Since Elijah's been in daycare, I've been looking for evidence.
When I pick him up at the end of the day, he has no bruises, his diaper is clean and he's giggling with another kid while they send marbles down a little maze. He shows me what he made today - a cock-eyed construction paper pumpkin face. He points out the face parts and names them. I am delighted. He's learning something, he's having fun, he's making things. It must be going well.
Once, he makes a little wimper in the car on the way there.
"No yike Diane's house."
Is that evidence? Or just testing boundaries and learning to say no? With a two year old, how much do I repeat what I've said to him since he was born ("OK. If you dont like it, you dont have to do it") and how much does he just have to suck it up because learning to do things you dont yike is part of the human condition?
While Eli's at daycare, I go to visit some people at a nursing home. Without meaning to, I find I'm looking for evidence there too. Not too smelly? This must be a good place. A nurse greeted me with a frown, and then couldnt find a pen so I could leave a note for someone? This must be a bad place.
The truth is, I dont know any more about what's going on in the nursing homes I visit then I know what Eli really does for the seven hours between goodbye kiss and hello hug. The evidence provides the roughest sketch. I'm filling in the rest of the picture with my big box of 64 colors - imagination and experience and trust.
For the rest of my life, all I will have is this: A little bit what I see, a little bit what he tells me, a little bit what I hope is true. It's gonna have to be enough.