You’ve maybe seen this quote around? You’ve heard it and felt it’s positive message? The other day I made a sign with this quote on it and put it up in my kitchen. Today I realized that it is much more descriptive of my 7 year old daughter than of myself.
My son asks a lot of questions. When he was younger, 3 and 4 and 5 years old, the questions were incessant. And he wanted real answers (still does). He wanted to know how everything worked and why, as well as what I thought about the whole thing. There were so many questions that I had to farm out the answers. He would have known (and been unimpressed) if I were making things up. I would tell him – you’ll need to ask Uncle Rob about that car question. Ask Dad that computer question when he gets home. Math? Uncle Tim. Knitting? Granny. I handled just about everything else. It was a full time job. He never quit – and I knew that the questions were a sign of his intelligence. I would think to myself: This is Learning.
As time went on and my daughter got to be that same age, I started to wonder why she didn’t ask as many questions. It wasn’t that she lacked curiosity, but it was nothing like the onslaught that came from him. I knew she was smart – highly intelligent like her brother -she showed it in various ways. Still, where was the endless quest for knowlege – the unslakeable thirst for answers? Every parent comes to realizations about their children. Have you ever had what feels like an epiphanic moment -and then you realize a second later that what you’ve just thought is the most cliche’d of cliches?
Siblings are often just so different from each other.
Recently – I had to answer the question (in writing – for a school applicaton), “How does your child show an interest in learning?” I had to answer this for each of my two. My boy and my girl. My boy? He will ask you 400 questions about the topic and then ask you to take him to the library and the bookstore. His fingers will twitch in anticipation of getting on the computer. My girl? I’ll say it this way: If you want to know what she is interested in learning about – take a look at what she’s already doing. She’s not likely to discuss it with you (or me) until she has gotten it figured out on her own. As she’s getting to the age (she over heard us saying that 7 is the age of reason and she keeps repeating it to us over and over) where she doesn’t need constant supervision, I often come upon the evidence of what she’s been doing while she’s out of my sight. If my boy were working on projects like these I would have known about them while they were going on. But my girl? I find these complex set ups, whole projects completed, (and then left in the dust), that I never even knew were going on.
These are all things that I have found around the house – the girl long gone. . .
A couple of times I have offered to pay her to pick up rocks in the vegetable garden and put them on the rock pile. She’s done this before and really likes the little bit of money she’s earned. The last time we were working out there – she kept going more and more slowly. She kept getting distracted – examining the rocks (which all look exactly the same to me). Eventually she said, “I have to go in the house for a while.” And left. I had grown tired of asking her to focus on the job at hand so I didn’t object. Off she went.
Later, I met this guy on the kitchen counter. . .
I’ll show you one more. Just in case there are any small spice containers missing off your own spice racks. I found this one when I went in to straighten her room the other day.
Now I am saying to myself: This Is Learning. My point is – children come to knowledge along many different paths. My job as a parent is to recognize that there are as many paths as there are children. My girl. My tall, tall girl. She works it out. She doesn’t want your help. And she usually doesn’t want mine either. Her road might be a little rockier because she chooses to walk it by herself, but she will always get where she is going.