Editor's Note: The mind of a curious kid

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 9:52 a.m. CDT

The baby is learning to speak.

He’ll be a year old in a few weeks, and like most children his age, he keeps up a fairly constant stream of babbles and nonsense noises. His favorites include a sound remarkably similar to the quack of a duck and one in which he audibly sucks in air, making a high-pitched noise that sounds a bit like choking and sends adults into a panic (he finds this very funny).

He has a few real words under his belt. He’s discovered that “done” is a pretty efficient way to let us know he’s ready to get out of the high chair, bathtub or crib, and he is carefully trying to master “kitty.”

But his go-to noise, the sound we hear a million times a day, sounds just like the word “see.”

He’s fond of pointing, and as we carry him, he twists and turns, pointing in every direction.

“See,” out the window.

“See,” at the china cabinet.

“See,” at his brother’s toys.

The words aren’t yet there, but it seems pretty clear the kid’s curiosity is endless. What’s this called? What’s that do? Go and see, go and see.

If you’re ever feeling bored with life, try looking at your surroundings from a baby’s point of view, in which everything is new and strange and mysterious.

It’s my job to teach my children about the world. It’s a big world and a massive task, but luckily, children are naturally curious. I’m also curious – some would say nosy – by nature. After all, I chose a profession in which the bulk of my job description was asking questions and finding things out. But my children inspire me to seek answers to questions I never thought I would ask.

My older son is a science nut. In an attempt to play to this, I found a website filled with science experiments for children, and we do one a week. We also read science books and watch science-based television.

Were it not for him, I would have no idea what happens when you put a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave (try it, it’s cool) or why earthworms come out of the ground when it rains (it’s not because they might drown).

Sometimes adults take the world for granted. It isn’t until a child asks you how, for example, elections work, that you realize you knew that once when you were in eighth grade, but you don’t remember anymore.

They say you can tell a man there are a billion stars in the galaxy and he’ll believe you, but tell him the paint is wet and he has to touch it.

I’d go on to add that a boy will, after touching the paint, ask who painted that, why they painted it and why they picked that color.

There’s a whole world out there to explore and millions of questions to ask.

And chances are, the baby will ask me all of them. In one day. I’d better get ready.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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