the wisdom of youth
We’ve commented elsewhere on how much joy we derive from watching Munchkin expand his mastery of the world — seeing it through his eyes, watching him figure out how it works, and enjoying a vicarious thrill of breakthrough every time he reaches another milestone. With time, we’ve come to appreciate another aspect of the long arc of his learning curve. Even as we help him learn the ways of the world, there is quite a lot he unwittingly teaches us in the process.
For example, soon after introducing solid foods, S began helping Munchkin work on his pincer grip. The seemingly simple act of putting food in one’s mouth is actually quite difficult for babies to master, requiring dexterity to pick up small objects and hand-eye coordination to place them in their mouths. S bought some baby-bite-size fruit puffs to help Munchkin practice. Every mealtime, after he finishes eating, we place the little star-shaped puffs in front of him one by one and watch him attempt to place them in his mouth.
After a couple of months, he has gotten fairly good at picking up the puffs and transferring them into his mouth, though quite a few of them still wind up on the floor for Emmie to lick up. And this is after two months of practice! At the outset, it was the rare puff that made it all the way into his mouth. He would screw up his face in a look of deep concentration, try with all his might to grab the puffs with his maladroit little fingers, but even when he succeeded in closing his fingers around them he rarely managed the hand to mouth transfer, much to Emmie’s delight.
Frustrating though it must have been for him to fail so often, he remained cheerful and patiently waited for the next puff to appear so that he could try again. Moral of the story? Even when everything feels like it’s going to the dogs, don’t give up: there is no use getting frustrated, and besides — life is full of second chances.