I’ve been a dad for 3 years 7 months and 20 days. In that period I have been surprised every day.
Every single day.
Sometimes it is small little surprises like picking up on phrases we commonly say and using them in the appropriate places. Other times it’s learning a milestone achievement and then watching the achievement and the pride.
Simple basic play
This week when I went to collect the Bear from his Granny and Oupa’s (South African for Grandad), I walked in on the Bear playing with his Oupa. They were playing a simple game of catch with a sponge football.
The Bear was learning to catch, and to be honest, he’s getting there, a good majority of the time he was catching the ball from various distances.
The game then evolved to playing hand ball. The pair were sat at either end of the room with their legs open as the goal. The aim was to roll or throw the ball to the other person and try and score. A standard game we’ve probably all played.
However, all of a sudden the Bear got up with the ball and walked out. I feared boredom had set it.
Alas, I was wrong, the Bear walked back in the room with a tea towel. Placed the tea towel a foot away from the door, turned to his Oupa and said;
“Roll the ball on to the towel to win Oupa’
So being the obedient Oupa he is, the ball was rolled and stopped on the towel.
‘No Oupa, not like that, that’s easy! You have to roll it, hit the door and get my ball to stop on the towel. Then you’ll win.” Came the response.
Now, I was expecting the game to be the roll and stop on the towel, when that happened I was expecting cheers and adulation for Oupa, not criticism and a game straight from Takeshi’s Castle.
The game was played for a long while with the new rules.
About half way through the Bear’s Granny came in and gave me the silent loom that read:
“Did you teach him the game?”
I shook my head, another look:
“Pre-school?” whispered Granny,
A shake of the head, we were both shocked.
A pretty complex game had been thought of from a three-year-old, my three-year-old. Now I know this isn’t the invention of Monopoly nor will this game probably be played again.
The surprise hit me again, I just watched a juvenile brain design a game, increase the difficulty without the Bear realise what he was actually doing.
My surprise isn’t the fact the Bear has the ability to do this, my surprise is from watching this first hand and underestimating this.
This game evolution has shown me by letting a young brain investigate, analyse and implement the thoughts it is having at that moment, new experiences, games and learning can take place which will allow further understanding of the world.
I feel a great privilege to have been able to watch this process take place and have nothing to do with it at that moment.
We as parents and wider family members teach, guide and lead the path for our little ones to understand and learn about the world from our perspective.
By not being part of this experience I have been shown that whilst this guiding is important, the path of self-education is equally important so that the world can be understood from the little one’s perspective.
In the end, the Bear managed to stop the ball on the towel more times than me!