Saturday, July 11, 2009


Even when she's almost asleep, my toddler can give me a cold cold look. Once, she was wearing sun glasses. We had been out hiking. I turned and asked if she had enjoyed herself. She lifted up her shades, the better to fix me with those piercing brown eyes and then turned her head as if I was not worth her notice.

Now I know this child and thus spend much time schemeing to get her to drop the mask, like when she gets ice cream or goes swimming or gets hugs that eventually melt her reserve away. Today, we went out and found wild raspberry bushes. I popped one in her mouth. My hand was full of others I'd picked. Spying them, she promptly emptied my palms of the red goodness I'd found, stuffing her cheeks.

She flashed a rare smile and nodded when I said, "Wheren't those good?" but the turned the thermostat back on extra frosty when she discovered I was all out.

It gets tempting at those times to be overly frank with such a child. "You just had raspberries. We just went hiking. You got to see cows and horses. You ate french fries and drank a coke. Smile already." But the real response that occasionally gets dropped in your lap, when she gives a hug and holds your face with her chubby fingers and stares at you in all seriousness, these are like raspberries that you find while on a walk in the woods. Unexpected sweetness in the wild, unbidden, a gift of love that is all the more beautiful and wonderous because of its limited duration and rarity.

So when we got back in the car, I clamped down on my tendency to recap the experience by asking questions that I knew would draw out the cold shoulder response. The reward was she put her finger up to her mouth as if in contemplation, but when she saw me looking at her and yet not asking, she didn't look away.

It's a start.

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