Such are the rhythmic questions coming my way on a daily basis from my two-year old! So gone are those days that I simply (not simple at all) offer to nurse, rest, eat or play or when I could easily distract him. Now these myriad of questions, wonderings and musings! These are surely entertaining and put glorious perspectives to mundane activities or happenings in a day. But of course there are times when your mind tires and impatiently waits for the questions to end or indeed when you quite simply run out of answers, be it because you run out of child-friendly replies or that you quite simply do not know the answer!!
I certainly am not a genius but the mother in me very naturally wants my child to have the best that the world can give! So I question, how important is it for me to indulge my little toddler’s questions? Do I have to sit beside with him and go through all these thought processes with him? If I don’t know should I find out? Should I make up imaginary stories?
If I listen to science, the answer is a categorical YES to all! I learn that 75% of the brain growth and development happens in the first three years of a child’s life. A toddler’s brain has twice as many neural connections as an adult’s! To this you have to add the seeds of emotional maturity, confidence and self-worth that will mould the human your child is about to become. Basically what you do, say and act out with him now is that which will shape his mind, body and spirit for his lifetime. His conscious, his views on life, on people and on himself is on you right now. The root of the tree, the canvas for his lifelong painting, of which all else will depend. What a frightening age, I mean for parents!! What responsibilities larger than just holding these tiny hands as you walk beside him? Especially when you live in a world where time just does not seem to come easily, no matter how amazing our inventions.
I take some time out from writing. I can hear something brewing…
Mama that light is not working, why?
Power is down darling.
Why is the power down?
It’s an old light.
Where does power come from?
Where does elec-tri-ci-ty come from? I cannot see it!
A box downstairs.
Where does the box get elec-tri-ci-ty from?
A factory far away… (And I am hoping this is it).
Can you show it to me one day?!
And I have done it! Taken him till his curiosity ends for now! And I do not have to be a fountain of knowledge for this but a fountain of patience!! Knowledge is at the tip of a button these days… it’s the time and patience you need. Just to help him connect the dots and see those light bulbs click! And this is what I have to do with all his wonderings… Mama, what colour is London? Who is on the money notes? What number is that building? Which tree is this stick from? Which way is America? What does the Red Cross mean? Where are butterflies going? And I realise just fobbing him off with a lie or two will not do him good. His brain cells need that kick, to line up, synthesise, picture cause and effect and form a base for ideas to bounce off! His little mind is trying to make sense of this world and its workings. His big imagination needs to fly with those butterflies, over the fences and to distant horizons.
I’m certainly not talking about an attempt to make geniuses out of our kids, that we suffocate them with facts and stuff books down their throats and take them to the most expensive Montessories. It’s more in the sense of giving them all that will stimulate their senses. It’s letting them explore the world by their tiny limbs, feel the sand beneath their feet, feel the wind in their hair, hands muddy and messy, hear all kinds of music and stories in their ears and have their tongues roll to all kinds of languages whilst always having their questions freely answered.
It’s also questioning back to them, clapping their little accomplishments, being patient with their little fears, and certainly reigning in their straps when needed. It’s resisting that temptation of giving into those all-too-convenient gadgets of today to keep them sitting, quiet and gazed. It’s giving them a fun environment where their eager young minds get nourished to encourage a lifelong hunger for knowledge. It’s making sure that his sponge of the brain today gets watered constantly. It’s walking with him at his pace and not rushing at yours.
And if science of humans is right, then THIS right here is the start, perhaps to an Einstein, a Helen Keller or an Alexandra Graham Bell, perhaps even a cure for cancer or quite simply a beautiful, good-hearted, intelligent human being that spreads joy to everyone. And you and I both know that we can certainly do more of them, especially the latter!!