Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vignettes: Into the minds of kids

I love talking to kids. I can't help it. Most of the youngsters that I see and associate with are young enough that they don't care about whether they talk to grown-ups because we're not totally dumb yet. Yet being the operative word. My day will come. M2 is counting on it.

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Yesterday, we had some of my homeschooling friends over. I am grateful to have a very wonderful, caring group of ladies to be able to call associates in this wonderfully crazy adventure called homeschooling. Their kids are great, too, and since I love having any excuse for company, I was glad to be able to host.

I came into the kitchen at one point to hear M2 talking to the daughter of another lady. I'll call the daughter J. J is 9, I believe, though I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm wrong. She's very poised, considerate, well-spoken, and definitely has a strong love of learning. Her mom actually does speaking engagements, so I suppose none of this is any surprise, but I really like J and her younger brothers (and her mom). I should also note that J is quite petite and only an inch or two taller than M2. She comes by that honestly as well, but M2 doesn't realize that there's an age difference, I don't think, and it makes for a fun conversation. Let's see if I can reproduce it:

The scene: I walk into the kitchen to get some lemonade, and the girls are chatting.

M2: Mom! J has said I can come to her birthday party this year and she's going to make sure I get an invitation! Can I go???

Me: Oh? J, that's very kind of you. M2, if we get an invitation, I'm sure we'll work out a way to go.

J: It'll be [date on a weekend but during the school year].

M2: Oh. I might be in school. Mom, if I'm in school that day, can I skip???

J, looking quite confused: But... I thought you were homeschooled?

M2: No. M1 is, but I'm not. I go to private school.

J, still quite confused and looking at me now: Why can't you homeschool both of them?

Me: Well, I could, but M2 likes going to school and seeing her friends every day, and M1 likes being alone and not having other people around while he's learning, so we just do it this way because it makes everybody happy. If M2 ever wants to come home, I've told her she can. And if M1 ever decides he wants to go back to school, then we'll talk about that, too.

J: Oh, OK. [pauses, then leans forward and puts her elbows on the counter and puts her head in her hands] I wonder what it's like to go to school.

M2, doing what she does best and carpe-ing the diem: Oh, it's fun! There are centers and you can go to the science center and learn things there and there's dramatic play which is my favorite because you can pretend to cook and clean and there's blocks which is [a preschool classmate's] favorite because he likes to build things...

AAAAAnd that's when I interjected and had to explain to J that fourth grade would not, in fact, contain centers and would be much less exciting than what she was learning at home on her own terms. I think she got the idea and began expounding the virtues of the science curricula that she has. And then she moved onto the Great Debate of which animal she's going to try to talk her mom into: Lizard, Turtle, or Betta. I told her to aim for lizard. Though I don't know that J was in the room when I broke the mealworms out of their refrigerated container and half the kids thought they were the grossest things they'd ever seen. The verdict was that they'd NEVER feed their lizard THOSE. Crickets would be much, much better.

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Speaking of food, I like to occasionally blow M1's mind, too. He and M2 made dinner tonight. M2 "made" a pineapple upside-down cake (since she can't quite read that well yet, she helped measure, dump, mix, and put it all together), and M1 made some tostadas. I threw together some homemade refried beans (Best. Beans. EVER.) and supervised M1.

After we got done stuffing ourselves silly, M2 went to get ready for her bath with the new "farmer's market soap" that we bought this week and M1 and I sat around to chat.

Me: Thanks for making dinner, Bug-ling. You know, I could never have made dinner at your age. And certainly not at M2's age.

M1: You couldn't? Not even a quesadilla? (Quesadillas are the epitome of easy cooking for him, and he's been making them independently since he learned how to reach the 30-second button on the microwave.)

Me: Nope. Well, to be fair, at your age we didn't even have a microwave (there I go showing my age again), but even so, I couldn't have done it.

M1: But... you could have made things if you'd wanted, right? You had to have had recipes.

Me: Well, Granny had recipes, but I didn't get to cook them.

M1: But you helped mix ingredients? [Me shaking my head.] Measuring things? [Continuously.] What DID you get to do?

Me: I got to lick the beaters sometimes.

M1: That's not cooking!!!

Me: I know that. Granny just didn't really let me into the kitchen all that much.

M1: You could have peeked around the corner.

Me, laughing: I guess I could have. But our kitchen was kind of small and I was too busy pestering my sister.

M1, looking sheepish: Oh. So how did you learn to cook??

Me: I had to teach myself. When I got to be a grown-up, I had no idea how to cook. Daddy and I had to eat some really gross meals before I learned.

M1: But you're a great cook now (Little suck-up).

Me: Thank you. I just want to make sure that you know how to cook before you get to be all grown up and live on your own.

M1: Yes. I'll be a great cook someday, too, just like you. What do you want me to fix you? 'Cause I'll be able to cook everything.

M2 returned at this point to declare herself ready for bath and could she please, please, PLEASLES give herself a bath with the new soap? So I told M1 I'd think about it and answer him another time and would he please, please, PLEASLES clean up the sour cream mess that he'd made in the kitchen since cleaning is part of cooking.

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