Sunday, June 1, 2014

There's a momentum to mastery.

He comes in to J's room, from his own, wailing: "I waaaaant a piece of paper. I want to write."

"No. It's bedtime. Either go back to your room, or climb up there. I point to the top bunk.

"Well Julian has papers."

"He does. But we're reading them. Do you want to listen to Julian read equations?" I choose my words carefully, picking a sarcastic string, for the benefit of Olin, who has come in to retrieve Kai.

"whhAhhh...." Kai sorts of fake cries. Jon walks out of the room, half smiling. Jules, who is reclining with his head on my sideways knees, turns toward Kai and generously offers: "Do you want to hear math? It's so fun."  Julian has been reciting every character of every worksheet he completed in kindergarten this week (and then stapled together into a "book"). He seems to find this book enthralling. Kai, not interested, climbs up to the top bunk. His whining eventually settles into the sound of thumb-sucking.

"5 + 5 = 10. 10 + 0 = 10."

Seven or eight pages in and Julian is still immersed in this book. I, on the other hand, am immersed in his face—and its sweet, focused expression. It's a mix of curiosity and confidence, pride and passion. It strikes me that if we held all of our conversations face-to-face and truly observed others when they were speaking, we might be that much more empathetic and engaged and interested. I think about how much I distract myself with my phone, text when I should call, call when I should meet. I make a note to remember this.

Lately, the pace of Julian's mastering new milestones is sort of blowing me away: riding on two wheels; starting to swim underwater; beginning to read; hitting line drives—and not off a tee. Every time, it seems that one day something just starts to click and—BOOM—he's got it.

Kai too. Until just recently, he had no interest in writing his name. Then, Friday night, he came home from a BBQ with Jon and Jules, obsessed with writing "K's." It was 9:30 pm—but he was insistent and getting him into bed seemed like a losing battle so I just let him go. He did a bunch. And then drew some a's and i's—an a random-yet-artful pattern. He decorated an entire envelope full of "his letters." (The envelope was a card for Maria's baby shower—which made it that much sweeter.) He was so proud.

I have a theory: Summer is accelerating this milestone crushing: the bike riding, the swimming, the line-driving. Our fair weather is so fleeting here  in VT that you have to jam as much stuff as you can into the short season. And then, when you're in the practice of mastering, you just keep moving. You make letters. You calculate equations. You persevere at sounding it out. Yes, I think that must be it. Momentum.

What do you think?

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