In only eleven months, she has learned how to breathe, swallow, burp, roll, crawl, stand, grasp, point, giggle, stack toys, chew food, and applaud, but that’s just the beginning. She knows how to pet a cat, almost. She knows how to reach for the hands of other babies (although she also likes to simply crawl over them) and sometimes she even knows how to share toys.
She knows how to hold a cloth in front of her face, then bring it down dramatically to make us gasp and say “There’s Sophie!” This isn’t something that other babies do, but she’ll do it for a half-hour straight, confident that the sudden sight of her will bring us immense joy. I have no idea how she learned for herself how to control the game of peekaboo.
She knows how to press her face up against the glass shower-door, to make us giggle at her squashed nose. How does she know that this uncomfortable position for her will be funny to us? It’s an astounding skill, really, the more you think about it. She knows how to joke.
She knows how to shake toys to the beat of the music.
She knows to sit back and watch for a while whenever she encounters a new group, especially a group of slightly older children. She watches before plunging in to play with them. She has better social skills than I do. This is incredible.
She’s got physical skills, too. Lately she has been experimenting with crawling to the edge of the bed, turning herself around & slowly lowering herself down. It seems like a counter-intuitive move, to turn around like that, although it’s actually the best strategy — but how can she know this, when we have never let her actually get off the bed? She’s got a natural grace and athleticism that seems to help her figure out these issues. I’ve caught her using rock-climbing moves, more than once.
She knows how to push her arms through the sleeves of a shirt when we’re dressing her. She knows how to lift a hat off her head, and sometimes how to put it back on. She knows how to help us latch her into her carseat by offering us one of her hands, then the other hand, while carefully switching her toy from one hand to the other, always. She knows – sometimes – to sit still while I put sunblock on her. Her helpfulness is incredible. Do all babies have this innate desire to be helpful?
I am afraid that all her twisting & wiggling on the changing table is also a desire to help us get her diaper off. But she is starting to lie flat on her back on her changing table, finally, as long as I keep her amused by putting one of her toys in my mouth and waving it around like an elephant’s trunk. She really likes the game of elephant trunk. How does she know that this is goofy, and amusing, and worth lying still for?
She knows how to pretend to push us away when we kiss her beautiful bellybutton. It’s not a real push, just an “aw, shucks,” push, while smiling all the time – but how can she know how to express the difference between playing & not-playing?
She knows how to lift her arms up to ask to be held. She knows how to babble in the rhythms of speech.
She knows how to watch a tree swaying in the wind in order to help herself find calmness. Many adults don’t know how to do this, but she does.
She knows how to play the xylophone. It took her a long time to work out the difference between tapping it and banging it, but she has worked it out. She knows how to sit on her little rider-toy and kick her legs to move herself backwards & forwards.
And she knows, finally, how to fall asleep on her own, sometimes – although she still prefers to fall asleep in my arms, in the rocking-chair, while nursing, or in her stroller, in the car, or in her ergo. She doesn’t yet know how to sleep through the night, but she does know curiosity, and joy, and how to hug.
Just today I think she figured out how to kiss. She has been playfully nibbling at our cheeks & noses for a week or two, but this was the first unmistakable cheek-kiss. It was a little slobbery. And wonderful.