A toddler is a miracle.

A hurricane of synaptic activity.

A tropical bud blossoming in minutes.

The centre of gravity of any room.

I know the idea of things growing ‘exponentially’ is often misused (from the perspective of a mathematician), but I think it might apply to the learning that happens as babies become toddlers.

This time last year, SBJ could say ‘Mama’ and not much more. Since we moved into our new home on Saturday, his new words include freckle, galloping, broccoli and – today – sequin. He astonished me on our first morning alone here (his Dad was on night shifts) by imploring me to get ‘out!’ of bed, then hitting on the inspired strategy of passing me some chocolate and saying ‘Eat!’

All this is to say: what a source of awe a toddler is.

Kids all grow and learn at different rates and in different orders. One of SBJ’s best little mates is speaking in full sentences, while SBJ is focusing on lots of vocab in staccato, one-word sentences (or, often, commands!).

Children in their own special categories of development don’t need a curve to reveal how wondrous their very existence is, and each small step of exploration deserves applause. How is it that a bunch of cells can produce a giggle?

You’ll all have different ways of making sense of this cloudburst of growth. This is what I think:

SBJ is totes amazeballs! (As the kids say.)

How very, very lucky I am to witness this beautiful natural phenomenon. I feel like one of those camera operators in Papua New Guinea, catching sight of a bird of paradise doing a crazy, elaborate dance. Or like someone catching a seed sprouting. Motherhood, for me, includes the privilege of a front row seat to watch one of the universe’s most impressive feats.

And then I think of this universe: the product, somehow, of a creative genius God, the maker of stars, the inventor of physics, the brain behind my toddler’s amazing brain.

At that point I find it hard to give new words. Some psalms get close.

In a land of storms and earthquakes (both at once, last night!), swiftly rising rivers and powerful mountains, we Kiwis are awed respecters of nature. In a room with a toddler, I’m the same.


Wilson’s Bird of Paradise, photograph by Tim Laman

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1 comment on “Amazeballs”

  1. Angela Reply

    Lovely! I was trying to work out what Esther was wanting the other day and she was REALLY trying to tell me. There was this pause, the whole universe paused for a moment, and I tell you I saw every cog and wheel heave in to place, every brain cell strain to breaking point, and she came out, for the first time, with “down THERE” – and I got it, it was just what she needed to say, and boy did she know it.

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