Looking back at my own childhood I know there were some toys and things that I was into that I am sure my parents shook their head at wondering “why?” Popples? Garbage Pail Kids? With my own children, I have only started to see some of these phenomenons. Shopkins anyone? Squinkies?
As my eldest daughter gets older I see her begin to take interest in other things that I know very little about. Take Minecraft for example. I am sure there are many of you who did the same thing I did- downloaded the app, took a few looks at it, got the “guy” to fly high into the sky, and then couldn’t get him back down. Meanwhile I had my daughter yelling at me saying I needed to fix it. Right? Wait- that only happened to me? Oh… well….
Now she has her own worlds and has mastered the art of creating snowmen. Though I can’t compete with her mastery of this game, what I CAN do is support her in her interest and learning. She wants to share things with me- to show me her worlds, to describe to me how to find a dragon egg. She wants to research new topics about taming animals. I could easily tell her that I don’t really care. That I don’t really know anything about it. That I am too busy. But instead I try to engage her in this interest. We try to learn about it together. Because it is not just a game- it is a tool to develop problem solving and analytical thinking, to foster creativity and learning.
I can only hope that this interest will benefit our relationship in the long run. That she will see me as a person who is interested in what she has going on in her life, someone who wants to listen to what she has to say 10 years from now because I have invested the time in her when she is young.
I think about other parents. I know someone who has a son who competes in yo-yo competitions. (How cool is that?!?) Another family that has hockey players. Others who do figure skating. Some who have dancers, or musicians. All these kids around us are taking interest in activities and it is our job as parents to support them in what they do. I would bet that most parents would say that they never really knew much about “x” until their child took interest in it. But I would also bet that those parents have grown to love “x” because they have seen their child flourish in whatever “x” has been for them. It is a source of bonding, and it is the kind of bond that will create memories that will last a lifetime.