Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hands and Feet

Ryan has been particularly fascinated by his hands and feet over the past few weeks. It’s funny to watch him in his car seat, studiously examining the fingers on one hand, then looking over at the other hand in amazement as if to say, “Hey, there’s another one!” He holds out both hands and wiggles his fingers, or makes crab-like pinching motions, sometimes even turning them over to carefully study both back and front. And then he moves on to his feet. He often moves his toes in circles like a helicopter rotor – apparently unconsciously, because the movement occasionally catches his eye and he stares at them in wonder as if he’s thinking, “How do they DO that??” Sometimes he even stretches out his hands and tries to reach them. But his latest fascination is not so much with his own hands and feet, but with my hands and feet.

I’m not much of a shoe-wearer at any time, but now that the weather is so warm I walk around barefoot all the time. So when I sit spreadeagled on the floor with Ryan sitting between my legs, he can see my big toes just beyond his own. Or when he’s playing in his bouncy chair and I’m sitting at the table with one leg thrown over my knee, my piggy toes are right in his line of vision. And he finds them fasincating! He reaches for my feet and often tries to pull them into his mouth. He pinches my toes and feels the roughness of the skin at my heels. He watches my feet as I move them across his line of sight, wiggling my toes tantalizingly just out of his reach.

And my hands are just as fascinating. When he’s in a quiet mood, just sitting on my lap, he’ll often suck on his own fingers, then reach for mine and pull them in with his. He’ll grab my hand and swing it back and forth or wiggle my fingers, as if testing to see how they work. He’ll wrap his whole hand around just one of my fingers and pull it to his chest the way he snuggles his rag or his teddy bear. Sometimes I’ll hold my hand up with his in front of it to help him make the connection that they’re the same. I don’t think he’s figured that out yet, but he’s still fasincated by both.

And when you stop and think about it, they really are amazing things, hands and feet. Feet can run for miles, they can dance on pointe, they can climb mountains. They can walk over burning sand or rocky terrain or slippery mud. And what about hands? Hands are sensitive enough to detect a change in temperature of just a few degrees, yet tough enough to pull a hot pan out of the microwave. They’re dextrous enough to thread a needle but strong enough to open a pickle jar. They can be used to create music with a piano, or poetry with a pen, or art with a paintbrush. They can build a house. They can sculpt a statue. They can change a diaper. They can scratch an itch. But best of all, both hands and feet can be used to entertain a baby for hours and hours!
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