I have been raising my son for two and almost a half years — more than that if you count the normal amount of time spent tap-dancing on my bladder. However, it has only recently become clear that I am, in fact, rearing a Pokémon. (edited because several people asked: Pokémon are the little creatures from a Japanese video game and TV cartoon which, when they speak, only say one word or parts of that word.)
“Ooh, Nate, look at this. Isn’t that neat?”
“Choo!” he says.
“Nate, do you want yogurt?”
“Choo! Choo!” he says, nodding or shaking his head to indicate yes or no — though the countours of the spoken words are sufficient without the gestures.
“What’s this?” I ask him, pointing to one of his toy trains.
“What sound does it make?”
“Chooooooooooooo! Chooooooooooooooooo! Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch…”
“What’s your name?” strangers ask him. “How old are you?”
And when he doesn’t act bashful and hide behind me (the better to play peekaboo around my legs), he replies, “Choo.”
I was reading the latest entry over at Toddler Planet earlier, and it got me thinking about something else I should really be including on this blog. Whymommy’s stated purpose for her blog is to write about raising kids to be intellectually curious. That’s a goal of mine for Nate. It’s something I don’t talk about too much, in part because if I talk too much about my ideas for that I’m afraid I’ll sound like I’m pontificating instead of conversing; but mostly because it’s something so fundamental to how I parent (and how I interact with all children, not just my own) that unless someone else brings up the topic, while I think about it a lot, I seldom think to talk about it.
So. What do I want for my child? I want him to be intellectually curious, socially well-adjusted, and that all-elusive quality: happy. I want him to be freer of religious and gender boundaries than most of the culture I am raising him in. (Please note that I say “freer,” not “altogether free from.”) I want him to appreciate what he has and what he is given, and I want him to give to others — both those in material need, and those whose only need is the pleasure of having someone do a thoughtful thing. And I want him to grow up with a sense of creative (and intellectual) freedom — a freedom to explore ideas of all sorts, be they creative works, scientific research, or unusual branches of philosophy.
It’s a tall order, but expect me to write from time to time about things we do together that might seem mundane… unless you refer back to this entry, and figure out how some day-to-day activity I’m discussing relates to the parenting ideals I’m working towards. This is a good example Whymommy is setting.
In that spirit: Nate, too, got a new toy today, for no special occasion. It’s a new piece for his wooden train set, a tiny castle in which the train rolls up a slope, through a swinging door, through the castle, under a gate he can lower and close using a little dial on the castle’s side, and down another slope. And oh, how he practiced with it, making two different trains out of the train cars he had, and opening and closing the gate before and behind each train (which required turning the knob in different directions, which he sometimes accomplished by switching hands); using one train to push the other and seeing how far they could go before the train in front rolled down the slope at the far end; and seeing what happened if he tried to change the direction a train was traveling in while its engine was under the swinging door. (Answer: it got stuck, as the door wedged itself against the smokestack. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that he had to push the engine on through the swinging door and then reverse the train’s direction — along with the door’s swing.)
So, Nate got lots of practice today with cause and effect, gears, levers, the physics of slopes, and the effects of gravity. He also worked in a little practice with changing the order of a sequence by sending part of it on a shorter or longer path (the train tracks were set up with a split that merged back together before they got to the castle, so each train could go on a different path and still travel through the castle with the other one). And of course, he got in some more practice with how magnets work — though since he’s been playing with these trains (which have a magnet at each end) for over a year, he has the basics down pretty well by now.
Perhaps his next add-on for the trains should be a big magnet, so he can see how it interacts with the magnets on the trains.