My daughter came to me with plastic toy scissors and started to play with them, as I’m sitting down on the sofa in front of her she takes the two parts of the toy apart by mistake alongside an expression of surprise in seeing the toy breaking apart.
I proceed to put it back, she plays with it a few more seconds and mischievously takes the two parts apart again, without the “uh ohh” of surprise this time around, then gives it back to me to put it back together, again. She learned how it works already. We continued to do the same half a dozen times, she playing with the plastic scissors, taking them apart and me fixing it.
It all took less than 5 minutes, but in those 5 minutes, she learned how scissors worked. That they could be taken apart and fixed again, how to take them apart and that I could put it back much more easily than her. I’m sure there were more things involved that my grown-up brain didn’t catch, but her’s surely did.
As I watched her play intently with the toy I realised that I used to be a baby too, learning the same things she’s learning now, but none of what I can perceptively remember. We’re left with the skills we learn as babies and toddlers but none of the fond memories, only our parents are left with the memories.
Maybe a big part of becoming a parent is to remember through our children what we forgot as babies. Maybe our memories are latent until we teach our own kids what our parents taught us. We’re living an endless cycle of learning and forgetting, just to teach back to the next generation.
Every day I play with her I learn something new, a new idea that I hadn’t thought before comes to life, a new realisation is brought into the light. The world looks very different when you share but a bit of the view your children have, through their inexperienced, perceptive and candid eyes.
It’s certainly true that we teach our kids about the world, in exchange, they show us a new world around us that we sometimes forget to see.
The beauty of everyday life and the wonders of what surrounds us are opaqued by our experienced selfs, even more so in a world that grows even more wondrous by the day.
Let’s not forget that some of the best things in life cannot be bought or achieved with the touch of a button, but with slow and humble stumbles, like a baby taking scissors apart just to watch it be fixed back, over and over.