I’m starting to wonder if perhaps we are born with capabilities that our cultures take away.
My little girls were born within an innate ability to love. I did not have to teach it to them. If I reciprocate that love, it grows, naturally. I do not have to guide their love, but rather react to it. I must not act as stained glass toward light, but as a mirror. I must not try to change the color or shape of their love, but rather match it. It is only when I try to intervene, try to have them compete or conform, that their behavior tends to become unbalanced.
I am not suggesting that I will turn to a form of more passive parenting. I do not believe it is our place as parents to simply stand by and watch our children grow. However, I do think it is our place to stand by and let them grow (and to let them grow at their own pace). Our children, each of them, individually, have reasons for what they do.
Laurel, for example, has been capable of walking for months now, but chooses to crawl. It is not a concern of mine that she is not walking at 16 months, nor will it be if she does not walk at 2 years. I do not try to push her.
She will walk when she is ready, and in the meantime she is strengthening many skills as she crawls along the floor. She is strengthening her arms, her hands and her fingers. She’s strengthening shoulder stability, prone extension, hand separation, hand-eye coordination, balance and core strength, among other things - all of which help promote sensory integration, fine and gross motor skills, body awareness and self-regulation.
It is a misconception in our culture that walking early provides an advantage. In fact, I have learned that children who skip crawling, or walk very soon after crawling, are generally presented with physical and sensory challenges later in life. Pushing a child to walk early can have negative consequences. It is a misconception in our culture that we must move quickly in order to progress. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. We must take heed to the simple lesson from the tortoise and the hare.
At 16 months, June hasn’t yet crawled. She has yet to access many of the benefits above that Laurel is busily acquiring. However, as she stays immobile, she’s also seeing the world in a way that many of us overlook. Coley and I, of course, keep her close to us, carry her, help her with some therapies, but when she is left alone, she’s left with her thoughts. Who knows what’s going on in that rare and unique, little brain of hers?
We all have our own internal and external worlds. We like to think that we expand our internal world by expanding the external. What if this is not correct? What if the monks are onto something? What if quiet reflection is the path to internal expansion and enlightenment? What if we, in fact, can only expand our external world by expanding the internal? What if our culture is embedding flawed ideas into our minds and leading us astray?
June may already be more enlightened than anyone I’ve ever met, because she often sits quietly and takes it all in. She lives deep inside the human mind - in places I can’t even access. While the rest of us stand in the shallow end, June floats around in the deep. I can see it when I look into her eyes. She can see further into me than I can see into her.
And in a way, for this reason, she’s always two steps ahead.
UPDATE: I wrote this post two just weeks ago and Laurel is walking all over now. She may walk for the rest of her life. I still have no doubt that she will benefit from all of her time crawling.