Thursday, September 27, 2012
An Ode to Curiosity...and Learning...and Peregrine
I noticed when it happened. It was a matter of days, maybe even hours. But when Peregrine was about five weeks old, he opened his eyes.
Not that they hadn't been open before. But something changed, really changed, around the five-week mark. It was like suddenly, he could see, and his eyes popped wide open, and he started looking at the world, and studying it, and eating it up, and drinking it all in.
Peregrine has the most insatiable curiosity of any child, and possibly any person, I have ever met. He reminds me sometimes of some little wild creature, all of his senses so incredibly keen and honed and alert. He'll be playing away happily and then just sit up, tense, his eyes huge and all his muscles ready for action. I will have heard nothing, but if I pay attention very closely I'll eventually find out what caught his attention. A dog barking several blocks away. A siren up the hill in town. A little bird on the deck. Andrew's car pulling into the driveway.
He's in a very steep learning growth spurt right now, especially when it comes to language. He's always been pretty vocal and verbal, and he has a substantial vocabulary, but it's his understanding that has amazed me lately. How does he do it? How can someone who has been alive for such a short time pick up on the things I say as quickly and eagerly as he does?
He absolutely loves "assisting" me with housework. I've always encouraged it, because I think the best way to teach children to work is to include them early and make it fun. So I give exaggerated thank yous when he hands me silverware out of the dishwasher or picks up stray socks from the laundry basket. And I always tell him what a wonderful helper he is, how much I need his help, and so on. Now all I have to do is say "I need your help!" and he dashes across the room, ready to save the day by closing a door or retrieving a fallen spoon. Yesterday he shut himself in the bathroom, and then opened a drawer in front of the door. He couldn't get out, and I couldn't get him out because of the drawer. I knew the only way he was coming out was if he closed the drawer, but I had no idea how to tell him this. Then I remembered that closing things (drawers, washing machine doors, etc) has been one of his favorite ways of helping lately, so I told him I needed his help--could he be my helper and close the drawer? He started hyperventilating with joy at coming to my rescue again, and the next thing I knew, the drawer was closed and he was free. A month ago, a week ago even, he would have had no idea what I meant. It floors me how fast he picks up patterns and learns what things mean.
He's noticed lately that I throw the compost off the side of the deck. So, helpfully, he's been carrying all the crumbs and dirty utensils he can find outside. He wants to know the system for everything, how it all comes together, and what we do when. He's always been very attached to schedules and routines, something I always have to remember and impose on my attachment to spontaneity and flexibility. And right now, it's to my advantage. No matter how mad he is about having to take a nap or stop doing something, he can't help but be excited at going through the ritual of whatever it is we're doing. And excited is putting it mildly. He pants like a puppy. He speed-crawls as fast as he can from one spot to the other, because he knows where teeth get brushed! and after that we read a story and he knows where those are too! It never gets old.