Monday, May 9, 2011

My tiny Neanderthal

My head is a bit mushy this morning, likely from spending an entire weekend with a raging toddler. DH worked all weekend, so, with the exception of a few outings, it was MJ and I, one on one. I was desperately looking forward to this weekend. No real errands or commitments that needed to happen. Beautiful weather. An escape from the confines of the indoors.

And it was all that, but spending all weekend with a creature that is very mobile but barely vocal can make a person feel soft in the head. When she was first born, I often wondered when she would surpass our dog in intelligence. I think that happened at about 8 or 9 months of age. I now think she has the intelligence of some sort of early human or primate. Not that I really know what the true intelligence of these creatures are. But there are lots of grunts, little sense of personal hygiene (by our modern standards) and a desire to destroy things. This seems to be in line with what I've learned about Neanderthals from Geico commercials.

We're constantly told by strangers, family and friends how "energetic" MJ is. It seems that way to us, too, but she's our only data point. So a few weeks ago, after a particularly shriek-filled, catastrophe-filled few days with MJ, my husband asked our daycare director if MJ was the most energetic child they'd seen. She laughed and said no, clearly indicating she's not even close to the most energetic child she's seen. But she followed it up by saying "She's the most fearless."

As if to illustrate this point, MJ decided to climb the chain ladder at the playground yesterday. It's about a 6 foot tall ladder, and I didn't think she could get past the first couple rungs, so I watched (and positioned myself to catch). She got all the way to the top, but couldn't climb onto the platform. So what did she do? She let go.

I caught her. But how do you instill fear in a child that doesn't seem to have any? My operating principle so far has been to encourage minor injuries, so she can learn her own limitations. It has worked pretty well, and she has fear of many things she should have fear of, and will now make sure she has good footing on stools and stairs. But she is getting to the point of major injuries, not minor injuries. I had hoped that her learning stairs can be scary would translate to her understanding that 6 foot tall ladders can be scary. But that mental jump is too much, apparently.


  1. Oh, MJ :) I have no idea about instilling fear. Annie climbs that playground and makes a beeline for the slide, even though she's gone down it alone before and bonked her head several times, and gone down facefirst and got a mouthful of dirt and freaked out. Still goes back for more. Neanderthal is right.

  2. I'm right there with you. My daughter is 15 months and she won't even go to the small kid's side at the park. She already climbs the 6 foot ladders and goes down the big kid slides. I have to run after her with my two month old strapped to me. Then at the beach, she runs right into the water all the way up to her neck. I don't want her to be afraid of life but a little fear would be great!