Chapter One Loving the Toddler You Have It is a wise father that knows his own child. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice Babies Revisited In the course of writing this second book, my coauthor and I held a class reunion for some of the babies who had attended my groups. Infants between one and four months old when we last saw them, the five alumni were now in the thick of toddlerhood. What a difference a year and a half had made. We recognized their slightly more mature faces, but physically the tiny dynamos who poured into my playroom bore scant resemblance to the babies I had knownsweet helpless things who could do little but stare at the wavy lines on the wallpaper. Where once holding up their heads or "swimming" on their tummies was a feat, these children were into everything. When their mums plopped them down, they crawled, tottered, or walked, sometimes holding on, sometimes on their own, desperate to explore. Eyes aglow, babbling sense and nonsense alike, their hands reached here, there, and everywhere. Recovering from the shock of seeing this miracle of instant growthit was like time-lapse photography without the middle stagesI started to remember the babies I once knew. There was Rachel, sitting in her mum's lap, cautiously eyeing her playmates, a bit fearful to venture out on her own. It was the same Rachel who cried as a baby when presented with a stranger's face and who balked during the class on infant massage, letting us know she wasn't ready for so much stimulation. Betsy, one of the first of the babies to actually reach out and touch another child, was clearly still the most active and interactive of all the children, curious about every toy, interested in everyone else's business. She was extremely frisky as an infant, so it didn't surprise me when she began clambering up the changing table with the skill of a monkey and a nothing-can-stop-me look on her face. (Not to worry: Her mum, obviously used to Betsy's athletic feats, kept a close eye on her and a ready hand near her tush.) Tucker, who had reached every baby milestone on cue, was playing near the changing table. Every so often, he'd glance up at Betsy, but the brightly colored forms of the shape box were more intriguing to him. Tucker was still right on trackhe knew his colors and was able to figure out which shapes fit into which holes, just like "the books" said a twenty-month-old could. Allen was in the play garden by himself, set off from the others, which made me think of his serious-looking, three-month-old self. Even as an infant, Allen always seemed to have a lot on his mind, and he had that same concerned expression now as he tried to insert a "letter" into the play mailbox. Finally, I couldn't take my eyes off Andrea, one of my favorite babies because she was so friendly and adaptable. Nothing fazed Andrea, even in infancy, and I could see that she was her old unshakable self as I watched her interact with Betsy, now down from her perch and tugging mightily on Andrea's truck. In turn, this self-possessed toddler looked at Betsy and calmly sized up the situation. Without missing a beat, Andrea let go and began playing contentedly with a dolly that had caught her eye. Though these children had grown light-years ahead of where they had beenin effect, they were six or seven times older than when I last saw themeach was a reflection of his or her infant self. Temperament had blossomed into personality. Babies no more, they were five distinct little people. Nature/Nurture: The Delicate Balance The constancy of personality from infancy through toddlerhood comes as no surprise to me or others who have seen scores of infantsHogg, Tracy is the author of 'Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers', published 2002 under ISBN 9780345440808 and ISBN 0345440803.