Welcome to Saturday’s Share -Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!
Today, I hearken back a ways, to the first time I was brave enough to take the kids on an overnight trip without bringing backup (my husband or a friend who didn’t yet have children.)
It was also our first unschooling adventure – a gathering of a few families on a former dairy farm – camping in a meadow, celebrating an Orthodox Shabbos under a full moon (even though our family isn’t Jewish, we were welcomed to join in); playing with chickens, goats, and each other…
And then there were Dem Bones.
Our host family found them when exploring their new property, and left them there for visitors to discover.
They are the bones of some unknown horse…and, when Annalise found them, during a game of Explore the Forest with her new friends, she fell passionately in love.
That was no surprise:
For her third birthday, she asked for….intestines! No lie. That’s what she wanted. Telling her she already had them didn’t help – she wanted intestines she could explore and play with. Anatomy was an early favorite interest of hers.
She’d recently shifted her favorite animal allegiance from gorillas to horses, and she had a fondness for puzzles and mysteries.
In a single day, she visited these bones 5 times. Each time she lingered, and explored. She had many, many questions:
“Are these bones plastic, or real?”
“What do you think the horse looked like?”
“What part of the horse is this?”
At one point, she decided to try to put the pieces back together. She was very focused on this process, although most of the skeleton was missing. She spent about 20 minutes arranging and rearranging, narrating her thought processes as she went along.
She was five years old, but she’d already had years of practice on the mastodon skeleton puzzleat the New York State Museum by that point, and she was confident. Eventually, she got that collection of skull vertebrae, ribs, leg, and a partial pelvic bone sorted out and arranged.
She opened the jaws as wide as they would go (considerably wider than the horse would have been able to). She talked to it, sang to it, counted teeth, and checked their condition when I told her that horses’teeth got longer as they grew older. She wondered what the horse had been like, how old it had been, and how it had died.
As the time to go home neared, she cried, because she wouldn’t be able to take those lovely bones home with her. So I took some pictures, so that she would have them to look at later.
I was reminded of this last night, when I took the kids toJourney Through the Body, an annual event held at a local mall. Annalise is still interested in anatomy, although not as intensely as she was at five.
She still likes the bones, but she was more fascinated, by far, at the safety tent and the giant colon. Best lines of the night? “Look, Mom! I’m advanced colon cancer!” She said she was hanging out with her colon friends (yrs, I took a picture, but I haven’t edited it yet).
One gentleman volunteer chatted with her, then looked at me and said, “Future doctor.”
I shrugged, and answered, “Future happy person.” I mentioned several of her other lifelong passions – fashion, wildlife, art, storytelling, and performing. No telling yet which will flourish and blossom into a way to make a living, or which combination. It might even be one she hasn’t discovered yet. And we aren’t inclined to push any over another – her life is her own, and we trust she’ll decide what she wants, when she’s ready. She’s nine, and there’s absolutely no rush.
The gentleman looked at me, then past to where Annalise had moved on to another exhibit, and was laughing as she chatted with someone else. There was something new in his eyes.
“Current happy person, “ he said, with a smile.
And yes – that’s the point of creating a life with time for noodling with newly-discovered bleached horse bones, or a giant inflatable colon, or supplying a nine-year-old with makeup so she can satisfy a passion even when I don’t wear makeup and don’t really understand it.
That’s why we do it; why our lives are arranged around our passions. Engaging freely in passions makes happy people, no matter their ages.
And happy people make a happier world.
What do you think? Do you make time in your life for indulging your passions? Did your parents nurture your passions, or treat them as frivolous? If you’re a parent, do you make space in your life for your childrens’ passions, as they grow?
I’d love to hear your stories and opinions! After all, Saturdays are for sharing!