I live with a boy who is always making connections. He takes new information and tries to connect it to something he already knows. He tries to find a category, to classify and sort. Sometimes I can follow his thinking and see the picture he is making. Other times, his dots connect in ways I can't follow.
Today the hairdresser gave him a Dum-Dum. Just for being a good boy. (Thank you, sweet lady, for making this easier for us next time.) When I handed the unwrapped candy to him he said, "It's Earth," and I admitted to seeing the likeness. I would have picked Saturn, with its fat ring in the middle, but still, how does a person tottering on the edge of three even know how to make comparisons to something as abstract as our planet?!
We bought a book detailing everything you'd ever want to know about sharks for Bill's fifth graders. It turned out to be the book Landon desperately wanted dad to read to him as a bedtime story. It is a fat book, with lots of text, and I could tell Bill was wondering how to wrap it up without it feeling too abrupt to a little boy who would've preferred to read that book all night. He read something about the shark's prey.
"What's prey?" Landon asks.
"Yes, let's pray. Good idea, buddy."
The dot just went off his page, but I think Landon will overlook it this time.
He's probably gotten used to these little misunderstandings now and again.
I live with a boy whose curiosity leads me to learn things, too.
"What's that man doing?" he asked me of a trucker who was parked in the same lot as us.
"He's writing on his clipboard,"
"What's that on his truck?"
"What are those cords on his truck for?"
I don't really know.
And I say that a lot around this guy, because he has a lot of dots he'd like to connect.
So I'm out of the car, calling up to trucker man,
"Sir, hi, sorry to disturb you but I have a little boy over there who is really curious about you and your truck and is wondering what the cords coming out of your cab are for...?"
And this kind man hops down and tells me, one is electrical, and one is air.
"What do you need air for?" (and this time I'm the one whose curiosity has been stirred)
For the brakes. They're air brakes.
Air brakes...that have a cord pumping air to them? How does this work? I wish I could hear more, but I don't want to push it.
I report back to Landon, whose interest is rewarded with loud horn blasts that make us both kinda jump, and then laugh. (Thank you, trucker man, for showing my little man that his curiosity can be satisfied.)
Now Landon asks me every few days, "Where is that trucker man? What he doing today?" and I make up stories of his deliveries to Kansas, or coming home to eat dinner with his family or washing the truck. When he sees trucks with cords connecting the cab to the freight he calls it out, "Three cords!" or "Two cords!" and I sit in wonder that I could go my whole life and never notice that all these huge trucks have those cords connecting their parts. I've certainly never wondered about them, and what they might do.
Landon drew that dot in for us.
I connected it with him.
And the picture of our world gets a little more detail.