A Monday : 42-year old 3rd grader.
"Some of the boys in my class are really, really into video games,"
he told me as we drove back on a rainy afternoon.
"Do they talk about them a lot?"
"They were asking what video games are my favorites."
"What did you say?"
"I said that I wasn't super into video games,"
"But that my favorite is probably Pacman."
"Is so, so awesome."
I meant it.
My heart was happy.
I watched three kids on the playground. Swinging together.
Then two hopped off, talking. Their backs turned to the third.
She continued swinging. The two boys talked.
My heart was sad.
the kindly mid-60s man said.
"I'll pick up the blocks."
"My son just dumped those on the floor, so I'd like for him to practice picking them up."
"Oh, it's no problem, I can do it, it's a grandpa thing,"
he said, bending down to pick up the two dozen wood blocks my 22-month old had deposited on the floor.
I said, gently shoving the squirming boy over to the blocks and sticking a block in each of his meaty little hands to put in the box.
"He needs to help pick up. It's a parent thing."
Okay, truth be told, I didn't say the very last sentence. But everything else.
Where have adults gotten the idea that kids aren't capable of learning to take responsibility for their actions?
Even if it's as simple as helping them develop an understanding of the value - and even joy - in their ability to be part of a web of community; part of a social network and family and ecosystem that values their help and their ability to respect and start learning how to take care of what's around them?
So yeah. I don't care if he hasn't had a second birthday yet or not. He's old enough to practice how to pick up and put away what he gets out.
And guess what? Most of the time, it can be a fun thing. But that's up to us. Us the adults. It's up to us to be consistent, to model the importance of respect, and to help make these habits easy and fun.
Mrs. R talked about slugs and slime today. Photos and slides accompanied a presentation and discussion on viscosity.
"Ooh, slugs are so gross!"
a girl said.
Mrs. R looked at her.
"No, they're not."
She continued going into an in-depth analysis and discussion, for this group of 3rd and 4th graders, of the amazing way in which slugs and snails move and secrete the "gross stuff" that allows them to travel pretty much anywhere.
What a beautiful little lesson. The intricate and unique workings of creatures that so often get called "gross."
Let's face it: slugs are gross. I can't say I disagree with that girl. I have requested that our children please not bring any pet slugs home from our hikes. I'm not ready to visit a slug petting zoo. I can't promise I'll never intentionally execute a slug again.
But I have a newfound respect for them. And a bit of empathy.
Oh, what you can learn in 3rd grade when you're 42.