The things he has learned

Young boy looking at globe

First he learned the basics: how to smile, and then to laugh.

He learned how to sleep, to sit, to hold a spoon. To grab his own toes, stick a fist in his mouth, clutch a blanket tight when he needed comfort. He learned to crawl and walk, and then to run, to jump, to stretch up high like a tree and crouch down low like a lion. He learned to make noise with a ladle and saucepan, to build towers and knock them over, to roll a ball, and then to throw it.

How foolish I was to think that was it. It does not stop at one year, or two. The learning continues, every day, forever.

He has learned about buttons and Velcro, about cleaning teeth and flushing toilets, pulling on socks, brushing hair, and how to close a door without trapping his fingers.

He has learned about kisses and crying, about yawns and burps and blowing his nose. He has learned how it feels to bruise and bleed, to break something you love or tear the page of a favourite book. He has already learned how to heal.

He has learned to write his name, to draw houses with curls of smoke puffing soft from the chimney, to play dominoes and Monopoly and snap. He has learned to spell mum and fun and sun and van, and to leave a finger space between them.

He has learned that fishing requires patience, that washing the car is not a one-time deal, that cookies taste better when you bake them yourself. He has learned that sunburn is worse than sunscreen; that face paints can be fun; that dogs can be gentle, birds can be beautiful and squirrels will likely not steal his toys.

He has learned that there are few things in life better than stickers; that every bath is big enough for two; that any party worth going to will have sausage rolls and jelly. He has learned which herbs to snip from the garden; that the fork goes on the left and the knife on the right. He has learned that sometimes it’s not his job to worry.

He has learned that Googling pictures of poo is a really bad idea. He has learned that manners and a big smile are always well received, that saying no is okay, that living far away from someone doesn’t make you love them less. He has learned that dinosaurs are more interesting than scary, and that pulling lemons off your own tree never gets tired.

He has learned the joy in dancing. He has learned about ladybirds and dragonflies, about spider webs and snowflakes, about harmonicas and tangerines and salt. He has learned that on difficult days you should always go outside, that no sea is too chilly for paddling, and no day is too rainy for ice cream. He has learned that a closed door means privacy, and that you are never too young for a notebook by the bed.

He has learned to find Tasmania on a world map, that haircuts are faster if you don’t fidget, that tomato soup is the best cure for a cold. He has learned that sometimes the best gift is one you’ve picked up on a beach, that postcards are not just for holidays, that there’s no such thing as too many books.

He has learned that peas grow in pods, and babies in bellies. He has learned about fireflies and thunderstorms. He has learned about Santa and heaven and rainbows and hiccups. He has learned that sad and angry are okay things to feel, but that a friend can usually chase them away.

He has learned that all the best days start and end with a hug in bed. He has learned that making people laugh is a great feeling, that fizzy drinks are overrated, that writing poems takes a lot of effort. He has learned, much to his disappointment, that most people do not marry their kindergarten teacher.

He has learned that wood floats and stones sink, that telling a good joke is harder than it seems, that colouring inside the lines is just one way of doing things. He has learned that some challenges – wobbly teeth, insomnia, long car journeys – must be dealt with alone.

For just six years, that is a lot of learning.

He is still working on zips and scissors, on swimming and skipping, on erasers, shoelaces, and kiwi fruit. He is working on hard cheese, on celery, on putting capital letters in the right place. He is learning to share attention and affection with others, to ride a bike without training wheels, to figure out the ethics of standing on ants.

Sometimes when he is tired he will miss his mouth with a spoonful of yoghurt. He will fluff the lines of his home reading book and hurl it across the table. He will stomp up the stairs, and mutter curse words at me under his breath.

He is a work in progress, with plenty still to learn.

But so am I.

So are you.

So are we all.


I’ve had a couple of other pieces published recently: one at Mom Babble about the sights and sounds of childhood and one at BluntMoms about how much I dislike having my haircut. Please feel free to pop over for a read!

21 responses

  1. You’re always such a pleasure to read – a kind of lulling takes place in my heart. We have witnessed much of his growing up on your blog, and having met your special boy, one can only imagine the pleasure he brings to all who know him when he does this at a distance! You are a beautiful mum 🙂 xx

    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment Anya! It’s true that a blog is a lovely record of your children growing up. Wish I’d started mine a bit earlier to be honest but I think sleep must have been taking priority for those first 2 years! Xx

  2. This is so beautifully written and feels especially poignant to me at the moment, as my little boy has just started preschool. I constantly feel like I’m catching up with him, that the boy and his skills in my head is simply not the boy who is standing in front of me. Learning really is constant (and I think my own learning curve has shot up since having him, mostly in How to be a Better and More Patient Person!). I´m sure a lot of other parents to new (pre)schoolers will be able to relate to this too.

    • Thank you so much 🙂 definitely agree with you that when preschool starts the learning seems to accelerate at a scary pace. Still so much fun though, you have lots of laughs ahead of you x

  3. Oh Ruth, this is such a wonderful post…. I think possibly one of your very finest. You have captured so beautifully the observations of a mother, the profound love for her son. Every word just fitted together so perfectly…. wonderful. XXX

  4. You are an outstanding wordsmith Mrs. Always a pleasure to read your adventures from here. You are right, learning is a perpetual action. Well done Dorky Son for learning all those big world things :)xx

  5. Washing the car is not a one time deal? At six your boy is way ahead of me on that one. What a beautiful piece. I just found your blog via a post not the Mamalode writers’ group page and I’m so glad.

  6. What a gorgeous post – it really made me smile (especially the bit about poo). It is amazing how much little people learn in such a short space of time. You must be very proud.

  7. This is such a stunning piece, Ruth, I adore each and every one of your posts, but I love this especially. My children sandwich your son, at ages 5 and 7, so your beautiful words resonate profoundly with me. Thank you.

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