yeah. i’mÂ that mom.
today was the big day in second grade. parents were invited in to see the two-part museums the children had created for american studies and science. part one involved native american tribes. each class contributed two docents to discuss their particular exhibit. i was thrilled to witness jools and his little girlfriend rose perform as docents, discussing all sorts of native american things. (not as thrilled as jools was. he often isn’t selected for these sorts of things, and as he was this time, he was jumping out of his skin. he couldn’t wait to do his bit. which, i would add, he did knowledgeably and marvelously, unbiased mom that i am.) we all moved around to each class’s native american exhibit, listening to their classes’ docents discuss all things powhatan. Â it was really a creative and well-done idea, and i send many kudos to the teachers and kids who worked very hard to put it all together. a lot of learning clearly took place!
part two of the exhibits involved their biome unit. Â (i don’t remember anything about biomes when i was a kid. we just talked about nature.) the kids learned about three different biomes: the desert, the deciduous forest, and the grassland. each child was to make a diorama depicting an animal from one of Â those three selected biomes. they also needed to write about the animal, it’s interdependent relationships, Â and interesting facts. there were quite a few bison, many cheetahs, lots of slithering snakes, all probably selected from the big list o’ animals distributed at the start of the project. did we pick one of those aforementioned animals?
of course not.
when we sat down to discuss the selection of the animal, we went to a website recommended by the teacher as a great resource on animals. from there, i’m not sure where we went, but we stumbled on an animal which, the minute i read its name, i knew would be the one the boy would select. ohmygawd how COOL, the boy exclaimed when i showed him a picture of this little, nonpredatory, ant-eating aussie lizard. it was settled. our animal would be: the thorny devil.
now i could tell you loads and loads about this adorable little dude, but a picture (or video) is probably way less verbose and far more informative than i’ll ever be.
anyway, we read together in books and on the web about this little creature. as he has a tough time writing neatly, the boy typed a sentence a day about this lumpy lizard until we had critical mass. Â we also discussed how to make the diorama. i reminded mr. man that i passed the second grade; so while i’d be glad to talk about the project and help him get what he needed, for the most part, he was on his own. he painted the inside of a girl scouts thin mint box blue and pasted cotton balls for clouds. we put down a mass quantity of glue on the bottom and poured sand (from our old sandbox sand bag) on it. he made a shrub out of green tissue paper from an old gift. the husband bought the boy some clay, and he fashioned a lizard as best as he could out of several colors. and then, he stuck toothpicks all over the lizard to show it’s spikes.
so today in class, after the native american museum part of the program, we entered the kids’ classrooms, whereupon everyone stood up and talked about their animal. the boy did a fine job mentioning that the devil gets water by both absorbing it through it’s tummy as well as by drinking the rain gathered in the little valleys created by the spiky skin on his back. well done, little man. he was so very, very proud.
and i was, too.
so then, we all walked around the classroom, admiring everyone’s work. i noticed plenty of ready-made plastic animals stuck into boxes. some dioramas were really quite realistic — one boy put actual cacti into his to show it was the desert. (i’m too much of a slacker to have gone there. bully for him.) and i stopped for a moment, standing by the boy’s diorama, when i overheard two boys talking as they peered into jools’ work. look, one boy said, laughing as he looked at jools’ interpretation of the thorny devil. he stuck TOOTHPICKS into his lizard. that looks dumb.
and i couldn’t help myself. i know i’m supposed to behave. i know i’m supposed to be an adult. and i know i would say something sharp to my son if i heard him making fun of someone else’s hard work. and, as part of the global village which it takes to raise children, i spoke up.
you know, i said, giving my sternest parental look, it’s really hard to make those spikes. you shouldn’t make fun of something if you haven’t tried it.
the boys looked at me, surprised, then sheepish. and fled.
natural instinct is a hard thing to fight.