Sunday, May 7, 2017
Living With Kids (Episode 6) - Wha' Happened?
My four-year-old and I were watching Looney Tunes this morning and when Wile E. Coyote fell over the cliff and disappeared into a cloud of dust, my little guy laughed and then asked "Wha' happened?" I started to tell him that he just saw what happened, when I stopped myself. It occurred to me that he really never pays attention to the television shows I like (he would rather play with his Kindle) and this is the first time he is actually seeing Wile E. Coyote fall off a cliff. He saw it, but he has no idea what happened.
As an American, the best way to understand a child's confusion when seeing things for the first time is to watch a cricket match on ESPN. For those of you who know the rules of cricket, then watch some sport you have never seen before. After watching cricket for three minutes, I found myself asking out loud "Wha' happened?" when something happened and the crowd went crazy. I honestly had no idea what just occurred, and neither did my four-year-old, who was happily playing with his Kindle.
This episode is actually meant to be a lesson to new parents more than a heartwarming story. Your kids are seeing and experiencing things for the first time. They will ask questions and need guidance on everything from using a spoon to understanding why a coyote would run off a cliff. I remember when we first tried to teach my four-year-old to ride his new bike. While his two-year-old brother seemed to be getting the hang of his trike, the four-year-old just could not understand the concept of pedaling a bike. My son and I started to get a little angry, until Nana stepped in and set us both straight. Nana does that a lot.
You tend to take for granted the things you have been doing your whole life such as riding a bike, swimming, and putting on your socks. But your little ones have to be taught all of these things, and their little brains take a long time to understand what is going on. Your kids want to do all of the cool things you want them to do, but they don't have your decades of experience. That is why they look to you for help, and that is just one part of being a parent.
I have learned that "Wha' happened?" is an opportunity to teach my little ones about things that are old hat to me, but brand new to them. You want your kids to ask questions, and you want to be the one to provide the answers. Nothing is more rewarding than watching a little one walk for the first time, feed themselves with a spoon for the first time, or ride a bike on their own for the first time.
It all starts with "Wha' happened?". Where it ends is up to you.
George N Root III is the proud grandfather of two awesome little boys. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.