As my children grow, I gain an intense amount of satisfaction from watching them interact. At first it was just play, which in itself was an interesting dynamic. Orion grew up an intensely possessive child, but since his sister has come on board he shares everything willingly, right down to his last jellybean.
Now that Piper is older, the learning is starting to go both ways. She began by watching adults, but now her favourite source of learning is her big brother. She watches his every move and mirrors it exactly. Orion quickly became aware of this phenomenon and wasted no time in beginning active instruction. Not a day goes by that I don’t see or hear him showing her how to complete a new activity and then sitting back to watch while she tries it herself, correcting where necessary. It’s one of the most fascinating and enriching things I have ever seen.
He taught her to clap, and to say “Yay!” This is the way they usually celebrate a successful lesson.
He taught her to ride her tricycle, complete with skidding around corners. He later expanded on this by showing her how to pull her little squeaky dog on wheels along behind it, although I was responsible for tying the string in place. They love racing up and down the hallway, two trikes bumping over the tiles, two dogs squeaking fit to explode and both of them shrieking their heads off for joy.
He taught her to brush her teeth. I’d been struggling for months to get her to open her mouth just to let me put the brush in, and after one shower together with Orion demonstrating, she’s now a pro. As long as mummy doesn’t try to interfere, of course.
He taught her to drink from a cup, how to tip and sip and swallow without a sipping lid. Then he taught her how to pour it all over the floor and dance in the puddle.
He taught her how to do a jigsaw, piece by piece. First he did it alone, while she watched. Next, she handed him the pieces to put on the board. Then he placed the pieces and let her push them into place. Now they do the puzzle together.
He taught her to run, and dance, and they do this daily. She copies his every move in an eternal game of Simon says.
He taught her to take off her own shoes… And of course leave them strewn on the floor wherever they were removed.
He taught her to say “share,” but not by asking, by doing. “I will share my chocolate with you, Piper.” Or toys, or books.
He taught her how to carefully put her cutlery into her untouched dinner, push it away and say “Nup.” Which she now does, for any meal that Orion also rejects, even if it is a food she has previously enjoyed.
He taught her to say “Why?” Which is terribly cute. Interestingly enough, she employs the word in valid situations and considers my answers accordingly. For example: “Lay down on the mat so we can change your nappy,” I said. “Why?” She asks. “Because you have done a poo. If we don’t change, your bottom will get sore. Can we change your nappy now?” She thinks. “Yeah,” she says, and lies down.
He taught her to count to two and three, when he hands out her allotment of biscuits or fruit slices. Now, every time I hand her a piece of food, she says “Two?” And you better believe she knows exactly how many that is.
The list goes on, each and every day. For the most part positive, sometimes not so much (read: I could have lived without refusal to eat dinner or put on pyjamas.) I cannot stop watching them together, breathing in their shared discovery and development. When one cries, the other offers comfort. There is, of course, drama and dischord, as with any relationship, but I’ll be honest, I expected more. Orion is so wild and free, driven by his insatiable curiosity and boundless energy. I used to worry he would either ignore Piper or ride roughshod over her, but she is equally free spirited. She stands her ground when necessary, and as is often the case with young children, has the strength of ten elephants and the magical ability to sprout extra arms. This makes wrestling matches quite even, and arguments often end with both of them in tears and group hugs all around.
What about you? Do your children learn and interact this way? Do you love it, or does it drive you crazy?