Sunday, April 29, 2012

Perpetual Motion

Among the good memories I’ll carry with me from our recent week with the three Rochester grandchildren is hearing our seven-year-old grandson practice S. Suzuki’s “Perpetual Motion in D Major” on his cello. In all Mennonite modesty, we think he plays pretty well for only being in his second year of Suzuki lessons, but then grandparents are easily impressed.

The other major example of “perpetual motion” (in D, as in “delightful descendants”) were the nearly 11-month-old twins, Maria and David. I am amazed at how incredibly active children of that age can be. Every waking moment has them crawling, climbing, chewing and otherwise exploring everything they can get their hands on.

I used to think of all that activity as just a form of child’s play, something to keep them occupied (and their grandparents and other admirers amused) until they are able to do more productive, grown up things having to do with work or school. But now I see all of this representing the hours and years of practice they need in order to become fully functioning adults. Every day they are exercising their muscles, learning necessary coordination skills, and gaining the kind of strength and endurance they need for the adult challenges that lie ahead.

The verbal sounds they make are practice for the more refined and complex ability to master an entire language, which they will largely accomplish before they even enroll in their first year of kindergarten. And every smile, every touch, every interaction with trusted loved ones is a part of learning how to experience good relationships in the world they will inhabit the rest of their lives.

In other words, they are enrolled in a form of intensive schooling from birth, a time of rigorous training and learning for life. Fortunately, for the most part, they are having fun as they go through their routine drills every day.

As an example, little Maria repeatedly attempted to climb up a small tunnel slide at a park her family went to recently. She could only get so far before sliding back down again. But she loved it, and repeatedly tried for a total of 31 times (mother counted!) before giving up, exhausted.

The instructions for all of these perpetual motions appear to be hard wired into their brains by their Creator. We just get to encourage, watch, instruct and give direction the best we can.

What fun!
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