Friday, August 8, 2014

My Favorite Gift So Far

Of all the gifts my son has given me, a renewed sense of wonder in the world may be my favorite.

Somewhere along the way, my sense of wonder faded.  It was like a glow stick that is rather magical in the beginning and completely nonessential in the end.  Much of the time my wonder was inactive and superfluous.
I didn't really miss it.  I had mostly forgotten how it felt.

Then we met Landon, lighting up our lives with more wonder than a hundred glow sticks could contain.  Each year we got to live life anew through his eyes, and there was so much to see.

There was so much to hear.  To taste. To smell.  The world cracked open again and the exploration of it with someone experiencing it for the first time is one of the best parts of parenthood.

I used to point out everything I could to him.  I didn't want him to miss one butterfly wing or double rainbow or dandelion puff.  I didn't want to miss his discovering these things for the first time.  I wanted to see his expression when the sandpaper tongue of a kitten licked his hand, when he heard the haunting notes of a cello, when he rode a carousal.  All of it brand new, all of it ageless, all of it full of wonder for us both.

I thought I was giving him these gifts, wrapped in my renewed interest and enthusiasm. Look at this!  Did you hear that?!  Have you ever seen anything so lovely?  Have you noticed this?  And maybe a little bit, I was.  I wanted to tag the whole world as his--to explore and cherish.

But in the end, he has given it back to me, more beautiful and mysterious than I ever remember it being before.  He asks his questions and increasingly, they are about things I have never once considered.  He fuels my own curiosity the way I once thought I was nurturing his.

This is what I mean:

We have started learning about the human body, beginning with the circulatory system.  I love, love love this topic, and Landon does, too.

"What will you want to learn about the circulatory system?" I ask him after several overview-giving conversations.

He mentioned some stuff.  A few days later he told me, "Mom, what I'm really wondering about, though, is if
the deox-a-nated (deoxygenated) blood is blue, how come I've never seen any blue blood come out of my body?  Why don't I see blue blood?

I sat there silently pondering this.  I felt dumbstruck.  My mind has never wandered there, but it seems like such a reasonable and interesting question.  I find myself admitting (as I am doing more regularly these days) that I'm as curious as he is, that I don't really know, and I'll need to do some research before I can answer the question.  I pose a guess that maybe when it hits the air it gets oxygen then?

Google mocks me.

As it turns out, we don't have blue blood running through our veins. It is, in fact, all about how light is reflected through the surface of our skin and is kind of a trick of the eye.  Even though I read several articles, I was never really able to get my mind entirely around it.  Except to understand that there is no blue blood, with or without oxygen.

Those circulatory charts sure do stick in your mind, though, don't they?

That's what I mean when I say Landon fuels my curiosity as much as I think I'm nurturing his.  Maybe my brain was like a kite and his is like a submarine, because he takes me places I never once considered.

My favorite part is that everywhere we go, the world is full of wonder.

I'd like to trade in my "wonder-as-a-glow-stick" paradigm for a new one.  As a parent, I'll trade it in for a Wonder Colander, able to collect and share wonder with equal ease and unprecedented joy.

So if you see us spinning and grinning in a field of green under a great big sky of blue and billowy clouds, look closer.  I'll be holding my invisible Wonder Colander--my favorite gift my son has given me so far.


  1. My goal/focus as a teacher this year: to discover my students talents and "I want to know" interests. Our school has over 900 students........I am determined!

  2. Deb, YES!! : ) This is what marks you as one of the truly great teachers. Because you still want to find and nurture those talents and interests. I can't wait to hear what you discover. I know you can't make that connection with 900, but they are all so lucky to have you. Little do they know that the wise eyes of their teacher will be looking for, ready and willing to blow on their sparks! Miss you!!