Friday, July 27, 2007

on speaking terms

I sometimes wonder what goes on inside the Spud's head. I know it sounds like a cliche but really, when you stare at his little face while he checks things out around him it's clear that he's thinking up a whole teacup of storms. However, since he doesn't have language and hasn't spent 30 years watching terrible movies or reading gossip magazines in doctor's surgeries, he has a completely virgin, un-cluttered brain. A whole forest of un-explored neural pathways for his thoughts to wander around in with no nasty language to constrain them.

Anything could happen in there. He could be working out the solution to time travel in there, flying free without any pre-limited conceepts and all I'm doing is paving over these brilliant new neural connections by teaching him 'duck' and 'bath' and 'cat food not for Charlies' as if he is plural. Which sometimes he seems to be these days...

I've tried, recently, to think without words. The problem is that I'm so busy thinking 'don't use words... oh no, those were words... damn... shhhh... shut up... no words... oh bugger... and so on. So, I've tried also to remember what thinking was like when I was very small and my earliest memories are either just flashes of images, or of trying to understand words.

I remember my parents begging me to fetch them 'a few' aspirin from the medicine cabinet when I was perhaps 4 or 5 and being very proud because I worked out that 'one' was one, 'a couple' was two and therefore that 'a few' was three. Looking back I now wonder how my hangover-ridden parents agreed to split them and if one of them kindly offered the other the chance to have two on the condition that they spent the morning dealing with me.

I have very clear memories of lying in my parents' bed watching the curtains get lighter and hatching a childish plot to fidget until they would wake up and play with me. I couldn't understand why grownups would possibly want to sleep while there was all that daytime outside the window to play in. Now, of course, I am plotting ways to get the spud to sleep in later. Currently this involves bringing him into our bed however something tells me this may be an own goal...

So, today we were in the park while I tried to exhaust him give him some quality play time and I watched him as he in turn watched the bigger kids going down the slide, then imitated them as best he could. Something was clearly going on under that baby curl on the top of his head and it wasn't the sentence 'that looks like fun, I'm going to try it'.

Somewhere near the top 50% of the things I worry about as a parent is 'will he ever learn to speak' and on balance I realise this is foolish. He just has to want to speak as much as he wants to play with the remote control - which tells me that I do in fact know what goes on inside his head, just not how it does it. One day speaking will become important for him and evidence suggests that once he decides that's what he wants to do he'll be lecturing at the local poly by the end of the week.

Until then I'm quite enjoying watching him process all this new information that's coming his way and hoping that by exposing him to 'In the Night Garden' every evening I'm not laying tarmac over the pathways to brilliance.

.

8 comments:

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, it's a bit of a worry that there are no scientific studies on the effect of In the Night Garden on the young, as yet. Or the old, come to that...

Samantha said...

I am of the belief that our memories are actually formed right at the time we are developing the language with which to describe them. It is quite challenging, and most arguably against our nature, to try to think without words... our mere existance on this earth seems to be entwined forever with words.

But yes - you can almost hear those neurons firing at every newly learned thing... and oh, what they learn!!! :-)

Clay Feet said...

I find your musings about his brain very interesting in the light of what I have been learning from Dr. James Wilder over the past few years. He has wonderful insights into exactly what is going on in the brain at this age and much of it is in his excellent book Living With Men. It is the best and most understandable book I know on the stages of maturity. His videos are also extremely informative about what is involved in growth and how important your job is in that process. In fact, the age the spud is at right now is the most critical time in his life for the most important part of his brain growth. And that is best stimulated by spending hours of time interacting face to face with you in joy time together. I suspect you are doing a very good job already.
I love the way you articulated your questions about thinking without words. Over the past few years I have been trying to learn to be aware of the condition of my own spirit which is very much related to what you are talking about. Words are actually a serious degradation of communication due to the necessary condensation of our thoughts and feelings into a shallow enough form to be expressed in the simplistic symbols of words. If we could just have a way to skip using words and communicate directly mind to mind life would be totally different. But in fact Dr. Wilder also says that when your baby looks into your eyes that is exactly what goes on between you and him and it happens faster than you can consciously be aware of. Fascinating.

The Good Woman said...

Tried thinking without words. Slept well. Thanks.

Lindystar the HOR blogger said...

I keep trying it but I find that every time I just end up staring at stuff and not thinking anything.

But think about two girlfriends sitting across a room at a party. All they have to do is give each other a certian look or shrug and a very clear message can be sent - sanz word.

AND I tried to think about when I daydream or when I *ahem* fantasize - I think most of that is without words.

This is just the neatest thing you've brought up for me to ponder today.
That spud is one lucky boy.

Sparx said...

SAHD - Yes, I think I need that study to be done quite quickly. How many times a day does the theme tune creep into your brain?

Samantha - I think that as well. I also think that the entire way in which we view life going forward is shaped enormously by our experiences at the spud's age and I'm trying to make him brave and strong and careful and funny. Given that I am a weak and reckless coward who still laughs at fart jokes, this is somewhat of a challenge!

TGW - oh good, I think you could use the sleep about now!

Clay - thank you for this, I'm fascinated by the brain at the moment, I think having a child makes you think about everything in a new light. i envy the spud his ability to soak up knowledge at the speed in which he does and I hope that contact with him is going to help me to re-activate some of that soggy tissue I have up there.

Lindy - trust you to make an accurate observation using sex as the base!!! You're right... *that* sort of thought is entirely image driven. It seems obvious now that you point it out but our emotions must be driven more by our senses than by words as they pre-date our ability to speak by a long, long time... although I think I will limit the Spud's video intake to 'In the Night Garden' for now (!!!)

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