Friday, May 11, 2012

Equal Opportunity Greeter

My one-year-old does not discriminate based on gender, race, or appearances--no matter how outlandish a person looks. If someone smiles at him, he simply smiles in return.

During our daily walks around the neighborhood, Jordan leisurely sits in his stroller and basks in the outdoors. Upon seeing a dog or a duck, he squeals and kicks his legs. He enthusiastically lifts his arms and waves at the passerby. Usually, this seemingly innocent gesture is accompanied by a high-pitched: "Hiiiiiiiii!" Onlookers smile, some will even say hello in response to his effervescent greeting.

As we proceed further along on our walk, I note the vast differences between baby-brain and adult-brain. While I silently judge others based on appearances, my son is an equal opportunity greeter. At an early age, I was taught--actually drilled to no avail--to not talk to strangers. I infrequently smile at others I pass in public places and oftentimes even look away to avoid eye contact all together.  I will even look in the opposite direction if a stranger seems the least bit threatening. Some may call this behavior unfriendly. I call it being street smart.

I think most of us are inherently acculturated to stranger danger and mistrust the general public. As a society, we are plagued with daily reports of violence--kidnapping, robberies, and various brutalities. The world is not a safe place. From childhood, our parents have instilled the importance of trusting only family and close friends. We are ingrained to become cautious if a stranger suddenly imposes a false trust.

My cute, innocent son has yet to grasp this concept. Through his eyes, every stranger is a potential friend. And, very few strangers are immune to my son's charming demeanor. As he pleasantly smiles at pedestrians, everything is right with the world. He reins as the king of his domain as he continues to be pushed in his throne on wheels.  He is blissfully ignorant.

Sadly, soon I will have to begin the act of teaching my son the importance of exercising caution with strangers. My husband and I will be solely responsible for lifting his veil of ignorance and telling him that the world is really not a safe place. He will soon learn the societal art of discrimination, prejudice, and self-preservation.

My son has taught me yet another life lesson: The world would be such a happier place if we all greeted strangers walking past--scary-looking or not.  And until he learns about stranger danger, I can still enjoy watching as he ignites the faces of passerby.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bye-Bye Baby

How did I suddenly become the mother of a one year old? This past year was both the shortest and longest year of my entire life.  It seems like only yesterday that I was still pregnant and blogging away on bed rest.  My body still feels as though it is healing from its traumatic childbirth experience.  I still sometimes wake up at 3am and expect to nurse a tiny baby dozing in the bassinet beside my bed.  However, those throaty, scratchy sounds of a newborn have long since abated.

Back then it seemed there was no end in sight of the sleepless nights, colicky behavior, and neediness that only a newborn baby can possess.  Although everyone told me how “quickly it all goes by”, I wish I could travel back in time and advise my frazzled self.   

After Baby J neared the end of newborn-dome and began smiling socially for the first time, I fell in love.  Enchanted by his smiles, enraptured with his charm, I began enjoying motherhood.  Between 6-8 months, he became the epitome of a perfect baby: He was content playing for long periods but couldn’t yet crawl or move.  I used to place him on the family room floor strewn with toys and jump on my treadmill for a half hour.  Those respite days are long over.

When he approached eight months, his little personality would surface at the most inopportune of moments.  His father’s stubbornness would appear when things didn’t go quite his way.  His mother’s restlessness would always prevail when out to dinner at a restaurant.  Around eleven months, I suddenly woke up one morning and discovered that I no longer had a baby: I had a toddler instead.  The change was so spontaneous that I was sure my baby was kidnapped in the middle of the night and replaced with an older child.

This weekend Jordan was presented with his first birthday “smash” cake, adorned with green icing.  As he dove, fingers first into his mini-masterpiece, I was quite the adoring mother.  A party guest actually congratulated me on making it through one year.  As if getting through the first year of baby’s life is a huge accomplishment. 

My husband, who loves to rid our house of antiquated items, already moved Jordan’s baby items out of the house.  As my husband relegated the exersaucer into the garage, I was filled with nostalgia for the baby days.  I must also donate books, toys, clothes, and gear that are suited for a baby, not a toddler.  I can no longer use the excuse “I have a baby” for various reasons such as showing up late to work, not wearing make-up, or having a messy house.  I doubt the “I have a toddler” excuse with garner as much sympathy and understanding. 

So, as another momentous year in my life has come to a close, I look forward to the new challenges imposed by motherhood.  Next, will be learning to walk, talk, and use the bathroom.   While I will always reminisce about the “baby days” I look forward to more birthday cakes, celebrations, and watching g my toddler grow into a little boy….