Parenting H

Category: learning

“Like some milk.”

H is wandering around the condo, back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, where I am making blueberry peach popsicles.

“Like some milk on the big couch.”

“H would like some milk on the big couch. Okay, sweet pea. I am making some more popsicles and then I will give you milk. I will be right there.”

H gravitates toward the fireplace. He is jangling its wire mesh curtain. The sound is frantic and agitated.

“Hard to wait!” he shouts.

Hard to wait. He got those words from me, yet how often I am amazed when I hear them from his mouth. He listens to my words. Of course he does. But there is something different going on, too. The words he is learning describe concepts, and when strung together in a certain way, convey attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, and ideals. He is learning not just words, but a way of moving in the world, of sorting and naming his experiences and feelings, and of valuing himself and others. Someday his influences will broaden beyond our family circle, and he will learn other words from other people, words that describe points of view and values that might be different from the ones he hears now. He will learn other words and some might stick for one reason or another, either replacing or happily cohabitating with the ones he is learning now at home. I hope that he will trust me to help him wade through the words with him for a while at first, and, when the time comes, that he will be confident in his ability to pick and choose the words that serve him well and best. For now though, giving him words is my responsibility.

Having my words come back to me through him is a powerful reminder of my influence and of how important my word choices are. He is listening, and he hears everything. This is why it is so important to me to choose the words I use with him with care.

“Yes, sweet pea, it can be so hard to wait sometimes. I hear you. I feel that way, too.”

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H peed on the floor during diaper free time today. I sprayed carpet cleaner on the pee spot and scrubbed it with paper towel. While I was scrubbing, H tipped over the carpet cleaner with the spray nozzle pointed exactly where he had peed. He grabbed the paper towel from me and scrubbed the spot just as I had been doing. When he was done, he handed the paper towel back and returned happily to putting B. blocks in a box of his outgrown clothes.

H does things like this.

He stabs at the deadbolt with my house key. He wiggles a toothbrush around in his mouth. He lifts his wooden baby comb to his head. He places his shoes and socks on his feet when he wants to put them on. He puts tissue over his nose and shakes his head while breathing in and out. He points at my shoes when he wants to go outside. He dabs at his mouth with a napkin. He insists that we hang up our coats when we come home.

H learned to do all of these things and more by observing the people and events in his environment. What else is he learning by observing? My intuition says quite a lot, including things I do not realize I am modeling for him. These things H does are adorable, yes, and also good reminders of how powerful an example I am to him. I am ever mindful.

H discovered gravity at the end of June and has been assiduously studying its effects ever since. He conducts experiments with blueberries and nectarines while sitting in his high chair. He pulls up to find out what will happen when he drops my breast pads and his bedtime books over the railing of his side carred crib. He pushes pens off the top of the staircase and wood chips off the merry go round, pointing at the objects he has just sent over the edge so that I will retrieve them for another round of experimentation.

I was once told that I should not continue to give him the things that he drops or pushes over the edge, but I do not have the heart to withhold them. I want to cultivate his curiosity about the world, so I pick up the blueberries, the breast pads, and the pens and hand them back so he can explore to his satisfaction. To stop him in the middle of his experiments would rob us both of so much happiness and joy.