Thursday, December 23, 2010

The many faces of ourselves

I cannot stop looking at my children. It's like a drug.  I adore their faces.  Caroline, though not even 5 months old, has some of the most intricate expressions. And while she's generally amused, she does have a pretty good range from joyous to silly to peeved to anxious to sad to bewildered to just plain mad.  She even has The Look (i.e. the face I apparently give to the males in my house when I am not pleased with their current activity or conversational pursuits).

Yeah, kind of like that one

The ladies at daycare were remarking on The Look just last week when she very clearly wanted to be held and they were too busy to do it.  Ms Kim got it for approximately an hour which clearly distressed her given that most of her other daily clients are little balls of blubbery baby without much emotive radiation except smiling, sleeping, or crying. She was just not used to such complex imagery on the face of a babe.


And Jack, well, watching that kid's face is like watching VH1's pop up video.  His thoughts stream onto his face in real time and as his mental processes have become more complex, so too have his expressions.  It is wondrous to see pure, and often concentrated, emotion orchestrated by the 50+ muscles of the human face.  He often peppers in sound to complete the symphony in a humorously simple way.  His pout is heart wrenching, his anger is infuriating, his laugh is infectious, and his joy makes angels sing and flowers bloom. 

 Even when he sleeps, his sweet little brow furrows and lifts like a silent movie screen.  Recently, with the nearing of his second birthday, a new reckoning is dawning...mischievous defiance.  And I think this is perhaps one of the hardest parts of parenting to date for me.  He knows his smile can melt me into an accepting puddle in milliseconds and he has combined it with an ever so slight twinkle and tilt of his head that I simply cannot resist reciprocating with a permagrin.  Problem is, he uses said expression when his arm is outstretched towards the thing he knows he should not be touching in a strange game of Stop Me If You Have The Cajones.


I wish I could capture him on video so I could keep it forever because I know too soon it will be replaced with the self consciousness of adolescence, the snarl of the teenage years, or the masked facies (no, Matilda, that's not a typo...look it up) that all good adults learn to effect.  Unfortunately, he is neither still enough nor cooperative enough to allow such a recording so it will forever have to be imprinted on my own personal internal movie reel.


I wonder if all parents feel this overwhelming desire to watch their children. Is it an instinctual thing to ensure their safety or more of a fascination with another human that looks eerily similar to myself and Matilda?  Perhaps it's just because I don't want to miss any second of their lives and given how fast the first two years have gone by, I am almost afraid to blink.


I've met a few people recently who never had children and as my little family sat on the floor tonight, laughing about stuffed animals and Sissy's newly discovered ability to roll over, I couldn't help but think how much they are missing out on. For me, there is no comparable happiness like my son crawling up into my lap to hug me around the neck and say "Luff you." And catching glimpses of my husband, my father, and many other beloved family members in the expressions of my children warms a very central part of my soul by reassuring me that life and love are both continuous and contiguous and we all leave a very meaningful and lasting legacy in the hearts and on the faces of these beautiful children we create.

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