Still without a word, he sat on the floor and bent over the metal bin. And here's the trust part. It turned out that the random trash can I had chosen was a little too tall, and he had to rest his chin awkwardly on the edge of it as he got sick again. It was too late to do anything about it. He just went ahead and bravely lifted his chin over the edge; Dad had told him to do it that way.
I rubbed his back and privately cursed myself for not getting something easier for him.
The bottom line is: they trust us completely. Their eyes show it. Their actions show it. We know that is as it should be.
I'm good for it, to the best of my ability.
I am also aware that it is the greatest responsiblity I will ever know in this life.