Slade is in the midst of figuring out how people relate. On my birthday, Dave was cooking and I said “Daddy’s cooking bacon.” She said firmly, “He’s MY Daddy.” I agreed, that Dave was hers and Papa is mine. A few weeks before she wouldn’t have noticed… “Daddy’s at work, Mommy’s busy, Grammy is going home now…” but she is figuring out that there are other Daddies out there and she needs to make sure we know that hers is her own. This week she has been assuring her mother that I (Lorinda) am NOT Siobhan’s mommy, I am only Slade’s Grammy. We laugh, because her ideas are unexpected (okay, and cute!) but she is working hard to understand so many, many things. Last month she got up the morning of that big snowfall and looked out the window. “Mommy! Somebody put snow on Daddy’s car!”Siobhan said, “No, Honey, nobody did it. The snow just fell.” Slade said, “Oh. Fall – crash!” putting her knowledge of falls with this new idea of snowfall.
She remembers a lot – she was given a pumpkin back in October. She brought it home and then remembered back a year when she had another pumpkin, which she painted. So she told her mother she wanted to paint this one. Siobhan was astounded that she remembered; after all there hadn’t been huge pumpkin painting events in the year. So traditions are born – someone told me once if you do something twice with a child, they will regard it as a tradition. With some, I guess, you only have to do it once! By next fall she will expect the paint that comes with pumpkins, right? I am not totally convinced that painted pumpkins are traditional, but painting is certainly safer than cutting, and you can still make pie with the pumpkin later so maybe I’ll get used to it.
Watching her and listening to her figure things out is as wonderful as it was with my own girls. We start out behind – everything is there for us to learn, to ponder, to cobble into association, to remember. There is a lot of trial and error – crashing snow falls – but little by little we carve out our lives, our places. And then – we stop. Or a lot of us do. We think we HAVE figured it all out, maybe. Or we want to think we have and are reluctant to change. Of course life has so much going on that we have to make shortcuts and habits. For instance, when driving I turn on my blinkers almost as soon as I have decided to turn. Sometimes people say, “Why – there’s no one behind you to signal to.” I say that there are so many things to pay attention to when driving, I have put that on automatic. I have a shortcut where my brain goes “Turn ahead, blinkers.” I don’t need a step which says “Nobody’s there, don’t bother.”
But surely there are places I go automatic where I don’t need to. We are often told to think outside the box (which is kind of a box of its own by now), but no one needs to urge that on a 2 ½ year old. They are always on – back at the beginning of life they can learn two or three languages without mixing them up. You may remember I am not a big fan of making resolutions for New Year’s, so this is NOT a resolution. But I would like to pay attention to my thinking, to learn new things, not in the way of memorizing a new fact every day, but in seeing things new, the way Slade does. Snow – fall – crash! I think “That’s not true.” But then I think when a heap of snow falls off the roof – yup.
What are your plans?