Tuesday, January 28, 2014. I tried an experiment this morning. I laid two small art books out on the wrought iron glider bench in my apartment today to see if my grandson B (age 18 months) would notice them and if so, what he would think of them. He discovered them within minutes of his arrival this morning. Over the course of our day together I was given cause to wonder about the capacities of little children and of the human race as a whole.
B picked up both books and sat down on the floor to look at them. At his first glance at the cover of the Cezanne one (see photo below) he said UH-OH!! with the full force of his adamant expressive abilities when using that word. (He learned it among his very first words when he was at daycare. Evidently it is a common daycare provider expression for the MANY events of a day with a room full of babies where lots of things can “go wrong.”)
Once B moved on to the book of Picasso’s work the UH-OH!! became so disturbed in its expression that I moved to sit with him to assure him of — What? That the world was not about to break into pieces around us both in the immediate future? That he was not alone while in the presence of — What?
After snacks and play and bottle and rocking and nap time. After up-again and lunch and more baby frenzy I centered him at his child-sized table with his tin of large primary crayons and a taped-down piece of white printer paper. He went to work on his picture and I went to work on my weaving — until another vehemently expressed UH-OH!! caught my attention.
As I turned to see what was going on in B’s world I saw him turning again to the wrought iron glider where I had placed the art books after our morning adventure with them. He picked them up and placed them on the table next to his scribble drawing. He repeatedly pointed at his drawing and at the covers of the books repeating UH-OH!!! many times as he did so.
Now Uh-Oh in babyville has been used on many occasions, for sure. But never have I heard B inject such passion into that expression. What was he SAYING??
What was he identifying? In himself? In his art? In the works in those books? Within our WORLD?
I knew I was witnessing the power of art. The power of those great painters even as their work was presented to this baby in age-dulled and pitiful rendition on the covers and in the pages of these old books. Even as this baby made his own….
Art. Making it. Seeing it. Art and its power to MOVE US, to ROCK US and to ROCK our world. Art. Just knowing it exists….
I was reminded of something I witnessed in my 28-year-old son when he was only 4 hours old. His little bassinet was at the foot of my hospital bed. He lay there with his face turned toward the door with his eyes shut sucking his thumb until the song “Danny Boy” came on the TV suspended high above in the corner of the room opposite the door at which point I watched him open his eyes and take his thumb out of his mouth as he turned his head toward the sound of the TV. He listened to the entire song. When it ended into his mouth went his thumb as he turned his head again toward the door and closed his eyes.
I think about how every infant around the globe is born being able to make the same kinds of sounds. Over the course of the first two or so years of life that range of sounds will narrow until only those spoken by people around the little one will remain within its capacity to vocalize.
When I witnessed my 18-month-old grandson respond so clearly and powerfully to art today I wondered, “What IS the true capacity of humanity? What are we removing from our children by what we focus on — for them — in their environment? What are we all losing?”
This little boy says very few words. I hope I can continue to keep him connected to his own and others’ creativity long enough to hear what he will have to say once words can accompany him on his life journey past the power of his most used expression – UH-OH!!!
Hearing this today, witnessing this, left me mystified at the same time it awed me and even troubled me. What do our little ones actually perceive of the world around them? Evidently a whole lot more than what I would have guessed possible.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono – what a gift and thank you Ben!
Click here to view or purchase: A STORY WITHOUT WORDS
It lists for $2.99 and can be read free for Amazon Prime customers. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site are WELCOME and appreciated!
Please click here to read or to Leave a Comment »