Friday, 23 October 2009
I See You Baby
Alex has started looking at me! (And other people too.) And by looking at me, I mean actually looking at me, rather than just happening to look in my direction. It's funny how much of an impact this has on me. Eye contact is such a basic fact of daily life for most of us we don't realise how important it is until it's gone.
Alex is still learning about looking at things. At almost a month old, he can manage some limited focussing and is able to recognise a face. (Note that he can't recognise faces in the sense of "oh no, not you again". He just sees two eyes, a nose and a mouth and goes "ooh, a face".) He's also starting to associate sounds (voices in particular) with something interesting that's worth looking at. As such, he'll follow a person around with his eyes as well as he can. (Not very well, at the moment. He's got about a 45 degree tracking zone. Beyond that, you might as well not exist.)
I wrote before about the difficulties of interacting with a newborn. Looking at you, even if it is for the briefest of moments, is such a huge deal because it begins to break down that barrier of incomprehension between parent and child. Playing with Alex now seems like a possibility, rather than just tending to him as we do at the moment. It makes him seem more human, less alien.
There's also a sense in which it feels like he's getting to know us now, rather than just us knowing him. He might not recognise faces yet, but he's learning. He'll see me and Nicola and, over time, hopefully he'll come to know us as Mum and Dad. The bond placed on you by a child's birth is pretty compelling, but it's a negative compulsion. You care for them because the alternative is too horrible. When he looks at me, I feel a more positive bond forming. I want to make him happy, not because otherwise he'll scream, but just because I want him to be happy.
Once he learns to smile we'll be totally under his thumb.