The Learning Process

It looks like this blog is turning into a monthly thing. I hope to rectify that and update it more frequently, but at the same time, I don’t want to bore you with the mundane details of our lives.

Being a stay-at-home-mom allows me many amazing privileges. It is the best job in the world, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As a SAH, you realize just how much you teach your child. It’s unreal to think that so much of what my son knows, he learned from me.  Of course he learns plenty from his daddy, like flexing his muscles, how to act in front of the camera, and the famous “Hulk Hogan” impression.

We recently started working on taking off his clothes independently. It seems like such an easy thing to us adults. How much thought do you give to taking off your shoes, socks, pants and shirt? Unless they are shoes that are really hurting your feet (girls, I’m talking to you!), you probably don’t give any of that much thought. We have been doing it for so long that we do it automatically, without thinking. For toddlers, though, this is like learning calculus. It seems impossible at first. They get incredibly frustrated and want to give up. It takes time and practice – and lots of praise – for them to master these seemingly easy tasks.

A couple of weeks ago I taught Little Dude how to pull off his sneakers that velcro shut. I showed him how to pull the velcro strap open. He struggled. He grunted. He pulled with all his might, and finally pulled it open as if it was an enormous, heavy door. I thought he was going to quit right then, but I saw a sparkle in his eyes that said, “I did that. Hmmm. What else can I do?” We then started working on actually pulling the shoe off his foot. This took a while to master. He kept trying to pull it off by pulling from under the ankle bone, but it wasn’t giving. He looked at me as if to say, “Hey mama . . . can’t you just do this for me? It will be so much easier.” Instead, though, I showed him to pull the shoe off from the heel. It took some work, but he did it. I praised him as if he had just won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. We worked on the second shoe in much the same manner. When it came off, I cheered like he had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. (Man, if this kid could win TWO Nobel Prizes, I would be one proud mama. And if he wins none, I will be just as proud.)

The best part of this exercise was what happened next. After taking both shoes off and receiving praise from me, his face lit up like the Rockefeller Christmas tree. He was beaming. He did it all by himself, with just coaching from mom. But he wanted to take it one step further. Without prompting, he proceeded to pick up both shoes and walk over to the stairs. He dropped the shoes over the baby gate and onto the first stair. He looked at me proudly. He knew that we kept our shoes on those first few steps, out of reach of the dog. He anticipated that action and did it on his own. I was so proud of my little guy. And then it struck me how momentous that was for Little Dude. Sure he had figured out walking and talking and stuff, but for some reason this really seemed to make him PROUD – like puff out his chest proud.

Since then, we’ve worked on taking off socks, pants and jackets. Pants are tricky buggers! I never realized how difficult they were to pull down. We’re still not completely there yet, but that’s on the horizon. Yesterday Little Dude was showing off by unzipping his jacket, pulling it off and trying to put it on the bannister (where it hangs most of the time). He did the whole exercise with a wonderful grin on his face. When he finished (to mom’s praise, of course), I prompted him to say, “I did it!” He yelled, “Ididit!” and gave me 5.

When I think about what the means going forward in life, it’s daunting. I am going to teach this little, tiny, wonderful human being how to read, how to add (and subtract, multiply and divide, but I stop at derivatives), how to drive, and how to balance a checkbook. But beyond all of that, and more importantly, I (we, really) are going to teach him how to love, how to be respectful, proper manners, how to be honest, and how to treat a potential mate. Being the mother of a boy is a tall order. I think about some of the men I have met – not my husband – and their attitudes towards women and humanity in general. It makes me realize how much we are responsible for shaping his actions as an adult. We are responsible for ensuring that he grows up to be a good human being. This will mean teaching him how to do things the “right” way, and also being tough on him. It means giving him freedom to make mistakes, but doling out punishment when certain mistakes are made. It’s an incredible balancing act, and a very personal job. People tend to criticize other parents because they do things “differently”. I already know that we do a lot of things differently than many other parents. I am okay with this, because I know that I am working in my child’s best interests.  I want him to be the best Little Dude he can be through his successes and especially in his failures. But most of all, I want him to know he is loved, and love others just the same.

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One thought on “The Learning Process

  1. There’s a time in their lives when you’ve taught them or watched them learn literally everything they know. And then one day they say or do something they picked up elsewhere and you’re shocked to your toes. 🙂 Fun times…

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