Monday, June 11, 2012

Teaching Three Babies

Last week I watched some parents teaching their baby a little basic physics. 

In the playground in the park near my home, there is a large, smooth, metallic dome set in the ground: like a brand new hub cab from a giant vehicle. It's the kind of thing that has no specific "purpose" as far as I can tell, which makes it the perfect sort of thing for a place where children play. 

The baby, who was just walking, so probably around a year old, spotted this dome, beamed, purred, and angled his body that way, stumbling across the uneven ground until he was standing beside it, stopping himself to look for a moment. His parents followed, walking fully upright, not crouched down, hands not out, not anticipating a fall. They were beaming too, completely unaware of anything else in the world, as intent upon their baby as their baby was on the dome. The baby squatted abruptly picked up a tiny handful of wood chips and put it on the dome. It slid off. The baby did it again. The baby did it again. The baby picked up a pine cone and put it on the dome. It slid off. The baby did it again. And again. Then a rock. Then rocks and pine cones and wood chips in succession, over and over. 

The father sat on the opposite side of the dome where the baby, had it looked up from its play, would have seen him. The mother remained standing nearer the baby, but slightly behind, out of sight, but close enough to touch had the baby needed comforting in the midst of its play. Neither of them spoke, neither of them pointed things out, neither offered to help. They didn't notice me watching, although I was only a few feet away, walking the dogs, the only other person there besides them. They were too focused on teaching their baby some basic physics.

Two nights ago, I watched a father teach his baby a lesson in questioning authority.

My wife and I were out for pizza and they were sitting at the next table, the baby on her mother's lap, the father sitting closely, face-to-face with the one year old, their foreheads nearly touching. She held daddy's hand which was curled into a loose fist with the middle knuckle sticking out. 

The baby gripped the father's thumb in one hand and pinky in the other and began to slowly pull his fist toward her opened mouth. The father allowed his hand to be pulled, saying, "no, No, NO, NO," until the girl bit down on his knuckle, then the baby and her father laughed. They did it again. They did it again. They did it again, over and over, each time laughing when she chomped the knuckle despite his protest.

The parents didn't notice me at all, although I was only at the next table. They were too busy teaching their baby a basic lesson in questioning authority.

Yesterday, I was there as a mother taught her baby a lesson in making friends.

My family was walking along the sidewalk, off to meet some friends, when we recognized a woman we'd not seen in a long time coming toward us, pushing a stroller. We knew she had become a mother, but had never met the baby, who was about a year old. As part of the initial pleasantries, she said, "This is Dylan," and she told him our names. She did not tell him to say "Hello." She did not apologize when he merely looked at us. 

As we talked, Dylan nursed his sippy cup, alternatively studying me, my wife, and my daughter, fully participating in this chance encounter. As the women caught up with one another, because they had the longer history together, Dylan locked in on me for a time. By then we'd been standing there for several minutes. I smiled at him. I guess he thought I seemed like an okay guy, so he offered me his sippy cup. I took it, said, "Thank you," then handed it back. 

His mother didn't notice our interaction at all. She was too busy teaching her baby a lesson in how to make friends.

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Caminem plegats said...

Thanks Tom

We're learning so much with you !! There're a lot of things I want to do with my son, and you're one of our resources source . We've made our own water wall just inspired in your ideas.

Thanks for sharing !


Leslie said...

goosebumps with this one! Lovely lessons.

Anonymous said...

LOVED this post. Thanks