Talk so I can know where we are going

I can do it by myself

I can do it by myself

One of the best parts of being a parent is watching your child acquire knowledge and know how. Eating with a knife and fork, putting his own undies on, drinking from a cup one handed. He has been so determined he will insist on doing something himself, refusing all assistance, no matter how difficult it is, even to the point of sheer frustration, he rarely gives up.

Together with personal competence, we have reached a stage now where patterns of activity are well understood by our boy. What follows dinner is teeth brushing and story. If it’s Saturday, then its markets and not kindy. The carpark at the shops means cheesy-mite scroll, trolley ride, car parking ticket and change retrieval. He knows. He can anticipate what will happen next. He knows where the money goes in to release the trolley. He knows that change comes out in the slot after the parking is paid. He knows that the faster he can put his hand into the slot, the more chance he has to get the coins into his pocket and keep them. Cheeky minx.

The best part, is of course messing with those expectations and patterns. Sometimes this is his decision. Like refusal to ride in the trolley, or rather insistence on pushing the trolley at the supermarket. He insists he is a big boy and only babies go in the trolley. He is right of course, but it is daunting watching him practice not crashing while remaining calm, apologising to anyone and everyone who he runs into and continuing to shop. Life skills, I tell myself.

Competence. It’s important.

Sometimes it is my decision. Add new things. Add new challenges. Open your own door kiddo. You can get your own shoes on. You can be tricked and surprised. This is my new favourite element of parenting. Carefully withholding information to ensure surprise. At our place, we call these adventures. We have had a few lately. Some big adventures; driving to Melbourne, driving to the coast for Christmas, swimming lessons. Some small adventures; visiting friends, trips to the shops just for ice-cream or coffees. Holidays are great like that. Spontaneity is much simpler.

Didn’t take long, but he’s on to me. You were tricking mama he says, when I pretend not to be tickling, but sneak one. Or when he sneaks one over me and I am forced to relent and admit I was being tricky. He listens all the time. All the time. To everyone and to everything. The other day, I planned a swim and early tea at a friends while he was asleep and then we he woke up, announced an adventure! Where are we going? It’s a surprise, I said. As we set off, Robert and I talked of other things, careful not to let slip our destination.

Then from the back seat a voice, Talk! Talk so I can know where we are going.