I read one of those baby center bulletins. I get them in my inbox on some unknown schedule. Every few days I see something pop up about what to expect from the baby. They’ve been coming since I signed up for the newsletters. I think Ysenia and David first told me about it.
Every since I started getting them, those emails are little lines of life. They teach me. They relieve me. They scare me. They remind me about things I forget. The one I read today had to do with signs that your child loves you. I opened the email, clicked the link, and read the article. It got me thinking about the signs I’d list, in return, to explain or show how I loved my boy. Here are a few things from my list:
- I spend time with the boy. I don’t spend as much time as I could, technically. In fact, his mother spends time with him. His grandmothers do as well. His aunts and uncles and friends. We all split his schedule up in a way that has worked for his so-far-short life, a way that works for now. But I put my time in. I give him my attention.
- I hug and kiss the boy. This is new for me. I mean, I never had a kid who looked for affection, who naturally gave it. So as natural as it’s been for me to hug and squeeze and kiss my son, it’s been a slight job. I didn’t grow up with my father in our home so hugging the boy–and being hugged by him–has been a way for me to redeem the absence of growing up and not doing the same thing with my father.
- I buy things for the boy. A lot of things. Things I never thought I’d have to buy. I couldn’t even spell Aquaphor before I was a father. Or, more correctly, before that appointment around month six when the kid had skin things happening and the doctor scribbled it on top of our takeaway sheet from that appointment. I vary the Target locations I frequent but I buy the same things these days. Except the formula. Thank goodness that’s done.
- I talk to the boy. I say things he understands and things he doesn’t, though, in my mind I’m convinced he understands more than he lets on. I’m told that this is how he will learn language. He will pick up words I want him to understand. He will generally repeat the ones I’d rather he not. He’ll probably snatch my inflection on certain phrases and use his mother’s tone when speaking others. When he does start talking, words that I can understand that is, all my talk will come back in my ears–over and over and over.
- I clean the kid’s messes. There are messes that stick closely to his body, sometimes spilling and bulging from his diapers. There are those puddles underneath his high chair after a meal. Our living room gets littered by day’s end with his toys, a blue bat, two or three balls, a telephone he’s claimed as his, and dozens of blocks too small to locate but too big to eat. Of course, he’s been helping for the last couple months. He likes it. I’m glad. But when he doesn’t notice, when we don’t bring his mistakes or intentional dirtiness to his attention, we get it done. Because we care.
- I love his mother. This is a sneaky one, but it as true as the other points. I’m showing my son how to love when I interact with him, but I’m also modeling for him when I love his mom. When I honor her or attend or listen to her, he’s watching, learning, and taking notes. This is probably the single best and most consistent way I’ll love him. At some point, he’ll do his own laundry, make his own plates, but he’ll never be able to love his mother like I can and should.
This list is abbreviated. Everyday could bring an addition. And I’m launching these posts a few weeks after writing them privately. Still, if you come back to this entry, what would you add?