spring break in the age of reason

i mentioned a birthday post, but i never actually began typing that, and now a month has already gone by. march came in like a vortex, in the form of the hunger games series, and i was not spit out again for 12 days while i devoured chapters late into the night. i never thought i would read that series, but then i kept feeling left out of the conversations my after school students were having. whoosh: the sound of me in the vortex as march sped by.

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anyway, i am now the parent of a seven year old boy. quinn had several weeks of parties and presents, as you do when you live in two households and have a chosen family and a school family and a real family far away who all want to celebrate with you. and now i am spending spring break with this child who seems to have arrived in the age of reason exactly at the prescribed time on the child development time table.

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i have always heard in passing how seven begins this so-called age of reason, and now i know what it looks like. it looks like a picky eater pondering things like “spicy vegetables”, mint, and chocolate, and acknowledging that someday he may end up liking them, even though he doesn’t for now. it looks like a boy who has never been very motivated to write saying, “i should take notes on that,” and deciding that a three-fingered grip is worth a try, because he can see how it someday will help him write more quickly when he is writing chapter books. it looks like a budding new reader commenting over his reheated pancakes, “for proficient readers, every word is a sight word, isn’t it?”

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yoda’s hut, which is really an accessory in the x-wing fighter lego set, was the one thing quinn requested for his birthday. thank goodness for ebay.

he traced the map from the series we are reading, the guardians of ga’hoole, by kathryn lasky, using a photocopy from the book which he taped to the sliding glass door for light on a sunny sunday. he brought the finished tracing for show and tell, and i noticed that he lost focus on the questions the group asked, because he was concentrating on the fact that he was able to read the names of the places on the map.

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quinn is really into minecraft, but i need to preface that by saying he has never played, or even truly witnessed the playing of the video game. he calls it, in his oh-so-quinn way, mindcraft, with a d. he has drawn picture after picture, and coveted lego sets of the minecraft persuasion, and done various scenarios in his imagination about said game, while never having played the game, or even, as yet, bugged me to let him play it.

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selling pictures of herbert hoover and george w. bush. want to buy a republican?

i asked him what he likes so much about it.

“well, it’s because i get to use my mind, to make crafts. like making different buildings and guys and making them do different things, and building caves. so i make all these crafts with my mind. see? mindcraft.”

yes, i see.

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talking drum session at ols

quinn won’t be playing minecraft any time soon, as i am reluctant to engage him in the super-reinforcement of neuronal connections linking violence and fun. yet i like to encourage his creativity. the best thing is that i can have a conversation with him about this very idea, and not really hold anything back, and he is able to grasp all of the concepts i present to him about neurons and violence. he just seems able to hang with just about anything we need to talk about, and see my point of view, even though it is not his. which is precisely what i had overheard other parents saying is what seven is supposed to be all about.

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i like that i put my kiddo to bed and have to get him to stop drawing frame after frame of the current video game he is imagining in his crafty mind. i like that he is video game savvy, but only so much so that he takes the game off screen and goes onto paper with it, creating paper model versions of his own unique blends: angry birds legos, how to train your dragon legos, guardians of ga’hoole angry birds.

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i appreciate that in spite of wanting more than the 30 minutes of screen time i allow him per day, he feels he can still say to me candidly in minute 31, “my brain doesn’t feel very good. it feels like… a lego brick. with a whole bunch of pots on the top of it. and sauce, sprinkled everywhere!”

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having a seven-year-old is also being blown away by the fact that i am no longer a part of all of the conversations he is having. sometimes, i find out about a current hot topic of the seven-year-old justice-and-environment-loving cohort when he finds me in the kitchen scooping coconut oil into the granola bowl and says, “do you want to know why i don’t want you to buy coconut oil anymore? it’s because people are taking away aminals’ homes to make it.” the juxtaposition of “aminal,” that three-year-old hold-out of a word, with this conservation agenda, takes my breath away. (and i need to do some research on sourcing environmentally sustainable coconut oil, apparently!)

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the sheer amount of academic work quinn chose to do during spring break was as much staggering as it was encouraging given my approach of trusting in his internal schedule, especially considering how he can go weeks at a time without investing much energy in any real assignments. there was only one specific assignment for his reading teacher that i even mentioned over break, which he happily completed twice, but the rest: the pile of math worksheets, handwriting workbook practice, story book writing (not just making and drawing, but actual writing!), and his decision to pull out both boxes of bob books and read them to me in order from start to finish, were all him. mr. seven, emergent reader with a crafty mind.

6 comments to spring break in the age of reason

  • lb

    This entire post could describe my little buddy Zack- it amazes me how very alike they are 🙂 someday it would be lovely to watch them mindcraft together! Happy Birthday MQ!!

  • Kristin

    happy belated birthday to, Quinn!

    love and miss! xo.

  • Such a lovely picture of Quinn right now, thriving
    rachel recently posted..parenting as a practice

  • mamaC

    Awesome to see & hear about Quinn, and to have this bright snapshot of him and of your life right now. I really loved seeing that photo with the fishing pole. Just…yeah. And I enjoyed reading of his post-screen time candor. I just know that warmed your mama-heart.

    I miss you!!! My littlest ones are enjoying walking around with an old, uncharged digital camera and pretending to take pictures (Linus radiates sheer joy while doing this!) and doing impressive work with scissors. And Noel also is finger knitting, kind of obsessively. And my own little Pisces celebrated birthday #10 with a trip to New York city with her dad, and a visit to the Met. Big doings.

  • […] the beginning of the month was spring break, featuring unschooling in its rawest form (you know, without going to school), which i wrote about in spring break in the age of reason. […]

  • Leticia


    Felipe also plays mindcraft, but he plays the video game minecraft too. For many months now the kids at his school have been playing minecraft with cardboard etc.

    He has also started to read to me, as his own idea. He loves it. Often he asks me to videotape him reading, and then when he finishes we read it together. The best video was the one where he unexpectedly (but quite audibly) pooted in the middle of a pause!

    Keep it up, mama, and keep blogging about it! Reading these posts is so affirming and soothing and energizing and… mmmmm!!! :o)

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