W Threw Out Trash

I'm generally going to use initials from now on, in the interest of making it easier for me to type more than privacy. It's not like I get a lot of strangers reading the "Life" section of my blog (although I get lots of hits from strangers on my reviews). Since the main initials will be T and W, I'm sure you'll all figure it out.

Yesterday W flabbergasted me. He had learned either earlier in the day, or the day before, to put things INTO containers. He's been taking things out for months, but never putting them back IN. Well, now he's finally putting shaped cubes into the holes on the little toy boxes (with T's help; W still can't figure out which hole matches the shape, but if T puts the correct spot in front of W, he'll put the block in). But I didn't realize he had learned this when I was playing with him yesterday afternoon.

W and I were in the bedroom, and he was playing the "labeling game". He goes around the room picking things up off the floor, then holding them up and looking at the adult in the room, waiting for us to tell him what it is. So he was going through all the toys in the basket we have in the bedroom, and after I labeled something for him, he threw it backwards (he's also big into throwing things now, instead of just dropping them).

But when he picked up a little scrap of torn paper that was in the basket, and I labeled it "trash", he didn't throw it behind him. I swear his little face lit up like he had a big idea, and he started crawling across the room with it. I had all the doors closed so he couldn't leave the room, so I wasn't paying that much attention to him, but when I looked to see where he went, I found him all the way on my side of the bed. He crawled directly to the trash can and then held the scrap of paper above it and looked to me for confirmation. I told him yes, he should put the trash in the trash can, and he did it! I was flabbergasted by this, it was entirely his idea. We never taught him to put things in the trash can, all we did was label the can "trash" when he would go over and look in it. We never let him take things OUT of the trash can, we only let him LOOK at the trash if he was curious. I guess he was testing to see if it was ok to put things INTO the trash can now that he can do that. I cheered and clapped when he thew out the scrap of trash. It would be convenient for me if he would throw out all the little odds and ends that wind up on the floor. It's certainly better than when he wanted to eat them all.

But later, I became less enthusiastic about this. W made an association all by himself, we didn't have to teach him. I thought we'd need to teach him everything he needed to know, but if he figures things out on his own, he doesn't need us so much. From an evolutionary standpoint, it's understandable that this is a good thing, but as a parent, it's making me feel a little superfluous.

My natural inclination is to control, and it's taken me many years to learn to lower my expectations about what I can control in my life. Most importantly, I had to learn that I could not control T. I guess I got married late enough that I knew I couldn't control him, but what I had to learn not to WANT to control him, since it just made me frustrated when he didn't magically do what I wanted. That took a few years to get over, but we have a good appreciation of the other's autonomy now.

So I guess my natural inclination was that I could control W. It's easy to fall into that with a baby, since for the most part you CAN control them. Especially before they can move. But now that he's having independent thoughts that he did not learn from me, as far as I'm concerned, he's already out of my control. I'll certainly still have to physically control him in most situations, and I'm aware he takes a lot of cues about what to think from T and me, but ultimately, he's going to think what he wants.

He's been having his own ideas for a while now; I find it interesting when we set him loose in the house to follow him around, to see what interests him. But yesterday seemed different-- instead of just seeing something and crawling to it or picking it up, he formulated and executed a plan.

When I told him the paper was trash, he 1) remembered that trash goes in the trash can, 2) remembered that there is a trash can on the other side of the room (he couldn't see it from where we were sitting), 3) formulated a plan to put the trash in the trash can, 4) executed the plan.

Not having paid much attention to kids before I had one, I thought that planning was something that didn't happen until they were around 5 years old, or something like that. I'm really unprepared for this happening before he turns one. I'm a little bit afraid he's going to develop the use of his frontal lobes before mine become functional. Good thing I'm starting neurofeedback tomorrow!

Nobody can control T.

Nobody can control T. (laugh) Great post, very interesting. I look forward to your posts on Facebook after Easter.

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