Monday, March 19, 2012

So, Rocks Actually Do Talk!

So he pitched the little fell just about three feet away from his feet.  His “Mouth wide open: Hah!-gotcha!” kind of smile as the rock hit the floor brought my husband’s words back from some time ago when discussing the kind of toys our son would need.  It was just Garrick and me, but it certainly felt as if hubby would’ve been there too saying: “Oh don’t worry Honey, all the child will need is a just a rock to play with”.  Ha, ha!..Well, I guess he was partially right.  

Here was Garrick, completely oblivious of the swings or even his mommy, but just completely delighted by flinging and picking up his rock.  He would throw it over the rail of the gazebo, thru the slates of the gazebo, on top of the pavers of the gazebo, on top of the sand or he would just hurl it ahead and pick it up from the grass.  All the while giggling with funny.  No play ground needed or any other toy. Just physics as his ever increasingly interesting friend.

One of my favorite things from posting..entertaining you with Garrick's pictures! =)

It was a very simple moment for mommy and son...but so heartwarming!  And Insightful!  It reminded me that God wired humans neatly to naturally learn.  The simplicity of the moment made it so perfect!

There a few lessons that I got from it that I want to share:

 1.  One of the best gifts I can give my child is my being willing and available:
Had I been busy trying to get done with laundry, or responding to emails, or face-booking  I would’ve missed it.  I feel weird about saying this, but I really didn’t do much.  I just took Garrick for a walk around the lake and let him drive the way. We talked a little when he pointed things out for me to tell him what they’re called.  But the meat of our experience was those 20 minutes right after he picked up his rock and headed towards the gazebo.  I was silent for mostly the whole time.  Yet I heard his heart talking loudly to mine:  Mom, thank you for watching me play. Thank you for bringing the whole of you to BE here.  I can see that this will be a recurrent theme throughout our whole life.  And I hope that I will never forget, especially when he hits the teen years.  Something tells me that he would always take my company better than a set of clean socks, I want to say most of the time. Well, I know, I wish this would preclude me from doing laundry for good...but dreaming is for free right?!!

So mom please, be quiet! I'll do the reading today! =)

2.   Children don’t need expensive, fancy featured toys or places to have fun:

I have just learned that investing money in lots of toys is just not worthy.  I know marketing tells you differently. And 24/7.  I really can’t imagine how much more of a hassle would be to clean our house if I listen to them!  Plus I don’t know if my son is a little different, but he normally plays one to two minutes with a toy and then moves on to the next activity.  Which normally is more exploring, climbing or wondering freely - I know probably a boy thing. Or he would prefer to explore the REAL, “non-toy looking “items around the house. So I have just opted for using homemade toys, made out of ordinary things around the house or when I do buy something is more likely from the consignment store.  However, I am still trying to constantly remind myself, that not any amount of toys would make them more appealing to Garrick than playing with his still favorite toy: Me.  And with this I don’t want to give a guilt trip to anybody.  I struggle with this one myself.  Especially when I’m peeling that potato and he loves to hang on to my leg and try to pull me away from the kitchen to play with him!

Are you sure this bike ride is just taking us 20 minutes mom? You're kind of slow...:P

But one of the neatest ideas I learned some time ago is the “daily 20 minute 1 on 1 rule”.  If I can at least get in 20 minutes every day of uninterrupted, unrushed, meaningful interaction where he has my full attention, then I feel accomplished.  A lot more accomplished than if he had played with expensive toys all day long.  Some days I can do more, some days I make it to bed and realize I couldn’t get it. But at least knowing that I’m mindful of it puts my heart at peace.  I know there is a place for toys.  And I also use them sometimes; otherwise I couldn’t get anything done around the house! And I also know that either incidentally or eventually he would get more and more into playing with artifact as he gets older. Maybe one day he’ll like to play with robots as His daddy does, or something else.  I know that there may be a time where he wouldn’t find me as appealing as a play mate as now…and I know that I will miss that. So for now, I’ll be it!

So what do you guys think, do I look smart?

Yes I do! Especially when I'm next to daddy!

3.  Learning is a natural experience:

So just 20 minutes of free play with a rock and he learned that objects make different sounds when falling on different grounds, He also learned that the more strength he applies to his throw the higher the rock went, etc. No kidding, when we came back he started playing with his balls at home more purposely.  I know I have to work on preventing broken windows! I know. Working on it! But this rock was really a talker. It confirmed even more that children learn naturally without much rigorous planning or tedious structure.  They are happily absorbing the world and finding out how it works. That’s their primary job.  And as an over-controller freak in recovery, this gives me lots of peace of mind.  Such a timely insight as we go thru the process of learning about home education.  

So mom, are you sure this is the best way to learn to play basketball?

We recently went to a Homeschooling conference where I was introduced with a little more detail to the education philosophy of Charlotte Mason.  And it seems like it goes somewhat on this direction. The Ambleside website, which is very helpful to understand her ideas says:  “Charlotte Mason felt that that children could and should learn by dealing with real things in their real world rather than an artificially manipulated environment.”  I don’t even want to dare to explain her teaching philosophy as I am just starting to learn about it, but I was recommended a good book as a starting point: For the children’s sake. I hope to learn lots from it as we learn more about different teaching approaches.

Ouch mom! This snake can really teach me about pain right?

For now I am enjoying the adventure of holding Garrick hands as he discovers his world. I am glad to know that my “facilitator/teacher” role will change during his learning years. But I know for sure that at this point no “Gymborees”, “ lab-schools” ,” creative play-times” or any other of these programs would make my child learn quicker.  My constant interaction with him and my giving him a natural rich environment with meaningful experiences will help him develop the skills and abilities that are naturally wired on him.  Naturally wired to develop at a very unique pace and way.  No need to rush anything.  No need to worry because he didn’t start walking as such and such age, or has uttered so many words by such time, or has been potty trained by 3. I know there are legitimate cases that justify further exploration of a delay. But before we get to that, let’s the children move freely within the natural gray-area of the development path.  Let’s give them the benefit of doubt grounded in their great developmental plasticity, before they’re labeled, before we let concern overwhelm us.  Let’s leave their little personalities blossom as we make the most of every natural teaching moment.  Let’s enjoy this wonderful gift of our mothering journey.  Let’s for now just enjoy listen  to the rocks talk!

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