Sunday, November 8, 2009

Memories vs Milestones

While transforming the guest room in to the new baby room, (my wife and I are expecting at the end of the month) I came across something.

For a radio skills workshop I took a few years ago, we were asked to write about something—anything—in 250 words. What follows came from an experience I had when my son was around 14 months old.

“Who knew a little pat on the back could mean so much?

I never saw it coming as I scrambled after my one year old son through the posh restaurant.

Babies of that age gravitate to all that is verboten: light sockets, steak knives, the side of tartar sauce on the table of a complete stranger.

Following him is exhausting.

I look at my wife. She’s swirling a ruby glass of pinot noir. I envy her. She laughs with friends and savours ahi tuna. I lunge to keep my child from jabbing a fork in the waiter’s foot.

Finally, he is spent.

I plop him into his wooden highchair and settle next to him. My cold steak mocks me.

Inside, I wallow in self pity. Why am I missing out? Why does my wife get to indulge in all the fun?

Then it comes.

It feels like the brush of angel wings. I sense a tiny hand gently pat me on the shoulder blade. I turn to my son. He beams. He makes an ‘L’ with his thumb and forefinger and raises it to his temple.

To the uninitiated, it looks like my son is calling me a looser. I know he’s doing sign language. The sign for ‘daddy.’ The sign for me.

He grins a toothy smile.

‘Da da.’

My son nuzzles his head into my side.

'Da da,’ he sighs.

Who knew a little pat could mean so much?

Who knew such a little hand could cradle a grown man’s heart?”

You know, I’ve already forgotton my son’s first word, and I vaguely remember his first step.
The day he nuzzled his head into my side and sighed, “Da da” however, I’ll remember forever.

We anticipate that the big milestones in our children’s lives are the moments we’ll never forget. They are the memories we will cherish.

I disagree.

Life with a child is filled with so many glorious, unscripted, unforeseen moments. These are the ones that endlessly fill your cup. And these are the ones you can share with your child, simply by being with them and being fully present to them.

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