|Artist Hilda Robinson, "Studying at the Table"|
It's the x-factor, that unknown variable that finagles its way into each afternoon. Whether its mixed formulas in Algebra or seismology from Physical Science, there is always a potential for life to be shaken right up, huh?
Class homework seems to be an afterschool event in most families. How do we create happy family environments and memories while flipping pages, erasing problems gone wrong, and keeping everyone on task?
Cutting into gooey caramel-chocolate cupcakes, my teen daughter and I wrote out algebra problems side-by-side on the sunny kitchen table today. I sipped hot coffee and we looked together at the problems she had misunderstood earlier.
"Oh, I see it. I know what I did wrong," she exclaimed, circling a forgotten negative sign. We moved on to other problems, cracking jokes, getting drinks of water, and talking with others in the room.
After one too many interruptions, I became agitated and brusquely brought us back on track. "Okay, let's focus now," I said, sterner than I needed to.
"Mom, we're fine. It's okay. I'm working," assured Morgan.
I paused and remembered. Laughter, calm, and intentionality make the difference. We both visibly relaxed, sinking deeper into our chairs in the sunlight, working quietly on math problems together. Quiet saxophone music played from a corner of the kitchen.
Later Daniel and I read books together, noticing rhyming sounds, commenting on watercolor illustrations, and learning about bats and shadows. We made paper cut outs for shadows, and cast long pictures across the living room floor, before ducking into the bathroom with a flashlight too. Shadow bats, cats, and snowmen wavered in the light, dancing in his hands.
"See how any shadow picture needs the light?" I taught Daniel. "Without light there is no shadow. Where is the light source to make this shadow?"
Those phrases suddenly seemed much deeper than simple preschool science. To cast a picture, there is always a light. There is always a light. Where is the light source? Without the light there is no image.
Hmm, I snapped off the red flashlight, and headed back to the kitchen. Peaceful saxophone music still played, Morgan gathered up her heavy science books, and I sought out children's videos about bats.
(Also linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose.)