One year ago IEP was about 6 weeks old. He could barely hold up his head. He woke every three hours to eat overnight. He couldn’t sit, crawl, pick up a toy, eat a Cheerio, point, wave, talk, or walk. Today he is a vastly different baby. (GAP claims he’s a toddler now, which is probably fair, but I’m not yet ready to concede that baby-hood is behind us.) In just a year he has changed in nearly innumerable ways. I, too, am different than I was a year ago, but not on the scale that he is.
My vocabulary is about the same. I’m the same size. I have the same number of teeth (thankfully…) My physical abilities aren’t much different (although I can now prepare most of a meal with a baby on one hip, and I couldn’t do that a year ago). I’m not particularly smarter or stronger. A year is long enough for a tiny little lump of a baby to become a walking, talking, actual person. Yet I am essentially the same. But why?
This causes me to think about the way a child approaches the world. All that children want is to know more, understand more, and do more. To be bigger, smarter, faster, and funnier tomorrow than they were today. To read their first “chapter” book, or make their first three-pointer, or be invited to the grown-up table during holiday dinners. They question. They wonder. Toddlers ask “why?” until the answer has to do either with physics, God, or both and we don’t know what to say in response. When was the last time that your curiosity was so unquenchable? For me, at least, it’s been a while.
As adults we are so prone to approach life on a need-to-know basis. Whether it’s the distribution of TARP funds, or the merits of last year’s round of Nobel laureates, or the moral grey area that surrounds our food supply, we only want to know as much as we need to get by. To some extent this is a survival mechanism. How are we supposed to keep track of careers, mortgage payments, birthdays, college savings funds, and whether or not we’re out of dog food if we’re wrapped up in things that don’t immediately or ultimately affect us?
But it’s also a bit lazy, don’t you think? Because the thing is that, while perhaps not immediately, ultimately most of those things do affect us. Why shouldn’t we all have a basic understanding of how our government is spending our donated tax dollars, or what worthwhile books were written last year, or where our food comes from? Perhaps not all of these things pique my interest enough to spend limited personal time exploring them in depth. I should, however, have a cursory understanding of them.
And on a personal level why am I not more curious or motivated to continue developing? A year from now I could be much different than I am today. I could be in better shape. I could be better read. I could speak another language. I could be better traveled. I could interact with a broader range of people.
If a year is long enough for my son to go from a swaddled newborn to an active toddler, it’s also long enough for me to make some strides of my own. My mind should be a playground, not a fallow field. Watching IEP fiend for knowledge and understanding has inspired me to do the same.