My 8-month old baby dances and now I don’t know what to believe
My tiny 8-month-old daughter, who just learned how to stand and walk independently, can dance.
By dancing, I mean that she bobs up and down, sways side to side, and moves her head and arms rhythmically when music comes on. She doesn’t do it when there’s no music. It looks more like dancing than whatever it is I’m trying to do at wedding receptions. Everyone can tell immediately that she’s dancing.
But nobody taught her to dance. I mean, we never dance in front of her or guide her in how to move when music comes on. By comparison, we had to teach her to crawl and stand against furniture, but the first time music came on when she was upright, she already knew how to dance.
How can this possibly be true? After pondering this question for way too many hours, the only thing I can imagine is that it’s a deep part of her genetic memory. Like, the same thing that makes people capable of crying and eating and moving our eyes without any instruction.
Hold on a second, though. Aren’t mobility skills like crawling, walking, running, and climbing far more essential to life than dancing? While beautiful and cool, I would consider basic dancing to be one of the least useful, least necessary skills human beings can have. Why on Earth would we have a genetic memory for dancing?
I imagine there are lots of other kids with this natural tendency. Perhaps almost everyone has the potential as a baby. But I can’t come up with a single good reason that we would evolve or be created this way.
You might suggest that dancing is part of some vital social ritual, yet with how little most people dance in their lifetimes, I doubt it. Even if it was important in the past, I imagine that this wouldn’t manifest until after all the more important stuff like running and, oh I don’t know, speaking a language.
So now I’m questioning everything I thought I knew about traits we’re born with and what our biology considers essential and where we come from. I’m wondering if who I am now was determined in a larger part by genetics than I thought, and self-determination is an illusion.
I’m asking myself whether other things I considered cultural markers, like the music we enjoy and the stories we tell, are rooted deeper than we thought and carried through generations. I don’t know how any of it would work, but with such a blank slate as my daughter, I can’t even explain how she can dance.
There’s obviously more going on than meets the eye. It seems my baby knows something I don’t know.