Sunday, June 17, 2012

Making Memories

When I was a kid my favorite summer memories, my favorite anytime memories actually,  centered around some project that Mom would do with my brother and me. Sometimes it was making a fun dessert or planting something. She taught us to crochet and hook latch. She was always good for a board game. When I finally had my son. I thought that was how it was supposed to be done. From the time he was old enough to set up with a project we would spend our free time creating or playing or just learning something fun. 

From the beginning I was met with incredulous people, those who thought it was amazing that my three or four year old would make his own Christmas presents or be able to explain to strangers how his volcano works. Still, I never really noticed how odd most people think that sort of thing is until he started making videos and it really became apparent last summer when he started his blog. He had been making videos of his science projects for years already and a blog just seemed to be a natural extension of that activity. It did mean that his projects were more structured and therefore more of my participation was required, if only to document his fun. It also meant that more and more of our activities were being done in the front or back yard, in full view of our neighbors.

We aren't unfriendly with our neighbors but we aren't the best of friends either. Our relations are usually restricted to cool nods in passing. The kids take their cues from their elders and my son always seems to play outside of the established groups, until he drags out one of his projects. He is then awash with kids wanting to see what he is building or testing, or they want to join in on whatever art project he has going. I don't mind. Kids are naturally curious and don't let adult attitudes stand in the way of natural learning. However, I am always struck by the parent's reaction. First, surprisingly to me, they are in shock that their kid would be interested in learning how a homemade submarine or a fizzy tablet pop rocket works. Then they express amazement that I am so hands on. It is so cool how I always do these kinds of things with my son and isn't it a lot of work?

It goes back to I don't know any other way to do it. When I was a kid and I had a question my mom always found an answer. When my brother wanted to know how something worked, she arranged a trip the library. She found a way to help us figure it out. She was so hands on that when my brother's third grade teacher, two months before the end of the school year, admitted to my mom that she couldn't teach my brother anything due his lack of reading skills, that she dragged out my old kindergarten homework and used it to write a book to teach my brother how to read. That is just what moms do. Right? I am in awe of what my mom could have accomplished if she had had Google and Wiki as a starting point. In the course of my internet hoarding, I have run across many wonderful mothers who are just as hands on and love to share that fact with the world. I believe that given the right circumstances, my mom would have been the same. She was a mom before her time.

Lian made his first home video when he was four years old. He taped an old camera to one of his toy trucks and called it the Mars Rover and gave a good age appropriate telling of what Rover's job is, while our neighbors looked on in wonder. One would think that by now I would be past my private snickers and giggles at their reactions to Lian's projects. Of course, one would think that by now they would cease to be amazed to find him hard at work creating something, giving the viewers in his video camera a blow by blow description. 

Maybe it is just that the projects keep getting bigger. Today our summer memory was building a river system from its source waterfall through the flood plains all the way to its mouth at the ocean.  It was a huge project encompassing several boards, a roll of aluminum foil, a roll of duct tape and several garbage bags. It took a couple of hours to build and gathered a bit of an audience by the end. At the beginning however, it was hilarious to watch grown people surreptitiously trying to spy on what we were building, whispering comments to each other, loud enough to make Shakespeare proud. I suppose I could take the high road and just assume that they were simply basking in the brilliance that is my little angel. After all, maybe there aren't a lot of kids who attempt to build a river for fun. Still it isn't like this is a new occurrence.

Sadly, our river failed. It flooded out in the flood plains and never made it to the ocean. Our boat capsized in one of the resulting lakes.  

Our day of memory making was a complete success. The floods were simply a teaching tool, since rivers do tend to flood and change course quite often. My little engineer is hard a t work trying to come up with a redesign that will make his boat float to the ocean and we have several elements that did work and can be reused. Plus we got a great blog post out of it. Two, if you count this one. Today was a summer memory that my mom would have been proud of. I think my neighbors made a memory or two themselves. =)

So, what is your favorite summer memory?

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