Learning by themselves

One thing on the mind of all parents of tots is whether or not they’ve inherited the best of the intelligence genes. Perhaps I’m wrong on this and you’re reading this hoping your son will follow your own stellar career as a WWF wrestler, but mostly I think we look forward to a smart baby.

Since Luka was born I’ve been watching, I guess as many dads subconsciously do, to see if he shows signs of being clever. It’s probably way to early to say and since it’s my first close experience with a child I really have no yardstick of what they should be figuring out at this age.

But my son does seem to amaze me with how he manages to  ‘figure things out’ on his own. For example, at 12 months old he started answering the telephone. He doesn’t just pick it up when in proximity to a ringing handset. We can dial our home phone and he’ll go tearing across the room on twos or all fours, then (this is where I’m well impressed), he pulls out the bottom drawer of the chest and stands on it to reach the handset, which he then puts to his ear and later hands it to us with a baby gaggle which presumably means  ‘I think it’s for you’!

Lately he insists on grabbing the keys from my hand when I get home then totters off down the driveway and tries to insert them into the lock on the gate. No one showed him these things, he’s obviously mimicking what he’s seen us doing. As with the phone, he has no idea what the phone or lock are for but seems to like ‘doing as daddy does’. This I think is a key characteristic of baby development. Subconsciously they mimic life to try and be like their parents.

There are other examples. He defeated our attempt to prevent him climbing the stairs using a gate, by figuring out how to climb through the struts of the banister, and when I caught him he had that smug look of achievement and satisfaction on his face. Then there is his attempt to be our energy saving policeman by diligently turning off any standing fan he comes across. He knows exactly which button is ‘off’ and will insist on turning any blowing fan off. It’s a pain and I’ve tried to teach him how to turn it back on but he won’t have it. As he wanders off I turn it back on, whereupon he promptly turns around and comes back to turn it off again!

If he wants to drink something I’m drinking, I just give him a straw and he’s figured out to put it into the bottle/can and suck the contents out. If it’s a tetrapak he’ll pull off the attached straw and insert it through the tiny hole himself. I didn’t teach him any of this, he jut figured it out and I guess it’s all part a natural process babies have where necessity is the mother of all ‘discovery’. To this end I let him go ahead with exploring regardless of the potential consequences. This means putting up with him turning off my pc (I’ve learnt to backup frequently), and he plays with all sorts of things he could possibly wreck, like my mobile phone, with me keeping a careful eye on him.

The biggest surprise of all however is his reaction to Buddha images. Living in Thailand, my wife and I follow Buddhism and have a shrine and some images about the house. Typically a Thai will offer a brief ‘wai’ or hand-prayer action when passing these, but not in your own home where you pass them frequently. Luka, to our complete surprise, has started clasping his hands together in a rudimentary ‘wai’ when he comes across one of these. I can’t think were he has seen us doing this, it’s astonishing that he has picked up something as abstract as this.

Maybe all babies learn like this out of curiosity, or some are more curious than others. Luka really is a curious baby, and seems faster than other babies I know of at figuring things out.



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