Thursday, June 05, 2008

Making connections

Every once in awhile, I experience one of those unsettling moments where I realize that my child is paying attention to everything. And he's remembering it all, too.

It's amazing to me how a child's brain develops and evolves. Does anyone here remember how I fretted in the early months of William's life? I worried, "How is he ever going to learn anything if he's just got me to teach him? How do I teach him things? How will he ever learn?" Remember how I methodically read stacks of books to him and tried to explain complicated scenarios to him, back when he couldn't even hold his own head up? Remember how I even tried to explain the 2000 presidential election to him at one point?

The weight of the responsibility staggered me, perhaps even more than just being responsible for his general health and welfare. How was I going to raise a productive citizen who could talk and read and be a benefit to society? Heck, forget all that high-mindedness: how was I even going to teach my child how to tie his shoes and ride a bike?

Today, in the car on the way home from my summer book study at church, William and I were discussing his love of his Babybug magazine. It comes in the mail each month, and William lives for the days when he gets his own item in the mailbox. (And yes, we were actually having a conversation. William's got definite opinions on things these days, and he's not afraid to express them. He must have inherited that trait from his father.) And I said something about how when he's old enough to read, we'll subscribe to another magazine.

William replied, "I can't read yet." But he said it in a tone that conveyed that he both understood what that meant and that he didn't expect it to be a permanent condition. He can't read yet. But he knows that he will read eventually.

And I realized, I worried for months that he wouldn't roll over. Or crawl. Or walk. Or get teeth. Or say words. Or say lots and lots of words. And he's done all those things. And I didn't even really do anything to facilitate it. But he's been paying attention, all these months, and he's put it all together. I've never coached him on grammar or pronouns or things like that, and yet, he's coming out with his very own sentences--real sentences--now. Because he's listened to me and his father and his grandparents and his teachers, and he's started making connections. He remembers words and concepts, and he puts them together.

And for an instant, sitting in the driver's seat, I was almost stunned with the feeling that that is really a small miracle.

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