Leaves on a Fence

by doodaddy on October 15, 2008

20081014-029
The World’s Best Classroom

Sometimes the best parenting moments happen when you just get out of your kids’ way.

Autumn winds have started, and the other day at the playground Boo and her friend and I walked up the stairs to the overlooking tennis court to watch the trees blow around.

The wind in our faces, cutting easterly through that high fence that always seems to overlook tennis courts — the kind with a couple of balls rammed hard into the chain link about 15 feet off the ground.

Wandering around, Boo found a dandelion growing through the concrete and (I’ve taught her well) immediately started weeding it out, tearing one leaf at a time. When she accidentally dropped one leaf, she was delighted to find that the wind blew it against her chest and held it there for a minute like some sort of applique spinach before finally carrying it away into the distance.

Seized by an idea, she took the next leaf and poked it through the fence, so that when she let go the leaf was affixed there, unable to push through the links or fall to the ground, held up as it was by the wind.

Eventually her leaf did fall, but by then Boo had collected a dozen more and stuck them in their own places on the fence, a green collage held up by the power of autumn. She and her friend made a game of it, and although I never really learned the rules, it kept them occupied for a quarter hour.

Then they were off to the next thing, principles of physics and meteorology learned and discarded, probably to be retained — the more so because the whole time (partially repentant science teacher that I am) I managed not to say a single thing.

  • Not “Do you know why that works?”
  • Not “Here, try it this way!”
  • Not even a “Wow, look what you’ve discovered!” (Well, not until later, anyway.)

I just got to be a witness: to the observation, the epiphany, the hypothesis, the experiment, and the assimilation.

Yeah. That’s what it’s all about.

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tagged as in nature,playground,teaching ·

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelley October 15, 2008 at 1:18 am

Yup. Wish we still had that wonderment. I would be all ‘damn leaves that I have to clean up’

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Jerri Ann October 15, 2008 at 6:37 am

Yup, I learned a long time ago that the best lessons learned are learned without a narrator telling you how to “learn” it. But, my husband, he still thinks he has to dictate “how” the boys do things so he can “make” them do it right. I”m going to keep pushing him though, maybe you should chat with him…oh, never mind, he is hopeless.

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orlund October 15, 2008 at 12:08 pm

ooohh, that’s going to be a hard one for me. I love to teach people and give hours and hours of lectures. Just ask my wife. I will probably have to tape my mouth shut so that they can learn on their own sometimes.

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cake October 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm

i am very impressed with your ability to stay out of it. it’s something i have to work so hard at.

thanks for sharing the story.

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doodaddy October 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm

@Kelley – Yeah, well, it was at the tennis court. Someone else’s leaves!

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doodaddy October 15, 2008 at 6:01 pm

@Jerri Ann – You could show *him* how to do it, rather than telling him! Or… send him a link to my blog. (I’m always looking for readers… desperately!)

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doodaddy October 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm

@orlund – Yeah, I know — was a teacher, too! My mom once told me about dating a professor… she said he would talk without a break for 50 minutes, then be completely silent for 10. There’s a lesson in there… since then I’ve tried to be mindful!

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doodaddy October 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm

@cake – Well, in this case it’s because I was really, really sleepy! But thanks for the kudos all the same!

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Kory October 16, 2008 at 8:14 pm

As a first time father-to-be of a new baby girl I’d like to thank you for sharing this story. It’s moments like this I am looking forward to the most.

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doodaddy October 23, 2008 at 2:43 pm

@Kory – Of course — good luck!

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