Peeper has been in the world almost as long as she was inside me. Today she turns nine months old.
The other morning, Peeper and I were snuggling in bed after we’d woken up. We were playing, and I tickled her belly and armpits. Laughing, she threw herself down. She giggled and buried her face in the pillow as if to hide.
My breath caught. She just seemed so. grown. up.
Times like this I catch a glimpse of the mature child she is becoming. She waves to herself in the mirror. She speed-crawls toward me when I walk into the nursery after her nap. She throws a fit when we take away a favorite toy (like Finn’s rope or a blister pack of gum).
Peeper delights in the world. She’s better able to sort out the onslaught of sensory input and has made decisions on what she likes and doesn’t like.
At meal times, she chooses what to eat. She tends to stuff steamed sticks of carrots, chunks of avocado and slices of pear into her maw first. Sometimes she can’t get enough of one taste and grabs handfuls of, say, carrots only to drop them to pick up other pieces that caught her eye.
She uses her hands as much as her mouth to explore the food we serve. She squishes squares of tofu and sweet potato between her fingers, perhaps appreciating the texture. When her food options look the same—tofu, banana and pear are about the same color—her sense of touch tells her which chunk goes into her mouth next.
She also discovered the feel of grass under her bare feet. We’ve had some lovely spring days in Portland in the last month, and on one of those we stopped in the park after a long walk. I set her on the lawn, took off her socks and just about overdosed on cuteness. (I dare you to watch the video and not squeal right along with her.) She kept running her hands over the tips of the grass and stomping her feet. What must it feel like to experience grass for the first time?
Her excitement and joy is unadulterated. Her curiosity is intense. Even her fear and frustration is wholly honest. Peeper hasn’t yet learned artifice or manipulation, so what you see is what you get.
That transparency is rubbing off on me. Thanks to her, I see things—like sitting on a park lawn—in a new light. The world looks fresher as I imagine how it might appear to Peeper.
I notice how the water feels against my palms when I splash with her in the tub. I offer her a jar of cinnamon to smell and then sniff it myself. I quiet my thoughts to listen to the wind soughing through the pines when we walk through the woods.
She has given me this gift: to shed the gritty layers of experience, cynicism and inattention to see the world anew. I am impressed by the wonders of being alive.