Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Stretch Your Mind Like A Toddler

Obviously, adults don't learn at as high a rate as children. Is it because we get lazy? Insecure? Preoccupied with other have-to-dos? Is our learning capacity based on use it or lose it? Because it is quite shocking how much a toddler learns. So many new concepts and words continuously developing.

My daughter is not a year and a half and has new cognition every day. For the first time yesterday she asked for my hand walking down the street. Though she cannot yet count she has shown numerous times, to a few different relatives, that she knows that 10 follows 9. She blurts out new words every day, with complete comprehension. Like her bowl, tent, back-pack, orange. Her ability to follow directions astounds me (which I enjoy wholeheartedly as I know that will weaken when free will expression begins). I asked her to get a mat and sit on her bum so she could have some smoothie, which I do so that she can drink it herself and be free to make a mess. She complied, while exclaiming "bum" and sitting so cutely. Then later she grabbed the same mat and sat on it charmingly and said "bum", obviously waiting for a treat.

I am not bragging on her. I know children in general are perceptive and inquisitive, even if they are emotional and easily distracted. Whether or not a toddler expresses their discoveries through words or actions, they are constantly learning copious new things. They watch and listen and experiment, even if they are just playing. And their open mind is just a sponge.

I'd like to "open" my mind to learning more. I know it is possible. And I have good intentions. Books about memory improvement. Nintendo DS "Brain Age" games. But they are useless if not used. What matters most, though, is stretching the mind. Learning something original, like a language or an instrument. Taking advantage of curiosity and looking into an uncertainty or clarifying a conjecture instead of just letting a question go that isn't understood. Pushing out of limits by talking to new people and trying diverse activities. Like a training athlete shouldn't stick to one form of exercise if they want to prevent future strain, we need to exercise our brain in more ways than one to keep it fit. My daughter is currently learning letters, numbers, colors, animals, foods, manners, sounds, rules... The list is endless. No wonder her brain is at its peak fitness level.

She pushes me to learn myself. Of course, I have to learn about the new frontier I enter every day with a toddler. "Is she supposed to do that?" "How do I deal with this?" As well, wanting to help her learn I must be open to learning myself. She will soon ask me so many questions. I don't want to answer "I don't know" to too many of them. She will ask about nature, family, work, any oddity, and why things aren't the same everywhere. I will need to solidify my faith and know why I do or do not believe what I believe so that I can be comfortable with her questions. I need to up my attention span for life. Be aware of my surroundings. Pay mind to current events.

Learning takes time and energy. It is so easy to find something mindless to do instead. I need to commit time to keeping my brain alert and keeping the synapses flowing. Sure, it'll probably just be little spurts of learning when I find time. Not like when I was about 20 years old and took 3 hours straight to memorize the order of a shuffled deck of cards. I saw the feat accomplished on television and was determined to replicate it myself. Ah, to have all the time in the world to waste.

But I figure the investment is worth it. If I am open to learning, my life will be so much more richer. For substantially longer, I hope. I want to mentally be there for my girl right into her adulthood and share as much as I can with her. I am not looking forward to algebra and history homework, but I will sure give it a try. As I stand in awe of my daughter and her brain, I hope she'll be proud of me and my thinker, too.

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