The delight of discovery

The kids got their own email addresses this week. This follows the 9-year-old asking for a domain,, for his birthday. How 2015! We set up the domain together and I put up a basic site with an animated gif flipping back and forth between our dog and an Ewok.

I’ve been enjoying the kids’ enthusiasm and receiving emails, “Who are you?” then a separate one: “Were are you?” (I assume that was intended to be ‘Where’.) They are emailing each other pictures of Minions (“This is me!”) and slugs (“This is you!”). They are emailing their friends’ parents asking how their friends are – probably setting off a chain reaction of other parents creating emails for their kids too. Apologies to everyone in advance.

It is fascinating to observe the kids’ approach to sending emails with pretty much zero instructions. The 9-year-old has discovered the iPad’s limited formatting of bold, italics and underline and of course all the formats are now used for every word in every email.

I have also received an email with Christmas carol lyrics and instructions to print them out. So my motherly (unpaid) personal assistant duties are expanding.

This morning I was watching the 6-year-old type an email by trying to touch as many keys as possible at the same time. She watched the keys darken as she held the keys down, maybe thinking of a piano app, and then held the ‘c’ key for a few moments and saw the č ç and ć appear. This does work on a laptop too by the way – at least on a Mac!

Quite a few books about parenthood explain that for children, life is like one big science experiment. Especially in their first decade, most learning is empirical. Watching the keyboard experiment, I was imagining an adult trying to learn the same thing – he or she would be much less likely to just mess around, perhaps for fear of breaking something. In fact the other day my parents-in-law didn’t dare enter a password for their new router because in the letter it said ‘secret key’ instead of ‘password’ next to it.

What is NVR? If you’re a parent of kids of a certain age, living where the 11+ exam is given, you will know that it means Non-Verbal Reasoning. So far these exercises are drawn sequences where you have to figure out the logic behind them – and I haven’t gone further in the book to see if that’s what it always is. Usually the 9-year-old can grasp these in a matter of seconds while I feel my brain plodding along behind.

Curiosity and enthusiasm are vital in learning and in exploring, to enjoy life and work. When was the last time you forgot the rules for a while and just played around? Who knows: maybe something will break or you’ll end up with a kitchen counter covered in food colouring, vinegar and baking soda. And you will probably feel lighthearted and discover a new character on your keyboard – that is unless the vinegar has gotten to it first!

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