Aridunnu started to sit up just before she clocked 4 months. One night after work, I was having my usual mother-daughter time with her in my bedroom (this just means playing, talking, and giggling with just her, not minding my phone or anything else). I propped her on my thighs which were slanted, so she could lay down, rest her back, and still see my face. To my utmost surprise, she pushed back up forcefully with her elbows. She couldn’t get into a sitting position herself, but she kept pushing. It was as though she knew her persistence would make me pull her into a sitting position, eventually.
The next milestone after this was her flipping from her back to her belly milliseconds from the moment she is dropped on the bed or rug. Then she began to lunge for things, she would push herself forward when she sees something she wants to touch, or of course experience with her mouth (why does everything have to go into a baby’s mouth by the way?). After a couple of days of doing this, she began crawling, albeit slowly and shakily. There are times my dear Bloom would go on a screaming bout, just yammering incoherent babylese. I reckon she is trying to emulate us and talk.
So, I was meditating one day and I realized this, you can call it a light bulb moment if you please – child development is absolutely hinged on curiosity.
Take away the keen interest of a baby in touching or reaching for something, or in imitating the actions of those around them, and you’d likely see that that child would not start to sit, crawl, stand, or talk. Curiosity is what spurs a baby to try to do what he/she cannot yet do. Repeatedly trying to do it, in turn, strengthens the muscles to a point where they can now carry out that action or function effortlessly.
Another thing that works for babies my daughter’s age, is that they really do not understand reprimand or discouragement. So, until what she wants to touch is out of her sight, she won’t stop trying, even if it’s a plate of steaming hot stew. She seems to interpret my sharp remarks; “stop it!” or “don’t touch that!”, as code phrases for “let’s play a game; do the exact opposite of what I say!”.
I am glad and proud that much early, I have learned to appreciate, encourage, and engage her curiosity and her attempts at doing new things carefully, as opposed to shooing her off, which is common.
It’s hard to live like a baby. Yet, what greater feats we just may achieve if we never stopped being curious, inquisitive, reaching, and fearless as we grow older; being unconcerned with self-doubt, the fears of failure and loss, criticism, and scorn. If only we too can choose to turn the contrary voices in our heads, and around us into code words for – go get it! Yes, you can!
Someone once told me that the best drivers are those who learned to drive as teenagers; this person lives in Lagos by the way – you know what ‘best driver’ means in Lagos. Teenagers are thrilled about moving a vehicle, and showing up around in their parent’s cars. They would ram into a fence, get flogged silly, and still get back in the car the next evening – I doubt they know that PTSD is a thing. So why is adulting and fear, like the proverbial 5 and 6? I think it’s the awareness of everything that could possibly go wrong that keeps many on the extremes of conservativeness – lets just leave well enough alone, right?
I haven’t invented anything yet, and I benefit so much from technology and innovation; electricity, airplanes, mobile phones etc. In the end it’s people who give in to curiosity in spite of the everything that could go wrong, that truly drive impact. People who question what’s already existing and celebrated. People who never leave well enough alone.