This picture is from two summers ago when we went to the International District in Seattle. There was a place that had a lot of food vendors – mostly Asian food. Some places only provided chop sticks (unless you requested a fork). My daughter Caitlin is not proficient in using chop sticks, but she wanted to try. It took her several tries and a lot of concentration to finally pick up the egg roll with only the chop sticks. She was so pleased that she did it! I was pleased that she kept trying even though it was hard and she made some mistakes – her perseverance paid off!
Caitlin did not like being a baby. She wanted to be held upright so she could see everything around her. She didn’t like that she didn’t have much control of her muscles. We were playing with a stacking toy where you put the plastic rings on the post. I showed her how to do it and she was excited to try. She grasped the plastic ring and tried to put it on the post. Her little arm wibbled and wobbled as she tried desperately to put the ring on the post just like Mommy did. And she couldn’t do it. So she screamed and threw the plastic ring and knocked over the post. In her head, she knew what she wanted to do, but her little baby body would not cooperate.
When she was about 7 months old, I figured that she should be crawling, but she wasn’t. She would kind of scooch around. We were in the living room and I went into the kitchen to do something and when I returned she was in a different place. I encouraged her to crawl, but she would not do it. So I put my purse on the floor across the room from her. Caitlin was always interested in my purse and I thought it might tempt her to crawl. Nope. She just sat there. So I left the room and waited a few seconds, then peeked around the corner – and there she was across the room, with her little hand in my purse ready to pull things out. I knew it! She could crawl! She just didn’t want anyone to see her crawl until she had it perfected.
Caitlin learned to talk pretty early, but didn’t do it much. I remember her first sentence was, “Daws bing Caity books.” She wanted Santa Claus to bring her books for Christmas. I read to her a lot. She would bring a stack of books over to me and I would read each one to her (okay I actually paraphrased a lot of it, but to her it was reading). One of her favorites was “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” One day, she was in her room and was looking at her books. I could hear her on the baby monitor. She told the whole story of Goldilocks (paraphrased like Mommy did) in her little toddler voice. It was so cute! I thought she just wasn’t a talkative child, but I think she was just shy about doing it in front of people. She wanted to practice in private.
When she was almost three, she was playing while I was sitting at the table paying the bills. She got up and watched me write out checks. She wanted some paper to write on too. So I gave her some paper and a pencil. She scribbled on the paper and then looked at what I was doing again. She scribbled some more, and then suddenly threw down the paper and pencil and screamed! She was trying to write like Mommy, but she couldn’t! Poor Caitlin! She knew what she wanted to do – but her body wouldn’t let her!
She was so happy once she was able to go to school and learn to read and write! She was so smart and eager to do the homework, which she deemed was “too easy.” She became a great reader and writer and truly loved school. In fact when she was in mid-elementary school, she was reading big chapter books when her peers were still reading lower level picture books. During summer school, she was put into a higher reading class with kids she did not know – and was miserable. I had the teacher put her back in the class with her friends. Just because she was an advanced reader didn’t mean she shouldn’t be with her peers. Friends were more important than her reading level.
Over the years she got better at being able to try new things – and her body caught up to her mind. But even as we get older, there are things we THINK we should be able to do, but our bodies don’t cooperate with us. Like using chop sticks. Caitlin watched her brother use his chop sticks to see how he held them, and then tried – and tried – and tried – until she finally did it! She wasn’t an expert at it. In fact I think she ate that one egg roll with the chop sticks and then used her hands for the rest. But she was able to get her mind AND her body to work together – and to her that was success.