With many hours per week to watch the development of one infant, I am often pondering “what goes on in that little head?” The other night, we spent a pleasant several minutes watching her trying to navigate putting her pacifier in her mouth.
At five months of age, she doesn’t understand cause and effect or object permanence. She can’t comprehend the concept of time and barely gets the concept of space. Lo has little knowledge of the world beyond her family and house. She can’t communicate her thoughts and we have to guess at her desires. Despite these deficits, she is consistently cheerful. It is truly a wonder to behold. Lo and behold, indeed.
We read books to her every day. I try to imagine what this might be like to her. Not only does she not know what a book is, she has no experience with the pictures represented in the book. Not to mention that at least half the books feature talking animals or pictures of obscure fruit. And yet she seems to adore story time. If you hold a book in front of her, she waves her arms and kicks her legs. I truly don’t know what she is thinking, but lying next to each other on the bed this week, after each page was turned, she would look at me and give me the biggest grin. This was bookworm Nana heaven.
She is actually surprised when you play peek-a-boo. She startles, looks frightened, then relieved when she realizes it is just me. You can do this 10 times in a row with the same reaction. It starts to feel cruel.
She is photographed multiple times per day (we can’t help ourselves), but every time the iPhone camera is in her face, she stops whatever photogenic activity she is engaged in and frowns. I know we can never know what babies are thinking, but in this case, I am pretty sure it is along then lines of “put down the damn phone, Nana.”
She has no language, but screeches at interesting stimuli. All day, we talk to her, sing to her, make funny sounds. How much does she understand? She seems to favor male voices. She will listen to music intently and gets a big kick out of the eensy-weensy spider. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know what a spider or a water spout is (I’m a little hazy on the water spout myself.)
It is all very puzzling. I understand that child development is universal, but I had honestly forgotten how fascinating it is. We all made that journey from utter innocence to knowledge and experience. We all started out by trying to put an object in our mouths, by intently studying the things placed in front of us and by soliciting reactions to our behaviors. If Lo smiles at you, you have no choice but to smile back.