Every Chance to Learn and Teach
“Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom”, came running my son, screaming with excitement. He dropped his tuition bag on to the sofa and frantically searched for something amidst his toys.
“What? What are you searching for?” I asked showcasing mild excitement.
“I need my shovel” he said
“Why? What is it for?” I asked
“I am going to” “dig in the” “sand park” he managed to utter these words
That’s weird. I thought. He has not done this before. That is digging in the sand park. By this time I decided to probe him with more questions, even though I knew where the shovel was. This seems interesting. I thought.
“Oh ok. That sounds awesome. But you know tomorrow is your exam, and we have not started studying yet. Why don’t you dig after the exams are over?” I asked.
I am normally stricter than this. I usually would tell him something along the lines of “But tomorrow is exam. We have to start studying now. It is already too late. You cannot play now”.
But today I felt something different. I am not sure if it is his abnormal level of excitement or my curiosity. I decided to see how things turn out.
“But I have to dig. Today”, he told with same level of excitement, and while searching.
“But why today?” I asked, still not ready to permit without managing to extract some answers.
“My friend told I can dig for diamonds in the play park. I need to dig today”, he said.
That is a different one. I mused.
I decided to let him go through with this. After all, how many times are we going to dig for diamonds in the play park?
“Ok, I saw your shovel here. There you go. Eat something first and go.” I finally told him.
“No time”, he grabbed the plastic toy shovel and ran out as fast as he came in.
I made a tea for myself, finished up some tidying, and took care of laundry business.
One hour passed. I started to get concerned. Should I go and check up on him? Mine is a decent enough apartment to let kids play on their own within the walls. But still. He was on a peculiar quest today. That surely demands some attention.
I started to step out in search of him, when I saw him walking towards the house. He was carrying something heavy in his hands.
He was carrying them very carefully.
“It better be a diamond”, I snickered to myself.
He came nearer and showed me stuff he carried in his shovel.
There were some pebbles and mud.
“What are these?” I asked.
“It could be diamond”, he told with utmost sincerity.
I swallowed my laughter and asked him to place them in our garden, which he did.
“Really, how do you know it could be diamond?” I asked again with some fake excitement.
“My friend told in school. There can be diamonds in the play park. I think this one is a diamond” he said with what can be said as an discoverer’s aha moment.
I saw an opportunity to teach and I grabbed it.
“You know, it can be diamond, and it might not be a diamond too” I told.
“Huh?” he got hooked.
“Normally diamonds are mined about 100 or 200 meters deep into the ground” I started.
Then for the next half hour, we both forgot exams, dinner and went on to watch YouTube videos on how diamonds are mined and read Wikipedia article.
“But my friend said diamonds are found in play park”, he sounded a bit disappointed.
“Tell your friend tomorrow, that you saw video on it and that it needs more deep digging into the ground and is done only in certain special diamond parts of the world.” I replied.
“Did I dig up 100 meters today?” he asked, still wanting to prove he was right.
“Yeah, I don’t think so. It would be hardly one meter or so. And we need huge machines to dig up to that level remember?” I replied, trying not to sound haughty.
“But why do you need diamonds?” I asked, realizing this question should have occurred to me sooner.
“For art and craft, I want to glue to it to the greeting card in school tomorrow” he replied with innocence that only an 8 year old can pull off.
I was dumbstruck with that childhood magic for a moment there.
“Oh, that’s what you want the diamond for, well, let us see if we can search for any crystals that you can paste instead”, and then we proceeded to search for the crystals, and managed to prepare something for the test the next day.
We as parents want to teach our kids everything under the sun and beyond. I know I do. Sometimes books and worksheets are our tools.
But sometimes, rarely, children have their own way of learning. Once in a while, I would say, let the events unfold and be amazed at what all of us can learn from it. It is totally worth it.