June 5, 2014
I have an inquisitive four-year-old. He wants to learn about everything. I mean everything. In full detail. Then, he wants to pretend to be whatever it is that he learned about.
Last week it was chimpanzees. For a week he was outside cracking nuts with rocks on a log.
One day, he even refused to eat anything a chimpanzee wouldn’t eat. Because he would “only pretend” to eat the bugs, by dinner time he was so famished he ate an entire steak. I guess nuts and berries weren’t quite enough for this growing boy.
Today, I was outside trimming trees and cutting back our overgrown bushes. As I stood inside our small dogwood tree, I told him I felt like a bird.
“That’s because we are birds” he said.
“We are?” I asked, “I thought we were chimpanzees.”
“Today we are birds and we have to build a nest up really high to protect us from predators” he explained.
For the next half hour he ran around cawing like a crow, yelling “Predator! Predator!”
I didn’t think much about it until he pointed to a van driving around our cul-de-sac with their window down. “Predator!” he screamed, pointing at them. I went with it. I didn’t know who they were. Nothing wrong with a little stranger danger.
After he tired of running around, he really wanted to make a nest. I told him that birds fly around and collect things like twigs, grass, and dirt to make their nests. He looked at all the trimmings on the ground from the trees I’d been cutting and asked him he could use them. Of course I told him he could.
“We are a whole family of birds.” he told me as he began to build his nest on the ground next to me. “You can be the Mama bird.”
“I like being the Mama. That’s a good idea.” I replied.
“And then you can lay the eggs and sit on them.” he continued.
“Well, what if I don’t want to sit on them?” I asked.
“You have to. Daddy doesn’t want to do it. And I don’t want to do it.” he explained. I felt like this was all the sudden becoming a gender stereotype and I didn’t like where it was heading. I wanted him to think of mothers within many roles.
“That’s not fair. I have to sit on eggs all day while you and Daddy get to go out and do fun things?” I got a little defensive.
“It is fair.” he said, matter-of-factly.
“How do you suppose?” I asked for clarification.
He looked at me, as if I were crazy and said, “Because it’s the most important job. You have to make sure the baby is safe if a predator comes.”
And with that, he defined “motherhood” in it’s purest form. My son either has a future in politics (because he knows what people want to hear) or he has a greater understanding of the world than most adults. This kid amazes me.
February 12, 2014
One night I was searching Pinterest for cute Valentine ideas for preschoolers. There are only four kids in my son’s class, so I figured I could do something really cute for them. Then, it dawned on me… If I do a super-cute crafty valentine this year for four, what happens when he is in elementary school with 20?
No, I thought… I am not going to be in charge of making his valentines. I decided to use it as a teaching moment. I would teach him the importance of giving a gift to the people who are special in his life.
So, I told him we were going to go on an adventure, looking for gifts for anyone he thought he wanted to give a Valentine to. Fortunately,when I asked him who he wanted to give to, all the kids in his class and his teacher were named among others. Phew.
As soon as he heard the word adventure, he went into his playroom and grabbed a hat. You can’t go on an adventure without a hat. He emptied a suitcase and told me he’d fill it with the gifts he finds.
We set out on our search. He decided his gift of choice for everyone was going to be rocks. He carefully inspected stones along the way, picking through them and discarding any he deemed unworthy. Each rock he chose was selected for a specific recipient.
It only took a matter of about two minutes before he found a stick, suddenly, our world morphed. We were no longer looking for gifts. We were searching for treasure. We turned into the woods and he told me about the “bad guy” who was after the same treasure. The treasure was a special rock for his teacher. It was a “singing golden rock” and there were two of them. He fought off bad guys as we walked through the woods and we barely made it home in one piece.
As he painted his rocks for his friends, he asked me to write down his adventure. I would start a sentence and he would finish it.
This is his story.
Bad Guys and Good Guys
The great explorer, Louis, set forth to find a pair of singing golden rocks. But, lurking in the distance was the evil Lord Cannonball! He too had his eye set on the magical stones.
Louis’s watch navigated the way. He journeyed through the dark forest, collecting stones as he went. With Lord Cannonball on his trail, Louis used his mighty stick to protect his treasures.
Barely escaping the evil Lord Cannonball, Louis discovered the location of the Singing Golden Rocks. To his surprise, Lord Cannonball followed him! In a daring battle, the courageous Louis fought off Lord Cannonball’s army.
He returned home, safely, and the people honored him as a hero.