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My One Year Old Teaches Me

April 29, 2019

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Did you know you can learn crucial life skills while playing with a one year old?

Mastering the basics

Recently, my little one reminded me how important it is to master the basics before moving on to more advanced skills, and to be aware of thought patterns I’m stuck in that aren’t working.

My boy has this classic cylindrical wooden toy with a plastic lid at one end. It comes with different colored wooden shapes with corresponding cut-outs on the side, like an oval, star, hexagon, etc. Being type A, I was using some of our play time to teach him to match the colors and shapes, but he doesn’t get it yet. Also, he doesn’t yet have the fine motor skill it takes to align a shape with the appropriate slot, even if you help him match them up.

Forcing it

My mom, who bought the toy for him, helped him by holding the shape to its respective portal, so he could push it in. Then, she made a big deal of his success, saying, “YAAYYY!!”

Wes will humor you and push the block in when prompted, because he still recalls his Babci’s cheers.

But the real fun started when he realized he could put all the blocks, along with his piggies and cows, into the large hole at one end. This task was within his current skill-set, and he was fired up when he realized he could do this. With a focused toddler frown, he was on a mission to complete the task. He put the blocks in compulsively, one after the next. When he was done, he wanted to do it again.

The toddler flow state

When you’re in the zone, nothing else matters for the moment. This is how I feel doing bread and butter tasks, or sometimes, when I’m writing a draft of a blog post. Every step forward is a doable, small challenge, accompanied by a hit of gratification.

It is joyful to see my little boy in his flow state. I don’t need to worry he’ll never learn the “right” way to use the toy- he will, in due time. He showed me that I was stuck in a pattern of thinking- believing we needed to work on matching the colors and shapes until we “got it.” He showed me the joy he derives from his perfect challenge at this moment.

Parents are cool, actually

We can gain fresh insights from these pudgy little faces, if we are open to them. Parents are some of the coolest and wisest people around, and this is how they get that way.

How can I apply what Wes has taught me? Right now, I’m learning a lot about blogging, basic web design, and marketing. The amount I could learn about these topics is infinite. I could try to master some yellow trapezoid blogging maneuvers. Some folks I look up to are masters; some have been working at it since the 2000’s. I don’t try to match their moves at this point. I could be overwhelmed or stymied if I did. For now, I will spend time enjoying mastering the basics. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy it!

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