The loss of innocence


Lola did her first headbutt yesterday.

The little bugger likes to be upright, or at least almost upright, to see what’s going on in the world, and as I clasped her to me she raised up her wobbly head for a better gander at her favourite blue and white zebra painting, and … wham.

She lost control of that wobbly little head for a second and headbutted my breastbone. The shock was so great she screamed for a good while.

It struck me then that I can count on one hand the number of times this world has hurt her.

There was the birth, of course. Struggling down the birth canal and being wrenched out with the help of a vacuum on your tiny little head has to be up there on the list of stressful life events.

Then there is her time with the nurses and doctors before being passed over to me… lots of poking and prodding in a strange new clinical world.

Then the needle in her hand for initial blood tests, and two jabs in her heel for more blood tests. It was meant to be just one but the nurse bungled it.

Further down the scale there are the gassy stomach pains that cause her to whimper in her sleep or launch into a good long cry.

And then the headbutt.

It was just awful to see the look of betrayal on her little face as she sobbed. It wasn’t even a very big bang on the head; it was more the shock that things could hurt.

One of the most blissful things about having Lola in our lives so far is having her smile up at me – looking me full in the eyes with total trust and faith, and smiling her gummy smile; sometimes even laughing her funny little laugh. She does it in the morning – she’s so happy we’re starting another day again, even if her days still really consist of sleeping, eating and micro play sessions watching her blue ee-or donkey float above her trilling its tinny version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or tracking the progress of her Senor Vaca rattle with her eyes, or perhaps a quick spell pushing against her cyclindrical pillow and experimenting with the notion of self-propulsion.

We all lose that innocence somewhere along the way, and a world full of totally trusting childlike adults would be like living in some bizarre religious cult – imagine, legions of bright-eyed zealots who don’t want to think for themselves. We must all learn to question, to be sceptical and to explore the world, which means pain, disappointment as well as elation and serenity and excitement.

But without getting too dramatic about it, it hurts to think that that amazing gleam in her eye and that fearless joy is going to be shaped by the pain of scraped knees, more headbutts, trouble with friends, teenage angst.. and all the rest.

She is waking up now, her little podgy pajama-ed body squirming and her lovely little mouth making ridiculous shapes, and I can’t wait to see that smile again.

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