Sunday 10 March 2013

Amazing things toddlers can't do.

The ancient and venerable art of walking

The amount a child picks up in their first few years is frankly astonishing, but what they completely fail to get the hang of is also pretty amazing.

Bear in mind that when I say ‘amazing’ I’m talking as a fairly uninformed parent. I dare say the experts are wholly unmoved by many of the talents displayed by the under two’s but I, at least, find them astonishing. 

Most of this astonishment probably derives from the fact that until I actually became a parent I didn’t really give kids much thought, to me a baby was just a smaller version of Justin Beiber; I’d heard of them, from what I could gather they were fairly popular, but I had no real interest in them and, to be perfectly honest, I actually found them a little bit irritating. I can’t say my opinion of Justin has changed over the last few years but when it comes to kids I can now see what all the fuss was about.

As a result of this relative indifference, when Marty was born I didn’t have much of a clue what to expect. A quick once over revealed that his initial talents were limited to farting, burping and opening and closing his eyes. So he was already over qualified for a career in politics but was going to have to start climbing a pretty steep learning curve if he ever wished to venture away from Westminster.

Learning to walk and run is probably his most notable achievement to date. As someone who generally took bipedalism for granted I had expected Marty to pick this up pretty quickly but, when you think about it, spending your life balanced on just two feet is really quite an achievement. At the grand old age of two Marty can now race around the house like a demon, yet he will still collide with a door, a wall or the floor at least three times a day. So, whilst you could call it ‘running’ you could also call it ‘a prolonged and inevitable fall’ and still be spot on for accuracy - I fear that it’s no coincidence that he can say the word ‘bruise’.

More startling still, at least to me, is his imagination. I don’t know why but I assumed that abstract thought and rampant imagination would be a long time coming, yet, at the age of about 15 months, he suddenly started racing potato wedges around the plate, whilst murmuring ‘Brum, Brum.’

When he realised how gobsmacked I was by this he then started waving runner beans above his head and screaming ‘Bane!’ – which, in toddler speak, is a plane. I have no idea if this makes him a genius, a normal child, or a potential train spotter but I for one am impressed.

So now we’ve ‘bigged’ him up let’s have a look at what he can’t do and the most amazing one of these is his complete and utter inability to blow his own nose! I mean, come on! How difficult can it be?

It actually took him the best part of 18 months to learn to blow! He was trying from the age of about 8 months but not a lot was happening. Even by 18 months he couldn’t have blown the skin off a rice pudding if his very life had depended upon it. By his second birthday he had finally summoned enough wind to blow out his birthday candles but he hasn’t even begun to speculate upon the merest possibility of nose-blowing and all it entails.

I still can’t understand what on earth he finds so difficult about something so mundane but apparently he’s not alone, in fact all children take an age to learn to blow and even longer to learn to apply the art to their nose. I had always assumed that walking the streets with green slime running down your face was just something kids did for effect but it turns out that they have little choice in the matter as wiping their nose also seems to take an age to fathom.

I came across another surprise recently; apparently babies can’t jump! They start going through all the motions of jumping at a very early age but they generally remain stubbornly affixed to terra firma until they approach their second birthday. The reason this was such a surprise to me is that Marty has been leaping into the air for as long as he’s been able to walk, in fact it’s hard to keep him on the ground. 

There, I knew he was a genius!