“Where does water come from?”
My six-year-old contemplates his glass of water, then looks at me with serious eyes. I gulp. (No joke intended). This is one of those moments… one of those opportunities for in-the-moment learning. Think, Nicky, think. How can you answer his question properly while keeping his interest?
And then I realise that I have a golden opportunity. The house is quiet as my husband and other son have gone out. The chores are done. There are no distractions. We have time, my six-year-old and I. I can do this. Where normally, the humdrum of dinner routine would derail any attempt at answering such a question, for once, today, the stage is properly set.
“Well,” I begin, feeling my way carefully. “You know how we go to the seaside…?”
And together, bit by bit, we piece together the great water cycle. I resist the temptation to Google the whole thing because that would spoil the moment. We just sit and talk, and my six-year-old engages.
“That’s like a big circle, I think,” he suddenly offers. “Can you draw it?”
Well, heck yes, I can. Okay, my rendering isn’t perfect, and my scrawly handwriting is rather embarrassing (as he duly hastens to point out). But it does the job. We get the ‘circle’ idea firmly embedded in his brain.
And there’s more.
“But mummy,” he says, having contemplated the drawing. “You can’t drink sea water, it’s salty.”
Enter the next level of complexity, and we talk about how the evaporation of sea water by the sun takes out the salt.
“So rain water is drinking water?” he concludes.
“Yes, rain water is drinking water,” I confirm, feeling proud.
At his insistence, we add a well and a reservoir to my rudimentary drawing. We also look at Africa (on a different drawing on a different scrap of paper) and how the rain water clouds never quite reach the inland deserts. The connections are coming thick and fast, and I can practically see the little cogs in his brain turning.
When my husband returns, he gets a quick lecture on water cycles by my six-year-old. Ever since, steam rising from the kettle or the shower has been identified as ‘another piece of evaporation.’ How’s that for passing on learning?
This was a really golden moment for me. Not because I felt proud of recalling my science lessons; in fact, I’m sure I forgot some critical piece of information somewhere along the way, but it’ll do for now.
No, it was a golden moment because he accepted my words, digested them, and applied them.
It was golden because I know, in my heart of hearts, that in a few years’ time, he’ll discover that I’m not always right (far from it!), and that in fact, his mummy-fount-of-wisdom has clay feet.
Add on another few years, and he’ll know things far beyond my horizon of learning. He’ll acquire that sublime arrogance of teenage youth where he’ll be confident he owns the world and rules everybody in it. Sitting down with his mummy to talk about stuff will be the totally uncoolest thing imaginable.
And that’s why I treasured this moment and stored it in my happy-bank. And that’s also why I shared it with you. I hope that’s okay.
All too often, I don’t realise that I had a golden moment until after the fact, when I think back to it a few days later. But this one I grasped by the horns and squeezed every last little bit of enjoyment out of it right there and then.
Awww, so sweet! Well done you (I usually say ‘let’s ask Daddy about this’). Treasure it, cos my eldest has started the ‘I know everything better than you’ already…
Thanks, Marina! I’m definitely treasuring it. My older one isn’t quite in the ‘I know everything better than you’ stage yet, but he’s doing a great job at the sullen pre-teen act at times, love him. As for my six-year-old…well, he absorbs learning like a sponge at the moment, long may it last! XX
Oh bless you, Nicky, I loved this post so much.
It’s really important to catch yourself in the moment and realise you’re having a special little time that might only be unique and wondrous to you, those realisations can literally cripple you with happiness. I’m so glad you blogged about this.
I do have them, I don’t have kids, but i get a ripple of joy out of affecting others, or getting to do something I’ve dreamed off and it being as good as I hoped it would be. One that springs to mind was managing to get a foster cat called Princess to stop licking all her fur off, cheering up, trusting me and learning to play after years of ill treatment. When she found a perm home I wept a bucket I swear, but realising I’d done that, all me, that was pretty cool. And more recently, I went to see Gary Lightbody’s side project, Tired Pony, play their only gig in Europe; had the perfect view, amazing crowd totally into it and the Irish boy was aces. I *definitely* had a few ‘ yes, you are really here, this is all really happening and yes your face is starting to hurt from smiling!’ moments. It was uber cool xx
Yasmin, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m thrilled that the post spoke to you. And wow ~ healing Princess, that was quite an achievement. You are very special, you know. As for Tired Pony… well, that must have been just awesome. I’m glad you ‘got’ my in-the-moment happy question. Thank you for stopping by and responding, you made my day. XX
Once in a while this would happen when I was teaching and some little thing would trigger a genuine desire in the kids to know how or why something happened that way. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to turn on the light for them.
It certainly is, Anneli. Makes me think that perhaps it would be nice to go back to school and do some proper teaching again. Thanks for visiting and commenting, I really appreciate it.
‘Outstanding’ schools let their children lead in this way Nicky but the thing that caught my heart … it’s true. The reason why you treasured that moment 🙂 x x
😀 Aww Shaz, thank you. Love that you could stop by and comment. Have a great weekend!
Wonderful, Nicky! I love that you got this moment with your son. I always love it when moments like these come along and I’m always amazed that I manage to have the right words. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!
Hiya Brandee! These are the moments that make being a mummy a rock-star, first-rate, million-dollar occupation, never mind the lost sleep, grey hairs and general stress levels, LOL. Thank you for visiting and I’m sure you *always* have the right words for you kids. Rock on!! XX 🙂