building blocks of life

January 13, 2009

Children can be so surprising sometimes. They’ll wake up one day and do something they’ve never done before, and they’ll do it so expertly that you’re apt to suspect they’ve been practicing in secret. I used to think that these sudden behavioral changes were mostly my fault.

For example: one day, after picking up our daughter from daycare, my husband chased the family dog with the stroller. Marie got a great laugh, but we immediately stopped taunting the dog. The chasing lasted 15 seconds, tops. The next day, Marie suddenly started chasing the dog around the house with her doll stroller. And she was shockingly good at it. She cornered poor Oko in all sorts of places, and with lightening speed, she maneuvered the stroller to block his escape route every time he tried to make a run for it. I’m convinced she would have done this for hours had I not locked the dog in the bedroom and hidden the doll stroller at the first opportunity. Right after locking the dog in the bedroom, but before getting the chance to take the stroller away (I had already made several attempts at getting Marie to willingly stop stalking the dog), Marie spent a good ten minutes ramming the stroller into the bedroom door, yelling, “Oko!” each time. What have I done? I thought in horror.

I now realize, however, that even though we parents are sometimes guilty of teaching our children to torture house pets and other heinous acts, children sometimes just come up with new tricks completely out of the blue and completely on their own. After all, they’re little budding personalities, discovering and exploring every day. And their surprises aren’t always exasperating, either:

Yesterday, after months and months of ignoring her lovely, wooden building blocks, Marie pulled out the box in which they’re kept and started stacking. I had never seen her do anything with those blocks except bang them together. And I can’t remember her ever stacking anything before. Today, again with no prompting on our part, she took them out again and started building towers, 7-8 blocks high. When Toffi and I noticed what she was doing this afternoon, all we could do was stare. And smile.

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