Monday, April 21, 2014

Want Nothing and Gain Everything

I'm lying on the floor next to my 8-month daughter El, wanting nothing.  She's not propped to sit or stand, she's just lying on her back, assessing her environment.  I resist the urge to wave a book around, sing a song or roll a ball to grab her attention. Instead, I quietly watch.  

El picks up a metal bowl and taps her fingernails against it.  From past observations, I've learned she begins most explorations by taptap-tapping.  

She looks at me and smiles. I return the smile and say, "I hear the noise you're making." 

Magda Gerber would describe this scenario as Wants Nothing time. I learned about Wants Nothing time after reading her book, Your Self-Confident Baby

As a mother and early childhood educator, Wants Nothing time is an important, challenging and exciting part of my practice. By being fully present in mindful observation, I tune into my distractions and quiet the desire to sneak off and check social media for the umpteenth time to be with my daughter, without judgement or agenda.  

During this time, I put on baby goggles and see the wonder in the ordinary objects my child brings to life.  One afternoon, I observed El exploring a wax paper bag I had rinsed out and given to her for play.  I was delighted by the sunlight streaming in through the window, illuminating the water droplets and causing the bag to glow as she waved it around, crinkled it up, and held it close to her face to study. 

As I become proficient at just being, I realize how much is demanded from babies on a day-to-day basis from well-meaning adults who desire to engage and interact.
Grab the toy!  
Smile smile smile!  
 Clap your hands!

When babies become more verbal the quizzing starts...

What does a sheep say?  
What color is this?    
What letter is this?  

To truly know a child, habitual distractions and agendas need to be recognized and dissolved. 



In Magda's Words:

Wants Nothing time is a free flowing space in which the child does not have to perform...We fully accept the child's beingness just by our own receptive beingness.  We are telling the child that we are really there and aware.

To read more about Wants Nothing time, check out...

Choosing Wants Nothing Time; Choose your Own Journey

Emptying our Minds in Order to be More Present with Babies; Regarding Baby

Magda's Gift to Grown-ups; Janet Lansbury