Experience is the teacher of all things or what my two year old (and I) learned on summer vacation

L'expérience est le professeur de toutes choses

By Edyta McKay

Experience is the teacher of all things said Julius Caesar. That applies, even if you’re only two years old.

As a relatively new parent, two years’ worth of experience is barely anything to brag about. I’m always hesitant to leave my little boy’s side for more than his scheduled trip to daycare when I’m at work. However, when his godparents volunteered to take him on vacation to their family cottage in Pennsylvania for a week, my husband and I couldn’t say no. We had just recently learned we are expecting two new additions to our family: a new baby, and our 18 year-old niece who is entering into her second year of university and will be living with us rather than going back to residence.

Knowing our lives are going to fundamentally change in the next few months, I swallowed my fears and agreed to the arrangement. Turns out, not only was it the best thing for my husband and I, who had a chance to reconnect with our adult selves, but also for our little boy, who grew by leaps and bounds on his vacation!

Here’s what my little man learned without mom and dad at his beck and call.

  1. He likes carrots and dip. There are foods he just wouldn’t eat with us but apparently carrots taste different in the company of others and in Pennsylvania. He has since enjoyed his carrots.
  2. Chores are fun. While we were gone his godmother sent us a picture of the little man hosing down their truck. Apparently he also enjoyed taking the compost out and picking vegetables in the garden. He has since helped me water the lawn and set the table; I’m still working on getting him to clean up his toys.
  3. Potty. Yes, I don’t know how she did it but changing a diaper in our house usually comes with a lot of tears. Not only did he want to go potty but there were no tears. This one is still a work in progress at home, but he has sat on his Lightening McQueen potty a few more times since we got back.
  4. Taking care of others. Generally speaking the little man is a pretty sympathetic kid but during this trip he met a bunch of little doggy friends. (His godmother’s parents breed award winning Tibetan Spaniels.) Every day Jack was first in line to help feed the dogs and even took them to the dog show on a couple of occasions. The day we took him home they were scheduled to compete at a dog show; let’s just say there were tears when he found out he couldn’t be there. He has since found a new appreciation for his own dog at home and now wants to help feed her.
  5. Words are best used in a continuous string of questions. At home he has two people to talk to, me and his dad (three if you count the dog). Maybe it’s being exposed to more people and experiences to talk about and surroundings that are also very different (country vs. city), but his vocabulary exploded during his time away. We hope to keep exposing him to new things so his language skills keep flourishing.

As for me, I learned a lot as a parent from my child’s vacation away from mom and dad. Not only did it help me reconnect with myself and with my husband, but it also helped me recharge and become a better, more patient parent at home. But mainly, parents can also learn that experience is an excellent teacher - even if that means sometimes those experiences may not always include mom and dad.