Something very good happens to a baby’s brain when parents are close, attentive, communicative, and nurturing with their children—an effect that continues on through life.
During the critical, earliest stages of a child’s life, they learn to trust, respond to and return love, and understand how it feels to be loved. A sense of identity and belonging is threaded through every aspect of life and creates stability and security in individual consciousness. As a child, mother, and grandmother, Marlene Hinton has experienced for herself the important connections and bonds that create pathways for healthy relationships throughout life. In Marlene’s own words:
While I can’t recall the first two years of my life when these bonds were forming inside, my earliest memories revolve around my parents. I recall playing under the table while mother worked nearby, unwilling to allow me to leave untasted squash on my lunch plate. I still cringe thinking how badly I must have bruised Dad’s ankles as he held me up around the skating rink while my uncooperative skates pelted him. And I felt safe and secure paddling around the swimming hole supported by his steady shoulders. Recollections of decades of love and companionship collect into the shadowy form I interpret as myself: who I am and to whom I belong. My love is an extension of theirs, and thus my happiness an outgrowth of their nurturing natures. We shared a lifetime of togetherness. The joy of being in their presence is a priceless inheritance.
The other day I was asked to tend a two-year-old grandson whose mother was unpacking boxes after a move. Originally, the plan was to take him with me to my house, but he indicated that he preferred to stay home. After a wide sweep of his little arms and repeated commands of “Come!” I followed him outside where he began playing with his toys. His eyes kept checking on mine, assuring that I was watching every minute as he crashed trucks into each other, threw objects into his tiny play pool, hurled balls, jumped, and otherwise did things that required no adult supervision or even participation. Except that having someone who meant something to him watching, paying attention, exclaiming, encouraging, and being present as he performed all the amazing feats had significant meaning for him. He didn’t need my help. He needed me to be present with him. Reflecting on this and my own experiences as a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother, it is interesting to me how the attachment process—our familial growing together—never ends.
Marlene Hinton’s full story is found in Seeing the Everyday Issue No. 24. Single copies of Issue 24 can be found through the end of March 2014 at Barnes & Noble Bookstores or ordered at any time with an email request to email@example.com.