Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Baby's Smile

We were at the park enjoying the spring weather. I was letting Michael and Ava climb on some bleachers when I noticed a ten month old baby crawling around in the grass nearby. The baby was adorable. She caught sight of my legs first and I saw her gaze travel upwards towards my face. She looked at me. I smiled at her and she smiled back. It was so natural and easy. It was fun and intrinsically rewarding to connect with a baby through eye contact and smiles.

It reminded me again that my own little ones did not do that when they were infants. Now, I’m not saying that they never looked at my face, or returned a smile. That would be an exaggeration. It just wasn’t as natural and as easy as it was with this stranger’s baby at the park. It’s hard to express, but it is so obvious to me that the connection that most babies make easily and naturally with the people around them did not come naturally for my children.

Even now, I’m having to explicitly teach Michael to look people in the eyes to connect with them. I’m teaching him to look in a person’s eyes when saying thank you or making a request. I think he’s slowly starting to realize how powerful that is.

Part of me reacts to seeing a beautiful baby by wanting another one of my own. But there’s the fear that I would be testing fate one too many times. Michael did not develop language, speech, or social skills typically, but has turned out mostly all right. He’s definitely within the typical range at this point and even ahead in some areas. Ava did not develop speech and language typically, and has what I can safely say at this point is a (thankfully mild) motor speech disorder. She’s making great progress and I am hoping that we can -maybe- catch her up by the time she starts kindergarten.

That’s two for two on atypical development though. Three is just not a gamble I’m willing to take with our lives even though I like smiling at the baby in the park. Besides, I’m not sure my husband and I could handle being outnumbered.

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