The unsullied world of a baby’s smile

When my baby smiles at me, he’s not doing it because he has something in mind for me. He doesn’t do it wryly, or mischievously, or after having shared a whit of wit.

He doesn’t smile at windows, or at shirts, or at pants, or at underpants. He doesn’t smile when he soils himself (unless perchance he did so gloriously atop papa’s lap, but that’s coincidence).

He doesn’t smile at the windowsill and the medicine bottle, nail clippers, and scissors we placed there.

One time, I did catch him smiling at himself, or the best facsimile of himself, in a mirror. I think he was attempting to induce a smile in that miniature-statured fella staring back at him, since it did seem to reply to every gesture of smiley-ness and peppiness and cheer with an exactitude he can’t get from papa.

He doesn’t smile at the rings that dangle above his playpen that are brightly colored in shades of rose, lime, lavender, and periwinkle. He bats them, and swats them, and shouts piercing bursts of infant exclamation at them as they fling about. But no smile does he crack at them.

He doesn’t smile at mama’s new SUV and its stunning shade of metallic crimson red. He doesn’t smile at being alone in the second row as mama and papa chatter about their newfound, delightful driving experience.

He doesn’t smile at bugs yet, or the crackling of mulch underfoot, or little flowers yet to be picked for mama. He doesn’t smile at any lizard he may one day drag through the front door and drop in mama’s lap.

He doesn’t smile as he falls asleep, or as he eats, or as he does any ordinary baby-thing unless mama and papa have locked their eyes into his own.

He smiles only at us, without motive or self-seeking, without an internal satisfaction other than the fact that a moment of personal communion was made with him. This seems to me a moment that every man seeks at least once in his day, in knowing that some love exists that doesn’t demand a thing for him or from him: it is there just with him.

And I am here with my baby son, looking at him in his baby swing, glancing at him over this screen as he smiles at me, in a perfect kind of love. I imagine something like this is all God intended for us.

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