Kids are totally amazing. At birth they are nothing more than squawking, slimy bundles of animalistic instinct and bodily fluids. But from that first moment, they are hard-wired to learn and progress.
First, they learn how to breathe. And trust me, I know how hard that is. In my younger days I used to be persuaded onto rollercoasters. I prefer to call them ‘death traps, although I’m sure the more misguided of you will know them better as ‘fun.’ I don’t like heights, or going fast, or pretty much anything that embodies what a rollercoaster is. Every time, I used to almost pass out because I forgot to breathe. So yeah, breathing is hard. I know it.
Then they embark on a crazily intense journey of eating, crawling, walking and talking. By the time they hit one that wrinkly little newborn is a distant memory. Somehow during those 12 months, they become real people!
Some of our children’s achievements are measurable. How old they were when they walked, what reading level they are on, how many spellings they got right this week, and so on.
Kids don’t seem to give a crap about any of that, though. But that’s not because they are robots, or anything. No, they just know what really matters.
Let me tell you a story. The other night, I was in bed feeding Squeak. The other girls were in bed asleep (or so I thought.) For the first time since 7am, the house was quiet. I was attempting some zen-like meditation, in the hope that Squeak would catch on and fall asleep too. OK, I was on Facebook, but whatever.
Then, I heard the sound of whistling.
Now I’ll admit, my first response was irritation. Why was Mark whistling so loudly downstairs? Didn’t he know he was going to disturb the baby?
Next, I heard footsteps. Not just any old footsteps. This was the pitter patter of a child about to explode with excitement. She flew down the stairs to speak to Mark.
I went into Big Girl’s bedroom once Squeak had settled down. There she lay, a broad, satisfied smile on her face. “Did you hear me, Mum? Did you hear me?” Never have I seen a child so proud. And she proceeded to give me at least eleventy-seven demonstrations of her brand new whistle.
There are many other stories I could tell about my children’s pride in achievements that we, as boring old adults, wouldn’t think twice about. Like when Little Girl learned to hop. Now, if we’re being nit-picky, she was not hopping. She was jumping, with one foot on top of the other. But she thought she was the coolest kid ever. Or when Big Girl learned to wink. I mean, technically both of her eyes were shut at the time, but who’s judging?
Big Girl’s recent adventures in language acquisition are surprising me every day. Her vocabulary is growing all of the time, and she’s experimenting with more complex words.
This can be a problem.
The other night Big Girl and I were having our usual chat before she goes to sleep. By chat, I mean she bombards me with endless questions and useless pieces of information, interspersed with song lyrics and funny faces. It rocks. Really.
She said, “Mum, some people at school say that if you rub your finger on your lips, it’s a swear.”
I said, “No, honey, that’s not a swear word. They’re just making it up.”
So she said, “Mum, some people at school say that if you say fork really fast, it’s a swear word.”