Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The subject is my granddaughter on the occasion of having just finished a piece of her first birthday cake. She is entirely without chagrin over wearing some of the frosting on the end of her nose: what aplomb!
Toddlers have such a wonderful capacity for sang-froid. A few days ago we walked down the block, and Ione stopped dead in her tracks (clutching my finger as usual) in front of a group of four older teenagers who were bouncing around in the somewhat chilly air, giggling and smoking cigarettes. Of course they said "Hi" to Ione and "Isn't he so sweet," but Ione responded with not a word to them (although "hi" is definitely in her vocabulary)...and not, I think, because they'd mistaken her gender. She simply stared and stared and stared some more, recording many new tidbits of information through her mental synapses, before responding to gentle tugs from grandma to return up the street.
I really hope she carries her self-possession along with her through life, and especially through that dire challenge to sanity, the teenage years. But already with my gentle tugs, I am teaching her that staring is unsociable. She'll learn other marks of unsociability as she grows and will refrain from making fun of people (at 4 1/2, her brother knows that is wrong), and hitting, of course, and pouting and a whole hosts of other infractions. All this is necessary, but at the same time, I hope she will retain the confidence to be herself, to be original and creative, to stand up for her beliefs, to go her way and not the crowd's way, to be a good, generous and giving person. Knowing her Mom and Dad, I think she will.