This morning I watched my two year old son climb up on a chair and make his own (from a packet) oatmeal breakfast (with assistance from me at the tap). He measured the water, dumped it in the bowl with the pre-measured oats, instructed me in which manner to carry across the room, and then pushed the correct buttons on the microwave to cook the yummy meal. After a scoop of sugar and a helping of milk (which he uncapped and added himself), he was happily eating, and I was sitting there in awe.
On one hand I was thinking, how is it that my toddler can almost independently complete a task that my two school aged children only mastered within the last year? On the other hand I was worrying about how to keep him from experimenting with his newfound abilities to operate the microwave when I'm not in the kitchen with him?
I tried to reflect on my older children. They certainly did not express an interest in cooking their own breakfast at the age of two, and I probably never would have even assumed they had the ability. Is there something different about this child? Is he smarter, more determined, or more observant?
It's impossible to say with certainty, but the more I think about it, I believe it really has to do with leading by example. You see, my toddler gets to interact with two older, independent children who treat him like an equal, and in his mind, age difference is not a concrete idea. He likely sees himself as their peer. If they can make their own oatmeal, so can he. He's watched them do it, and he knows how. The age and authority gap that exists between a parent and child is much different between supportive siblings. My older children likely could have completed the same task at a similar age, had they had the tutelage of a similar kind.
Which got to me thinking about writing: Its a good thing we all work at this skill from different levels. We have varying amounts of experience and education when it comes to being writers, but the key is to be interacting. While there are giants and professionals in the writing world whose advice and instruction can be of great benefit to our growth and progress (similar to our parents), what we really need are peers. We need other writers, no matter their stage or experience, to share and learn and grow and interact with. We need siblings. Siblings with which it is difficult sometimes to differentiate an 'age difference', though it certainly will exist. Then we won't know when we're completing a task that should be too difficult for our abilities - because we watched our peers do it successfully. Once we know we can do something impossible, we can focus on doing it more independently, and with more confidence.
So get out there. Make some writers friends. Make some contacts. Find some peers. And if you have something great, nurture it.
In the end, what we really need is each other.