More Learning

Nathan has been going through one of those subtle yet profound shifts in development. I don’t know how to describe this one, except to say that yet again he’s suddenly putting things together that were a mystery before. He’s figured out how to put his pants on, for example – no training from me, he just did it one day, quite casually. My sense is that it’s no longer a learned pattern that he’s trying to memorize, but a small puzzle that he now possesses the spatial reasoning to solve for himself.

The other day he climbed up on our bed with a stuffed bear, found another one there, and immediately set them side by side. “Two bays,” he said. We’ve been counting with him for months, but while he has enjoyed the game, coming up with the correct number of items when he counts has been pretty hit or miss. He likes to end on five, and has often counted “One, two, five.” (To which I of course always respond “Three, sir!”) So correctly identifying the two bears was pretty awesome. And I don’t think it was just by chance. Yesterday he pointed out to me that he had two socks, which naturally prompted an extended discussion about how he had two feet, and two ticklish knees, and one belly…

And then the other night, as we were drawing at bedtime, he asked me to draw E. I drew “big E” and “little e,” and he repeated it back to me. And then he reached over and touched my knee. “Big mama,” he said. He touched his own knee. “Li’l!”

There are all tiny things – I won’t say insignificant, because they’re very significant, but certainly still tiny. And yet I’m so, so glad that I get to watch these things unfold in him. Dave and I are constantly struck by the amazing brain work going on all the time in our kids. Like how Nathan has taken to repeating words back to us for practice (just like you’d do with a foreign language) – but we’ve noticed that already in his young life, he repeats back the key words, and usually not things like articles and helping verbs. That shows an extraordinary grasp of language, far beyond what you might infer from his baby-talk.

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