One of the great joys of being a parent (for me at least) is watching your kid "get" something. You see, when they first arrive, kids are a lump that basically has an intake and an outflow, and screams when either of those need attention. They don't do a whole lot so you get overly excited when the little things happen. "Honey, come quick! She opened her eyes again!" It's all fairly amazing, but from the outside you look a bit crazy. In the first three months I never thought I would spend so much time staring at a sleeping human being without being slapped with a restraining order.
As they grow and become more interactive, you don't get less crazy but the milestones get a little more exciting. First word, putting words together with the objects associated with them (I was all excited when the Wee One first said "Dada", but my enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that she was addressing the lamp at the time), crawling, walking, etc. You spend a lot of time telling your child something and trying to teach them while the look at you blankly, then suddenly they do it when you are least expecting it and it's like you just won a gold medal. I TAUGHT HER TO DO SOMETHING! You would think that seeing a concept actually learned would be less exciting to someone who has taught a lot of students in the past, but you would be wrong. The first time that I asked the Wee One what noise a cow makes and she finally responded with "mooo", it rocked my world. Yes, "mooo" rocked my world.
That's why I stopped in my tracks the other night. See, the Wee One has only been at day care for around 3 months. Prior to that we knew what she was being taught because we were doing the teaching. When she did something new or said a new word, it was the result of our efforts. The other night we needed to clean up a few things and prep for the next day while she was still awake, so we relented to her cries for "Mo! Mo! El-Mo!" and put on an Elmo DVD for her to oggle for a few minutes. I put in "singing" because we had never used that one before, and I walked away to do a few things. A few minutes later I peeked in to see how she was doing and the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" was being sung by some crazed cartoon lady. The Wee One wasn't just sitting watching it though, she was standing and doing the hand motions in a little dance. I was struck by the conflicting emotions of "Holy shit, that is awesome!" and "Holy shit, why didn't I have any idea that she knew this?" Clearly this is the first of many such occasions and it's something I should have expected, but it doesn't make it any less painful to see your little girl growing up and learning new things that you don't even know she is learning. It's a good thing and I didn't expect it to bother me, but just like almost everything with kids, it came a little sooner than I was ready.