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When exactly does a baby become a person? This is a question I’ve pondered for some time. It seems to me that for the first three months of life or so, we grant personhood status to babies who are still blank canvasses.

But after that? I don’t know. Simon at four months didn’t seem to have many opinions or unique characteristics, but in hindsight I can see (and read about) things that are in perfect keeping with who he is now. Things like his love of being outdoors, his sensitivity to noise except for the traffic on Bardstown Road, and his extra cooing for pretty women.  By eight months or so, his personality and interests were becoming a bit more obvious, and his ability to move, point, and say a word or two at a year made it much easier for Simon to assert himself.  By now, at two and a half years, I’ve got a car-crazed, girl-crazed, affectionate and sensitive kid on my hands with a penchant for throwing things. I could go on, and that ability neatly illustrates my point: Simon is now a person.

This personhood has resulted in some interesting side effects. I’m conscious now—very conscious—of whether or how I talk about Simon in front of him. I am much less inclined to laugh at his crushes now, as I believe his feelings for people like Molly or Christine are quite real and should be respected. I work much harder to explain things to him in age-appropriate ways because he’s just starting to ask real questions and, I assume, just beginning to be able to handle real, age-appropriate answers.

And the biggie, for me, is that Simon has become good company. Once upon a time, I adored Simon but didn’t like to be alone with him for too long. It got lonely. I remember when Matt traveled to New York for a week when Simon was 13 months old. I booked some play-dates and arranged for Grandma/Bubbie time to alleviate my sense of isolation. I didn’t need a break from taking care of him, but I did need a break from taking care of him alone.  As an extrovert, it was hard for me to be without conversation.

Now, as often as not, stretches alone with Simon can feel like guilty pleasures. A little over a week ago, we were at a museum with friends when it closed in on Simon’s lunch and nap-time. He really needed to go home, but our friends and their daughter were still having a great time. So I left Matt with our guests and I took Simon home with me. I think it may have looked like a parental sacrifice, but it wasn’t at all. I had had much time with my friends already, and I knew I was going to have more before the visit ended. Getting a couple of hours for a quiet lunch, a snuggle, some pre-nap reading was pure indulgence.

Saturday night Matt went over to a friend’s house at dinner time while I headed over to my Mom’s with Simon. We ate, played with toys, and went for our customary walk around the block followed by tea biscuits and sorbet. Then I said goodnight and took Simon home, where he was in such a good mood that before I realized it, it was an hour past his bed-time. We were having such fun reading, wrestling, and snuggling that I allowed myself to lose track of time. Because he was good company.

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