Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Observing

There is a student from the local university completing an observation period of I think 40 hours in L's classroom. She interacts with the babies in a limited way but most of the time she's just watching, and taking some notes. She's working on a degree in early childhood development and has no children of her own (I asked). I ponder her, and return to ponder her some more. What must it be like to study children from an academic perspective? To mix adoration and admiration with milestone statistics and clinical research? For so many subjects observing is the best way to learn but how often do any of us practice that? To just sit, and watch, and watch? And does the pleasure of observing children strengthen by the complementary notetaking, or does the businesslike stenography detract from the joy of watching children? Or does not everyone inherently feel that joy, and perhaps I'm interjecting my own bias? I don't remember thinking about small children very much at all before I had my own, so I can't remember if I felt a joy at watching them such as I do now.

L can be a bit of a stinker. Even at nine months, she happens to be the youngest full-time enrollee in her class, and so she's always trying to be a big shot. One of her teachers recently told me a story about L and Gwen, a girl who's about to mark her first birthday and who is probably almost 10 pounds heavier than my stringbean. The teacher left the classroom to retrieve the big stroller from the vestibule because it was time for the kids' morning walk. The babies love their morning walk and always get very excited to see the stroller. L spotted it first and began crawling eagerly toward the doorway. Gwen spotted it next and began crawling, too. L waited for Gwen to catch up, as if she wanted her company. As soon as Gwen reached her L pushed her down and continued to the doorway solo.

If you observe 100 interactions like that in an afternoon assignment, what do you learn? Here are a few lessons I think L and her friends demonstrate:

~Friends who forgive easily are the best kind.
~Even really good found sounds better than it tastes. Spitting it out is way more fun than ingesting it.
~Toys are more fun if your friend has pre-licked them for you.
~Even with a whole lifetime ahead of being responsible for wiping your own butt, it's still not so indulgent when someone else wipes it for you that it's worth leaving a floor covered with all those pre-licked toys.
~Good hugs are really worth everything. Pin It

'Mama, why are there those cherries on the tree?'

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