On his first week exposed to the world, I met my new grandson. I spent two weeks visiting each day, watching his gradual awareness of new senses. His eyes remained closed most of the time, only open briefly to the new experience of light. He remained depended on his mother for nourishment exercising his fresh digestive system.
Birth, as dramatic as it may be to the mother, to the infant, is an incremental step. He does not yet possess circadian rhythms of night and day. His dreams can only be of sounds and senses, limited as they may be. He can dream only of the touch of loving arms, the sounds of words that yet to have meaning, the blur of lights and colors to unfocused eyes.
A day is brief to us. To him, it is a measure of his experience and each of his days show changes. He is awake more, seeing more. Are those sights in focus? Is curiosity awakening?
We returned home and only photos allow a look into his life. He’s gained weight as his parents celebrated his first month. Much alert now he begins to absorb his world, putting the pieces together. The months will bring developments. First, understanding the use of his hands, albeit limited. Then developing responses, true human interaction. Eventually making noises, his own nascent language developing. Mobility. First crawling, and eventually the ultimate human achievement of walking.
Other animals, like the deer I see in our back yard, have babies that stand, walk, and develop far faster than humans. Even other primates seem to have the edge on homo sapiens in baby development. What evolutionary functions are served by my grandson’s gradual maturity I leave to others to debate. For me, it offers more opportunities to welcome this baby’s accomplishments for years to come. And to love him.