I wish you could see Number Two catch a football. I never had an iota of interest in pigskin (or, in this case, Nerfskin) till I first witnessed my 18 month-old's arms come up in casual receipt of that ball. I threw it over and over--not from afar, yet further every time--toward his baby chest. He was so cool. His catch and clutch seemed natural in a way that made me believe the energy of the recipient could have more effect on an object's trajectory than that of the sender. The ball just fell into his arms. One second his hands would be at his sides, pudgy little puckers over each knuckle. He'd appear not even to be watching me. Then I'd lift the ball into the air and, after a short flight, it would land in an easy embrace I hadn't even known my son was open to.
In these moments, it's not that he's a boy to me. It isn't about the gleeful recognition of stereotypes proven true. It's about a baby gaining control of his spastic hands and his hard-heeled feet. It's about his stoic face going smiley with pride. It's about a simple game that is already making him joyful, and all the possibilities it holds for a long life of playing time.