I started thinking about this blog hop, and I realized that I couldn’t pick out one single favorite moment to write about. As we’ve been on this journey for 1.5 years now, the good moments are piling up and stacking tall. And I also realized that my good moments are very often the kids’ amazing moments and breakthroughs. So here are a few of them – our personal eureka! moments.
My oldest son fought doing math for a long time. He said he wasn’t good at it, that he hated doing it. If I wrote math problems on the chalkboard he needed prodding to do them. If I handed him a worksheet, it was an instant battle. So I gave up. I quit pushing – and we did real-life math and just lived it. Then one day, out of the blue, he came bouncing down the stairs yelling “mommy! mommy! I just figured something out! 2 tens make 20!”
Ever since that moment, he’s decided that he’s really good at math. So when we do math problems in the car, he enthusiastically outlines the scenario for his problem: “5 robots in a field mom, then more come!” It took that burst of confidence to rocket him through the self-doubt and fear that was holding him back. He still hates worksheets, but he loves doing math problems on the chalkboard as long as they aren’t boring and repetitious.
This week we unexpectedly waited at the cash register for the clerk to fix a mistake in our order, and the Engineer started idly asking math questions. I absentmindly answered him, prodded him to calculate correctly, and then he asked “mommy, what’s 19 + 19?” I told him that we hadn’t really worked on regrouping yet, and briefly outlined it for him. When it came time to add the 10s together, he struggled a bit with 20 + the extra 10. So I asked him “what’s 3 x 10?” and he instantly popped back “30!” (yes, I know we could have done the +1 to 20 route, but I wanted him to work through regrouping first.)
That’s asynchronous for you – struggling with something simple while getting the complex stuff right!
Today, he started playing with the Legos that his little brother dragged out. A few minutes of playtime dragged out into 30 minutes, then he asked me for help. He was having trouble getting the rubber bands to stay in place. I looked at his design and the teacher in me started dancing in glee: he’s designing a simple machine and problem solving all without my nagging!
We worked out the belt issue, then he wanted to find a way to harness the energy from the wheels to make “something else” happen. I pointed him to the bevel gear and sat back and watched his mind work. A few minutes later, he had this design: a car-copter. It’s not exactly what I would have come up with but he did a great job of finding parts and testing it out. He’s so proud of it, he wants to save it until next year to take to the county fair!
The Engineer and his dad were inspecting a table at the Maker Fair about gravity and the center of gravity. The Maker behind the table demonstrated a seemingly impossible balancing act and asked the Engineer if he knew why it worked. The Maker gave Mr. Genius an amused glance, clearly not expecting any sort of correct response, and then his expression abruptly changed as the Engineer casually replied with the correct answer. Mr. Genius was snickering a bit but the Engineer wanted to check out everything on the table and see how it worked. He had no idea he had done anything unusual.
One day we went on a field trip to the zoo – and we stopped at the reptile house. We don’t always go in the reptile house because of sensory issues (it’s hot and smelly, too many people around) but the kids wanted to see the alligators. As we made our way down the line, pointing out snakes camouflaged in the bushes and grasses, we found a lizard. A lizard I didn’t recognize. The Engineer came and took a look, and told me “yeah, that’s the lizard that walks on water” and sauntered off to the alligator section. I bit my lip and didn’t say “no way!” and found the sign instead. Sure enough, it was a Basilik Lizard – and its specially evolved feet can walk – run, rather – on water.
I’m blaming Wild Krats for that one.
The Engineer, deep in his carnivorous plant craze, wistfully talked about the bladderwort plant and how he wanted to see one after we watched a video of the plant trapping a mosquito larva. A few days later, I found some in our lake and realized that it was all over the place. The next morning, the Engineer was ecstatic to find a small piece of bladderwort to look at with his magnifying glass. His entire face lit up! And he was even more amazed to realize that our lake was covered in the stuff! He talked for days about how cool it was that our lake had bladderwort.
The time we went to the National Botanical Gardens and the Engineer (with some prodding from me) went up to the front desk and asked where the carnivorous plants were. We had already toured the gardens searching for them and couldn’t find any. He couldn’t believe that THE botanical gardens didn’t have any, so he wanted me to ask. Ha! No dice kiddo, you go do it. And as luck would have it, a volunteer was there who understood what he meant. She helped us search, and directed us to the outdoor gardens where we found a very few pitcher plants and sundews. The expression on his face when he found someone who understood his interests was amazing – he was so animated and excited! I should have snapped a picture because the juxtaposition of child and elder walking together and chatting about similar interests was a pure gifted moment.
The 2-year-old Destroyer was getting frustrated at the science center and I went over to him to figure out why. He was working with the fuel simulation, and couldn’t get the result he wanted. He told me “fly, space!” and I understood what he meant. I told him to select liquid oxygen instead of air (which looked very similar) and showed him the correct graphic, and then we sent his rocket into space. He giggled happily, and settled down to do it over and over. I think that was the moment that I truly realized (and admitted) that he is gifted too. And while it wasn’t the happiest of eureka! moments, it was enlightening.
The Engineer, on the other hand, just wanted to make the car and rocket spit marshmallows over and over. The simulation includes many different kinds of fuel: marshmallows don’t combust, but they do look amusing popping out of the tail pipe.
There we were at the county fair, and the Princess, Destroyer, and I had ambled over to the kids’ section. Crafts, a snack, a sensory bin or two – and a reptile petting zoo, including (I kid you not!) a snake at least 12 feet long and massive. The Destroyer didn’t want to go near the snakes, although he thought the lizards were cool. The Princess – my little girly girl – loved the snakes. She held them, she sat down in the grass, petted the biggest snake and tried to pick it up, and she didn’t want to leave. We held snake after snake, looking at the different patterns, stroking their scales, and letting them wrap around our arms. It wasn’t until they started boxing the snakes up that she reluctantly conceded it was time to go.
This is the same child who climbed up on top of a toy box shrieking because there was a (tiny) spider in the play room. But snakes? Not a problem. I think I have a herpetologist on my hands!
The time the Engineer decided he wanted our subdivision to plant trumpet pitcher plants around the pond. I told him he had to get permission, so we worked on a presentation for the HOA board meeting. Later he told me that he didn’t want to go up there and speak, but “after I did, it was easy and I had fun.” Public speaking at an early age is tough for any kid, but he did it, and expertly fielded questions from the board and audience. The proposal was turned down because the pond is a protected wetlands area, but it was worth the experience for him!
And the last one: the time we went to a national park for a hike and found a small stream on our way back. Throwing caution to the wind, I said yes. Yes to splashing, yes to getting their shoes completely soaked, and yes to playing in the muddy mess. And as I sat there, the sun warming my face on the lovely spring morning, I realized that this was really what I loved about homeschooling. On this gorgeous day, everyone else’s kids were at school and we had the whole park to ourselves. I’m not sure what the kids really learned that day, but they were just children being children, playing in the creek. Looking for tadpoles, watching the ripples spread outwards, and poking the water with a stick. Kids with the freedom to be kids.
That’s the way it should be.
This post was part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop on Happiest Homeschooling Moments. Click here or the image to go read more posts on this encouraging topic!