Sep 25, 2011

Bathroom calculations

No, I'm not writing about how much money and carbon footprint we save with our re-usable toilet wipes. This is about our 7-year-old, sitting on the throne just down the hall from our dinner table, figuring out the world.

His mind finds patterns, permutations, solutions, reasons. He just loves to figure out systems, come up with innovative ideas, keep us on track with our plans. Halfway through that last sentence I heard him reminding Sarah that we still have to make the fruit leathers we talked about over breakfast. This morning he figured out a tracking system on our blackboard for our new pledge to each process 25 apples/day.

Last night as we finished dinner and he was already eliminating it, he overheard us talking about how Sarah made thicker-than-usual tortillas tonight. First we had to explain down the hall how she did it. Then he announced that we should always do it that way. They taste better. They're more filling, so we don't have to eat as many, and it doesn't take as long to finish a meal so we won't be so tired. And it will take less cooking time to cook fewer tortillas, thereby saving electricity, "so that's good too, right Mama?"

For any simple idea or challenge, he comes up with not only the main idea/solution but also 2 or 3 deeper layers. If we have the audacity to suggest that we just need to pack up and jump in the car, he'll quickly correct that we also need to zip the backpacks, put on our shoes and close the door. In arguing against finally re-hanging the inside front door, he complained that we'd then have to open and close two doors to get outside. Then in the winter, with having to close the door behind us each time, that would be 8 opening/closings just to go outside for a quick pee.

When he was three, we tasked him with sorting our wide-mouth and narrow-mouth canning jars and lids. Before I could even suggest a way of figuring out the different sizes, he quickly devised a system of holding a jar upside down on top of another jar to compare circumference, then appropriate boxes for each set of jars and lids after doing those measurements.

Our youngest has always been our organizer, our thinker (the older, if I must continue with sweeping generalizations, being the dreamer and visionary.) It's fascinating and at times scary to watch his cognitive capacity grow with age, experience, and the tools he acquires in school and daily life. If I show discipline in not trying to race ahead and predict his path in life, it's mostly because of the unfathomable range of possibilities a mind like that will have. And in a world that is expanding at a similarly exponential rate, he'll likely end up in some field that doesn't even exist today. All we need for now is to continue feeding that hunger - turning him on with tasks like sorting coins, coring apples and remembering the 11 things we have to do on our next trip to town - and enjoy tagging along whatever path his mind and soul will take him along.

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