When a child learns to speak, their first word is a gift. It is a butterfly wing that swirls the dust motes ignited by the sunlight. A snowflake that shatters an arctic sea to match its fractal pattern. The glitter on sand in the desert at dusk. A distant star shifting its color.
The word is the manifestation of a self, an intention made into action. Doesn’t matter the language, or how it enters the world—as sound passing through the child’s lips or a deliberate gesture to focus attention. It is the moment a child joins the extended family of the living world.
And what if no one is there to receive this gift? To witness that instant when joyful babble transforms into an announcement of the person’s becoming? Wouldn’t happen. Someone is always paying attention to the child. Never impatient, always expectant.