A mother’s mantra: ‘These skills will help them someday’

We’re all feeling a little religiously toward the sun right now, schlepping our troubles to the south-facing windows to be bathed in the benediction of sunlight. June through September, we hide from the overly generous southwestern sun; but now I almost want to issue an apology for my shirky behavior and renew my vows at the altar.

The kids are deliciously themselves. Rose is teaching herself to read (which involves flipping through easy reader books putting her own, elaborate linguistic spin on “Tom has a red hen,” having nothing to do with Tom or a hen).

Col is curating a batch of experiments with household ingredients, which he may or may not have asked to use.

He is thrilled to learn that if you put the contents of the silica gel packets (found in seaweed and shoeboxes) in water, they pop!

Currently, Col’s observing a dead box elder bug float peacefully in a vial of turkey broth. He’s like a proud Papa because the bacteria and mold he swiped from the toilet seat and placed on a sterile medium of agar is growing like an orange galaxy of, er, grossness (growing outside, that is. Dan finally said, “I get paid to find and eradicate mold in people’s house because it’s a toxin. Put it outside!”).

We recently read a book about the inventor, Thomas Edison, and learned that because Edison didn’t do well in school, his mother home-schooled him (aka: set him free to focus on his two favorite pastimes: reading and experimenting). In the course of experimenting, Edison set two accidental fires – one that burned down his own father’s barn and another, chemical-based fire on the train he worked on. Somehow, raising a boy who is passionately curious, but gets hives from doing school worksheets, this information is both terrifying and reassuring all at once.

Rose is doing her part to keep our brains quick and agile.

She ambushes me daily with lawyerly questions that confuse me into answering “yes.” “OK, Mama,” she begins, just as I’ve busily committed myself to some kitchen undertaking, “there’s eight presents so far, and four nights left of Hanukkah, so can I open one present right now?” In the car on the way to the grocery store, she’ll ask, “can me and Col both get a chocolate earthball?” “Sure, one each,” I answer. Two minutes pass, in which I’m focusing on driving, reading bumper stickers and singing along to Styx, and Rosie says confidently like she’s the family secretary just confirming the schedule, “OK, so two earthballs each at the store and a movie when we get home, right?”

You can find me back at home, clutching my spiked eggnog and muttering to myself: These skills will help them someday. These skills will help them someday. These skills will help them someday.

Reach Rachel Turiel at sanjuandrive@frontier.net.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.