Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My little Scientist



One of the things that has been interesting for me to contemplate is how my children's lives will be different, fundamentally, from my own simply due to the fact that the neighborhoods we are growing up in are so vastly different. I grew up in suburbia, lovely, wooded, safe suburbia outside of Boston, and there were kids everywhere. There were places to hide and run and we travelled to hike and explore, but our neighborhood was most definitely, exclusively, suburbia.
Now my kids live in the woods. We live on a windy road that follows a river, when you drive to our house you pass a few horse farms, a dairy, and then cross the river into a little wooded glen that has a few little houses right on (I mean hanging over) the river, and then high on the stone ledge above the river, our house, tucked in the trees. There are acres of woods around us. There are no kids at all.
I feel a little bad about this sometimes, as so many of my fond, childhood memories are centered around the joy of all the kids in our neighborhood, and how much fun we had just outside our doorstep. I am sorry that there are no kids here.
But our kids do have that limitless fun, too, just in a different way. Quite different, really, but so very fun. Outside our door is the fun of dirt, and old sticks, and hard-to-find paths. There are more streams and rivers, vernal pools, and fabulous views if you climb all the way up to the top of the little lump across the street from us. And it was on a trip up this hill, on the weekend, that we found a real prize: a bona fide, grainy, nasty, falling apart OWL PELLET. Oh, so cool. We transported it home and put it in the freezer, and tonight was an early bedime for Aoife, and Liam had napped, so he took it apart.
This is a little boy who is so insatiably curious, whose attention span appears to be limitless, who is so hungry to know and discover, and who also is really, really interested in dinosaurs. So this was akin tobeing a paleontologist for him, the ability to sift through the leaves and the fur, and to pull out the tiny little bones, one by one, and just marvel at each one.
This child, four years ago today, was unborn. In my belly. Technically, a fetus. And tonight, he sits just feet away from me, with endless patience, slowly and carefully dissecting an owl pellet. He pulls out tiny jawbones, pelvises, and identifies them from a chart. He is delighted to see parts of a crayfish, and wonders about the tiny molar he has discovered through his diligence.
How has this happened? Does life ever stop seeming so unbelievably miraculous?
I am so proud of him, and so amazed by him. I see my scientist mother in him, she who paused dozens of times on each walk that our family took to point out geological formations, to wonder at a pile of poop, to identify trees, flowers, and birdsongs. I think my kids will be just fine here, don't you? Not that I doubted that, not that I did.

3 comments:

Team Harris said...

Wow... Okay, I grew up in Hawaii. We do have some owls there but they aren't real abundant. I had no idea what an own pellet was! Based on your post, I went and googled it and learned something new! I found a couple of cool sites, one with a video of two little girls dissecting them. How neat! What an amazing little boy Liam is!!

Birdie said...

This is incredible! The determination on his face is so incredible Carol. You sure do have scientist on your hands my dear! I think that growing up in the woods will be oh so good for your beauties...in so many ways!

stephanie said...

I smiled from ear to ear when I saw this photo-It makes me thrilled to see Liam so intrigued by nature and the world around him. And it is hard to believe that 4 years ago, we had no idea just how wonderful a little boy he would be. I cannot express in words just how much I love this "little boy" of yours.