Sunday, March 09, 2008

Puddle Thwacking

What am I teaching my son? Surely nothing

I am grateful for the fact that our driveway needs to be repaved and have a drain installed. The huge puddle at the bottom has provided countless hours of fun. Originally, repaving the driveway was high on our list of “things to attend to.” This has suddenly been redefined as not improving the home.

We’ve been spending a lot of time with puddles lately. There is a magnificent puddle at the park a half block from our house. Some days when Winston wades out into the middle it is knee deep. Other days, it barely covers his ankle. Yesterday, it had thick boot-shaped ice floes surrounded by thinner more easily broken ice sheets. Oh, what a mystery!

As I noted earlier, there is something about a still body of water which makes boys require a stick. They need to throw sticks in the water. They need to poke the water. They need to thwack it. Whether they are 2 or 90, a stick is required when a still body of water is presented to the male of the human species.

But, suddenly, I’m realising how much is being learned from puddle thwacking. Perhaps this might be one of the reasons boys gravitate towards math and science. Puddle thwacking has introduced so many topics for discussion. We’ve been talking about the water cycle. We’ve watched the way the puddles grow and shrink. We’ve measured it with our trusty stick. We’ve observed that when we wear sweaters, there is water. Coats means slush and thin ice. Scarves, mittens, and extra layers means thick ice that won’t break. We’ve learned thin ice breaks easily when thwacked. Thick ice needs lots and lots of concerted thwacking to break. And if it doesn’t break, you can probably walk on it. So much!

This morning, puddle thwacking even sparked an experiment. Winston wanted a piece of ice in a bowl. He watched the piece of ice melt. Then, he wanted to make it evaporate. So, we put the water in a pot on the hob. Lo and behold! Steam! Evaporation!

Some days, I think, I need to be teaching this boy more! He needs to sit down and go through his numbers and letters workbooks! He needs to practice his Mandarin! We need more hours with the Spanish tutor! I’ve got to cram some more civics and history into his head!

But, here we are wasting away the day. I'm lazy and happy to observe him happily thwacking a puddle. (And counting in Mandarin or Spanish or all three languages simultaneously. Or there he is, thwacking the puddle while humming his Suzuki “Twinkle Variations.”

And I’ve realised, I’m relearning that I am teaching him the most important lesson of all. After a week of puddle thwacking, I’m looking at the world my son knows. What he knows is the world is an amazing, mysterious, excellent adventure. But, most of all it is a glorious place because:
  • ‘Dolts believe in filthy children. Your job is to get filthy everyday. If you don’t, the ‘Dolts think you haven’t learned anything.
  • Food is something to take for granted if you are prepared to hear ‘Dolts talk about the Somewhere Child who would be grateful for your crusts.
  • ‘Dolts listen to what you have to say.
  • We turn the lights off because it is good for Mother Earth.
  • ‘Dolts love to hold you. They always pick you up for a cuddle when you get hurt. They always pat you and pet you and hug you.
  • ‘Dolts want to play with you.
  • There is always somebody to play with. Dolts enjoy being your personal secretary and set up playdates. If you like someone make sure the Dolts "get the numbers."
  • If you have an especially weird and fantastic idea, ‘Dolts say, “Let’s see how we can make this happen. What are your ideas?”
  • The house is always warm in the winter. If it isn’t, Mommy is snarky on the phone until the “fixing men” come.
  • You can communicate calmly and clearly. People will listen. Compromise is possible. If not, time apart helps make compromise seem lovely.
  • If we run out of something, we can always buy more. But, we have to be very, very careful about getting a bad case of “the gimmes.” Especially Mommy. She has this problem in educational toy stores and often needs to be reminded that she said we were buying “one thing.”
  • Obama is a super hero. Most of the time he wins. Sometimes, he has to try again.
  • Someone always holds you when you go to sleep.
The world is perfect except:
  • You can’t feel your brain rotting, but the ‘Dolts say tv does this and make you turn it off.
  • No means no.
  • No means we aren’t going to talk about it anymore.
  • Really, that’s what no means.
  • Take yourself to the steps, sit down and think when: you've stepped out; are irrationally angry; or just need a minute to reign it back in.
  • The best way to find something is to clean the house from top to bottom.
  • Dolts love to hold you and kiss you and hug you and pet you
  • Bedtime always arrives at the same time - Eight Three Zero.
  • When Dolts say the words Democrat and Republican, it means they’re not going to play with you for a very long time. Pray they only use these words during playdates.
  • Obama is a word ‘Dolts use which means it doesn’t matter what’s on tv or whether you like it; be grateful there is one in your house. Get your own juice box. Settle in with some sunflower seeds. Be happy that bedtime will be - Eight Four Five.
These are good lessons. Lessons every child should know. But, this is something a Black boy believes is the truth. And for this moment of blissful innocence, I thank the universe.


Ferocious Kitty said...

This was a very sweet reminder for me to slow down, and savor such moments with my girls. Many thanks.

Related: I would love to get together, you and I, but also you and I with the offspring. Soon! I'll email.


Christina Springer said...

Thanks Deesha! Yes, slowing down is good. I'd prefer to smell roses - but puddle thwaching works just as well.

And I'm looking forward to your email!

Big Man said...

That was a very nice post. Very nice. I look forward to my own son's growth to have some of the same experiences.

I gather from the blog you homes school your son. I'm considering this for my own offspring, although my wife is convinced it will stunt his growth socially.

I'm wondering about the best ways to find people to have play dates and how to expand my son's social circle. I left this up to the wife, who is at home with him, but she is having some difficulty.

Christina Springer said...

Thanks Big Man for the compliment.

I know there is a sizeable LA contingent of Black homeschoolers.
Both of you could join the African American Unschoolers email list. (That's sort of the philosophy of education we practice - some call it unschooling, others autonomous education. It's basically child-led learning. We try to practice what I call directed autonomy.)

People always ask me about socialisation. My reply is that it is always so hard to fit the lessons in between all of the playing! But, I network! Another good networking site.

Something I did was get "Mommy cards" printed through Vista print. About $4 got me 250 cards which have my contact info. (My title is "Winston's Mum.") I hand them out when we've played nicely with a family at the playground a number of times etc. We also belong to a great homeschool group.

Now is the time to start developing your network, looking at your options and planning.

It is possible. And it is fun. I'd be cool with you or your wife dropping me an email at svahairie | at | gmail / dot / com. I'd be happy to encourage or answer questions. You'll notice that "Others" home edcuating is now over 25% of the community. It was in the first "Closed minds..." recently.