This? That?

January 28, 2011

The beloved book.

Each week it seems the boys learn something new. I suppose that’s been the case since birth, but it seems to be moving so fast now. One week they repeat the same word or action over and over again. The next week they are on to something new and equally amazing.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom kept journals of my babyhood, and today they are among my most prized possessions. Since becoming a mom I’ve become increasingly intrigued by my own babyhood, and those journals are sort of like being able to communicate with her about those days. Sort of. Okay, not really, but they are what I have, and I am beyond thankful for them. They’ve gotten me through some of the hardest days of grief, confusion, and anger. I imagine she had no idea that those tiny paragraphs would bring me back from the ledge time and time again.

I try and write down what the boys are saying and doing, but most often I just try and keep up with them. Their developments come much more often than my days allow time to write. Like the other day I was talking about how I couldn’t wait to start working on the garden. About that time G picked up his book of flower photos and handed it to me.  A coincidence? I doubt it, especially since he always kicked when I planted while pregnant.

As they grow they also explore, and lately I feel like I’m constantly thinking about how to best teach them things. Things such as how we shouldn’t stick our fingers in the outlet or how it’s not okay to run over the cats , especially the elderly one, with our toy cars. And then I think about about that huge, over-arching parental role of modeling behavior. You know, that whole thing where the parents try to teach the kids to be kind by being kind themselves, teach them not to hit by not hitting, not yelling, not being rough, and so forth. It’s so much easier to tell them what to do, right? Hold on, Mamma’s getting [insert thing they are wanting at the moment] please be patient,” I hear myself saying several times a day. Sure, they need to learn patience.  But so do I. And it’s pretty hilarious to hear myself  impatiently tell them to be patient. My point here is that too often I forget that what I also need to be doing is learning from them.

And I have so much to learn. With each new skill they master I learn something new too. So, here’s what I’ve learned this week.

First the backstory. Both boys are really, really, really into word books. I mean really. You know, the kind with pictures and the label of the object underneath. E is a bit more active than his brother, so he’ll sit for a bit with the book and then run off to play, coming back every few minutes to have another look. G will sit still and stare at the photos. Both of them point to the photos and say “This? (sounds more like dis)” That? (dat) Dose (those)? They’ve done this so much that they’ve already worn out a brand new book they got for their first birthday. The binding is broken and everything.

Things that go.

Most of the time they like to look at the page  entitled “Things That Go.” The page filled with farm animals is also a big hit. For the most part they can’t say any of the words yet. But they’ve got the question part down pat. And they’ll alternate them, so as to spice up the conversation. Dis? Dat? Dis? Dose? Dis? Dat? and on and on and on.

So, humor me, and allow me to make a few wide-sweeping generalizations about how this skill might translate into adult life. They’ve reminded me that it’s okay to ask the same question over and over and over and over again. Children see no shame in learning by repetition, whether it’s naming objects in a word book or having to be reminded 9,456 times that it’s not okay to smack your brother across the face while trying to hug him. They just keep asking until they get it. That seems admirable, not to mention quite practical. I don’t know about you, but far too often I give up too quickly when it comes to asking questions.

And then, of course, there’s just their general sense of curiosity. Being able to put a few words to their ever-investigative minds appears to be nothing short of bliss for them. Their faces beam when they point at something and inquire about its name. Sometimes G will get so excited that he starts asking “Dis? Dat?!?” as he runs to you with the book,  long before you can even get the page open.  Oh, for that kind of insatiable curiosity. Sometimes after E comes up to me with a book or something in his hand and asks “Dis?” he will giggle when I tell him “that’s a chicken” or “that’s some dog hair mommy missed with the broom.”  Whatever the answer, it’s always funny to him.

So, I vote we all ask more questions. I’ve long believed that increased curiosity is at least one of the keys to a more just world. So, I’ve decided “What’s this?” is a good question. It can work from everything to items in the grocery store to dialogs about world peace. I think I’ll use it more often.

You know, I get that it’s cliche to talk about how kids make us see the world as this new, amazing place or to ramble on about how they teach us things about human nature. But, you know, they do.

I’m sure they’ll teach me something new next week. I’ll try and document that too.

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2 Responses to “This? That?”

  1. Maci Powell said

    This is so true! I often feel I’m raising myself not Noah! Just because of the many lessons I am learning through him.

  2. Janis said

    I recognise those, or dose, books. The love of books is a great gift!

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