Friday, June 27, 2008


Le Petit is almost a year old now, and will soon clear babyhood and catapult directly into toddlerhood. It has happened so fast. Selfish me, I'll admit I'm happy he still doesn't have much hair, for his bald head and the soft fringe of down above his neck are all that remind me of the tiny baby that so precipitously turned my world upside down.

He's almost ready to walk. Was it only a year ago that he was waiting in my belly, hiccuping and kicking me in the ribcage?

His favorite thing to do right now is to explore a patch of grass. It tops playing hide and seek with Daddy, stealing a pot lid from the kitchen shelf, and even emptying the box of socks on his changing table. He's an urban baby, so he doesn't often get to crawl around on the magic green carpet, but oh! When the chance arrives, there is nothing more marvelous.

Even before we place him on the ground his hands and knees are spread, ready to take off. He crawls a bit, then sits up and starts tearing up handfuls of grass. He brings each fistful up to his face and slowly opens his fingers to watch the blades stick or drift back to the ground. He repeats this with such a concentrated look that you'd think him a scientist in his laboratory or a painter in front of a canvas. When the grass starts making its inevitable way to his mouth and we intervene, he looks startled and indignant to be interrupted in the middle of something so important.

Aside from making sure that he doesn't swallow anything, we have little to do but sit and observe. Le Petit, who when at home will not stay in one place for more than the short time it takes for him to empty a bookshelf, can stay in the same patch of grass for what seems like hours. He sometimes scans around him, and if he sees an alluring patch of clover, daisies or dandelions he will wander off a few feet, but he stops before he goes far.

I realize I've found the only person on earth who does not think the grass is greener on the other side. No, it is just fine right here, where he's content pulling up flowers ("A bouquet for Mommy?" I ask. No, a bouquet to eat!) and learning about the sounds of insects, the warmth of the sun on his back, and the texture and the smell of the blades of grass between his fingers.

I want to stay still too, and freeze the moment in the grass with him forever. Time has dilated and contracted this year, and my head spins when I think about it. I've spent the longest hours ever awake between one and four in the morning, but the months then disappear before I remember to take a picture for the baby book. If I think about it too much I start to mourn what I haven't yet lost.

Le Petit could explain it to me simply enough: the present is my patch of grass. Just don't look for the other side.

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