We were FaceTiming with my parents as we do every Sunday when the topic of caterpillars came up — in relation to a Baby Einstein singing toy Maya had as a baby that Ben now is smitten with.
“I saw two caterpillars at school,” she told my parents, voice tinged with a combination of pride and sass.
“Oh, you did? Where were they, inside or outside?” my mom asked, assuming she had seen them on the playground following all this rain we’ve had.
“They were inside.” (Hmmm … OK. So I figured her teacher brought them in one to see or they had read a book about them).
“Really? Maya, do you know what a caterpillar turns into?”
“Yes.” (in a bored tone to my mom). “A butterfly.”
My parents were as shocked as I was. Flabbergasted, I said, “Whoa, how did you know that, sweetie?” (We’ve never discussed this).
Matter-of-factly: “I learned it at school.”
Of course you did.
The same way you learned baby sign and how to use a sippy cup when you were small. The same way you learned about tornadoes and tornado shelters (your recent obsession/fear/obsession); the same way you learned Zoophonics; the same way you learned to draw your letters and write your name; the same way you learned about crescent/half/full moons; the same way you learned to spell your name when you were little (and now Ben’s too); the same way you learned to count to 30; the same way you learned to ride a tricycle; the same way you have begun to “read” (in the sense of identifying sight words — the signs for Target, Sam’s Club, Cheerios box, “milk” that sort of thing) …
You learned it all at school.
Now that she’s in the preschool classroom, it’s like her knowledge-base (and vocabulary) has grown exponentially. I don’t even know what she knows, but it’s been fun discovering little nuggets here and there; things she wants to share. (On her terms, of course). Now she asks us what letter everything starts with, or says a word and says, “Pizza starts with P. Puh-puh-puh.” (Thank you, Zoophonics!). Luis and I are blown away by the things that come out of her mouth: stuff that demonstrates logic/cause-and-effect (“Benny can’t ride a bike because he’s too little” or “I can have snack after my nap.” or “I need medicine because I have a cough.”) And she’s anally fixated on order — underwear first, then socks, pants, shirt, shoes. Heaven forbid one of us offer to help her or change up the order (which I hear is totally normal for the 3-year-old set).
Many of these things, she learned when away from home.
I’ve often said I’m of the mindset “it takes a village” (which, surely, is every working-outside-the-house mother’s MO; we have no choice but to allow our children’s upbringing to be from us and others). And I do believe it. We love her school, and love how they are teaching her new things, exciting things. We owe so much of what she knows to school, and I find myself constantly waffling between feeling insanely guilty it’s not me teaching her each of these things first … and being so proud and relieved she is learning so much, even without us being there 24.7. It’s a give and take; we teach things at home that are reinforced at school and vice-versa.
And speaking of school …
Turns out not only is Maya reading about caterpillars at school (my assumption) but there are, indeed, two caterpillars in her classroom — which they are raising!
Note to self: she really doesn’t miss a beat. Give her credit; she’s nearly always telling the truth — or some variation of it.
This really is such a fun stage … three can be challenging for sure … but it’s also exciting seeing her world just open up.