Baby’s memories left to parents

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 9, 2009

The sound came from way down low — from deep inside the gut.

It bubbled up unexpectedly.

Gibson had played with toys before. He had batted at his hanging fish, looked at himself in a mirror, pushed buttons on his music box.

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Yet there was something about the spinning Eeyore that lit up our four-month-old’s face and caused this joyous, guttural laugh to burst from his lips.

The whole world seemed to stop for a split-second. His mother, grandmother and father stared in awe with that “do it again” look.

And he did.

It was Gibson’s first real belly laugh — the first of many more firsts to come. Each one will be as joyous as the one before, and yet will be tinged with bittersweetness.

As much as I wish he could, Gibson will not remember any of the things he has experienced with his mother and me since he was born in June.

In the past few days, our son seems to have transitioned into a new phase of his life. No longer a newborn, his life is consumed with experimentation. He loves to touch and taste almost every object with which he comes in contact.

This curious kid is banking a constant stream of data. And even though he still relies on his parents to hold him up and carry him around, you can already see signs that he wants to broaden his boundaries.

He now looks out windows and doors with wonderment as to what is on the other side.

In the coming months we will help him taste solid food for the first time, say his first words and take his first steps.

Amazingly he will remember none of this. For Gibson, it is just part of the 24-hour job that is being a baby.

When I try to search in my head for small traces of my memory as a kid, I end up with a few dim recollections. In fact, I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between true memories and those that are influenced by family stories and old photographs.

There are vague memories of a cat, a set of stairs, a tricycle, but not much more.

I can only rely on the stories my mother and father tell me to learn about those early days in my life.

As a teenager and young adult, I rolled my eyes as my parents told many embarrassing stories during family get-togethers.

As a new dad, I now find such stories not only valuable as a connection to my childhood but also reassuring.

I now realize that those firsts were just as much firsts for my parents as they were their tiny son.

And so it is with my wife and me. Gibson’s first steps in life are our first steps into parenthood.

As much as we stand in awe at this little human being, I guess we should look upon our firsts as parents with equal wonder.

I try to remind myself constantly to capture impossible moments — to pick up the camera or to begin writing in a baby journal. Yet the days seem to pass by so quickly. The camera sits on the table, the journal remains empty.

Instead, my wife and I store up the memories in our heads to one day recall for Gibson the first days in his life and our firsts steps into parenthood.

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at