Our lullaby groups are going fantastically except for one little thing-some of the lullabies! Consider some of the stories told in our oldest lullabies and rhymes we have for children. London Bridge is falling down. Ring around the rosy (about the plague.) Rock-a-bye baby's first verse ends with a downer (no pun intended.) And my favorite song of all-the one that reminds me of my grandmother (You are my Sunshine) has the most heartbreaking second verse.
We're painting a pretty drab picture of the world for our little ones. Can you imagine how these songs would be different if they created with the knowledge that babies understand language? What if the composers thought of the early years as a time when a person's life view is shaped?
It turns out these things are true. Research is showing babies understand far more than we've been giving them credit for. Babies have been showing us what they know, but it's taken us a while to recognize their responses as more than reflexes or the imagined stories of sleep-deprived mothers. Babies understand morality. They remember their births.
I had a first hand experience with this when my oldest son was not even 2 1/2. He began to speak about being in water, my water and coming out a gate. When I shared the story with my husband, my sweet one said "I was like this" and got into the fetal position. I tried to find out who had told him all of these odd details, but everyone seemed to ask me the same question: Who told him that?! Even months later, when we shared the story with friends, he would add details like "They put stuff on my eyes." I finally had to face that my son remembered his birth.
It was a little scary at the time. I remembered my frustrated moments when I said or did things I would like to take back. I remembered the things I said in his presence thinking he couldn't understand more than my tone. But then I remembered that this is an on-going story. I apologized to him for my past imperfections. I apologized for my present imperfections and I gave myself permission to apologize for future imperfections.
This is a story meant to enlighten parents. So that when your newborn seems to understand and do exactly what you asked him to, you understand that he really heard you. You are not crazy. Your baby needs your loving words now as much as he does when he can repeat them back to you. Just because he communicates in cries, coos, and body language, doesn't mean he can't understand much more.