Friday, April 16, 2010

Mimicry and a simple glass of water

Mimic: (verb ) choose or take something as one's own .

I mentioned in the last blog entry (Food, Glorious Food) that Opal has made a study for many weeks now of watching us drink from a glass of water.
And whenever she has a chance to practice that which she has observed, she goes for it, dives for the glass as if she were a circus performer high-diving into a tiny bucket of water. If I am holding the glass, she pushes towards it as if attempting to give it a robust hug, then strives to pull it to her lips with every ounce of her little-baby-strength.
The one-pointedness is remarkable.
All this exertion often results in a sloshing of water, a tiny, exciting tidal wave down the front of one of us, which causes her to shriek with glee.
No longer will drinking a glass of water rank as a mundane activity.
Quite the contrary. It is a full-sensory, full-contact experience that requires some sense of mastery and skill to execute properly. To Opal, this cool, clear, cylindrical object that somehow holds the same clear liquid she knows mainly from bathtime (different context and temperature), must glint with such mystery in the air as it approaches my mouth like a suncatcher caught in the perfect light. Hallelujah. Praise the newness of it all.

But what impacts me most is that we never taught her about a glass of water, how to (aim to) hold it with both hands, bring it to the mouth, take a gulp. She got every little bit of this information-- and the thrill that comes with the attempt at accomplishing it-- completely on her own.

Through watching and emulating.

In this new universe of ours that contains a baby who currently eats real food and sits in a high chair (gasp!), I see a tiny little mimicker sitting next to me as I never have before. She prefers to take her meal in her high chair, level to her mama who is also eating her breakfast, as if joining me for good old-fashioned tea time. Just two ladies dining together. She seems to enjoy the continuous stream of example I provide, as I bring the food to my own mouth one bite at a time, pausing for a drink or to give her a bite from her own tiny bowl. I make an OOOO with my lips and she follows, as a bit of white or green goo passes her lips. I make gleeful noises and over-emphasize chewing and she does her version of the same.
She is essentially, a miniature, much cuter, much sloppier and less refined mirror-image.

And this got me to thinking that nothing is as powerful of a teacher as simple and profound demonstration.

Food is only the most obvious of specimens.

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