Quentin fell flat on his face this afternoon at the church lunch. He scraped up both knees and a bit of his chin. He fell and the witnesses all gasped and said, Oh no. His daddy and I said cheerily, You're all right! Good fall! He pulled himself up and looked around. No tears, but his bottom lip started puffing out and he walked straight over to the nearest parent to be picked up and snuggled. He nestles right in, never crying, just getting his comfort, and maybe shaking a bit.
The thing is, we love it when he falls like that. We feel so comforted ourselves when our youngest child nestles in after a fall. It is almost mean, how we call out to him, Good fall! and then silently compete to be the one into whose arms he runs. Even watching him give that love to someone else isn't so bad, if you know that you are going to get your turn sometime soon.
Our other children are not nearly so calm and so trusting. When they fall, they cry. They ask for cold packs and bandaids and for us to make it better. We feel taxed by their little scrapes and bruises, rather than healed by them. When Quentin falls even Charlotte reaches her arms open, and if she's closest then she gets that good snuggle; his comfort is not Mommy or Daddy-centric. If Duncan falls, Charlotte might offer him a bandaid or get the cold pack, but she isn't rushing to give him his hug and he certainly isn't running to the closest person with arms stretched wide.
What does this say about Quentin, about our willingness to let him fall for the privilege of comforting him, for the lie we tell when we say we are giving him comfort rather than receiving unconditional love from him? I do not know. It will be interesting to see if that quality survives, and if it doesn't what kills it. It will be interesting to see if I can even tell when his trust turns to wariness, or if we are slowly killing it by our greed for his snuggles.