Thursday, September 18, 2008

One neurotic obsession at a time, I guess.

We bought this contraption for boy about two months ago. It's big and colorful and it required some assembly, and now we have to edge around it in our family room. Officially, it's called a jumper, and that's what it's supposed to do -- help your kid work off some steam by allowing him to jump in one place for long stretches of time, well before he can actually stand by himself. Great in theory.

In practice, however, we might as well have just called it a "stander," since that's what boy has done a great deal of. Standing. Sure, he played with the toys a bit. And yes, the music on this device is actually not quite so mind-stupefyingly annoying as the music on other ones, so, you know, score. But really, we might just as well have thrown four twenties on the floor and stood the kid on them, for all the good this thing was doing.

Which made me think: how do you teach a kid to jump? We tried putting him in it and jumping in front of him. That just made him giggle. We tried moving his little legs for him. That just made him annoyed. We tried pushing on the seat itself to make it move up and down, thinking he'd "get it" from there. That just made his neck look even wobblier than it already did. We tried exclaiming the word "jump!" helpfully and often. And I'm pretty sure that just made him confused. 
For that matter (and more importantly): how do you teach your kid anything at all? If we can't convey a simple verb like "jump" to the poor boy, what about the tougher and more abstract verbs, like "think" and "try?" And if those seem hard, how can we hope to ever communicate what kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness and grace are? 

There's nothing like having a baby to make you realize just how much you don't know. All we can do is muddle through and hope for the best. Besides, the kid shows promise. Just two days ago, he started jumping in the thing all by himself.

Maybe there's hope for all of us yet. 


RitaJeane said...

This photo of Boy has "Sana" written all over it

Laura said...

Jumping is in the same category as talking -- you spend tons of time and energy trying to encourage them to do it, and the payoff is years of wishing they would just stop doing it for a minute or two! :-)