Last week, I wrote about the joy I found listening to my two year old ramble on and on, as she is learning to talk. Lately, I’ve been finding equal pleasure in talking to my almost seven year old. I love getting a glimpse into the way she processes and thinks about the world.
About a week ago, we were driving home from a week long trip to the beach in Maine. I was parenting solo and feeling a bit of anxiety leading up to the four hour drive home. Determined to make the trip without any stops, I loaded my three girls up after a few hours on the beach (and a shower). I packed dinner and snacks and turned a movie on the DVD player as soon as we hit the road. I was hoping the girls would fall asleep, making the ride easier than if they were wide awake, full or requests… and questions- like, “how much longer?”
It seemed that my plan was working. Less than and hour into the trip, the two younger girls were fast asleep in the middle row. Wren sat watching Pocahontas in the third row. “You know this is a story about Native Americans, right?” I asked.
“Why did the people come to America?” she asked.
We talked about freedom, pursuit of a better life, and different kinds of leaders. We also talked about some of the unfair treatment of the Native Americans. Somehow, this lead us into conversations about our current political situation.
“Why couldn’t they all just live here and get along?” She wanted to know and, “Why were some kings unfair? Don’t you have to take some sort of test before you can be king?”
We talked and talked.
“This kind of reminds me of a book I read at school about Sacagawea,” Wren said.
I was caught off guard. I had no idea she had ever even heard of Sacagawea. “Oh yeah?” I asked. “What do you remember?”
I thought she’d recall some vague details or main points from her reading. However, Wren went on for nearly ten minutes retelling what sounded like the entire book. She would have kept going if her sisters hadn’t woken up and overpowered her sharing with their tired whines and need to be heard.
Whenever their voices lulled, Wren called from the back, “Can I tell you the rest now, Mom?” Each time, just as she would launch right back in where she had left off, Adi or Rose protested. I promised Wren we’d pick up the next day, when we were home and everyone was settled. I could see the disappointment in her face as I looked back in my rear view mirror.
But sure enough, the next day, pretty bright and early, Wren came back to relaunch her story. And once again, I just listened, almost in disbelief about how much she had soaked up and remembered from her reading and the connections she made.
While on vacation, I started reading Sonja Cherry Paul and Dana Johansen’s Breathing New Life into Bookclubs. Cornelius Minor wrote the forward and said, “Sonja and Dana understand that whenever our society has been confronted with big questions, well-read young people have always been the answer.”
Next week Wren will be seven. I have high hopes that she’ll be one of those young people that Cornelius speaks of.