2.08.2006

Problem solving

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again and again. For me, one of the neatest perks of parenting is the chance to watch someone grow. It's getting to see the synapses fire and make connections. The ability to observe the learning process first hand as an outsider.

It starts at the very beginning. It's the first time your newborn turns her head to the sound of your voice as the delivery room nurse hands her over to you. You know what has just happened even in your potentially epidural and exhaustion inspired fog. That brand new little person has just made a connection - the voice she's listened to day and night for 9 months is the same one that now holds her.

There are remarkable "a ha!" moments and more discreet "ah, I get it" realizations peppered throughout every day of a young life (and frankly throughout all of life.) What's become notable, lately, is how the process changes with age.

I've witnessed my three-year old's problem solving ability evolve lately. Infants have the ability to witness an impediment and work their way around it. Maybe it's trying over and over again to get that foot in their mouth or perhaps it's finally figuring out how to sit up on one's own. As children grow, the way they process information, distill it and turn it into something matures as well.

Logan likes to count. He likes to count nearly everything he encounters. Sometimes he does it loudly and boldly. Other times he mutters it to himself. One day recently he was muttering his way up to 120 before he got bored of the game and announced to his unexpecting audience, "That's it for now. I'll count 121 tomorrow."

He had started counting backwards from five confidently when playing with his toy space shuttle. Every good space mission needs a countdown to blast-off. He wasn't, however, comfortable counting backwards from a higher starting point. He'd just head right for 5 and settle on down to the loud "BLAST OFF!"

But then he wanted to sing a song. When he learned it in Gymboree it had no numbers. It was simply "All the little monkeys jumping on the bed." That was no longer enough. He had heard numbers linked to the song and he wanted to use them. He didn't ask us what to do, which had been his normal course of action in the past, he just navigated his way around his obstacle. He started singing in his loud, proud, slightly off-key voice:

"10 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

Megan clapped. She loves doing the monkey song in "gym class." She grabbed my hand and pulled me to the couch as she said "Mama. Monmee? Peeeze!" (Translated: Mommy! Can we do Monkeys? Please!" She climbed up herself and sat giggling, waiting for the song to continue so she could rock a bit and then fall back into my hands waiting to catch her at the edge. I started to give Logan the next number out of habit. I didn't need to. He was whispering to himself and then suddenly launched into the next verse.

"9 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

Megan laughed, slipped backwards into my hands and then stood at the couch edge beating on the cushions like any good Gymboree kid knows to do during the doctor's edict. She scampered back up.

Logan wasn't whispering as softly as he had before. I knew what he had done to figure it out.

"7,8,9," he muttered to himself. Then satisfied he went full throttle into the song, "EIGHT little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

5 comments:

jude said...

My kids love that song too. Their favorite now is "ten in a bed and the little one says, rollover, rollover, so they all roll over and one fell out....." here via michele's today

Star said...

Next you can teach him the "ants go marching " song.

Nicole said...

and then it'll be 99 bottles of beer on the wall...

It is so much fun to watch the wheels turn!

Stephanie Davies said...

Aww that is so cute...I know when I watch my own son figure something like that out - even if it is something so simple and so basic that adults take it for granted, I feel like I am watching Albert Einstein - my son, the genius!! It always makes me so proud of him to see him learn something new, no matter how big or small.

Carmi said...

It's such a privilege to witness magic happen right in front of us.