My daughter started childcare last year and now she has an independent life of her own – she’s only 18 months old! There was a time when all of her experiences were my experiences. I knew all of her games, which songs she liked, and how she took her naps – in fact, I had shown her. Now, she is constantly surprising me with things I never taught her. It’s added a new and exciting dimension to our relationship, but I can’t help fear the speed at which she’s growing up!
The first was when she used her arm to imitate the trumpeting trunk of an elephant. I’d never used elephant actions. Then it was potatoes – every time she saw a picture of a potato, hear the word, or found one on her dinner plate, she would excitedly tap the tips of her fingers together. I was baffled. It was a week or two before I realised she was doing The Wiggles’ ‘Hot Potato’ dance.
Without my input, her own unique personality was developing. I realised that she loves to dance! I’m not someone who will crank the music and twirl about in the lounge room (not since my teenage years, anyway), so dancing was probably pretty new to my toddler when she encountered it at childcare. Now, every few weeks she has a new move to show me at the most random of times: while getting undressed for her bath, eating her dinner, or being strapped into the car. It still takes me a while to realise it’s a new dance and not another form of toddler sign language!
She also developed ‘monster face’, where she shows her bottom teeth and growls. Boy, was she excited when her dad and I finally caught on that she was being a monster!
But the best clue to her secret, independent life occurred the other day as we were stepping out of our local cafe. A bus pulled up in front of us and, as the passengers got on and off, my daughter waved to a man gazing out the window. He waved back. She smiled and waved some more. He continued to wave. She blew him an extravagant stage actor’s kiss. He was pretty surprised, but blew one back. She clapped her hands in excitement and gave him thumbs up! We all watched his amazed, laughing face as the bus pulled away. Nobody had seen that performance coming!
Kids certainly surprise you with what they can do or what they know. All of a sudden, they do something small that shows you just how much you were underestimating them. You feel silly. But you also feel like you’re getting to know an entirely separate human being, with their own thoughts, ideas, and dreams. While once upon a time, my daughter and I felt almost like the same person, now, she’s truly becoming her own. It’s beautiful to watch.