I am in the vestibule at the grocery store, unloading a watermelon from the cart into the stroller. H lingers just inside the automatic sliding doors, within sight, absorbed in a rotating rack of gift cards to every store imaginable. When I come back through the doors to meet him, he walks toward me saying, “Home Depot. Home Depot.” His little arm holds out an orange gift card with a white square on it. Inside the square it says Home Depot.
H is not yet two. He has been to Home Depot several times, but not nearly as often as he has been to other places, like the library, for example, or the zoo, or the grocery store. I am not sure whether to be appalled by the power of branding and the marketing machine behind it or amazed by the capacity of the human brain to recognize color and pattern and make connections outside of context.
As we leave the store, I decide that I am both.
We have been having fun standing lately. In the middle of play, H sometimes finds himself standing on his own. He points it out to me with something near incredulity. “Look at me!” he seems to be saying. “Can you believe this? I’m standing!” The look of delight on his face is infectious. I laugh and clap and he laughs until he either leaps into my arms or plops down on the floor, immediately signing more. I set him on his feet, and he lets go of me for another round of standing. Over and over we do this. It never gets old.
An hour and a half into bedtime last tonight H sat up in bed and started clapping. (He had clapped for the first time earlier in the afternoon with T while I was in another room.) My heart swelled as we clapped together. Then I scooped him up, snuggled him close, and told him I loved him. He gave me two open mouth baby kisses.
H makes ordinary moments like these feel extraordinary. He is a gift.
Last Thursday, H worked at putting a rod inside a cylinder (two pieces from his cone sorting toy) for the first time. He was not successful, but it was clear that he had the concept of one piece fitting inside the other.
Last Friday, H turned the pages of Rainbow Fish Gift of Sharing, a soft book we’ve been reading for the past six months. He’s old hat at turning the pages of the board books we read, but he had never turned the pages of this soft book before. It was clear that he had generalized the concept of a book.
H is not the first to grasp these concepts, of course, but watching him in these moments feels like witnessing something extraordinary.