To The Infant I Couldn't Stop Staring At In The Laundromat

hi, little guy.  I hope I didn’t creep you out by staring at you in your impossibly tiny sweatsuit.  I doubt if you even noticed – your eyes wide and flicking all over the room, pausing on each new amazing sight to process and file it away.  everything is new and nothing is taken for granted as you sort each new feeling and experience.  Dad:  good.  Washing machine:  loud.  Nap time? Sybaritically divine.  you’re new at this, but you catch on quick: ignoring the sophomoric Jerry Springer on the TVs and instead flashing your deep brown eyes at the laundress.  Always make friends with the laundress.  you’ll learn that in time, but for now, there’s more pressing tasks at hand.
soon you’ll learn the names of all these things that astound you.  some you will whisper in shy, hushed tones, cautiously repeating.  others you may shriek loudly with joy: hi! yes! more! no! stop! bye!  you’ll run too fast and fall down, and cry because you forgot where you were going in the first place with such haste.  you will develop a fearful respect for the toilet and cause your parents concern when you first attempt to use it as a splash pool.  you will taste and form opinions on these things we call “food” and some well-meaning adult will snap a picture of your smiling face covered in cake for the first time.  remember this, because in a little over a decade you will be tasked with finding and destroying such photo to prevent future embarrassment.  but for the moment, enjoy the cake.
yes, the well-meaning adults in your life will hover over you.  they are the stop-gaps that will keep your hands out of the toilet.  they are the living dictionaries from whom you will divine your budding vocabulary.  they are the givers and the takers of cake.  they will seem enemies to you at times.  it may take longer than you expect before you will understand their reasons.  but they love you.  I can vouch for that as it’s plain across your dad’s face, cradling you to his chest.  you don’t notice his arms gently encircling you, his eyes filled with pride as yours scroll the walls and ceiling.  you might take for granted that he’s always there to hold you, to watch you, to keep you from touching the icky things, to talk to you, to listen, and to spoil you with the occasional cake.  don’t tell mommy, okay?
“Congratulations,” I whisper at him. “thanks,” he stops to wipe a long string of viscous drool off your chin.  he thinks I’m talking to him.  he deserves it too, don’t get me wrong. but you, little human, have made it.  in the Russian Roulette of genetic chance, you emerged victorious onto our earthly playing field.  congratulations.  you made it, and we’re all cheering for you.  welcome to life.  I hope you have a blast.  

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