Life works differently for babies: more things are frustrations, to be sure, but more things are open to being fascinations, as well. This fact dawned on me this afternoon as I stood underneath a translucent curtain, looking out a window with the newest Lexingtonian, who was perched on my shoulder. In the early afternoon, going behind the curtains and coming back out was one of her favorite games. We would pull the curtain aside and slip behind it, letting it fall over our backs like a veil, and then I would narrate what we could see through the windows while she watched, wide-eyed and pucker-mouthed.
There's the sky, I told her. See how blue it is today? It almost looks as though it's cool outside, even though it's actually very hot. And see that house? It's made of yellow brick, and it has windows on the first floor and the second floor. My grandparents lived in a house close to its neighbor like this one...
I told her the story about my grandparents' neighbors' dog, whose barking activated their Clapper and turned their television and lights on and off, until they finally had to unplug the thing.
We turned our attention to the curtain itself. See the curtain? I asked her. She stared and cooed. It's translucent. That means that light can shine through it but we can't actually see clearly through it. See this stitching? Here's a vine. Here's a flower. Shall we go back outside?
We ducked back into the dining room. We tried out her cloth books, Fuzzy Bee and Friends and The Boo Book. I explained wordplay: It's funny that this book is called The Boo Book because it has a cow on the cover, and cows say Moo!
Later in the day, we lay on our backs on the floor and read the books again and again. She kicked her legs and waved her arms; her aim is not such, yet, that she can actually reach out for things with sureness or know what to do with them once she's got them. After a little bit, she began opening her mouth the way she does when we kiss her face. Do you want to kiss the blue beetle? I asked her. I buzzed him down and flicked his cobalt lamé wings on her cheeks, then buzzed him in to kiss her. She chortled. The fuzzy bugs kissed her again and again.
She now has the capacity to be utterly absorbed in watching one thing--a patch of sky, the movement of a mouth, the top of a window drape--for an extended time. I imagine that she is watching it, figuring out its being. I imagine remembering her fascination later, turning the wideness of her eyes into a guiding image for fuller sight.
On our evening walk, watching her crane her neck to look at the dusking sky and the starlings skeetering across it, I started telling her the story of how we came to have European starlings in this country: a man decided that all the birds of Shakespeare should live in Central Park, and so he brought with him a small flock, only 100 birds or so, and let them go, and now there are hundreds of millions all over the country, coursing over streets like ours. She watched and watched--first the trees and hedges, then me and my telling mouth, then the sky and its birds--her eyes wide the while.