Meet my nephew, Liam.
|at two months old|
This sunny little munchkin is the undisputed, uncontested darling of our all-adults-now family. When he was barely a month old, he learned, I kid you not, to warble his newborn version of the word "Hello" and for a time, he'd strain to get the not-quite-formed syllables out every time my sister played the song, Hello Goodbye. He also began to smile at around that period, first in his dreams, then more voluntarily during the day not too long after. Now that he's three months old, he smiles and burbles all the time, and he carries on "conversations" with most anyone who talks to him. He loves waking up in the morning, he loves to stretch, he loves his grandmas, his bath times, their wall clock, and his baby rattle.
There's an episode during my nephew's second month in this world that I find particularly insight-filled. As it happened, he quite suddenly developed an obsession with munching his mitten-covered fists, and he would munch, munch, munch for hours on end. For about two days, we let him keep on with it but then he stopped wanting to drink milk and when we took a closer look, we realized his cute little habit was rubbing his mouth and gums a bit raw. So we began trying to curb his habit by saying "Nooooo Liam" and gently pulling his hands away whenever he'd put them to his mouth. He would, of course get a bit mad at us afterward, so we would try to get him to stop crying with kisses, cuddles, and silly dances to the tune of Frank Valli and the Four Seasons' song, Walk Like a Man. Now, here's the fascinating part: about a couple of days later, we were quite amazed to find out that he had picked up on the meaning of "No" and he would, out of his own baby volition, remove his hands from his mouth every time he heard us say the word. His outrage at having to cease an enjoyable activity decreased over the next few days, and now he almost never munches his mittens unless it's to engage in a little game that involves only smiles and no tears.
Now, what I find to be worthy of note is not the all-too-obvious implication about children's "trainability" but the encapsulation of what I think to be such important precepts in the realm of infant and, I dare to include, child discipline, precepts which I even more daringly venture to condense as such:
Correction must be founded out of real concern for the child's welfare and never to merely serve adult convenience or mood swings. In such cases when discipline is found to be required, it must be applied gently, consistently, and unhormonally. And should the baby/child balk at the thwarting of their will, it is imperative that the adult respond firmly but always, always, with much love and regard for the child's person.
So anyway, the little munchkin is due to be here with us very very soon for a short vacation and I just cannot wait to see what new tricks he's got up his sweet baby folds.