Little Bear darts across the floor on his belly until he reaches my feet. Maybe he wants a hug? No. He grabs one of his balls (not from between his legs, that's for nappy changing time) One of the plastic ones that fell out of the ball-bit. It's blue. He lifts it up and drops it. It bounces. He repeats until he feels sure blue always bounces. He shuffles to a corner where he's gathered all the red and orange balls under the TV (little autistic but we'll put that to one side) and begins repeating his experiment. Yes, these colours bounce too. Does the cuddly lamb toy bounce when dropped? No (cue shocked expression on Little Bear's face). The little scientist has come up with a hypothesis, and he's testing it.
These little creatures come out struggling with the idea of how black and white are different, and in 8 months, they've started running their own experiments. For us that's surely like going from working out the tip at a restaurant to understanding quantum physics in the space of a few weeks.
Apparently babies are learning by experimenting. They sprout little ideas about how the world might work, then test them. Or even just jump straight to the testing and see what happens. They find a problem (toy too far away), and try everything they can until something starts to work (shout/point/caterpillar over to it).
After a few bounces, Little Bear starts chucking the balls and chasing after them. They role in different directions. If he throws them at 'babba'/'dadda'/'mumma' (Pappa) they get rolled back. If he throws them under the armchair and squeaks, Pappa struggles under the chair, makes funny noises, then gives them back to him. If he hits a book, Pappa opens it and starts making more weird noises. Wave your arms in the air and smile, and Pappa will make you fly. Hold your feet and grin, and Pappa will pick you up by the hands and feet and swing you around (great feeling in your tummy). Laughing apparently makes them learn better. Convenient since it's also more fun for us.
What would we do if you placed us on the top of a cliff with no where else to go? Probably panic and stay-put. What would a baby do? "Yippi Ki-Yay!" Yes, this is because they haven't learnt the dangerous consequences of their little adventurous experiments, and they think the reason they hurt themselves when they lose balance is probably because the world turns upside down rather than 'gravity' (that's just for making balls bounce). But the 'no-limit' approach babies have means they get the chance to learn so much faster than we do. Test and repeat everything that comes into your head. That's the baby approach to life. Puts a new spin on the expression: 'he's acting like such a baby' [... they said to Einstein].
Of course, some babies are a little better at this than others. Little Bear has a friend, also known as Super-Baby. Super-Baby, younger than Little Bear, is already pulling herself up and terrifying her parents as she tests how to put one foot in front of the other, preferably on the way up the stairs. Next she'll be testing how to unlock the baby-gate. [Super-baby also sleeps through the night... Some things in life are just unfair]
Meanwhile, Little Bear will be trying to grab the stub of a carrot Pappa's eaten. Maybe he'll try to eat it himself?... Unlikely as it could be edible. He looks at me with surprise: "It's orange and not round Mam-bappa Dadda" "Wait wait wait!... It doesn't bounce".
8 months is a fun age to be around these guys. The world is their play area (until outrageous parents build baby-fences). All we have to do is run around them and catch them from the inevitable dangers of the cutting edge discoveries they're making.
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots