S and M are different people with different focuses.
S is into a lot of ‘academic’ stuff. Today, for instance, she spent hours playing maths apps and has mastered symmetry, furthered her understanding of fractions, and continued working towards consistently knowing the difference between right and left. She’s been able to do oral maths problems (that she creates, and that people around her do) since age two, and these are gradually gaining in complexity and her speed in solving them.
She has been desperate to learn to read and started begging me to teach her about six months ago. I’ve gone along with her, but also tried to emphasise all the stuff she’s doing already is helping her learn. She started with a fascination for road signs and recognising a handful of basic words. She somehow learned every letter of the alphabet, and three days ago discovered that each letter makes a sound. At dinner yesterday she pointed to most letters on her alphabet placemat and made the correct sound.
She’s done all this herself – obviously I’ve strewed interesting things in her path and explored them with her when she wanted, we read books of all shapes and sizes together, etc – but there have been no school like sessions of memorising sight words or formally doing phonics.
S also delights in medical things – skeletons both human and animal, organs, the senses. She has said she wants to be a vet and adores animals; she has a knack of making them like her very quickly. She’s very musical and into horns; she makes up tuneful songs all day long and narrates what we are doing through them. S loves doing ‘shows’, both with her as the key performer, and making shows with her toys for us to watch. She also insists on being called Baby Kitten about 98% of the time, and acts accordingly. She spends a lot of time upside down, trying to fully master headstands, and taught herself the perfect forward roll at age one. She loves her Bunny above all other things (and recently has discovered a love for soft toy animals), and Bunny now wears pyjamas just like S (think of pyjamas as her uniform). S knows her mind and is not afraid to be very clear in expressing her opinion…sometimes quite fiercely.
I often think of M as a creative engineer or film director. He likes making things, and delights in watching YouTube videos relating to Angry Birds and Minecraft, then replicating things he’s seen in physical form in our house. This often takes the form of directing us to do his bidding. He adores YouTube in general, and calls a kid on there who does product reviews his friend.
As a toddler, he saw a bike rack on a car for the first time. He came home, found some sticks, and put them on the roof of his Little Tykes cozy coupe. Ditto windshield wipers. This has not changed; his basic, shining belief that we can make whatever we wish. The recent project has been making Minecraft guys and worlds from Lego, though he also makes fantastical creations from pipe cleaners…and…well, anything he can get his hands on.
He is a collector and wants all of whatever it is he is interested in. His current joy lies in Angry Birds Star Wars telepods and mystery packs. Often he is satisfied if we make whatever it is – a superhero house of out cardboard boxes, a Frank combine from Cars out of yogurt containers and toilet paper rolls, an Angry Birds Death Star out of tinfoil. He is a visionary thinker, and his confidence in relation to his creativity astounds me.
We have collaborated on making a CD of Minecraft song parodies, and he has learned all the words. He begged us to let him get chilli pepper seeds when he loved the chilli pepper on Plants vs Zombies (and we ended up with a HUGE crop that none of us really ate!). He has two stuffed dogs and one stuffed cat he really likes, though only as good friends. He loves babies and will often zero in on the baby or toddler left alone at soft play, remaining by their side as protector and guardian until their parent returns. He is tender hearted, loving, and the first to rush over and ‘blow’ on someone’s body if they get hurt. He doesn’t like the cinema, and in fact often doesn’t want to watch new DVDs at home as he gets too upset when characters are in peril. Yet he stages grand battles between piggies and birds, creepers and Steve. He is now deeply into road signs and often hangs around when S and I are discussing reading related things. M is very, very outgoing and will happily to speak to anyone of any age. He delights in roughousing and recently made two friends who do, also. He loves Christmas decorations with a grand passion. He dances frantically and while laughing.
Both love playing together and independently. Likewise, they love their friends (including the grown up ones, and children of all ages), but also love just hanging out at home, too. Each can play for hours in created worlds using small figures. S often ropes me into hide and seek, while M wants me to sit with him and play Minecraft.
I’m interested in who they are, what they enjoy, how they learn. I wonder what their adult lives hold in store. Whatever the case, I hope the things they are learning now always hold true – it is worthwhile to discover your passion and pursue it, it is okay to try something different or stop doing something you no longer enjoy, the world is full of possibility and adventure.