Becoming Fully Human

My favorite thing about being a first-time father is watching Scarlett’s mind develop and acquire the skills necessary to be human. Anyone who paid a passing attention in biology class knows that humans are born more immature and less capable than almost every other animal.  It has to do with walking upright shrinking the female pelvis while the ever-growing brain required a larger head. The result is that kids have to be born before their heads would be so large we’d be exploding from our mother’s vaginas like a horrible, horrible version of Alien. (As it is, quite a few women need an episiotomy to have a safe childbirth) And I’m not the only one to find this transformation into humanity so incredible as to refer to babies as not quite human. Jonathan Coulton mentions this in a throwaway line about his living situation while recording his song, The Presidents:

My studio stuff was all in my daughter’s room. She was still just a dumb baby for the first part of Thing a Week, but it got harder to keep my stuff in her room the more she turned into an actual child.

The most recent thing I’ve noticed and which melts my fatherly heart is that Scarlett seems to have started discovery of empathy sometime in April. Whereas she previously was was vehemently against snuggling and being hugged, she suddenly wanted to put her head on my shoulder and feel calm as I hugged her. I was seriously confused before this point why every time I (or anyone else) hugged or snuggled her, she seemed desperate to escape. And she’s also made the connection that hugging is something to be done with entities you feel an affinity for, including her dolls and stuffed animals which she doesn’t yet distinguish from being real. She has a special place in her little heart for her green dragon.  Every time she sees it, she hugs the heck out of it. Second to that is her pink penguin. There are other stuff animals she variously hugs, but those are her favorites. It’s incredibly hard to catch this cute gesture on camera. It typically doesn’t last very long (toddler attention spans and all) and even with my dSLR, I need time to focus.  My wife got the best shot so far:

Scarlett Hugs her Dragons
Scarlett Hugs her Dragons

Originally I was only going to write about how she’s been learning this whole empathy angle, but in the past 2 weeks or so she’s started to display a new emotion – jealousy. I mention it here because it manifests most often in a way nearly all parents will be familiar. She might be ignoring her green dragon. As soon as I pick it up and start hugging it – she wants it. She’d be in full-on “mine” mode if she was talking already. Danielle recounted to me last week that it’s starting to expand to items she doesn’t outright own. At the library she was done with a rocking horse until another kid started using it.  She started yelling at the girl in baby gibberish. Perhaps it’s a good thing she’s not talking yet.

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