Precisely on his first birthday, Sethia took steady steps around dining hall. A spectacle that amused and surprised more himself than others. It was only five to eight tentative steps just the day before. Ever since, nothing can hinder his freedom. No one is able to hold him on laps against his will, no matter how affectionately huggy the person feels. He now appears to be up just about anything, except lying still.
Already bending down or squatting to pick something, or walking backwards for few steps, he also seems impatient at being unable yet to run or jump. This desire is shown more clearly during his play-catch time with Papa. Some other things that offer great fun to him: hiding behind the kitchen curtain or a door playing peek-a-boo, pretending to stand by the door and waving 'Ta-ta' [Bye-bye], swaying & singing along with cheerful music & attempting to imitate song movements, some of these melodies are: Topi Saya Bundar [My Hat is Round] (holding his head closely with both hands), Belalai Gajah yang Panjang [The Elephant's Long Trunk] (streching his hands upwards at the lyric 'Tuhan Penciptanya' [God is its Creator]), & Eensy-weensy Spider (using his index finger pointing into his palm).
After a brief moment of solitary play with his car-toys - a collection which began because of an obssession with wheels - he would pick a book & graciously take it to us to be read. One of his favourite books is "Flip-the-Flap'' Animal Book. His favourite videos are also on animals: Baby Einstein: Neighbourhood animals, Baby Noah, Animal Sounds for Toddlers, and such. The animal sounds he aptly mastered are "Grrrr, grrr" of bears & "Rawrrr!" of lions, that no matter how we tried showing him the sounds of cows and chickens and dogs and sheeps and many others, he would only be willing to do exclusively the 'Grr's & the 'Rawr's.
In family worship, singing Psalms is enjoyable to him, where he would sing along pointing randomly at the wordings on the Psalm book. Sometimes we manage to sit through reading of a short Scripture passage. But when it comes to praying, he would walk around the living room having some contorted effort apparent on his face trying to clasp both hands together. Our daily family worship never lasts more than ten minutes! Now he also has the habit on disappearing on us when we have to change his diaper/clothing. Another habit is to steal a sandal running away from us, giggling cheekily, knowing we would soon chase the 'thief'.
Of all things, one thing he seems to understand immensely is showmanship. Give him a clap or laugh at what he does and we will be rewarded with multiple encores. This attitude aids greatly during meal and learn-and-play times. A mouthful of food that gets a clap begets another mouthful; a successful attempt at sorting a shape-block that gets a clap begets patience to finish up sorting the whole package of shape-sorting cubes. On this occasion (on the video): Papa got kissed and everyone laughed and Papa got kissed again for the umpteenth time! :)
I feel that the list above deserves to be continued, and it will be for my personal note. The past one month may prove to be the richest, that I had wished I had photographic memory, or a camera for an eye, or stone-hard perseverance and meticulousness in recording every thing that our little comedian does. Perhaps this coming year would have everything conceivable in the mind of one so little. Such love and joy of life that replenish themselves. Delight in everything. One thing I am greatly thankful for is that, as a mere stay-at-home mother, I am given the possibilities to keep him home near me as long and as often as I would like him to - especially in his early years. Here I would like to understand this myself, that even if I a lot of times stagger under feelings of inadequacy in taking care of Sethia myself - and God willing, his sister too - I should keep this in mind, that just being there for Sethia is enough. A good deal of what is trumpeted as being so beneficial and so necessary for children - organised activities, stimulation, socialisation with friends and then more friends - is in reality cannot replace the missing presence of a child's own parent for the large part of the child's day.
Anna Wahlgren in her book "For the Love of Children" says that children can contend with external changes, moves, financial uncertainties, even all out war, as long as the flock it belongs to is fixed. Children can play and laugh among smoking ruins. Many of the Finnish "war children", who were sent to Sweden during the Second World War, have said that coming to live with strangers in a strange land, even though it was temporary and Sweden represented security and survival, was far worse than having to suffer deprivation and nightly air-raids with their parents.
We may read more information in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_war_children. I have also recommended the movie Mother of Mine (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343221/) to Adi & persuaded him to watch it together. :)
Anna writes on another page: "I know my words offer little comfort to those parents who, for easily explained socio-political and economic reasons, are convinced that staying home with their children for the first years is impossible. All I can say is that they are lacking in the one area that is essential: being there for their child and forming a flock that is always accessible. If people who fall in love can give up opulent houses, sacrifice in terms of both salary and prestige and squeeze into bachelor apartment in one of the less desirable areas of town, all so that they can live together, why can't they do it for their little child? It is called prioritising!"
PS! In Norway there is a custom where parents send their children to 'barnehage' [child care] at an age as early as one year old. I used to think that this was the common attitude of all parents in Norway, until a mother of three I know so well voiced her opinion, "Oh, no, no, no, keep him at home as long as you can. Eight-to-four five-days-a-week is already hard work for us, adults, further more to children as little as him [Sethia]!" I was instantly relieved and hopeful. :)
In Singapore & Indonesia, if both parents work, grandparents/maids/nannies will take care of the children as young as a few months old. The children then can go to child care when they are older.
4 years ago