Today Sam sat on the floor and put his bottle of baby lotion in and out of his bedtime basket for 15 minutes. I’ve been waiting for this development for months, giving him every possible container filled with various types of objects. I kept reading that if I showed him how to take things out and put things back in then he would start to imitate me. This never happened. I emptied out the blocks; I put them back in the bucket by myself. We both emptied the bowl of plastic spoons; he lost interest. The laundry basket, the toy box, the shape sorter, the old oatmeal container I made for his poker chips, all packed and repacked by me. He just was not interested, and I will be the first to admit that this is one skill on which he really seemed to be behind…until today. He took that lotion out, looked at it, and decided to see what would happen if he put it back in. The answer: not much, but he sure did like it. I watched him figure out how high he had to hold the lotion bottle, experiment with where in the basket it should be, discover that no, in fact it would not fit through any of the holes in the basket, all while I just sat there and watched. He didn’t need me at all, and that was my own discovery.
After all that work I had done I was so happy that he had finally done this that I couldn’t help but cheer for him. He didn’t even care. He wasn’t doing this for me at all, so I just stepped out of it. And I have to say that it was nice to relax, to sit down. I always feel like if I am not doing something that has to be done, like dishes or making dinner, then I need to be giving Sam my undivided attention to make up for that time that I had to be temporarily distracted, like every moment needs to be quality time between the two of us. But the kid is doing ok. And sometimes, while I hate to admit this, I know he does better without me, just because that gives him his opportunity to be independent, learn for himself and learn what he wants when he wants. I never would have emphasized playing with trucks; he decided he liked that all on his own, and they make him so happy. I didn’t even teach him how to sit back down once he had pulled himself to standing, but he managed that all by himself as well. So while I know he learned by example for some of my favorite things he does – he knows that when music plays it is time to dance, and one of his favorite activities is turning the pages of his books – most of it is going to be all him, doing his thing, and I can choose to cheer because it makes me happy to do so…while seated, relaxed and proud of my baby’s independence.