The “Aha!” Moment

The “Aha!” Moment

My first and favorite literature professor in college, Fr. Maguire, whom everyone called Father Mac, said that for him the difference between an “A” paper and a “B” paper was not so much the content of the argument or how well it was supported, or how well the essay was written; but that he could detect in the essay that moment when suddenly something clicked and the writer had a new insight, a thought that went beyond what had been explained in class, a connection had been made with the material, a moment of true learning had occurred. He called it the “Aha! moment”.

In any case, tonight I had the rare opportunity to glimpse that moment in my daughter’s eyes. I was in the middle of changing her diaper when she got this look on her face, a kind of wide-eyed wonder, smiled widely and jabbed a finger at my eye. “Eye!” she cried, loudly and distinctly.

Then she turned the finger toward her own eye: “Eye!” she crowed again.

We’ve been playing the name game for a while now. She points to various parts of her body and I name them for her. Or I rattle off the names and she points to them: “Where is Mama’s eye? Where is Daddy’s nose? Where is Bella’s ear?” But so far the only ones she says are “toes” and, just this past week, “elbow”. She loves pointing at her toes, my toes, the toes on Old Macdonald in the picture book, the toes on the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the church vestibule, and saying it over and over again with the sheer joy of knowing the word and applying it correctly.

But there was something different about tonight’s addition of the new word, “eye” Previously new words have been added to her spoken vocabulary after some prompting by me. “Bella, do you want a cracker?“I ask. “Cracker.” she responds with a little twinkle in her eye. But tonight she made some connection on her own, unprompted by anything I’d said or done: “Aha! I know what that is. That’s an eye!” she seemed to think, looking at my face. “And I can say that sound!”

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  • I’ve heard the “As long as it’s healthy” too. While I do appreciate the kind wishes, only once have I had the nerve to say, “And if it’s not, am I supposed to send it back?”

    A dear friend has had a child that isn’t “perfect” health-wise. We don’t talk about it much anymore; Lily is just Lily. Early on, it was a major concern but that’s changed. Her various therapy sessions cause the family to adjust their schedule, but I don’t think she’s preoccupied with Lily’s various… quirks? Idiosyncracies? Handicaps? Issues? They just see their daughter.

    I’ll quote my sister on it. We disagree on more than agree, but every now and again she nails it: “You don’t get to choose what your kid needs therapy for.”

  • Marc and I were just talking about this a few days ago. We get asked a lot lately since I’m a week past my due date and sometime contract in public noticeably. Its always the same: due when? last week. boy or girl? we don’t know. names? not telling. they always end with “as long as it’s healthy!”

    We were walking out a watch repair place after the most recent exchange and talked about it as we did quite early on in the pregnancy – what if the baby isn’t healthy. Is it any less of a miracle? would we love the baby any less? is it any less of a joyous occasion? …no, no, no. We are so happy to even get to this point. We didn’t think I could get pregnant, we didn’t I could carry a pregnancy to term, we are overjoyed at the time we have had with the baby so far and that in itself is a reason to rejoice, even if it’s all we get. We get to meet the baby this week (i don’t want to be induced, but it may come to that), and we are very excited…not only as long as it’s healthy. We are meeting our child with hearts full of love we can’t wait to shower upon the little one, no matter what.

  • “we are overjoyed at the time we have had with the baby so far and that in itself is a reason to rejoice, even if it’s all we get”


    I wonder if it takes facing infertility or experiencing miscarriage to be able to fully appreciate this point. Though I recall even when I was pregnant with Bella I never took it for granted that I was going to carry her to term, I think after my miscarriage and cancer scare I have a new appreciation for the fragility of life and the absolute miracle it is just to be able to participate in the creation of a new immortal soul, even if we won’t get to meet that person face to face in this life.

    God bless you, the baby, and your husband and give you a very joyful meeting! With many prayers for a safe delivery free of complications and health for you and the baby.