So, we're not the Baby Einstein/Mandarin Flash Cards kind of parents, invested in building a SuperChild(tm) we can over-program all the way to Princeton.
We read to him for as long as he wants as often as he likes, we patiently answer any and every question he has about whatever strikes his fancy, we encourage him to draw & paint whatever he wants with whatever materials are at hand.
What we don't do is actively try to 'teach' him anything other than fundamental stuff like STAY OUT OF THE STREET and CAREFUL ON THE STAIRS and DON'T HIT PEOPLE IN THE FACE WITH YOUR PLASTIC DINOSAUR. Some of this is temperamental on our parts, some of it is understanding of his often contrary nature, but mainly it's a conscious decision to let him develop in his own time and his own way. Toddlers have very little in the way of autonomy or power and you can tell it is incredibly frustrating for them so we'd rather not be imposing an agenda on him, however educational and well intentioned.
Which, to our ongoing surprise, does nothing to prevent him from learning exactly the kind of practical, helpful, educational things that all those learning systems purport to encourage.
Lately he likes me to toss him onto the bed, as high as I can without bouncing him off the ceiling. His thirst for this is endless, especially around bed time, so it's on Dada to impose limits. Here's how things went the night before last.
"Dada, will you THROW me way up high?"
"Okay, but just once, then it's time for books."
"Uh....dada?" He paused, standing on the mattress, concentrating on some action with is hands. Suddenly he thrust them both out, like Nixon boarding a helicopter only with three fingers extended. "How about THREE times?"
Startled, as I always am when he does things we haven't taught him, I laughed and exclaimed "what's that?"
He looked proudly from one hand to the other, their pudgy fingers rigidly extended, and declared "It's TWO THREES!"
Last night while reading I Like Pumpkins, a current favorite, he made me flip to the 'activities' in the back, the sort of overtly educational stuff ignore. There's a page where you're supposed to figure out who's tractor holds the most pumpkins. He pointed at his guess, which looked right to me, and I said "Okay, count the pumpkins."
He went from one to sixteen without a hitch, leaving me mildly flabbergasted.
He's always been a good counter, but I don't know when he broke the 1-10 barrier and just started reeling off teens.
And yesterday the Wife reports that upon returning from the gym she pulled into the driveway and Fuss read our address off the house, with special emphasis on "sixTEENTH street!"
I want him to learn what he wants to learn, then when he does it it sort of freaks me out.
I don't know why I'm always surprised when things work.