Friday, January 16, 2009
Manners or How My Baby is Making Me a Better Person
Azalia has begun eating with a fork and spoon during mealtimes. This is a pretty big accomplishment. It can be messy, but it is so good for her development to be able to do this on her own. I have to load up the fork for her with food, she's not quite able to do that on her own yet. Today she would not give the fork back to me unless I did the sign for "please". I've been saying and signing please a lot more with her recently and I feel like she's starting to understand what that means. It might be a while before she starts using "please" in her sign vocabulary (she currently uses milk, more, cereal and all done) but at least she's getting the concept of it.
Another thing I've observed is her eagerness to clean up. When she spills her milk on the table or the floor I usually come around with a towel or napkin to wipe it up. She now tries to do this before I get there. With her tiny little baby hands she wipes the floor to clean up her mess. I know that she learned this by watching me. It amazes me how much she understands or imitates just from observing Joe and I.
Knowing this, I feel a lot of pressure on being the kind of woman I would like her to be. I want her to be strong, independent, gentle, flexible, loving, compassionate, and I want her to love her Lord Jesus Christ with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. Bishop Irenaius writes in "On the Upbriging of Children",
"We know that never does human nature develop so quickly and in so many ways as in these first years of childhood. The bodily development advances quickly and steadily, and the spiritual even more so. The child begins to speak, forms his first concrete ideas, learns to think, to reflect. His will grows stronger and gradually begins to work independently. His mind is enriched by his surroundings, and from these he apprehends the idea of God. He begins to ponder the purpose of life and learns to distinguish good from evil. His conscience awakens, love and hatred begin to work within him, the feelings of honor and shame appear."
There is a great emphasis placed on the first several months of a baby's life. Rolling over, sitting up, walking, first words are all important milestones and help the parent to know that the child is developing physically and mentally on track. But those first months, years in a child's life are full of so much more. Before a baby speaks, the will see the love (or lack of) between their parents. I've read in another parenting book that children, particularly girls, will form their views of sex from their parents. Azalia will form her views of God, family and the world through her observations. Since we, her parents, are the ones who spend the most time with her, that places a pretty heavy burden on us. If I want Azalia to to be gentle, I must be gentle with her, with my husband and with others. If I want her to be generous and compassionate, I must also be these things. If I want her to say "please", I must also say "please". And not just with her. She watches me at the store, at church and in the car while I'm driving. I know that I won't be perfect and I'm sure she'll see me impatient or angry. But thinking about the kind of woman I want my daughter to be makes me want to be a better woman.