Friday, January 25, 2013

Life at 1

I started watching the ABC's Life At 1 (and 3 and 5 and 7) series years before Lovely Husband and I decided to have Dear Boy. Back then, it was an interesting documentary series, popping up every year or so and showing the results of various studies done on a group of Australian kids. As an academic it was a dream for rock-star style research - a government funded longitudinal study (read: long term funding) with both academically credible and mainstream presentable results. It was science and new knowledge and cute kids. 

The two experiments done in the first season (Life at 1) of TV series are the Scary Robot and the Stranger Encounter. Now that Dear Boy is one, both of these tests suddenly make a lot more sense. How he reacts to an unfamiliar and noisy object shows where he sits on a spectrum from fearful to bold. How he responds to an unfamiliar person without his mum in the room tells us whether he's outgoing or shy.

At the moment, I see how Dear Boy reacts badly to the noise of the vacuum cleaner and the blender and revved engines and would assume he's somewhere closer to fearful than bold. But new noisy toys delight him and he'll quickly approach and touch and push and taste and bang them. Fearful of general purpose objects but bold with toys? Not sure what that can tell me about the personality he'll developing. Watching Dear Boy with strangers is easier. If he has me to cling to, he is initially shy but quickly ventures out. Alone in a room, every adult is kind and funny. Any adult will do. Then he becomes my outgoing boy, taking the toys offered to him, lounging on them, and giving lots of eye contact.

So if we look at our boy at 1, can we see the adult he'll become? I don't know. At 1, he is still developing and discovering and learning, showing us new skills and aspects of his personality every day. I want him to keep his joy and his easy smiles, his intense concentration on certain tasks and his watching eyes, his physical fearlessness and delight in accomplishment. I'm hoping the frustration with his limitations and his quick no's without trying new things don't stick around too long.

Mostly I want to go and re-watch the series and see if there's anything in there I can use, anything I can avoid. I want it to be a digital parenting manual. I want to study my son and predict his future. I want to know if he'll be well-adjusted and resilient, if our home environment will help or hinder, if the world will be kind to him because of the way he acts within it. I do so want the world to be kind to him.

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