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!”