Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Science Fair

Click on the strip to see it larger. Then go to FrankandFrank for more.

Sometimes precisely what I need falls in my lap with such simplicity, I nearly allow myself a twinge of some mystical feeling. The kindergarten science fair is tonight and wouldn't you know it, the pear seed that we planted a month ago decides to sprout this morning, beautifully formed, two round leaflets reaching up like arms in praise. But that's not precisely what I need, although it is appreciated, because even its green sparkle cannot entice Mia to take the baby pear tree and her sister sprouts to the fair. Because my daughter has her incomprehensible heart set on displaying the photos she took of a plastic tomato, a green-striped spoon and a fuzzy-ball chick. Her hypothesis: Do things look larger when you are closer?

There is something very powerful about perception and perspective buried under my worry. It's growing and reaching for the surface and the warmth of the sun.

Last night I lost faith when the sun went down, although Randy bellowed with delight at the cardboard display Mia and I had fashioned. Once Mia was asleep and I couldn't hear her sweet chirping voice anymore, I cried with a panicky kind of fatigue, imagining "that looks like it took five minutes" and the kind Science Specials teacher's disappointment and my lackadaisical parenting laid bare and pinned up on a cardboard display board for all to see.

"I'm sorry you're embarrassed," said Randy. "Go to bed."

"I'm not embarrassed," I said, wiping my tears. "I just wish I was the kind of mother who could break the process down to baby steps and teach them to my child. I wish I could give her that kind of experience."

"Montessori is all about letting the child take the lead. We know she's brilliant. This is just not her thing. You're tired. Go to bed," he said and I did.

This morning with the extra early sun I got up in time to take a walk before breakfast and once the babysitter came and whisked little Nora away to the library, Mia and I had an hour or so of time together. We used the Elmer's glue nozzle to paint funny glue smiles on the back of her photos and squished them against the cardboard.

"The science fair isn't important," she said, her eyes on the gluey grin she was squeezing out.

"Did someone tell you that?" I asked her.

"No," she replied. "School is important, but not the science fair."

We took a break and I read her the FrankandFrank book. There's one cartoon per each 2 inch by 16 inch page. When we turned to the Science story, I sighed with relief.

Because she wouldn't wear tights this morning, I sent her out in the backyard in her short socks and her winter coat so she would feel the chill and ask for something warmer.

"Go all the way to the back of the backyard and then come back and tell me if you saw a bunny." My plan was to ask her about what she had observed with her eyes, to combine my tights trick with a small lesson about the concept of "observation." I watched her tinker around the backyard, such her mother's daughter. My instructions were forgotten as she stood a piece of discarded trellis on its end, just to let go and watch it fall. I went out to join her and we finished decorating the fairy garden under the elm, rescuing the rain-soaked storage box from under a bush where it had blown when I got distracted from this task a couple of weeks ago. The sun was warm enough.

Back inside, she sat on my lap and I read her a book about artists and how they create perspective with line, light and color. About half way through, she sighed and asked me to just turn the pages and show her the pictures. We did until the doorbell rang for carpool.


Ann said...

Brilliant. You got it all here -- the conflict, the heartache, the pride, the letting go, all of it.

Jojo said...

It sounds A LOT like what my mother and I used to go through with ANY project. I hope it went well!

I've enjoyed watching the fruit and veggies grow week by week, but remember that Mia is an artist to the core. Photography might end up being her medium ;-)

Jen r. said...

That's lovely. It's amazing how kindergardners are all the same and motherhood is always a challenge! :) Jen