If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Marshall’s napping–and possibly it is the only thing I really know for sure–is that he needs more than 45 minutes. Yet, somewhat frequently, he wakes up at exactly 45 minutes. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but I think that is only because we have worked hard to figure out his optimal nap times, we stick to a consistent nap routine, and we are good about keeping things quiet during what we call his “peepy time.” When he wakes prematurely from a nap, he sometimes can get himself back to sleep, but sometimes he needs an intervention. Sometimes the intervention works, and sometimes it does not. When it does not, we have a very crabby baby on our hands for the next few hours.

Recently, Mr. Peeperton made an appearance at that 45 minute mark. I gave Marshall a few minutes to try to sort it out, but I could tell from the noise he was making that it just wasn’t happening. I went back to his room to find him standing up in his crib squawking. I silently picked him up, carried him to the chair, and sat down with him. I grabbed the pacifier off the top of the dresser, and inserted it into his mouth while saying “shhh.” I cuddled him tight so he couldn’t use his arms to grab at the pacifier. But he was being wily and uninterested in cuddling. He grabbed at the pacifier and started playing with it. He’s been doing great at getting it back in his mouth lately, so I hoped he would play for a minute or two, reinsert it, and fall back asleep.

No such luck.

All he wanted to do was play, and he acted like he had just been given the coolest toy on the planet. I figured we might as well have a little quiet time, so I just leaned my head back and rocked gently back and forth as he played. He started cooing at me. I looked down, and he was stretching his little hand up to my face. He was giving me the paci! He was sharing his cool new toy with me. I opened my mouth, and he awkwardly inserted it. For just a second, of course. Then he yanked it back out and put it back in his mouth. He passed it back and forth from himself to me several times.

It’s such a simple little thing, but it melted my heart and wowed me all at once. Not only was it as sweet as could be, but in my mind, it was the first time that he showed a real understanding of the connection between his body and another person’s body. He knows the paci goes in his mouth, and he knows that I have a mouth, and he knows that the paci can go in my mouth just like it can his. I was so proud of him! That brain of his is just going going going.