Presence and Pushing

Hello! Oh my…it’s been a minute, and I’m sorry about that! I’ve been swamped these past few weeks and haven’t been able to take the time to follow my own advice and slow down! Fortunately, I think (glances around superstitiously) that things might be coming back into balance…

It’s been so long that one of the babies in my Saturday class went from being newly able to crawl on flat surfaces, but not able to crawl up even a 3” step (though he tried! Oh, how he tried, and his Mom waited and watched and encouraged…) to learning to climb on my short snack table…to pulling up to standing on the Pikler and even trying to climb it!

Yep, all that in just two weeks. It makes me wonder why so many people are in such a hurry to see babies learn to roll, crawl, walk, etc. It goes so quickly, if we just slow down and wait.

But slowing down is hard, I’ll grant you!

Just today, I watched as a young baby tracked the swim ring on the far side of the mat, near me, as his mother lay him down near her to start class. She mentioned that she considered resting him near the ring since it is a favorite play object of his, but it was too far from her intended seat. As she settled herself, I realized I hadn’t put much out on the floor to play with…sure, I put toys on top of some low boxes, and on shelves, and under the Pikler, but I didn’t put many toys simply on the floor in easy reach.

Drat!  

I really wanted to get up and bring the ring (or any toy, really!) a little closer to this child, but I resisted the urge to jump up to fix what wasn’t even a problem yet. Instead, I watched and waited.

I watched as this child slowly relaxed into the space, first uncrossing his ankles, then relaxing his upper body and neck. I watched as he very purposefully and gracefully rolled onto his stomach (a change from last week when it was a little less coordinated and more challenging).

From his perch on his stomach, he simply looked around, for quite a while. His mother and I chatted quietly on and off, and he looked at me, and around the room, out the door. His hands found the sheet and he grasped at it, pulling it toward his mouth. He discovered he could slip his hand under the sheet, which allowed him to pull it up a little more.

After a while, he rolled again, this time onto his back, and then again onto his stomach. Before we realized it, he’d rolled the short length of the mat! No toys required! It made me think about all of what he could be taking in in that moment without a toy in his hands…the texture of the sheet and mat beneath it, the soft kiss of the chill breeze through the open door, the firmness of the floor beneath him, the lightness of his body in the air, the murmur of his mother and my chat or the soft hum of a quiet room. He didn’t need me to hand him a toy or entertain him, he was fully present in simply being.

Soon enough, other babies arrived and he stopped his rolling explorations and simply put his head on the floor to watch them. In fact, he hardly rolled any more during the rest of the class…the other two babies have mastered movement…crawling, pulling up; one could even walk. And this child lay peacefully and took it all in for a while…then spent the remainder of the class seemingly trying to propel himself forward. He lifted himself up, balancing on his stomach…legs out and back, arms winged back, yearning and stretching forward. No longer content to roll, he seemed to really want to move forward.

Hmm, maybe that’s why people want to see babies do the next thing and the next and the next…maybe it is in our nature! Indeed, if we observe babies, we can see the full spectrum of human nature…the ability to be at peace and present, and the drive to press on, push boundaries, and see what’s next.

Where are you on that spectrum as you read this? Where would you like to be?