Returning to the Baby/Toddler Stage

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What a pleasure it was to watch our boys gain their earliest capabilities. They were so pleased with themselves as they mastered each new facet of their young lives. And what a reverse experience it has been to find myself losing those same capabilities these days.

They were curious and happy as they discovered they could clumsily pick up a piece of cereal on their highchair tray.   Now here I am clumsily trying to pick up small objects. Curious and happy are not my reactions.   When they found that they could actually drop things because they wanted to, that was fun!   Now I drop things several times a day. Reaction? Dismay! Disgust! They didn’t mind at all that they were inept as they began to manipulate first a spoon, then a fork and much later, a table knife.   So far, I can manage spoons and even forks (though with increasing clumsiness). But using a table knife to cut food into bite size pieces is beyond me.   It’s all an exercise in humility.

The boys blithely teetered uncertainly on their feet until they became comfortably secure. Did teetering bother or deter them? Not a bit!   And we grownups cheered them on.   At 97, just standing in place is anything but secure and blithe is not the word I would use to describe how teetering makes me feel. Nor are bystanders cheering.   The floor was a great new world that was open to exploration for them whether they were crawling or toddling.   Now I’ve no wish to explore floors except to look for uneven surfaces.

It has been a bit disconcerting to stand back this way and look at both sides of the same coin. They responded normally and naturally with pleasure most of the time as they grew into their bodies (though sometimes with impatience when their minds and desires for an activity exceeded their capacities). I’m grateful to be able to hold on to what I can and use my waning capacities to fulfill my desires as best I can. My frustrations arise most often when the normal losses I’m experiencing interfere with what has been mindless routine.

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As I thought and wrote this piece about looking at my aging from this perspective, I began to wonder if it was possible to take a page from the boys’ obvious joy with their changes. It would be silly, if not outrageous to think I might behave with delight when aging makes so many little things go awry. But it certainly wouldn’t be amiss if I quit getting my knickers in a knot over a little ineptitude or even repeated ineptitudes would it?

It didn’t take long for an ineptitude opportunity to present itself. A bottle cap dropped to the floor. My reflex hissy fit flared, but I stopped it midpoint as I bent over, became neutral and picked it up . . . a bit bemused at the reversal I’d achieved.   In the days that have followed my ongoing mishaps keep offering fresh opportunities for me to practice more toddler–like responses. I think you’ll be relieved to learn that I haven’t emulated their obvious joy. What I have found possible is a flashing remembrance of their joys as I bend over and pick up what I’ve dropped, or watch my clumsy hands make a mess of some tasks.   In the end it’s become a kind of wry humor that feels better than impatience and anger.

4 thoughts on “Returning to the Baby/Toddler Stage

  1. Wonderful post!! Thank you Doris! It’s all about attitude and gratitude. ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️😁🍀

    Best Regards, Mary Jo Leventhal 206-999-9209



  2. Doris, I have quoted this post on my own blog as an example of good structure. I do hope some of my readers discover your brilliant blog through me. It’s today’s post, 9 May, on my Write Into Life blog.


    • After I went off and did other things, my mind kept going back to the structure of blogs you write about. I realized that it was exactly what I’d used in most of the books I wrote. And it was what I decided to purposefully divorce myself from when I chose not to write a how-to style blog. As an Australian writer (Germaine ????), noted, we all age uniquely, but have the aging process in common so we don’t need to feel uniquely afflicted. So, since I respect and believe in that uniqueness, I made a definitive decision to take a different approach. I would go the way of the parable or fable writer, trusting the reader to use it if or in the way they wished or were cognitively able. I try to write and use images in a way that enables them to see what I’m experiencing and doing as I EWA—warts and all –I’m no expert, just a fellow traveler. I work to be specific. From the verbal and comment feedback I receive, I discover that indeed people use them as they are able. Some find them “interesting”, others say they see it in their relatives or it’s what they experience. Some wonder if I’ve been peering through their windows. A couple indicate that I tend to be a watch bird in their lives that guides them. And then there are a few, like you, who use them in very different ways.

      I’ve found that it takes a lot of thought and rewriting to get the “story” to the point where it meets my goal of accessibility. (My thesis adviser told me that if it looks easy, it means that the writer has invested the work to make that happen.) I write them, put them away, go back to them, seek free images and get new ideas for approaches. I couldn’t write this way if I didn’t lead a highly solitary lifestyle with plenty of “empty” hours or routine tasks that allow my mind to float freely. My creative well dries up when there are other things to occupy me. But it does keep me from ever being bored.

      d. again


      • As you see in my latest article, I find that you manage structure through excellent writing alone, with each paragraph starting with a topic sentence, for instance. A narrative style works well in a blog in the hands of a master, especially one who takes editing seriously. (You, for instance.) Of course your readers including me read for the ideas, the message. We’re not usually analyzing the structure!


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