Last fall I was helping run a youth camp training. The focus was on preparing new staffers to be camp counselors for a short term camp here in Japan. During one of the down times one of the other organizers and I got into a discussion on what I’ll call “active parenting.” But that isn’t the story for today. What surprised me was when that person started on a diatribe about babies. Their summarized opinion was that babies are boring and have no real personality or interaction value until roughly three or four years old.
I was shocked. At least enough that it is still with me almost six months later.
Now, to be fair, at that time my youngest child (of two) was a mere six-months old. And, sure, she wasn’t the most exciting child in the world, at least if you aren’t her parent. She would mostly watch and observe. Of course need fairly steady feeding and changing. Taking care of her took a lot of energy.
But it was also wonderful. As she is quickly approaching the one year mark, yesterday her mom and I spent roughly an hour watching the many videos we took of her and her big brother. Even that first six months offered so many changes for both of them. They learned how to smile and laugh. Both started showing intense curiosity in the world around them. The recognized their parents, and our youngest learned who her big brother is. So much happens so fast, especially when you can see the changes day to day.
And so soon it becomes an explosion of changes and activity! Well within the first year our girl is starting her own play. She loves peekaboo. She gets excited by different toys and shows preferences for different materials. She leaned and responds and mimics. And oh how she laughs!
For months we, as her parents, have been able to see how much her personality differs from her brother. And as they both grow older those personalities do grow. But those seeds are so obvious from such an early age.
All of this is to say is that babies are amazing people. Yes, they can be demanding and time consuming, and they indeed operate on their own schedules. (The same as some adults I know.) I can certainly understand why not everyone wants children and I would never try and convince anyone they must have a baby. That is way to personal a decision, and it is a decision to which there is no wrong answer.
But, to those that don’t see the personality in babies, I hope they get a chance to see how wrong they are.
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