There is something new in a little basket in the Wobbly Walkers’ classroom play house area: two little pairs of baby-sized fleece mittens. This winter addition has drawn considerable interest. Once the children found the basket the teachers demonstrated how to open the mouth of the mitten to slip your hand in, and after that find the hole for the thumb. Happy one-year-olds were soon busy helping each other pull on the mittens – some were interested in the thumb hole, and others not so much. “Help, help” comes a call from Lolly, and with a big smile Nathan toddles over, takes the mitten from the little basket and holds it out, opening the end so Lolly can easily slide her hand in. The two children happily enjoy their shared experience and Lolly toddles to the mirror and stands waving at herself, one hand up and the next hand down. Nathen watches, grinning.
It is amazing to remember that only 6 months ago many of these children really had little control over where their hands went and what they did. Now they can independently get a hand into the small space of a cozy mitten and feel the confinement of the soft fabric around their fingers and wrists. They can flap their hands, and wave, and help another child put the mitten on. They can even get their thumb in the separate thumb hole, and hold hands with a friend.
This simple pleasure can only be experienced because their beautiful minds and bodies are growing and maturing, their nervous systems can tolerate the unusual touch and confinement of the fabric, and their teachers provided the perfect way to practice these new skills. Their bright minds are curious and delight in the novelty of something new and different and fun. Their social impulses respond to their budding social relationships with reciprocity and shared pleasure. The babies whose hands and arms waved randomly here and there, and who couldn’t let go of an object once it was placed in their hands, are growing up and experiencing pleasure in their new capabilities to do for themselves