Saturday, June 24, 2006
Lately we've been making a lot of hummus and falafel, so putting dried chick-peas out to soak overnight is a regular occurence here. I've decided that Noah is like a chick pea. He needs to be soaked overnight.
Three weeks ago I had received information about a summer Soccer Camp in Nakusp for kids 9-12. Two hours every morning for five days. Noah is a soccer dynamo, and Erin has improved greatly this year and is very keen on soccer as well, so I presented the possibility to them. Erin was keen. Noah said no outright. Erin got angry at Noah, knowing we wouldn't be driving four kids 75 minutes round-trip five days in a row if only one of them was doing the camp. Noah cried.
A few days later someone mentioned Soccer Camp again and Noah said "Oh yeah, I want to do it!" I asked him where the change of heart had come from. He said "I'd changed my mind by that night. I don't know why."
I thought of the chick-pea analogy. "You know," I said, "We all need to remember that you're a bit like a dried chick-pea, and you just need the chance to soak in an idea for a while before there's any point in asking you how you feel about it. We'd avoid a lot of heartache that way, I think."
I'm sure that whatever facet of his character makes him a chick-pea when it comes to embracing new activities is the same thing that gives him such a tough time with transitions. It's the thing that keeps him sitting at the computer all day, which leads to him later complaining that "we never do anything fun!" It's the same thing that makes him say "Naw..." when I offer almost any activity or project or excursion.
I'm putting some energy lately into building some one-on-one connections with Noah. It takes time and patience and fair warning (and often an overnight soak) but he seems a happier boy for it. I'm reading some non-fiction aloud to him ... chemistry and geography (navigation) and we're exploring those areas together with some projects. We're doing some math together again on a regular basis ... at times I'm not already working with the girls. With phenomenal fortitude and resistence-to-mounting-frustration, he mastered the concept and mechanics of equivalent fractions and reducing fractions to their simplest form in the course of one 45-minute math session. He has a penchant for shutting down completely when he has to work at something, and I kept expecting him to burst into tears when my explanations moved too fast or came from the wrong direction for him. But for some reason he was able to keep himself trying, and gradually it made sense. I think he managed because he and I have a really good relationship right now, and because, as I said, he is a happier boy. He wanted to "get it" and wanted to please me, and felt confident and optimistic enough to push himself until it clicked. We followed up the next night with a card game to review the concepts we'd worked on the previous night, and he was really pleased with how well-learned everything was.
Today the chick pea and I have built a distillation apparatus together. We are distilling fresh clean water out of the mucky soup of sugar, salt, food colouring and coffee grounds we created. This science-related stuff feels to him like his domain, separate from the sorts of things the girls are pursuing, so it's a great place for us to connect, where he can explore his interests without comparing himself to his sisters. I hope we can keep this up.