Friday, June 15, 2007
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Roly Poly
Patience is a scientist, no, strike that, a scientist extraordinaire. For example, she collects bugs for observation. However, it doesn't end there. In fact it doesn't even begin there.
Allow me to share the process:
Step 1: Observe interesting bug in back yard.
Step 2: Find Insect Guide and determine type of bug.
Step 3: Discover appropriate habitat for bug.
Step 4: Build bug habitat from personal design.
Step 5: Collect bug using tools from Insect Collection and Storage toolkit.
Step 6: Observe bug daily, multiple times, under varying conditions. Test light, heat, dark, and environmental responses. Take notes.
Step 7: Create chart of life cycle, daily routines, and reactions to tests, a la chinois (which means, begin writing bottom left, move right and up from that point---to appease mom write frontwards translation under backwards words).
Step 8: Cry while releasing bug back into wild. Console self with thought of bug returning to family. Console self further by writing and creating book about bug.
Here are some things I have learned in the last couple of days about Pillbugs (aka roly poly bug), courtesy of Patience:
1. They prefer wet environments.
2. They are a class of wood louse. (OMG ICK! ICK! ICK!!!!! Total louse phobia here. I gag at the thought that one is living upstairs right now. In my house. The house I pay dearly to exterminate.)
3. Any sense of movement provokes instant balling response.
4. They will immediately uncurl when placed under a lamp. Conclusion: like warmth and light.
5. They are not insects. They are isopods and are more closely related to shrimp.
6. They start from eggs.
7. They do not have bones like us. They do have exoskeletons.
8. They can cohabitate with earthworms.
9. Although they seem happy with dirt and leaves, they will gluttonously consume frog pellets.
10. I can participate in this entire process without gagging once. No comment on the sarcasm/irony I can't mask.
Our continual drive to learn and research new things has taught me a lot. In fact, having children teaches me a lot. I might roll over for me, but not ever for them. I will study things carefully and make informed decisions. I might not always do it best, right or as per the PSA du jour on the networks, but it is done with thought.
When Patience was a toddler, before Noggin changed over to the Moose (and...can I vote him off the show? Eeeks, that singing!) they used to have a song they sang at the beginning and end of their broadcast day. Those were usually the times we had tuned in (often just for the song) and we'd happily belt it out every time.
Seeing, smelling, hearing, telling
New for me and for yoooouuuuuu
That's Patience's theme song---it encapsulates her approach and drive in life. The only element missing is touch. She never forgets touch.
She's hitting school age, now, though, and this is where the whole "who I am" morphs into "who I am with other people, who they are, what we all need to be like" thing.
My intrepid explorer, my half pint zoologist/entomologist has recently begin saying, "Ohhh EWWWWW," about bugs, sometimes---usually with or shortly after being with friends, all of whom seem to think, for some reason, that as girls they ought to squeal like stuck pigs when it comes to Gross Things like bugs. At home, sans friends, she says it to me to test my reaction. I play it low key, "Eww? Oh I'm not grossed out. Just a spider. I like them; they eat mosquitos."
But I think about it a lot. I don't want her to get too far away from this science and engineering that she loves so well, that is part of her. If I remind her, though, she rejects it, "Who are YOU to tell ME who I am?" I see the teen years will be fun.
I don't know why girls get this way. One of my top parenting goals was to foster enough esteem that my daughters wouldn't get sucked into the "go along with the friends." I don't want them to hide their light under a bush, secret parts of themselves, pretend to not be who they are while pretending to be someone they aren't. I don't want them to perfect the act so well they forget who they are, and get out of balance. I want them to feel empowered.
It took the teen and early adult years to utterly lose myself, and it's taking nearly as long to recover myself. This blog is a big step. It empowers me by forcing me to deal with myself as me, and deal with how others take me, as myself. I confront all the best and worst of myself right here. It's childhood, elementary, junior high, high school, college, work, community, and life all rolled up into one electronically delivered package.
When I think about it, Patience and I are at similar points of emotional development---the center point of self---but on opposite ends. I am recovering who I am, rediscovering long set aside dreams and interests, and becoming more sure of what I want and need. She---who has so definitively, her entire life, known who she is, what she enjoys, what she wants and needs---is beginning to test this against alternatives, outside reactions, and internal responses. She is moving away from her center point while I move towards mine.
I can see that this process has a degree of inevitability, and as much as right now feels like something that was somewhat detrimental to me, was in fact something essential. So I squelch my urge to fight it in her. I can see it is much more complicated than good esteem---which I have decided is simply the thing you need to make it through and recover afterwards, rather than a vaccination against falling into peer pressure---and solid parental support and guidance. I can understand and see so clearly the phase she is entering. I can sympathize with how difficult it is for her. I find it tough at my age...imagine how difficult at hers. I must step aside and become a little solid foundation, a little soft cushion, and a lot Mom with a dash of Friend, now. We're not quite past hugs and kisses making it all better, or quicksilver mood changes that let it go like it never happened. But almost. So I need to step up and bring my A-game now.
She doesn't blog, but she does journal, mainly with drawings. She depicts her thoughts---things she knows, problems she encounters, ideas that intrigue her, and things that worry or bother her---with detailed graphic illustrations. Her pictures are never just things; they are always long, elaborate stories.
I sit and blog, she sits and draws. Sometimes we do it side-by-side.
It's a good process. Doing it has carried me through many stages in life, and I believe it will do the same for her. Writing for me and drawing for her gives each of us a voice, reminds us of our strengths and abilities, helps us see who we are and who we are in relation to the rest of the world. It empowers.
I think as females we have a lot of challenges in this world, a lot of things that undermine our belief in self as powerful and strong. I think the shifting to and from the centerpoint is a process that is somewhat unique for women. Anything we do---blogging or drawing---balances out that challenge and shift because it provides an amazing platform for raising a voice, and feeling strong about it.
So I'll blog about roly poly bugs, Patience will draw out her scientific observations and we'll both learn a thing or two---about bugs and ourselves.
Note: This post inspired by HBM, the MBT, and a question about how blogging empowers. I may not find it a radical act, but it is an empowering one.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert