Samara is my favorite teacher.
She finds the dog hysterical, especially when he is growling and baring his teeth. She has no reason to believe he is doing anything other than playing. She sleeps on her back with her arms wide above her head and her legs open like little frog legs. Today a man came into our house to do an energy evaluation. She gave him big smiles, never wondering what this stranger was doing. Yesterday a woman at the market was cooing at her, getting her to smile. She brushed her fingers across Samara's cheeks. I bristled. Samara just smiled and kicked her legs happily.
I envy her world view. She has no preconceived notions, prejudices or worries. She does not even have stranger anxiety yet. There is something so inherently heartbreaking in the fact that all this will--must--change. She can't smile at everyone or pet a barking dog. It always breaks my heart a little when she reacts to something bad, like the startled cry she gave last week after the dog accidentally scratched her arm while she was nursing. Her whole body shuddered and she let go of my nipple, looking startled for just one or two seconds before screaming, red-faced, her whole body tensing.
She seemed so shocked, so totally blindsided by this sudden discomfort. How could this happen? When she went back onto the nipple, she kept her eyes open, looking at me as if to say, "I know what you did to me. I've got my eye on you." The next time, she closed her eyes again. But I know she lost some trust. She learned. And even though I want her to be street smart and savvy, it makes me so sad that this gorgeous innocence has to end.
When I find myself lamenting our neighbors' trash habits or their loud voices or when I say the kinds of obnoxious, snobby things I sometimes do, I look at Samara and wonder why we expect kids to learn from us. She will likely acquire much of my snobbery and fears. She will have plenty of time to learn who she can and cannot smile at in the grocery store. I am not Pollyanna enough to believe that everyone is inherently good, that a growling dogs won't bite if I come too close. But for now, I am going to let her teach me. I am going to try each day to trust a little more and judge a little less.