Katie has been working on her first quarter project for school. The assignment is to make an Autumn Collage consisting of anything she sees outside that is indicative of the changing seasons. Papa laughed when he learned the project details since he said it seemed that it was tailor-made for our first-grader. I actually, had a different reaction. I kind of felt like, why are they having them do this? It just seemed so basic and obvious. I mean don’t all first-graders already know all about this? It’s all my urchins want to talk about.
Then when Melissa was here we were talking about some of the crazy stuff Katie says and does — and how Katie and Melissa’s son were totally cut from the same cloth — and where it comes from. And somehow that conversation and a walk in the woods with my mom and my urchins gave me some insight. Lots of kids don’t take walks in the woods. They don’t have a “clubhouse” under a willow tree. They don’t have a nature table overflowing with feathers, acorns, leaves, bark, and turtle shells. They aren’t looking for that heron, and the prickle ball tree, and the cat-tails, and that place where the lizard hides on their walk to school. In fact they probably don’t walk to school at all even though they likely live within a mile of the building.
And you know what I realized, I’m doing a good job. And if you are a reader of this blog, I’m guessing that you are doing a good job too. I spend a lot of time agonizing over how I could have been a better mother in this or that situation. It turns out though, the times I lose my temper, or forget the right gym shoes, or don’t read three chapters before bed just fall by the wayside and what remains is those walks in the woods, those times when we’re digging in the garden. My girl knows the difference between an oak and a maple. She knows that you can eat johnny-jump-ups and rose petals. She knows about the moon, the stars, the seasons.
And I used to think that it wasn’t such a big deal, but now I realize it is. It turns out that as we wander through their childhoods these urchins of mine are following me and paying attention to what attracts my attention along the path. They notice. It was like a little lightbulb went on in my heart when I saw that all the time we take to show them how wonderfully beautiful, and amazing, and awe inspiring the world is has been worth it. So, the first-quarter project really was no big deal for Katie — Mommy, do you think I can label each leaf with the tree name and also what animals eat the nuts? — but it turns out it was kind of a big deal for me.