One of the more interesting things about being a parent is seeing what one's various children are interested in. Often, it seems, these interests spring from no where... at least no where in relation to the parent. Take M. at 2 years old, for instance. For some unknown reason, she developed a love of all things frog and amphibian. For Christmas that year I even gave her a copy of Vivarium Magazine which she nearly wore out with looking at it. I now know far more about frogs and other amphibians than I ever thought I would.
Some children seem to develop specialized interests more than others. And sometimes it just takes longer to find that specialized interest. (It's probably a good thing not all my children had such specific interests at the age of 2. It would be difficult to keep up with them.) Being the good mother (and a homeschooling one at that) I try to encourage my children's interests. We've had frogs; we've visited train museums; we've checked out piles of books on all manner of subjects; and I've even read an entire book about NASCAR which just shows you my commitment to my children.
As I sit here and think it through a bit more carefully, I realize I need to stay attuned to the interests of my younger children as well. It is very easy to be interested in and help out with the interests of my older children. They are better able to express interest, look for resources, well, just do more. It is a lot of fun to help them in their pursuits. But, I realize that I may be giving short-shrift to the younger ones who may need some help to discover their interests. I need to be sure to listen attentively so I can catch the brief mentions of a passing fancy and perhaps guide it to something bigger. I also need to be sure I am exposing them to enough new thoughts, ideas, and possibilities so they have an idea of what is out there to learn about. In short, I need to be purposeful about my attention to their interests.
The upside of having a wide age range is that my older children expose their younger brothers and sisters to pursuits that I might have never thought about. Take bees for instance. This is B.'s newest interest and the reason why I've been thinking about all this. When we were in Denver last spring visiting my brother, he was telling us about his new bee hive. B. has been interested ever since and has started doing research about having his own hive... especially once he discovered it is legal to do so in our city. As I was telling my friends about this at dinner the other night, I realized I know quite a bit about bees just by listening to B. talk about them and leafing through his library books. I'm not sure how interested the other children are in the actual bee keeping, but I know they are very interested in the honey that would result.
It's fascinating, the paths children take you down; paths you would have never chosen on your own. It's quite an adventure.