Monday, August 14, 2006

Proper Nutrition and the Growing Baby Brain

Today my starving Boss ate dog food right out of the bowl in a swift executive move that gave the phrase "living hand to mouth" an entirely new meaning. Because she only ingested one morsel and didn't seem to have a problem, I let her do it. I know another mother might have swept a purposeful pointer through her child's mouth to rid it of fishmeal and ground barley, but I saw absolutely no reason to get involved in a situation that was obviously under control. I watched The Boss's face for any trace of a reaction. There was nothing but amusement at having swiped something that was not hers for the taking. Then she picked up the bowl and dumped half its contents on the floor.

These babies, they don't seem like geniuses. But each day, as their gray matter fills with color, they are able to process so many new aspects of the world. She's eating dry dog dinner now, but I know it won't be too far into the future when I realize that my daughter is smarter than I am. And more well-mannered, to boot. At one year old, she says "thank you" every time somebody hands her something. I'm not sure where she picked that one up.

The visiting nurse who came to do a one-week check-up on myself and the newborn Boss described the amazing speed with which babies grow in a way I will always remember. Though it's not perceptible to the naked eye at any one moment, just a week of time lapse photography would show a child's life as it unfolds: the arms adding inches in increments, the thighs thickening, the eyes getting wide. Maybe you've seen a flower open that way. Maybe you've seen fruit rot. They are situations that seem slow if you watch them in real time, but they are fast, fast, fast when you look back.

I think the brains of these little ones grow similarly to their lengthening limbs. Probably faster, actually, if I wanted to get technical (which I don't--and couldn't, even if I had the inclination). The point is, they grow fast. Watching them discover with a swiftness the world around them is one of the biggest joys of parenting. One day they are floppy on the floor and the next they can sit. One day they are jelly on their feet and the next they can stand. One day they say nothing and the next they say "dog." One late night they are sleeping swaddled; the next morning they gaze up at you, their arms outstretched.

I never said being a mother was all roses. But the bloom is as beautiful.


Lauren said...

Awwww. Being a mama must be the most fulfilling feeling in existence.

Whirlwind said...

Ahh the dog food dish! Moe has taken to finding plastic play cups (and even sometimes an empty sippy cup and filling her own up. Any guesses from where? Yup, she goes over the Cedar's water dish and helps herself! Yuck!

On a side note, reading about the wonders of development almost made me cry. It is so frustrating right now to see Meenie struggling to re-learn how to walk, how to move her arm, how to feed herself. Each day is an imporvement and I know it will be only a matter of time until she regains it, but to see her so helpless... As you said, you never really notice the little changes, but once they are gone, it makes a big difference.

I'm glad to see the Boss is picking up good manners! Moe's new developemnet is to fake a burp (must have learned that from her dad).

Jenifer said...

Very well said. I ran into some pictures from just last year a few days ago and marveled at the difference. Paige just had her 2 year physical yesterday and the difference 1 year makes is astronomical. I remember well that she learned how to walk about 3 days after her 1st birthday, a year ago almost to the day. I watch her climb on and off her big wheel, and rocking horse, and the couch, and anything else she can manage to climb on. Then I watch her run and jump her way around the back yard and I am astounded at how fast the time goes!

Jennifer said...

So, so true! My three month old is now doing so many things that just blow my mind despite how the charts say that she's right on time. I just keep thinking back on the first day we brought her home and how just getting comfortable to sleep for a few hours was a big chore for her!

Loved the post and your choice of words...