Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shifting Gaze and Shifting Attention

This anecdote happened in front of me not long after the "Baby on the Airplane".

I was in the line to check-out at a warehouse club, the kind where the cart goes on one side of the conveyer belt and the member goes on the other side of the conveyer belt.

In front of me was a mother pushing a cart with an older baby strapped into the seat. I'd guess the baby girl was between 12 and 18 months old.

The mother put her items on the conveyer belt, left the little girl strapped into the seat of the grocery cart, pushed the cart on the "cart" side, moved across from the cashier and waited for her turn.

The membership cards in this warehouse club have the member's photograph on them. The cashier accepted the mother's membership card, and he looked at the picture on it, turned to the little girl in the basket, smiled, held up the card so that she could see it, waited for her to see the card he was holding up, and asked her, "Who is this? Do you know who this is?" and he froze in place, waiting for her to respond.

The little girl looked at the cashier, then at the photo on the membership card he held (with her mother's picture on it), back to the cashier with a shy smile, then looked at her mother, and then back to the cashier. Without a word, she told him that, yes, indeed, she did know who that is on the card, it's her mom, and she's right over there.

The cashier was delighted with the "conversation", made a comment about, "yes, that's your mama!", and proceeded to scan the mom's items.

I watched, enthralled. What a magical moment. He slowed his pace, naturally matched her ability to respond, waited, allowed her to participate in an active way with him. She responded naturally, effortlessly.

I never know when my next demonstration of "the dance" is going to happen, but when I slow down and watch, I see it everywhere, reminding me that in a do-over, I must slow down and be with my child where she is, developmentally.

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