As a spinster with no siblings, I know very little about babies, but I learned a few things this past weekend when I visited Greg and Andrea and their almost-seven-month old son, Reed. He and I had met briefly at our family's Thanksgiving dinner, but we hadn't really had much time together. I helped Greg to feed him (although I suspect that my inexperience was partly at fault for the mess which resulted in the need for a bath), and Andrea and I both read to him. Reed squealed, laughed and grabbed at a variety of things--toys, a spoon, and a cat who ventured a little too close to him.
Early Sunday morning, as I lay in bed admiring the pattern the leaves from the tree outside one window made on the closed blinds, I heard Reed. I listened carefully. He did not sound distressed, or as though he wanted something. It was more like he was talking. It was almost a kind of music. I remembered hearing a tape of the sounds that whales make under the surface of the water--mysterious and beautiful. Reed's monologue touched me in the same way. I felt privileged to be able to listen in. Although I couldn't understand it, it spoke to my heart.
I thought about how much we rely on words to communicate, yet many times we fail to say what we really mean. I thought about how words can also be the source of many misunderstandings.
How can we glimpse the world as experienced by a seven-month old baby? We can listen--not only with our ears, but also with our hearts.