Tag Archives: animals

Every New Day

I am filled with wonder at Sam. Of course there are the new skills he has developed over the past 9 months that amaze me as he crawls, holds his own bottle, feeds himself, pulls up (although for some reason his mouth is an important aspect of his pulling up ability), and walks along the edge of the couch or from chair to chair around the table. Those things still wow me when I think about the tiny thing he was not so long ago.

But it’s the little things he finds amazing that fill me with wonder. He loves to look out the window at our back yard. There’s nothing particularly special about our back yard, yet there is very little he finds more enjoyable than just looking at it for hours every day. I inevitably lose interest after a few minutes and do other things while he continues to look outside.

This seems to capture Sam’s thought process pretty well.

Every time my face suddenly appears through a doorway or around an obstacle, he still smiles and laughs. We’ve been playing peekaboo for his whole life, but he still finds this game incredibly fulfilling. Even just turning his head and seeing me across the room will plaster a huge smile on his face.

There’s something beautifully pure about childhood. We lose so much as we gain greater understanding and responsibility. I quickly decide that checking facebook or twitter is more interesting than seeking out the unique details of our back yard with Sammy. What do I gain from social media? Nothing really. But what could I gain from spending slow, quiet time contemplating the beauty of the natural world with Sam? What else deserves the type of intense attention to detail that Sam likes to give things?

Probably one thing that deserves that attention to detail is my cleaning ability, which I type as Sam finds yet another cheerio I somehow failed to sweep up off the floor and he immediately pops it into his mouth. In all seriousness though, I think we gain as much from our children as they gain from us. Here I have been given a perfect example of how to live in deeper connection to my surroundings. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’ll try to make the most of it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a window to look through with my son.

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REVIEW: Chu’s Day

To finish my month-long series on childhood literacy, I thought there would be nothing better than to look at a great picture book that was just released: Neil Gaiman’s Chu’s Day.

Chu’s Day is the story of a small panda with a big problem. Whenever Chu sneezes, bad things happen. Over the course of the book, Chu appears to be in danger of sneezing a handful of times, first at the library (dusty books), then at the diner where he has lunch (lots of pepper in the air), but it is actually at the circus when nobody is paying attention to Chu that he needs to warn everyone else about his impending calamitous sneeze.

Knowing Gaiman, it would not be outside the realm of possibility for monsters to appear–or more likely, that we realize the worst monsters of all are ourselves–but that doesn’t happen here, and this book stays within a light, cheerful sensibility that any parent can appreciate. The book is designed for very young children, with appropriately simple short sentences and a preeminence given to the artwork.

Speaking of Adam Rex’s artwork, it is beautiful.

One of my favorite images, featuring Chu and his father at a diner

Every page of the book is filled with the gorgeous, deeply colored, and highly characterized art represented on this page. In all seriousness, this is one of the most beautiful picture books I have read. And it only gets more fascinating when Chu finally does sneeze and everything gets blown around!

Of course, it doesn’t really matter how much I like the book. What matters is how much children like the book, and in my particular case, what matters is how much Sam likes the book. Let me tell you, he loves it! We borrowed this from the library and read it regularly while we had it. He is usually pretty good about sitting still and listening to stories, but even so, he did as well with this book as any other book I have ever read to him. What’s more, he seemed to enjoy it every time we read it!

I don’t think I can praise this book highly enough. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors already, but I know this book will be one my whole family will enjoy for years to come, and I have no doubt that it will soon become a classic book read to children for many years to come.

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One of my first posts was on the need to slow down and enjoy life that is happening right in front of me, so on Sunday we went to a church picnic at a local farm. This was a small gathering–we attend a small church, and naturally not everyone came to the picnic–but I’m always amazed at how Sam responds to people outside of the family.
Sam is always happy to interact with other people. He loves to be held by new people, talk to them, smile at them, and play with them. I suspect he gets that from his mom, because that’s certainly not how I am! I typically stay very reserved around new people, or even not-so-new people, simply because that’s my personality.
In college I had several class discussions about the “nature vs. nurture” debate, in conjunction with Locke’s Tabula Rasa, John B. Watson’s theories, or even in a literature class when we discussed Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson. Throughout my life I have been a “nurture” devotee, but since Sam’s birth I can’t help but reconsider my beliefs.
Sam simply looks like an extrovert at 4 months old. Of course, personality changes over time and he might turn out to be completely different, but this seems like an inborn trait. I suppose this is just another example of the way our perspectives change as life goes on–maybe a bit of “nurturing” that modifies our own nature.
I don’t think this is a bad thing at all–I’m glad he loves to spend time with other people and that he’s as happy to spend time with non-family members as family members.
Of course, there was a lot more than just interpersonal interaction at the picnic–there was a farm full of animals as well! Samuel’s still a bit young for a petting zoo, but we still walked around to look at goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, peacocks, and fish. I thought Samuel might enjoy watching them, based on how funny he finds our cat, but he was mostly uninterested.
Despite this lack of interest, I enjoyed seeing the animals, and watching the other young children at the farm reminded me of how much we still have to look forward to in the future. I have no doubt that within the next few years going to a farm like that will be incredibly fun for everyone, but most of all Samuel.
Samuel has so much more to discover in life, and I am so glad I get to be involved with the discovery process. After all, a front-row seat is nice, but being on the stage and engaged in the process is so much more fun than anything else.

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