Thursday, January 31st, 2013...10:24 pm
Five Entertaining Skills To Watch Toddlers Learn
In the living room this evening, Nora ran around doing tricks with a paper airplane Ken made her. She alternated between “plane tricks” and “rocket tricks,” which all were different versions of her throwing the plane, running and throwing the plane, throwing the plane forwards, throwing the plane backwards and throwing the plane pretty much directly into the ground.
Miles grabbed the closest plane-like thing he could find, an empty colored-pencil box, and started to throw that right along side his sister. That box didn’t glide, but he didn’t care. He thought his tricks were just as good as hers.
Every day I get to watch either Nora or Miles or both of them learn new things, struggle with new movements and words and concepts. Most of the time I stand back in awe of the way that they accrue knowledge, amazed by all they can accomplish already.
But other times, they stand there intent on learning and instead of standing in amazement, I stand there and laugh.
Of all the things Nora and Miles have learned, five have stuck out as the most hilarious.
1. Jumping. If you haven’t seen a one year old try to jump off of the ground with both feet at once, I’m so sorry. It is so so funny and so so sad all at the same time. Miles is in the current state of complete and utter jumping frustration. He lifts one leg, pushes so hard with the other, looks at us hopeful that both legs will somehow synch up and allow him to bound forward in pure jumping excitement. But, alas, he has yet to reach that milestone. So he one leg sort of hops. Again. And again. And again. When he finally gets it I’ll be sad. The inability to jump and the sheer determination to learn is just so amusing.
2. Winking. Really, watching anyone who can’t wink try to do so is entertaining. And I guess you could argue seeing an adult try to wink who still hasn’t mastered this skill is even slightly more ridiculous than watching a two year old try it, but seeing those little eyes try to uncoordinate themselves is pretty entertaining. And the most entertaining part is when they try and try and try and blink and blink and blink harder, and then they think that final try, the one with so much passion behind those squeezing eyes, is it. “I did it, mommy!” And you have to lie, because it doesn’t matter, really, if it was one eye closing or two. They did it.
3. Blowing His/Her Nose. In the car yesterday Nora declared final and utter success on this one. “I used to blow in but now I know you have to blow out. Blowing in doesn’t work.” Why no, no it doesn’t. But if I had tried to tell her that last year, when she was still struggling to differentiate her nose blowing from her nose sniffing, she would have called me crazy. Because this simple thing – this in versus out thing? It’s not easy. But it is funny to watch.
4. Snapping. Nora stood tonight staring at her thumb and her index finger like she had never seen them before. It’s part of her new dance recital routine to snap her fingers and she was given the directive to practice that skill this week. So she stood there, pretty much perfectly still, listening to the sound of her thumb and middle finger rub against each other. “There’s just no snap here,” she declared, still not willing to give up. Over and over and over she looked at those fingers, tried to locate the snap. And then it happened. The tiniest snap. If we hadn’t both been hyperfocused on it we would have missed it. She looked up, so happy, and went right back to trying to perfect her snap.
5. Arguing/Negotiating. “I don’t even want to argue about this anymore, Dad,” Nora declared yesterday as she and Ken had a conversation that he had no idea was even close to an argument. And this morning, at 7:00, when neither Miles nor I were at our best, we had our first awesome toddler argument. He wanted something. I knew it had to do with a diaper, but didn’t understand the real point he was trying to make. I guessed, he whined. I guessed again, he spit out a long string of nonsense that was clearly so so important to him. I tried again to understand. He started crying. I guessed ten things. He stopped crying. I wasn’t sure which of those ten things had appeased him. Turns out he wanted Elmo on his butt, not Cookie Monster. Toddler determination. It’s funny only when you look back on it: I had an argument/negotiation with a one year old about putting Elmo on his butt.
What has your toddler or preschooler learned that has made you laugh?