Out of all the things that make raising Scout seem not too far off from raising a baby, the one that is apparent on a daily basis is that of discovery. Since her very first day with us, Scout never ceases to be curious to that which I have long taken for granted. The earliest example I can think of occurred during the first week we had her, when she was still a tiny 6 weeks old.
Remember when Scout was this tiny? It didn’t last long…
We were outside in the grass, standing near a parked car. When the car started, Scout jumped about a foot in the air and raced behind my legs, cowering. My immediate urge was to scoop her up in my arms and comfort her, but I miraculously refrained, as my trusty research had said to do. Coddling her during new, uncertain experiences would only encourage the fear, every expert instructed. So I kept my hands to myself, and tried not to mumble any soothing baby-talk to her. The very next day, outside again, a car near us started, and this time Scout stood her ground, watching intently, but no longer afraid. Growth, right before my eyes!
This holy-cow-that’s-new! reaction has occurred many times since then: to the television (a dachshund on America’s Funniest Videos got her rapt, if brief, attention), to street curbs (previously very daunting apparatuses), magnolia leaves, peanut butter, and tennis balls.
But the cutest example, and one that B and I wished we could have captured on video, was when she first encountered a fire hydrant.
We were out on a walk, and decided that since Scout was doing well, we’d go a little bit farther than normal. Around a curve we went, and there in our immediate vicinity was a fire hydrant. Scout froze. As she always does when she doesn’t understand something, she stretched out her face forward, nose inching slowly toward this mysterious thing, and then–sudden interest! She bounded forward, sniffing maddeningly, and began to hop and dance around the hydrant as if she were trying to play with another dog.
Laughing, B and I realized that Scout might, in fact, think that the hydrant was another dog. After all, how was she to know that this thing, which surely smelled like another dog after all the morning sousing it’d received from neighborhood dogs, was inanimate?
Well, it turns out that Scout probably did know that the hydrant wasn’t alive, as my books inform me that dogs are very talented at discerning living beings from nonliving objects. But still, for that brief moment, Scout truly wanted that hydrant to play with her. And it was the cutest thing ever. We’d really wished we’d gotten it on film, because ever since that first experience, Scout might give the hydrant a flirtatious sniff, but then she’s done, onward to the next bend in the road (especially if breakfast is waiting around that bend).
Still, I like to think that not all of life’s mysteries have exposed themselves to Scout yet, that we’ll still have more a-ha! moments to capture in the years ahead. After all, that part of this whole parenthood journey–watching her discover the world around her–has been one of the most enjoyable so far.