Baby Granularity

October 31st, 2006

It’s entirely fitting that, as a new dad, one of my first blog posts would be about my son. After all, the theory of survival of the fittest says that, on a purely genetic basis, animals which write blog posts about their offspring are more likely to reproduce, resulting in the evolution of animals which argue about which Voltron is better, instead of which type of plankton tastes better.

One of the interesting things about having a kid is watching their development. Before I had a kid, I thought the baby growth process went roughly along these lines:

What I didn’t realize is just how granular each step of development is.

What brought this to mind was: my son now understands doorways.

At first, he didn’t understand doorways. Well, he didn’t understand anything, really, and had a tendency to stare into lights. But after a while, he understood that, if you were carrying him, and walked past a doorway, he could look through it and see a room, and stuff in the room.

So far so good, and nothing surprising.

However, his understanding of doors only extended that far. If, for example, he was sitting in a room with a doorway, instead of being carried by a room with a doorway, the doorway was a non-issue for him. After all, it’s not like the room on the other side is going to suddenly turn into St. Peter’s Cathedral.

But, the other day, when I put him in his crib, he looked at the doorway (which wasn’t going anywhere) from his crib (which wasn’t going anywhere) because he had figured out that: even if you aren’t moving relative to the doorway, there is the possibility that other people (mom) might come through that doorway into this room.

I’m not one of those parents who think things like this are signs of genius. Maybe if he’d used his stuffed animals to create a portal that transported me directly to the supermarket, then, yeah, maybe genius. As it is, I wouldn’t even trust him to defrag my hard-drive, let alone creating USB powered superstring defibrillators. So I don’t think that “understanding doors” is some sort of enormous accomplishment.

But it is neat to see that development doesn’t happen in some sort of slow, broad, smooth sweep, but instead out of little tiny cognitive advances.

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