Since Arthur was very small a recurring theme in our wonderment about him has been how he reflects our world back at us.
There’s the very physical reflection: the way his genes manifest themselves in the image of me or Leigh or another of our relations. Though his hair was dark when he was born it soon turned blonde, and that along with his piercing blue eyes made him look so much like his dad. Then as his features have developed he has come to more and more resemble me. Our colouring will always be very different, but there are definitely strong similarities – and especially since my mum cut his hair in a style remarkably similar to the one she chose for me at his age it’s a bit like looking at a reflection of my younger self.
Arthur’s facial expressions and mannerisms are often also strangely familiar. There’s a picture of my dad at our wedding where he is uncharacteristically overcome with emotion, his lower lip wobbling and eyebrows furrowed. It is the exact same face that we see on Arthur in the rare moments when the world all becomes a bit too much. Then other times he looks exactly like his cousin, Anna – the beautiful and forthright daughter of Leigh’s brother with her determined lips and wise eyes.
It’s not just the physical characteristics that reflect our world though. Since Arthur was tiny, as all babies do, his emotions have hung on the energy projected by others into the space around him. Sometimes I realise I’m getting stressed out not because I’m feeling tense but because Arthur’s getting antsy. Or my already good mood is amplified by his giggles and adoring gaze. It’s made me very conscious of the moods I choose to project – and more than that, the moods I feel. More often than not whatever it is that’s stressing me out isn’t worth passing that negativity on to him, so with his mirror-like qualities he’s helping me reframe my emotions and learn to see things in a more positive light.
Of course though we are learning from Arthur he is learning so much from us, and this too forms a facet of the world he’s reflecting back at us. He’s picking up gestures rapidly at the moment, from blowing kisses to copying our silly dinner table dance moves. He’s copying words too – developing an increasingly sophisticated vocabulary including words like ‘raisins’ which we offer daily as his favourite snack and ‘turtle’ which is the form of the starry nightlight that lulls us all to sleep. He’s even started saying ‘right!’ in mimicry of my teacherly call to action. It’s definitely the time to keep the swearing out of earshot.
I’m aware that I’ve been posting lots recently about how much Arthur is teaching me, but where he is now, on the cusp of baby and toddlerhood, really is quite magical. I cannot wait to see that little mirror reflect back more and more of the world as he grows older, shaping it into a whole new universe in that wonderfully unique way he does.
Thank you to Sara at ‘Mum turned Mom’ for inspiring this post with her prompt of ‘reflection’.