Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blink and You'll Miss It: The Stages of a Child

Lately when someone asks how old the Babby is I lazily say two and leave it at that.

Even though it doesn't feel quite right. Now and then I'll say "about two and a half" to be more specific. But there's a part of me that still wants to measure her age in months, even if I can't say how many months old she is off the top of my head anymore.

I can still remember sitting in the NICU with the Babby nestled against my skin thinking to myself how amazing it was that she was just two or four or six days old.

I remember holding her snug in her blankets and cap at about four a.m. because I was too amped to sleep the morning after she came into the world and thinking "She was born yesterday and isn't even a whole day old." My feelings at that moment are indescribable.

I recall explaining the Babby's age as (number of months)-(1.5 months), which is commonly known as an adjusted age.

What I can't recall is when measuring in days turned to measuring in weeks turned to measuring in months turned to measuring in years. And from here, it will never again be anything but years. Who knew that the stages of a child go by so quickly? The parents of adults, I suppose... the grandparents, too. I find myself immersed in child development, entirely unscientfic child development, and so time passes unnoticed until everything is so different you HAVE to notice.

All of which gets me thinking about Piaget and his stages of child development. Currently, the Babby is here:
Applying his new knowledge of language, the child begins to use symbols to represent objects. Early in this stage he also personifies objects. He is now better able to think about things and events that aren't immediately present. Oriented to the present, the child has difficulty conceptualizing time.

His thinking is influenced by fantasy -- the way he'd like things to be -- and he assumes that others see situations from his viewpoint. He takes in information and then changes it in his mind to fit his ideas. Teaching must take into account the child's vivid fantasies and undeveloped sense of time. Using neutral words, body outlines and equipment a child can touch gives him an active role in learning.
Reading this was a good reminder in a lot of ways. The Babby was once a sponge, absorbing information. Now she's a tiny goddess, weaving strands of information into patterns she creates.

It's frustrating sometimes to cope with the Babby's flexible worldview, but more often, it's entertaining and parents of toddlers should remember that. Like I said above, the stages of a child - whether you're talking about counting days then weeks then months or the boundless imagination of a toddler - pass so quickly. Might as well enjoy them!

And try to notice them in the moment so when everything changes, which is inevitably will, you're not left feeling like someone threw you for a loop.


In the blink of an eye, our shadows will be evenly matched. Hope I can be present for and remember everything that happens in between...

P.S. - The nice folks at Akismet fixed my commenting issues, yay!

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