Monday, April 7, 2014

Time For A Change

        Kiley is three months old! I can't believe it. That makes her twice as old as she was when I first started caring for her. Those six weeks have flown by, at least they have for me. But then I'm a little older now and, as they say, "the older you get the faster it goes". For Kiley it's probably a different story. The younger you are the slower it goes and I'm sure that half of anyone's life, no matter how short a time that may be, must seem like forever to the person living it. I think that must be because we gauge the passing of time by how much change we perceive has taken place. Change in the world around us but, even more so, changes in ourselves. I know that the last half of my life (twenty-nine years or so) seems like a long time to me when I look back at it. The world has changed dramatically in that time, to the extent that anyone stepping from that time directly into this one would find the world unrecognizable. The changes in my life and myself have been even more dramatic. In that span of time all of my children have grown up and gone (at last) and I have grown from a young woman to a middle-aged one - (Knock it off!  I'll decide the definition of middle-aged here). At the same time, was it really three decades ago that Gorbachev became head of the Soviet Union and "Born In The USA" was a new hit? The younger you are the more dramatically you change over time, hence the slowness of it. Kiley has lived for twelve weeks and, if she could, I'm sure she would look back at the past six weeks and marvel at all of the changes that have taken place in her life. One of which was me. I am now a familiar and expected part of her day.

        We have settled into a routine, Kiley and me. Routines are good for children. They give them a sense of security and continuity. When Kiley comes to me in the morning the routine begins almost immediately. Her mother brings her through the door still in her car seat and I greet her with excited and happy sounds which makes her excited and happy to see me. She's still too young to miss her mother much, that will come later. Her mother leaves for work after giving me the low-down on any problems Kiley has had since last I saw her, (there are often problems with babies – eating, sleeping, colds, crankiness are all things that change from day to day with babies). Then off Mommy goes and we are on our own.

        At three months the routine is still pretty basic. The eating and sleeping schedule are well established and the rest of our time is spent with activities. At three months the "activities" are also pretty basic and consist mainly of me trying to come up with new ways to entertain her. It is important to keep things fresh and new because babies, even more so than regular people, become bored with the same old thing over and over again (until they are toddlers that is, then they want you to read the same book over and over and over… ). So you have to create and maintain a balance between comfortable routine and stimulating novelty, something that's not always easy to do.

        For the most part, of course, everything is new to a baby and the slightest variation in stimuli is enough to keep Kiley interested and occupied. The "rattle" will keep her busy for a good long while before it becomes wearisome, but once it does the "squeak toy" is warming up in the wings and ready to take over. Now that she is able to grasp and shake things "rattle" and "squeak toy" have become my trusted allies. Such toys have been keeping babies occupied for centuries, but now the old standbys have a lot of competition.

        Baby toys have undergone a revolution since my kids were children. The miniaturization of electronics has created a bewildering variety of toys that buzz, whistle, sing, flash, spin, and change color. I guess you can look at them as high tech rattles and squeak toys but I believe that with toys, as with many things in life, "less" is often "more". The amount of stimulus provided by these things is overwhelming, really, and I'm not so sure that it's all for the best. Attracting a baby's attention is one thing, keeping it is another. The best toys for babies are ones that they can manipulate themselves and have fun with by learning to control the object by learning to control their own motions. When it comes to babies, if a toy merely stimulates the senses rather than engaging the imagination and enhancing coordination it's not really a "toy".

        Toys aside, there are plenty of things that Kiley now does that keep her occupied.  Her abilities have multiplied exponentially since she was six weeks old. She can now raise her head and chest, and support her body with her arms when lying on her stomach. Coupled with the new ability to follow moving objects by turning her head, this gives her the opportunity to look around and get a better idea of the nature of her surroundings. She kicks her feet a lot when lying on her stomach, a prelude to crawling which is still months away. Anything that dangles seems to fascinate her and she is now able to swat at dangling objects. Her own hands are also objects of fascination and she puts them in her mouth a lot. She turns her head in the direction of sounds. She is beginning to "babble". More gratifying to me, she recognizes me from a distance, smiles at the sound of my voice, and watches my face intently.

        I too have developed new abilities in the past six weeks. I can now "sense" a dirty diaper in the family room - from the kitchen. I can now lull Kiley to sleep with only thirty-four repetitions of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" – down from sixty-two. I can load the car, strap Kiley into her car seat, and disassemble and stow away the stroller in under two minutes (I bought a stopwatch).  I can vacuum, make the bed, do the laundry, and cook dinner all with one hand. I can make the weirdest sounds and most ridiculous faces imaginable to make her smile. And I can leap from a second story window, swim a freezing river, land a crashing plane, or walk through fire to make her safe. Sometimes I think I've changed more in the past six weeks than she has. Maybe I'm not as old as I think I am.


No comments:

Post a Comment