When my daughter was born, a million thoughts ran through my head. Some of them, I’m sad to admit, involved Mickey Mouse ears, rides on roller coasters, and perfect 10s at gymnastic competitions. When you have an infant, anything and everything is possible. They’re a blank slate.
So, I was excited for our recent vacation to the beach – to bask in the sun and surf, chase sea gulls, and create an early addiction to frozen custard and overly salted French fries. None of this happened. Instead, it was business as usual. Bottles were drunk, naps were taken, and plastic shovels were chewed on at the beach, in the house, and in the car seat. The beach, it seems, will be more fun a few more years from now. We may have tried a little too early.
It was a nice reminder that while we can’t wait to share awesome new experiences with our children, we need to take their personal development into consideration. Right now, the Mickey ears would be a waste. Pictures would provide the only memory of her experience. While we’d always remember our trips on the flying Dumbo, she would be just as happy sitting on the nursery floor banging on her baby piano. Sure, the pictures would’ve been cute, but providing her memories will be even better.
Basically, the first year of baby experiences are for us. Her first fireworks? She didn’t care. Her first Thanksgiving? She had no clue what a turkey is. And Christmas? It was probably like any other cold day. Walking down the Halloween aisles of Target, it was futile to try and plop funny wigs on her head and take pictures. She wanted to rip them off and put them in her mouth. She has no concept of the selfie – which is probably a good thing.
This first year, we’re more concerned with building a healthy foundation. Food consumption, growth, and internal development are consuming. Once they’re all figured out, we can start exploring the world around us in a meaningful way: taking our first camel ride at the zoo, building a sand castle, and understanding the plot of Frozen. But, these things don’t happen in the first year, no matter how hard we wish they would.
When my daughter started walking at nine months, I envisioned holding hands as we promenaded down Main Street, waving confidently to our friends as we passed. No one told me she would be wobbling around like a drunken sailor for a few months. Everything we’ve envisioned will come true; we just have to be patient. For my daughter, lying there on the sand, asleep under an umbrella, the seashore may mean nothing at the moment; with a cool breeze blowing, it occurred to me that whether she knew it or not, she was living the good life.