Learning

On the way to school today:
Anya:
Are we on the freeway?
Me:
Yep.
Anya:
OK, if I see a red light, I'll tell you to stop.
Lily:
[big sigh] There are NO reds on the freeway, Anya.
Anya:
No?
Lily:
No.  You're free to go.  That's why they call it a "freeeeee way".  Also, because it's a, um, way.
Anya:
Oh!  Don't stop, Mama! You're FREEEEEEEE!

At school:
Lily read me a book.  Picked up a tiny, simple reader and started reading the text on the page while her teacher stood by and shot me looks.  She needed very little prompting and flipped each page with a sly smile on her sweet face, showing me her new skill.  Her teacher told me that yesterday Lily simply walked up to her and asked if she could read her the book.  Ms. M expected to have to coach her through each word and was surprised with Lil's ability to simply sound out the words. 

I was stunned.

The thing about Lily is this: if she wants to learn something she will not give up until she has it down.  She will practice and practice and practice until she figures it out.

At home:
Then there's Anya.  For weeks and weeks, Lily wanted to learn to snap.  She kept trying and we kept demonstrating and showing her how she was sliding her finger to the outside of her thumb, rather than the inside.  She's getting better and even starting to produce a small, paper-soft sound when she manages to get her finger to slide into her palm.  But she still doesn't really have it.

The other night Anya called Mark in after bedtime and announced, "Watch this!"
"I can't, Anya.  It's dark."
"Then just listen."
And in the dark he heard the distinct sound of our youngest daughter snapping her fingers.  We had no idea she'd even been trying to learn.

I know now that they will learn very differently from each other. 

Lily will work and work and work and get frustrated and show us every painful step in the process of learning a thing.

Anya will watch and listen and turn the pieces over in her mind until she understands how the thing is engineered.  And they she'll simply DO IT.

They're remarkable, these girls of mine.  One seems to be so passionate and organic and artistic while the other is an engineer in training.  It makes me wonder what they will be some day.  How will these methods of learning shape their lives?  I wonder if they'll ever switch methods?  Will they learn from each other?

How do those you love learn?