Zia Hassan

My Favorite Parenting Moment So Far

I’m not sure I can really call what I do parenting. It’s more like infant servitude mixed with improvisational theater mixed with Pavlovian conditioning (for all of us).

My experiences with Dezi exist in my mind like those string lights people put up at parties and holidays: each little multi-colored LED is a moment, and our time together is the wire in between.

Seeing him smile at me for the first time was absolutely stunning. When he held his own bottle for the first time. When he ran toward me using a walker. But none of them compare to what happened yesterday in the bath.

My son laughs a lot, but it happens mostly when we’re tickling him, or singing something, or making a funny noise. And it happens alongside our cue.

But yesterday, he was sitting in his bathtub and I stopped what I was doing for a moment just to watch him. He took his hand and slapped the water, lightly. Without changing my expression, I reached in and splashed the water like he did. He stared at me for a moment and then hit the water again, except this time harder. So I responded by slapping the water with the same level of force.

The next splash covered my pajama pants in water. So I splashed back really hard, covering his entire head in water. Then we stared at each other, both dripping.

And he laughed in a way that I have never heard. Normally when he laughs it’s like he amused by something. Like you told him a good joke, or he saw the end of a magic trick, or he’s watching his favorite band. The giggle is slow and low. One “ha” at a time.

This was different though. It was high pitched, but not screechy, and his eyebrows went up, almost like he was shocked. It was as if he was so surprised that I splashed him that all he could do was laugh at how absurd the whole thing was. Obviously I was cracking up too. We continued to splash each other, his laughs getting more and more laughier.

I can’t say exactly why this is my favorite moment. Maybe it’s because, for the first time, I didn’t make my son laugh… we shared a funny moment. It’s the warm feeling you get in high school when your friends surprise kidnap you or when your long lost childhood friend flies home and knocks on your door without any warning.

There are lots of moments in parenting, like the string lighting I mentioned earlier. And every now and then one of those lights burns a little brighter and you have to put a mental bookmark on it to remind yourself to revisit later on.