This is the book Eli, age 8, and I are writing together. He tells me what to write, and I write it. After a long stretch of being too busy, we returned to it recently. We read the portion he had written earlier, and then had this conversation:
Eli: Mommy, we have to add another chapter, and it has to go at the beginning.
Me: Okay, we’ll do it however you like.
Eli: Good. It’s just that I’ve been listening to the stories we read that other people wrote [he's referring to books like Ender's Game and Harry Potter--we read good books together daily] and there’s something I noticed about them. They always talk about what life was like before the big thing happened, so you can see how things change. So we need to add a chapter that’s just an ordinary day in Ferluh’s life before we talk about what happened. Okay?
Me: Uh. Yeah. Okay.
Who does that? Who the heck does that? His little brain, constantly taking the world apart into pieces and seeing how they fit together, then using that information to improve his craft.
And he’s conscious enough of what he’s doing to talk about it, and conscientiously apply new principles as he understands them. Most ADULTS don’t do that. Is it the unschooling? An unusual turn of mind? He does this with art, too–remember that painting he bought at a yard sale and then examined, and then applied what he learned to his next artwork?
I’m really not bragging, I’m not. Okay. Maybe a little bit. Just a teensy, teeny weeny bit, because I’m really terribly crazy about this kid, all three kids, they’re so amazing. But I don’t believe, in my heart of hearts, that my kids are actually better than yours. Well, maybe a little bit. Just a teensy, teeny weeny bit, because, well, just because. (Doesn’t everyone believe their kid is better than everyone else’s? You’d better say “yes” because otherwise I’m calling social services on you. OF COURSE your kid is better than everyone else’s.) Forget that whole paragraph, really. Just forget I said anything. Your kid is awesome. Moving on.
Eli pays for this brilliant turn of mind with other things. Like the fact that he’s 8 and still barely reads and writes (he’s dyslexic, he’s making progress, it’s hard, thank goodness we’re able to provide an environment where he’s never shamed for it), and the fact that he has trouble stringing six words together to finish a sentence when there’s even the teensiest bit of pressure on. Like if someone casually says, “Quickly, I’ve got to take the water off the stove!”
Or “We’re leaving in ten minutes.”
Or “Eli, take it easy, we have all the time in the world.”
He doesn’t often finish sentences.
Also, he’s often so involved in his own world that people don’t even notice he’s there because, in a very real way, he’s just not. And so while people who know and understand him really appreciate him, to most people he’s practically invisible. And there’s the unremitting anxiety that twists his little tummy into knots and gives him headaches.
He also whines a lot. Loudly and at a very high pitch.
So, you see, my kid is not better than yours. He’s just different.
Back to the point. Eli is going to do something some day. I can’t wait to see what. What are your kids saying these days that is blowing you away?