A Baby’s Beautiful Mind

September 7, 2006

As some of you following this blog might have got to know, my son turned one recently. He is fond of books, and he has quite a few in his collection already. They are cute little books with really thick glossy pages and full of colourful pictures, as kid’s books ought to be. Also, he loves to be on the road all the time. He says pointing towards the door ‘Babba….babba’ which means ‘take me out, right away’!

He imitates any sound he hears almost instantly. Ask him how does a ‘Mixer’ run and he does this sound “Brrrrrrrrr” for nearly 4 seconds non-stop. Show him a picture of a lion, and he roars “Grrrrrrrr”. Show him a crow and he starts “kaa…kaaa”. And he started doing this even before he turned a one-year-old. Ask him what does his ‘Thatha’ (Grandpa) bring….he tells ‘Koa’ (Kova or Doodh peda). There are many more things he says.

When he was a 6-month-old, his ‘Ajji’ (Grandma) told this story of the ‘Baby and the Mongoose’. We were amazed to see his reaction each time she told that “…the lady threw the heavy basket at the mongoose and ran inside to see her son.” She didn’t even tell that the mongoose died. She would just say that the mongoose was hit by the lady and my son used to cry almost immediately. We saw that each time she said this sentence, it was the same reaction from him. We still don’t know for sure whether he understood the sentence and cried or whether he had anything else in mind which made him cry. But from then on, his Ajji stopped telling stories with sad endings.

I was talking to a friend who is a child psychologist the other day. Our chat gradually drifted from the real estate prices to the helmet rule and then to the head inside the helmet. I narrated the above incident involving my son and the Mongoose story to him and he said kids can easily understand what we speak. He told how a child’s brain works. It was amazing to know about our brain, how it develops as we grow and other intricate details.

It seems the greatest feat of memory ever performed belongs to a child – or rather to all children. A baby’s acquisition of language is an epic achievement of recall. Word learning, it seems, begins at about a year old, and experiments have shown that the average 18-year-old knows about 60,000 words. This means that every child picks up a new word every 90 minutes, storing it permanently in memory, i.e.10 new words a day, everyday without fail, right through childhood.

This work rate is truly remarkable since toddlers are not simply soaking up the separate words, they are simultaneously analysing the language, sub-consciously working out its grammar and making intuitive guesses about the exact meaning of words. This analysis is an astonishing intellectual undertaking, one that almost every person takes on and completes before the age of three.

12 Responses to “A Baby’s Beautiful Mind”

  1. anoop Says:

    Bellur, Its been some time since i visited you blog.
    Very good details have been provided in this post. Your kid will be really greatful one day when he reads all this written about him🙂.
    Surprisingly, I do remember when I was a small kid, I was not able to understand what grown up’s were talking. Either it was because of the grammar or they were too fast while speaking (you see, I was quite dull in my early years). I don’t know why i remember this, but, I just remember it. hmm.. I also remember the kind of thoughts that I used to have when I was in such a situation – not able to decipher the conversation.

  2. travel plaza Says:

    Super post RK. Indeed babies are very intelligent and their grasping power is amazing. Their perception of words and sounds is wonderful. Even before they learn to speak, they learn to communicate their feelings so well.

  3. Shruthi Says:

    Lovely post. That is an amazing incident. And interesting info about the development of the brain too!

    And you know, I also used to cry when I heard this same story. ( But I was older, probably 2 years old or so).

  4. Gangadhar Says:

    RK,
    Did we realise that most of the popular stories that are taught have some element of pain, fear, morbidity attached to them. Our kids are subliminally exposed to negativity so early in their lives. I’m not an authority on how kids learn but I’m sure with my common place thinking that this will have some impact on their growth as individuals.

  5. rk Says:

    Anoop,
    Welcome back to RwB. Thanks for your comments.
    Yes, some people really speak very fast. Childhood memories sometimes never leave you. But how do you know you were a dull child?

    TP,
    I agree with your comments that kids learn to communicate their feelings so well. Although they say some monosylabbic words, it conveys the message. And that’s what counts.

    Shruthi,
    Yes, that story makes any humane person cry. And age doesn’t matter. After my son starts telling stories, I would like him to tell the Mongoose story to you.

    Ganga,
    How true. Lovely comment. Yes, the stories you tell them in infancy, will play a major role in shaping their personality.

  6. anoop Says:

    you get to know somethings just like that. for instance, i remember the days when I was not able decipher the time shown on a clock, there also used to be a time when I couldnt tie my shoe lace.. many many other things..🙂
    but what distresses me is, i remember all these things. :p

  7. rk Says:

    anoop,
    yes, it is difficult to explain certain things in life. this ‘reading the clock’ problem was there with me too. but i was ashamed to let others know about this. 

    usually, after I came home in the afternoon, when I was perhaps in First std., my Ajji used to ask “what is the time?”. I knew only to read when the time was 2 O’clock, which my sister had taught me. I used to see the clock and tell it was 2. I was so happy that everytime my Ajji asked, it was 2 O’ Clock.

    but to my misfortune, she asked me the time once in the night. I excitedly told it was 2 O’clock…and got wacked on my back. Only then I got to know that the clock from which I was reading had stopped years ago!

    and anoop, long time since you updated your blog. waiting to see the mesmerizing pictures you take. ;) 

  8. shark Says:

    Children.. are one of the most beautiful/wonderful creations🙂
    Their language learning capability is unmatchable! No to boast but I learnt 3 languages (kannada, Tamil and English) in 2 years.. I was known for my “non-stop-talking”😉.

    But recently I was in Germany for a year… but believe me I hardly learnt 10% of the laguage😦

    I guess I have become old now !


  9. Hi
    It’s amazing to note how modern man is becoming child-centric. I guess we mothers are soon going to loose their privileged position (as next only to God for a child) if men keep changing like this…:).
    Sponges as they are the kids are far more absorbent and intelligent than we give them credit for. And this fact implies that we need to be careful of our conduct, as each and every word, gesture and move is observed and absorbed by them.
    Sometimes its frightening…all those gazes….the unmistakable trust…and fathomless love…

  10. travel plaza Says:

    Hey, RK, where are you? Long time no see…no read:)Hope all is well with you.

  11. Gangadhar Says:

    Echo:where’re u RK? come back soon


  12. […] Yes (& my blog also knows about my family!). My wife, mother-in-law, uncles, aunts, sisters, nephew and nieces have all visited my blog. Waiting for my toddler son to read and comment in my blog in a few years! […]


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