First off, let me just say that this isn't supposed to be a Look-at-what-awesome-parents-we-are-and-how-we-blissfully-utilize-every-moment-to-cultivate-our-brilliant-child's-mind post. Z is at a new stage that has been challenging for us, and we are always second guessing and restructuring to try and make things work. I just want to put that out there so that I don't give the impression that we've got everything figured out. In fact, if you want me to air out my dirty laundry you can give me a call, but this post is focusing on some of the positive aspects of our role as parents.
Now then, what I wanted to touch on today is how, like most of us, J and I both have a love for discovery and learning, along with a desire to foster that same curiosity in our children. I went to a parenting workshop the other day about Raising Responsible Kids and they asked each of us what we felt like our children would remember fondly about us in our parental roles. I thought about it for a moment. I would like to believe that my children would remember the fun we had creatively learning through art and play.
Lately we've been frequenting the Cincinnati Nature Center because we got a pass for Christmas and we can't wait on the weather to cooperate any longer. So whether it's snowy, sunny, freezing, or muddy we just go for it and one of my favorite parts is watching J teach the kids as we hike along the trails.
"Hey! You guys come over here and take a look at this! Do you know why this pile of dirt is here? It's from a MOLE. Take a stick and see if you can push into the ground." Each of the three children can easily plunge their stakes into the soft dirt. "Now try over here" J said, pointing to the part of the path where the ground hadn't been tilled by the critter. The children continuously jab at the ground, but are unsuccessful in their attempts to pierce through the hard layer of earth. J goes on to explain where the path of the mole is, why it's softer, and how it makes it's way underground. Every time we go hiking J takes the time to observe and point out nature to the kids. His favorite subject when he was younger was science and you can still see the boyish intrigue as he points out quartz in the rocks, the age of the trees, or a tadpole on it's way to froghood.
It's the same excitement I recognize in myself when I do arts and crafts with them. I have always known that J and I were a great match. Okay, maybe I have wondered at times, but for the most part we compliment each other. It was when we were in the woods the other day that I realized just how well we work together at teaching our children. I could never be as good of a nature guide as he is, but there are other activities where I am the one that leads the way.
One of Z's latest fascinations is with history. A couple weeks ago we learned all 44 presidents to the tune of Yankee Doodle. Learning through music comes naturally to me. For example a lot of the Bible verses I know are through songs. The Greek alphabet and the countries and capitals of South America were things my teachers taught by using simple melodies and now 20 years later I still remember them (at least for the most part). If it weren't for the songs then I guarantee the information would be long gone. When Z showed interest in the presidents I realized I didn't know them either, so we've worked on this project together. We play a game where I say one and he says the next one until we go through all of them. When my dad was visiting he got in on the fun too. There are several presidents that Z knows the first names and historical facts to go along with it, but this little clip is just of the song he learned.
J was out of town when we did this, but once he returned he got out an old book that he has, which talks about the life of each of the earlier presidents. Z was really excited to hear all about it, but in the end you could tell it was a little over his head. This photo is from one night where he drifted off to sleep listening to J read. Priceless.
J suggested they should go to the library and find a book for kids that talks about each president. Then he said "And if we can't find one we'll just have write one ourselves" to which I thought Wow. Will you marry me? Oh wait, you already did. Perfect.