Little Man has a favorite animal- baby elephants. It doesn't matter whether the elephant in question is a mama, papa, or an actual baby-- they are all baby elephants in his book. And he loves them. Every. Single. One of them.
I don't know why he likes them better than cats or monkeys or crocodiles. I don't know what makes his little face light up differently when he spots a picture of one somewhere.
I do know, however, that they bring him pure joy.
It's one of my favorite parts about being a mom--that pure, unfiltered joy. When his face lights up and his entire being seems to jump into life because something has unexpectedly pleased him like he never expected, my whole world is right.
We saw lots of elephants this weekend. When the circus comes to town, the elephants camp out in the local university's parking lot. So we went to take a look at them on Friday. And then today, we saw them perform with their circus friends.
Did I mention that Little Man loves his baby elephants?
I know we didn't need to go to the circus again. (we just saw it in NYC less than a month ago.) I know I didn't need to take him over to the elephant area last Friday--he probably could have gotten his fill of them today. But I love seeing his face light up.
He goes all quiet, and grabs my hand tight, and then he realizes just how exciting it all is. And I melt. Absolutely melt. His entire being is suddenly aware that he is in the presence of a real live baby elephant. And really folks, what could possibly be better than that? What could you possibly buy that could give you that much joy? What could you possibly get that might give you even a twinkling of what his little 29-pound frame feels when he gets to see an elephant?
It's the same joy he radiates when he yells, "Watch 'is mama!" and then leaps off a step. (A new trick-- Papa is not amused.) It's the same joy that engulfs his little body when he sees that we've pulled into the park and the playground comes into view, or when he yells for me to swing him higher and then suddenly, giddily exclaims, "weeeeeeeeeeeeee!" To be honest, I didn't know that people really said "weeee" when they did something fun or exciting. And yet, he does it right on cue, without the tiniest bit of forethought or irony.
It's the spontaneity that makes his joy so wonderful. And it's his wonder at so many things that makes his joy so palpable. When I watch him, I can almost remember what it was like to feel that spontaneously joyful. I can almost remember what it was like when everything seemed taller and wider and the whole world seemed like an adventure waiting to happen. And then, I realize, I don't have to remember. It's still like that--and the same joy he gets from baby elephants, I get from him.