Saturday, September 27, 2008

Five reasons why babies outclass adults

People are always cooing about how babies are 'oh so helpless' and unable to do anything without the constant assistance of parents, maids and assorted other care-givers. But there are not a few categories in which Sonny - into his sixth month now - can outmatch his parents without even trying:

1) Noise, what noise: Once Sonny drifts off, he seems able to sleep his way through the equivalent of a house collapsing (sure, we know that 'Shhh, you'll wake the baby' is one of the ten most-commonly uttered domestic phrases, but someone forgot to programme 'easy-to-wake' into Sonny's genetic code). Many a time, we've gone to eateries where the clash of plates, buzz of conversation and roar of passing traffic have spiked unhealthily. But Sonny has had no trouble snoozing on: His parents could never have napped through such decibel levels.

2) Bend it like Sonny: Just today, Pa was trying to balance Sonny in his lap while engaging the safety belt in a relative's car. That's when he realised that Sonny had remained completely unconcerned while Pa had accidentally bent him more than double while trying to ram in the belt lock. And consider how the little fella contorts himself happily into positions that might freak out a fakir, just so he can enjoy a ride in Mum's chest-slung sarong. The absurd flexibility of the very young is easy to envy when Mum needs regular massage to soothe her cricks and creaking joints.

3) Everything's exciting: A defining characteristic of adulthood is how there can seem to be so little that can really be startling, and therefore interesting. In our cynical age, we might read the newspaper from cover to cover without a peep of surprise being raised. As we trundle through the working day, every minute can seem pre-programmed, so that dreariness oozes through the pores of our routine. Not for Sonny: Every little thing he comes across is marvellously new, from the peculiar ways in which the working parts of his body respond to each other to the mad, colourful elements of the world that he progressively encounters. Lucky chap!

4) Speedo-learning: Over three years of lessons, Mum and Pa were able to advance their command of the German language from zero to pathetic (to use a technical term). Sonny, without even really trying and from a starting point that might be characterised as 'less-than-zero', can expect to make stunning advances in mastering a clutch of languages, as well as gaining control of his own body and beginning to understand how the world works. If we stop to think about it, his learning curve would outmatch that of a supercomputer. Of course, by the time he gets to be his parents' age, he'll be bumbling along with the magic pace of his toddlerhood long forgotten.

5) Flush away the blues: If we hear some bad news, it can upset our equilibrium for the whole day. Sonny? If his feeding session is a little late, he can explode into a typhoon of tears, as though wronged beyond redemption. Ten seconds on, however, he can be so cheery that it would be as though the storm had never blown up. Giggling and chuckling, life looks as happy as it could be. And the best thing is, he can go through a dozen crying jags a day, and yet recover from each as quickly as the previous one. Our emotions are far less supple, alas.