A Smile Behind the Bottle


A Smile Behind the Bottle

1/5/1998

 

As I hold you in my arms and feed you your bottle, you look up at me with your dark brown eyes. You are only three months old, but somehow your gaze seems more knowing than what I imagine possible from such a young infant. Your eyes lock on to mine. While looking down into your eyes, I take time to notice the rest of your angelic face. You have beautiful, clear skin now that the rashes that you had as a tiny baby have faded away. You have big puffy cheeks, so big it seems that you’re storing your food there. But, of course, I know that your storage place is really in your thighs with their many folds. You have a cute little nose; I’m so happy that you got this feature from your mother and not from me. You have sandy brown eyebrows, each looking as if it’s really made up of two brows with a slight angle between the two. You have long eyelashes already; these grown since birth since you didn’t have any trace of them when you were born just over 100 days ago. And, of course, you have a full head of fine, soft dark brown hair. You have so much hair that you’ve already had a haircut!

What I can’t see – for now, while I feed you your bottle – is your smile. Your lips are like mine, I’m told. Your top lip is thin and when you’re sucking on your bottle, all I see are two little lip bumps right in the middle. The sides of your top lip are completely hidden by your bottom lip, which is large and fleshy. You have one heck of a pout, little guy. Luckily, you rarely have reason to use it. Normally, your mouth forms the most wondrous smile. A bit crooked – like your father’s, I guess – with your bottom lip rounded but your top lip crooked. Your smile begins slowly when you beam it. If someone smiles at you, your face registers slowly and your smile begins to form. The corners of your mouth separate and then head upwards. When your smile is in its full glory, your mouth is open quite a ways. This is just how you came out of the womb, my friend, although then you were crying. Now you are clucking and laughing. I can see your wide, flat, pink tongue dancing around in your mouth and can see your gums, with the sharp tips of your baby teeth just waiting below their surface. I sure hope teething goes smoothly.

Now, with a bottle in your mouth, you begin to smile. Who knows what you’re finding funny. Perhaps it’s gas? I don’t really think so – I know that “smile” and it’s definitely different than the one that’s forming on your face right now. I can imagine you older, accompanying your smile with a sigh and a rub of your belly. You’ll be cute then, too.

Your eyes light up and from behind the bottle I see the corners of your mouth lose their suction on the bottle and spread outwards. Your top lip rises up in its familiar crooked way. Your whole face is alive with joy. And my whole being. Should I find a way to stop you from smiling so that you can eat – after all, that’s what we’re trying to do here with the bottle – or should I simply sit back and enjoy the moment? The decision is an easy one: you can always eat later. For now, warm me with your precious smile, my son. I hope that I warm your heart at least half as much as you warm mine. I close my eyes now and the image of your precious smile fills my mind. And my heart. I love you.

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