There are things that we say, when we think our kids aren’t listening, that come back to haunt us mostly, and occasionally lead to great teachable moments.
This morning, I was laying in bed, when my baby (3.5 years) crawls in, pulls up my t-shirt and starts laughing exclaiming I am not wearing my ‘boob thing’!
Then my nearly six-year-old –and yes I am cherishing every last second of her being five– comes over and declares:
Maman, I heard you once talking on the phone, or iPad, or computer, and you said that if you wore a boob thing your boobs would fall but if you didn’t they could stay up by themselves.
For starters, I am not scientifically illiterate as that statement would suggest. Like all political discourse these days, my words were taken out of context! What P had overheard was me telling a friend how I couldn’t believe my naïveté, many moons ago, when a hippy friend of mine persuaded me that boobs are muscle and if you don’t work the muscle, etc… You get the picture. How I bought this, despite my stack of National Geographic mags in the corner of my room, is beyond me. Anyhow, running for the bus on a daily basis quickly let me back to my senses before too much ‘damage’ was done.
And here’s where my ninja thinking kicked in. I realised what a great opportunity I had to explain gravity! Because really, what better way to talk about gravity than pairing it with sagging boobs.
The rest goes something like this:
Me, reaching over for one of the many pieces of hoarded tat my kids stuff into my bedside table:
“Watch this empty paint by numbers paint container fall to the floor. See that? If we were in outer-space it would just float away! Instead G-R-A-V-I-T-Y makes it fall to the floor”
I pause, feeling like there is some connection to be made to a previous conversation that had not gone so well.
“Remember when you asked me why we don’t fall off the planet? Gravity is what keeps us there!
My imaginative kid then usually likes to put her own spin on it
“Yes! that’s right, the air, like water but invisible keeps us on the planet!”
Me: Um, not exactly. Remember the… er can’t remember their name in English… you know –les aiments– that pull metal pieces to them?”
P: You mean magnets?
Me: Yes! (sigh when I realize our entire conversation has been in English and not in French) well it’s sort of the same, the force called gravity pulls us towards earth so we don’t fall off!
Then, I know there is always a sure-fire way to really drive a point home in our household.
Me: So what do you think happens when we go peepee in space?
P: It floats away!
And so the conversation continues with plans for a family vacation in space and how we will handle the possibility of two people pooping while someone needs to peepee if there are only two toilets on the rocket. I am briefly tempted to mention that reading is probably a required skill before boarding a spaceship but I’ve killed the learning moment countless times beating that poor horse. For once, I apply the lesson I repeatedly learn, and suggest she goes make a picture of outer-space.
Et voilà! I’ve not only given my first physics lesson, while sipping tea in bed, I’ve also just bought myself time to write a blog post about it.
Afterthoughts on homeschooling/un-schooling and my ongoing neuroses.
1. I am pretty sure there is no way I could have engineered a moment so perfectly to get this conversation going. These are the times where I really think un-schooling and child-led education is the way to go. Sadly, all too often, I doubt myself and worry that most of my friends’ kids are already reading or nearly there and mine just has no interest. To push or not to push remains an internal argument I have regularly.
2. The other day we were doing a wonderful activity on our place in the world. (Activity featured on what is currently my favorite educational website: kids world citizen) and P had her usual ‘I CANT’ meltdown when it came to coloring the final paper plate to represent planet earth. I tried to give her tips but refused to do it for her and she walked away in tears, refusing to finish.
So imagine my surprise when she hands me the picture (above) she did of space including planet earth. She described it to me, regurgitating the tips I had given her about drawing. Sometimes I guess we just need to give them a little time and some space. (total accidental pun-ilicious moment!)
You have my undying admiration. My own attempts at homeschooling (thanks to a poor understanding of exactly what it took to enroll in a US public school.. a pending home purchase didn’t cut it) ended after two days of wrestling unsuccessfully with modern math curriculum. I retreated to my bedroom in defeat, leaving the children to watch Hannah Montana reruns for the remainder of the escrow period. My son heads off to college in August, so thankfully the damage was limited to my pride, rather than his academic future, but still..
Ha! Thanks but really don’t admire me. I am someone who is shockingly bad at limiting TV and more recently was only compelled to because my kids kept wanting to re-create activities they were seeing on the television. If that’s not piss-poor parenting, I am not sure what is. I do mean well though and I am trying. I still think I should have left them in until someone taught them to read. Eek – more anxiety. Thanks for your lovely comment. Made my day and I need all the uplift I can get!
He he he he he. You said boobs. And pee. Just kidding. Fantastic post. Love this. I shared on FB. We must talk about les aiments, however…LOL.
Yes, the problem with teachable moments is not being adequately prepared to explain things correctly – especially from someone obsessed with facts – this is me learning to let go. By the way, the girls want to go “dig” in mexico to find gems and stones. I’ll leave you to handle that project!
I love your sense of humor and I can relate to your struggle as to whether or not to push reading. (I lean towards not pushing it. Yet.) I’m sure your girls are getting a fantastic education in spite of your doubts. Don’t you love how homeschooling allows learning to happen in all sorts of interconnected ways (like bras, gravity, and physics experiments)?! I’m sure my daughter is headed towards similar meltdowns and self-surprising achievements as we start our homeschooling journey next year.
This is such a great post!! I love how you grabbed that teachable moment and I adore your humor. I really like the idea of un-schooling but I’m just too anal to give it a try. Maybe that will change as I gain more confidence in homeschooling. I’ve tried to find a compromise by keeping our school time to a minimum to make sure there is plenty of time for unstructured play and to follow any interests that come up. I love P’s picture and the where we are in the world project. It’s one I’ve been meaning to do with my girls.
Oh dear, yes. They learn so much and so much more effectively if you just get good at segueing. That said, I’m not ready to ditch school completely…
Lol I continue to have a very tumultuous relationship with the idea myself.