And Other Things That Brush the Tip of Your Nose.
Yesterday, while dining on a meal of pureed sweet potatoes and avocado that was clearly more interesting to me than it was to her, Opal sustained a state of silent opposition. She watched the orangey-green pudding approach her pursed lips, strained her baby-crossed eyes to maintain focus on the spoon and then went to reach for it, dipping her tiny fingers in up to her dimpled knuckles. The laid-back moment of rebellion was then made complete when she flicked the edible medium from all her fingers including the thumb onto the white-canvas of the tray beneath her.
Then, just as I was about to give up on this unsuccessful session of eating, Opal’s attention clearly settled into something else; she discovered that there were two tulips in a wine bottle sitting on the table in front of her. Her face took on an expression of utter enchantment.
So I took a moment to look, too.
The tulips were from the precious family of bulbs that’d been planted in our yard the first autumn we lived in this house, two and a half years ago. They were the same size when I cut and put them in water (with a lucky penny at the bottom) and in the matter of a few days one grew tall and wide with a telephone chord for a stem and petals of crimson-painted silk, thick enough to be ironed. Nothing drooping. Perfect posture. The other one wilted, its weary stem not quite strong enough to hold up the confused tousle of shrunken petals, its stamens indecently exposed.
The tulips made me think of siblings who grow up in the very same household with the very same parents and the very same childhood into two altogether different adults. I thought of twins in utero, how one often somehow soaks up nourishment more readily than the other. I thought of my own breasts, how different the experience of breastfeeding was for the left (struggled, bled, incredibly painful) than the right (champion, over-producer of milk, piece-of-cake). And even now, how different they appear (the right one is much much bigger). I thought of luck and karma, the seeming randomness of opportunity as well as the seeming randomness of failure. All this, each of these thoughts, entered only through the portal provided by my dear daughter.
She does this.
Developmentally still unable to multi-task, she lingers on one thing at a time. In the midst of breast feeding, she’ll notice as the light hits my zipper and her top lip stiffens as if she’s witnessed a miracle, her eyes then flex with a micro-lens focus as she reaches for it. To describe her as easily distractible would be inaccurate and even a bit crude. She is amazed by her surroundings and allows herself to hop from one object of amazement to another and to hang out as long as necessary because there is nothing else to do. Nowhere else to be. There is plenty of time for such studies. And why the hell would I suggest that she rush? The passage of time is such a drastically different beast for her.
So, when the moment allows, she walks me through my own, well-established world with the eyes of a traveller having set foot on uncharted territory. Notebook drawn, video-camera charged, camera cocked and loaded, she breathes life into details I have become blind to. Star gazing in my own kitchen and living room.
We spent some time analyzing the creeping vine today and I noticed it has some yellowing leaves and spindly spots.
During a contemplation of the ceiling light fixture, I observed it’s drastic need to be dusted, and as we looked, a decent-sized spider parachuted its way through the air, backed with the safety-line of its own web. Then, as if it saw us and reconsidered, it speedily made its way back up to the ledge as Opal and I just watched.
I wondered if I would have completely missed this detail had she not been nearby, instigating this kind of attention. I wondered how many spiders and other such things have dropped down in front of me during my lifetime, practically skimming the tip of my nose, that I was completely oblivious to.
(This article was exctracted and lightly re-worked from a springtime blog-post that can be found at http://thegrimesfamilychronicles.blogspot.com/2010/05/tulips-and-spiders.html)