Thursday, May 31, 2012

Breakfast with Boys

One of the nicest things about my day is that I get to have breakfast with my two boys before going to work. I read the paper while the boys read the comics. Sometimes we talk about news stories. Sometimes we talk about what's going on in school. Sometimes we talk about whatever is on their minds. It's a nice, low-key time of day.

This morning, I read them a story from the Washington Post about a 13-year old boy who had gone swimming and gotten pulled by a strong current over a 10-foot waterfall. He had managed to get himself out of the water onto a rock before going over the next waterfall, which as a drop of over 200 feet. But he was stranded there for over 8 hours. Thing 2, who is finishing up 2nd grade, cut the story out after breakfast, to bring it to school and share with his class.

For some reason (because he is the king of non-sequiturs), Thing 1 (age 12) asked me if I thought evolution would ever fix lower back pain. This launched us into a talk, while I was clearing dishes, about evolution vs. technology, and whether we had interfered with the process of natural selection, and so on.

This could have gone on all day, if I hadn't had to go to work, and he hadn't had to go to school. He's had a hard time finding kids at school who think like he does and enjoy talking about the things he likes to talk about. It was a new school for him, and a new town, and it's taken almost till the end of the school year for him to find His People.

It's been a similar struggle for Thing 2, who started off the year reading the Harry Potter books to himself at bedtime, and has finished the year reading "Danny and the Dinosaur," because that's the level of book they're reading in his class. It's been painful.

So I wonder, as I sit here at my desk, how the waterfall story is being received in his classroom. Has the teacher allowed him to share the story at all? Has she praised him for bringing it in? Has it opened up conversation and dialogue? Or has it been shut down--and has he been shut down--because it (and he) didn't fit into the Daily Plan?

What's the point of teaching children skills if the process kills the heart and spirit needed to apply those skills?

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