I believe in babies. Not in the sense of procreating and carrying on the family name, nor proving that you can accomplish something in life, or in the sense of all the work involved with an infant. I’ve had my share of sleepless nights, thrown up milk, and dirty diapers, they are no picnic. I believe in babies because of their innocence and their kisses.
They represent complete innocence before corruption of the world affects them. They have no malicious intent when they pull your hair and laugh, unlike the boy who sat behind you in second grade. They smile at you because they mean it and are happy to see you, not like the lady at the mall who just wants your money – it’s a business to her. Babies don’t know conscious intent at all, only that they have needs to be met.
Have you ever thought about the intent behind people’s actions? About the ‘why’ in their actions; maybe to help you, hurt you, or because they want something. Innocent, most are not. There’s a million-plus reasons why people act like they do. A significant other gives you a kiss because of some wrong he or she has done, a parent kisses a child on the head as a thank you for the chores they are being forced to do, or a rare kiss from a teenager so he or she can go somewhere they really shouldn’t.
As I sat with my teenager in the emergency room, injured in a soccer game the day before, waiting for the concussion diagnosis I know is coming. My daughter Anna, 8 months old, awkwardly grabs my face, opens her mouth, and proceeds to put it over my nose. Then pulls away and laughs. This is her way of reciprocating the kiss I gave her a few moments before while saying ‘Got your nose’. Her way of kissing is really nasty if you think about it, a tissue is required afterwards, but her intent is pure innocence. She isn’t trying to relieve the worry on her mother’s face or make her brother smile because Mom got grossed out; she’s just copying something she saw. It’s her version of the ‘Got Your Nose’ game.
I wonder when the change will occur. I wonder the exact moment that intent becomes a factor in our actions. It may be at three when the child looks at the parent with a shy smile and asks for a cookie or when they are two and it’s the first time someone takes their toy. So, if we combine the idea that babies copy what they see with the thought that intent becomes a factor at some point, we conclude that the change that happens from infancy to adulthood must be coming from ourselves. By copying our actions, babies start to become like us. It’s a scary thing to examine our own intentions and to see ourselves reflected in the growing up of babies.