Yesterday a student at the college where both Mr. Monkey and I work observed Miles for 30 minutes as part of a class project. The student is taking a human growth and development class and apparently they are in the toddler section. It was a nice day, so I suggest we head outside and he could watch Miles play outside.
Miles frolicked in the leaves for a while and then he saw it: a set of stairs leading into one of the buildings.
Here’s the thing: Miles LOVES to climb stairs. Loves it beyond all reason. So, when him looking at the stairs, I knew two things: we’d be going up and down them as long as I’d let him and there would be crying when I let him no longer.
Sure enough, Miles scuttled over to the stairs as fast as his little legs would carry him. First he went up the stairs on his own, crawling. Then he went up holding one of my fingers. The he went up holding the brick wall next to the stairs. Then he went…well, you get the idea.
Up and down we went. Again and again. Finally the student asked “Is this normal? Is he always this repetitive?”
I thought about that this morning while Miles and I were playing fetch. I was getting dressed and doing all the things that need to get done for us to leave the house on time and Miles kept bringing me a small purple ball. I’d throw it, he run to find it and then proudly bring it back to me. I’d throw it again, and he happily race after it again. We did this for at least 20 minutes, maybe longer.
It made me think about what he gets out of the repetition. My husband has a theory that all kids are born scientists and that their early years are all about doing experiments to figure out how things work. They repeat the experiments to test if the world works in predictable ways. I agree with that theory but I also think the repetition makes the activity more fun for Miles. Every time he goes up the stairs, he gets a little bit better at it. Every time he goes up the stairs he can do it a little differently. The stairs are maybe a little scary at first but he gets bolder and braver each time (conversely, him on the stairs gets scarier and scarier for us as he gets more fearless).
I’ve had a number of people tell me since I’ve started this blog and doing the 12 races thing that they could never do a triathlon or that they hate to run. And I can totally see that, if you don’t keep running. I think, hands down, the first run or the first swim or the first bike sucks. It feels so hard and feels so foreign and sometimes feels so scary (me. on the bike. on hills).
But I’m starting to learn that my son is very smart and that repetition is the key. The more I run, the more I like it. The more I race, the more I like it. Every time gives me a chance to improve and to try something new. I get bolder and braver (hello pending 7 mile race!).
So, I’ll run today. And tomorrow. And again and again and again. And I will get better and I will get stronger. And I’ll still probably be slower than most but I’ll be faster than I was. And that makes the repetition fun.