Our little guy has gone mobile. I don’t mean that he has a data plan or that we’ve downloaded his app. I mean that he can move himself around now. It’s not exactly crawling yet, but if you can imagine a small human doing the breast stroke on land, then you have an idea of what he’s doing.
In the life of an infant, the ability to move ones self about is like gaining a superhuman power. It is a quantum leap forward in living as a human. A whole new world of possibilities opens up. Rather than waiting for a big person to do something for you or to get you something, you can just go do it yourself. What a fantastic new power!
Peter Parker’s uncle Ben wisely told him that great responsibility comes with great power. Our little guy doesn’t understand this principle yet. All he knows is that he has a new power. He doesn’t yet realize that he’s responsible to use that power wisely. He’s already tried to put his finger in a power outlet and shred big sister’s magazine into a billion tiny pieces. Clearly, he has not yet learned the responsibility that comes along with his new super power.
That’s where training comes in. We have now entered the phase where we get to teach him what the no-nos of the world are. In the weeks ahead, he will be learning what is OK to touch and what is not OK. This is a stage I hear many parents complain about because it requires a lot of attention and vigilance on the part of parents to do this training. Admittedly, it is hard work (and it can be tiring at times), but I love watching the progress a child goes through in learning obedience and wisdom. A few hard days of intense training can make for many years of pleasant parenting if these things are learned early.
It seems that philosophies of training children boil down to two basic categories: 1) Child-proof the world or 2) World-proof the child. We tried option No. 1 with our first child. We quickly discovered that there were some unintended consequences of putting pads, locks, gates and bumpers on everything. We became passive about instructing our daughter on what was OK and not OK, and she became an expert at devising ways to outsmart our safety system.
So, we decided to try out the philosophy of world-proofing the child. This involved a much greater expenditure of energy on our part on the front end, but we had much better results. Rather than being passive parents, we became active in directing our children. Rather than cultivating schemers that look for ways around the rules, we helped them see the joy of obeying wise instruction.
Fast forward to the present: You will now find a mobile infant in our house, but you will not find a single outlet cover, baby gate or cupboard lock. Instead, you will find parents and older siblings regularly taking moments to point to things and say, “That’s a no-no.” Of course the little guy is disappointed to discover that his sister’s magazines are a no-touch. He sheds a tear or two, and then moves on to the toy box, which is a perfectly great place for him to be. Little by little, he’s learning how to be responsible with his great new super power.