Yesterday I finished listening to the audio book version of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Good Squad. Roxana Ortega narrated, and she was excellent. She did all the voices. I could see all the characters. I could keep track of what was happening. The voices made a difference.
Lately, I have been reading and seeing a lot about encouraging Remy’s developing imagination. After reading Hana Rosin’s piece in The Atlantic, I seem to see this topic everywhere. Give your child unstructured play. Let him or her choose the toy or activity. Speak to your infant so they can build a large and imaginative vocabulary. Don’t just pick your baby up when he or she is intently staring at something. On and on. Truthfully, it seems a bit early for most of this. After all, Remy is only three
years (correction: months – time flies but thankfully not that fast) old, and has only just figured out that he can 1) grasp things 2) maneuver things into his mouth and 3) squeak to get someone’s attention when said things cover his face or get dropped on the floor.
While I was pregnant, I read Annie Murphy Paul’s Origins: How The Nine Months Before Birth Shape The Rest Of Our Lives. Mostly, the book discusses why, as a soon-to-be-mother, it was imperative that I avoid stress, natural disasters, and pesticides while embracing a diversity of food and positive experiences. I enjoyed the book as a break from the alarmist nature of “What to Expect” and, honestly, resonated with a lot of what she was saying about making small choices to improve your life and the life of your coming child. So the idea of doing some things now to help Remy later makes sense to me.
This week I also read this NPR article on childhood amnesia. It turns out the vast majority of children don’t remember anything that happened to them before the age of three. The article is about how scientists are beginning to understand why this happens. But what it made me think about is how there is so mush pressure for young parents to do a plethora of “essential” things that their children will quickly forget. Of course, creating a Pinterest-perfect history for our children isn’t the point. Remy doesn’t have to remember for the pathways that he is building to work later on.
My husband is a math instructor at the local university, and I was a high school math teacher before I dropped out of grown-up life to go to law school. There is a lot of talk in the math world about the importance of teaching mathematical concepts beyond what a young person is likely to use in his or her daily life. Learning more complicated math strategies helps build crucial neural pathways that strengthen a student’s ability to problem solve and think critically. So, even though I haven’t used Calculus very much since my freshman year of college, my brain thanks me for taking the time to learn it. I use the brain muscle that I built in that and other mathematics classes often, in non-mathematical situations.
For me, the reasoning is similar in my approach to helping Remy navigate the world he has landed in. He won’t remember that we stood in front of the apple tree yesterday until he was done looking at the tiny blossom buds, a full fifteen minutes after we started. He won’t remember that I use crazy words like “colleagues” and “juxtaposition” when I explain to him where we will be going or what has just happened around us. And he probably won’t remember that I do the voices when we read The Hobbit before bed. But his tiny brain is frantically doing something with all that information, something that will have lasting effects.