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What does a baby know?

August 23, 2009

What does a baby know? That’s a big question we can’t answer. Clearly she’s learning by leaps and bounds. She started with nothing, nothing at all, and is constructing her universe solely through experience.

As an infant, she didn’t know that that uncomfortable restless achy feeling is tiredness and the cure is to relax and close her eyes, she didn’t know that that pain in her eyes is the sun and the cure is close them or turn her head away. She knew was if something was in her mouth, she should suck on it. That was the sum total of her understanding of the world.

Today she knows which button makes the toy light up or get loud, she knows about light switches and drawers and doors, she knows where water comes from and how otot work the stopper in the drain. She loves birds, she likes to touch bees and has so far gotten away with it. She’s learning how to feed herself. Banana good, peas good, brocolli bad. Millet bad, but millet cereal good. She knows plenty.

She still has odd weaknesses in the growing storehouse of stuff she knows and can do. She has no depth perception, none, and can’t tell if those birds she loves so much are right in front of her or a hundred feet away. She’ll strain to grab them either way. She thinks helicopters are birds. She’ll try and grab those too. She’ll try to open doors she’s nowhere near and step on things she can’t reach. I feel guilty laughing as I watch her stretch and strain to reach what she wants, with no real concern for her center of balance or even the location of her limbs. Such great, but often futile, effort.

From → Jane

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