Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zane and the Fishies

Zane Rogers Ackermann, six months old on our 46th wedding anniversary August 22nd, is a sponge. He is in the 90th percentile of height (length), the 50th percentile of weight, and a very handsome baby. But the most striking thing to me is how he reacts to new experiences. Take, for example, our recent visit to the aquarium here in Cape Town.

We are committed to saving Tuesdays for Zane. This particular Tuesday was to be our first outing so Kurt briefed us on procedures, loaded the stroller into the car, dressed Zane in warm duds, loaded him into the car seat, and off we went. Notice how pensive he is - just tolerating all the fuss.

We drove to the Waterfront, parked, assembled the car seat and stroller, and took off for the short stroll to the aquarium. Elapsed time so far was about 15 minutes. Hoping that this would be a good experience, we purchased season passes and went on in.

It was apparently the day of the week when local school classes come for an outing because there were groups of children everywhere. Our first stop was at a large cylindrical tank full of darting silver fish. Zane was mesmerized. He watched those fish for ten minutes with his mouth open and hands waving. You can only imagine what was going on in that little mind. He was not finished with those fish but we finally decided to move on before he overdosed on excitement.

We’ve noticed that this little person has an input mode. By that I mean his eyes get bright and wide, he becomes absolutely quiet, his mouth opens and he shows all the signs of intense concentration. I don’t remember my own children doing this behavior, but then I was at work most of their babyhood hours. Grandparenthood gives us an entirely new set of opportunities.

We went through a number of exhibits before arriving at one which drew interest. The penguins were moving around, into and out of the water, and Zane followed them with interest. He loved the sound of the running stream.

So we watched those little guys and gals in their tuxedos perform for quite a while.

Then we moved on to the big fishies and the kelp tank. It can be a hypnotic experience, just sitting there and watching the kelp sway with the wave action. We stayed there wondering how the neurons were dealing with the little fish / big fish issue. Were we giving him nightmares?

The next tank held fish of many sizes. The ones attracting Zane’s attention the most seemed to be schools of small darting fish that moved in waves in order to avoid the larger fish. Brightness and movement seem to be key to interest at this stage.

Betsy and I needed a rest so we tried to interest Zane in a bottle or his pacifier. Forget that! The sharks were way cool!

Eventually we wandered away from the displays and into the cafeteria for tea and coffee. Zane got distracted by the flags fluttering in the breeze, and we eventually talked him into a bottle. We left, strolling over the cobblestones, through a craft market, and back to the car, noticing that he had fallen fast asleep, input processing complete for the moment.

All in all it was a successful first outing for us as grandparents. We are looking forward to many more.


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