My kids have a passion for discovery (family trait, really). If they don't end up researchers and scientists, it won't be for lack of experience!
Saturday, my mom (Baba) took them on another of her 'enchantment' adventures.
For those who don't recall, after my mom and I had a little (er, huge) spat about where the parental boundaries were, we figured out some issues around roles and tasks, and I asked her to perform one very important task for us and our kids - provide them with enchantment. Make the world magical. I'm going to have to do decorum and education and health and all the boring stuff, and I don't want them to miss out on joy and wonder - I can do that, love doing that, but I will not get to have that be the only, core goal. I want it to be a big one, so delegating... well, it solved a lot of issues. Baba now has a place to put all her love and energy, and I have a lighter load. Plus I knew she'd rock at that.
Now, some of that 'enchantment' is mythology and fairies. But a lot of it is science, and some of it is social awareness, and some is history... whatever, she brings it from an angle guaranteed to enchant. Brilliant at it, actually. She finds ways to elicit the passion, delight, child-like glee, joy, wonder, however you want to describe it, with almost any topic. I don't know if she's tried math yet... but physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, sociology... yep, yep, yep, and yep.
For my Brother-in-Law's birthday, Baba gave him a chance to share his great passion (Geology) with his nephews and niece (the elder grandkids).
They went off to a spot he knows where the fossils just lie around on the ground waiting to be picked up, especially after a good hard rain. A little digging doesn't hurt, but it actually isn't necessary. They're not valuable fossils (mainly squid parts and some shells), but they're real. And many. And oh, real is so fabulous. And many makes the reward constant.
Real is here, and now, and past all in one. Real is shocking in its ability to make us feel the flow of time.
Finding them yourself is so much real, it makes the kids vibrate. I know there are kids who are not into this kind of thing, but I just can't picture them at all. Even Miss R, who is much more socially oriented is still very much into what could be found in the dirt. See her at the archaeology dig, for example, thrilled to have found a bit of ancient coal - even though she really doesn't understand how old is old...
I expected Mr G to be into it. And Miss L, his cousin, also. She has a fire in her mind that lights up like a blowtorch on stuff like this.
But Mr B is the one whose response charmed me most. And fascinated me.
Mr B took the time to go off with Uncle S, and sit down and learn how to look, what to look for, how to see the colors in the dirt that indicate 'this was a layer of sand' and 'this wasn't'. How to find where the best chance of fossil might be, to know and understand the layering of the earth, and let that tell him where the joy would be.
He told me later about how the rain moved the fossils over the terrain, and where that meant they would be found. And how the different soil types washed away, and what that looked like.
Joy and joy and joy, finding fossils. Not even just the easy 'laying around on the ground' version, but oh, the seeking, following their signs and cues, trying, and finding.
What an amazing way to spend an overcast September afternoon for an almost-8-year-old!
It's like archaeology, only faster. He loves that, too. He loves going to the dig, finding something, uncovering it, using his capacity for care and attending combined with his passion and openness to what comes - or does not come. Working on a team with essentially complete strangers (a friend or relative doesn't hurt, either), creating a unit working toward a common discovery. That's him all over.
And now he also has a grasp of one real-world application of geology. It's about getting down in the dirt, learning to look - or maybe learning to see. There's an intimacy there, a relationship between him and the earth, almost a conversation.
"Enchantment" definitely qualifies. What else would you call learning to hear the Earth whisper its secrets about the past?