As I played a video of my friend’s mum dancing to hip hop, RB started clapping to the beat. I gushed. He likes music and in the past few weeks he’s learned to clap. Clapping has become his thing, and we reward it with the same admiration as if he were explaining Chinese grammar to us, at 9 months. It’s magnificent. He claps. We clap.
A friend’s mum played the piano with him. After each of his turns he applauded his own effort. We all thought it was hysterical and clapped with him, surrounding the piano. All eyes and ears and hearts on him.
At nearly nine months, clapping isn’t a big deal. To our blinded eyes, it’s another example of RB’s specialness, of his incredible character.
RB’s every little gesture is rich with meaning. His expressions say what his vocal cords can’t. Though he can squeal. We take it in turn to make funny, mostly loud, noises. They’re our conversations.
My husband told me I must stop publicly commenting on RB’s gorgeousness. He said it’s inappropriate to say that about my own child. I know what he’s saying but I can’t help it. When I look at RB I don’t see my child in the sense of a creation or possession of mine. When I look at RB I see RB, this little soul I have the privilege of caring for and helping to grow until he can fend for himself, and my love and care becomes a backdrop. I do preface my public admiration by saying I know I’m blinded by love.
I know I’m blinded by love because the probability of him being truly special are tiny. The odds of him being special to me are huge. Even though I know this, I don’t care. I think he’s incredible.
I know I’m blinded by love because when I look at other parents, they’re looking at their children the way we look at RB.
I’m grateful I’m blinded by love because if I wasn’t, the sacrifice required by parenting, my loss of freedom, of autonomy, would be too hard. I would want out, and it would be a pretty rational desire.
I presume my love blindness serves as more than a well of admiration for me: it’s protection for RB while his survival depends on our constant care. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that once children become more independent, a parent’s love blindness, and patience, diminishes. Maybe when RB is a testing ten year old, or a twatty teen, I can remember biology has us all by the balls. All that’s happening is my heart shaped lenses are slipping down my ageing nose. Maybe that makes it even more important that I revel in my love blindness while I can.