"A happy child smiles, plays, exhibits curiosity, shows interest in other children, and doesn't need constant stimulation."
(Jill Storey on babycenter quoting Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness)
"A happy child smiles, and doesn't need constant stimulation" ah, the root of my insecurity about Raccoon. Even my mom comments that he is a solemn child and catching him with a smile for pictures has become pretty much impossible. Up until the last few weeks or so, "needing constant stimulation" describes something that is a struggle. Supplying his voracious appetite for learning is a challenge. Those seeds of doubt are probably why I read the the whole article in the first place; I do wonder if Raccoon is happy.
I'm not a super smiley person myself. The years right before Raccoon were very hard for me and I didn't have much to smile about. When Raccoon was born, I remember my cheeks hurting from smiling so much; I was so out of practice. Now I smile and laugh with him everyday, and I like that. But I also agree with a mom who said, "...when you have an intense baby it beats your self-esteem down and makes you feel like a failure."
Recently Raccoon saw me holding a friend's baby for the first time at a morning playgroup, and later that afternoon I asked him what he thought, not really expecting an answer. He was quiet for a minute, then said, "Give baby back his mama. Hold me."
I like to ask him what he thinks, just because I'm curious if he'll respond, and what he might say. So as we were snuggling before naptime today, I asked him, "Are you happy?" He looked up at me and said blissfully, "Yes."
At least for a moment, all is well in our world.