This week my daughter has already shown me how she learned how to tie her shoes and talked at length about the Russian artist Kandinsky, even explaining how she and her class worked to emulate some of his artwork, most specifically his love of circles.
I just want to say, for the record, that I know for a fact that I was out of kindergarten before I learned how to tie my shoes (a fact I like to blame on how I wore Velcro shoes for the year I was in there). But, you see, my little girl with the big brain hadn’t really put much effort behind trying to learn how to tie her shoes…until this week. And she all but mastered it in a day. I mean, she saw what she wanted to do, tried and tried and tried until she finally got it figured out, and this morning, a whole 2 days after she started the process, she’s doing it completely on her own, no coaching needed or anything. That’s not to say that she wasn’t already basically doing it herself on day one, but it took her two days to be someone who can just do it.
The whole Kandinsky thing…well…let’s just say that I had a concept of who he was and, after a simple google search, I remembered some of his more intricate pieces from art appreciation back in the day, but my daughter was spouting off intimate details about this guy’s life, including how many animals and children he had. And…she knew his first name, complete with appropriate Russian pronunciation of the letter W.
Now, I get it, kids are sponges, and my daughter loves art, so the first time she learns about some artist out there, she’s going to take it all in excitedly. Once she starts getting deeper and learning about more artists, many might start to meld together, although there will definitely be the standouts…you know, the ones people talk about to sound smart, like Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet, Manet, and Pollock…Maybe Seurat…who really knows.
Of course…then again, my daughter’s a genius and when she decides she loves something, she remembers every single bit of it she can…so someday I’ll be working with her while I try to remember what the difference is between Impressionism and Expressionism. Heck, the only word I really remember from my art appreciation class is flying buttresses…and I’m still not entirely certain what those are.
I’ve said this multiple times in the past, but I’m constantly amazed by how quickly kids can pick things up when they just put their minds to it. My son battled with potty training for what seems like forever (he was, you know, almost 3 before he actually got it figured out). My wife and I were busy and tired and, well, just didn’t feel the need to really put a focus on it. Until I finally just got fed up with diapers (yeah…that’s right…I’ve got a baby on the way, I know) and had a long talk with him and put him on an hourly potty regimen. Within days he had the during the day pee/poop things all figured how. Within weeks he didn’t even need reminders. And by the end of a month, he was running upstairs in the morning telling us he needed to use the potty before he did anything else for the day.
It was something that seemed ultimately impossible, especially considering how much trouble I’ve heard other folks have had with boys, and really, once he put his mind to it (even if I might have helped him get it there), he mastered it. Sure, we’ve had a few accidents here and there, but you want to know what’s insane? In the past month, my daughter’s had more accidents than my son…it’s getting pretty close now due to a little illness the boy’s been battling with, but the kid’s got it figured out.
And I spent months/years being afraid of even attempting it on any real scale because I didn’t want to deal with the battles and (from what I know of other folks’ troubles with boys) possible inappropriate defecation in places that aren’t pants or potties…But in the end, he just got his mind in the right direction and took it on.
I sometimes wonder how to get back to that ability, that concept of really being able to do anything if you put your mind to it. I find myself getting so incredibly frustrated every time I reach any sort of impasse when attempting to do something. I want to throw my hands up in the air and cry out how I’m giving up on every single thing. Sure, I can still accomplish things that impress myself…I’m not saying I’m not capable of learning new tricks or anything…but it feels like it’s so much harder. But not that it’s truly harder, just that I feel so much more ready to give up than my kids are.
Maybe they’re so much better at it than I because I really work to be their cheerleader, but I honestly believe that it’s more the way a kid’s brain works. They haven’t dealt much with the results of failure, they just know how awesome it is to succeed. My daughter absolutely loves tackling new problems. When she gets her math homework, she wants to do it the second she comes home, getting excited about the fact that she understands the math concepts, but also excited about repeatedly drawing 4s so she can finally stop making them backwards.
I get annoyed just filling out a check and she’ll sit happily writing 4 after 4 after 4 just to get it right.
I want that. I want that easy contentedness.
I envy my children.
But I’m also afraid for the moment where I can’t keep up with them on how much they’re learning.
I mean, seriously…Wassily Kandinsky? In Kindergarten?
Have fun out there!