When Dylan was just a few weeks old, M. and I took him for a little walk around our neighborhood on a sunny autumn afternoon. As we strolled up the sidewalk, a wizened old woman hobbled down her front steps to take a peek at our bundle of joy. She exclaimed, "What a blessing!" She asked how old his was, and we responded cheerfully, proud to show off our son. Then she said, "He is beautiful. He is so free of sin." We trundled off, uttering our thanks.
At the time, I didn't appreciate her words. They felt, I don't know, so...sanctimonious or something. It made me uncomfortable that this stranger was judging my son in such a way.
But since then, there have been many times when I've looked at our sweet little guy and reflected back on her comment. Especially like now, when he's asleep. His soft round head is turned to one side, and his long, dark lashes rim his closed, fluttering eyes. Occasionally, his pudgy cheek moves a bit, in concert with his full lips in their precious infant overbite. He's swaddled, so his body is one small bundle. He looks so vulnerable, and so innocent.
Once when I caught my husband looking over him while Dylan sucked sleepily on his pacifier, M. struggled a bit to find words. Then he said, with moist eyes, "He's so earnest."
Yes, that's a good word. Everything that our son does now, he does with pure intent.
I told M. then what I am trying to express now: that observing the baby like this makes me melancholy. "He's so naive," I said.
As much hope and optimism as I feel for this young human, I am also already desperately sad for all the hurt I know life can - and will - bring to him. There is so much I can't - and shouldn't - protect him from. I continued, "He has no idea that there is a whole wide world out there." And for now, that's the way I want it.