Jude the Formative Years

Jude is 17-months old and I feel sorry for him as his aunt, because I am not normal and I know it.  I’m in the process of negotiating with his mom about teaching him German starting at 2 years old.

And I get distracted by science kits every time I see one.  I’m ready to grow minerals, collect rocks for a rock tumbler, make volcanoes, make rockets, buy matching microscopes, teach him forensic sciences as well as chemistry, geogology, zoology – to the best of my ability – about DNA, I took an elective in high school and college for this and it’s the only thing in biology I love.

We will not be dissecting any frogs, grasshoppers, roadkill, or mice, but there’s so much other stuff to learn about that I’m good with leaving that nasty stuff for school – I do not do dead things – oh the irony.

When his dad was little, I’d put him and his big brother to sleep on sleepless nights with history stories of battles and wars and cool shit that history is packed with.  Jude’s uncle remembers them favorably, so I imagine I will be doing those again and I can’t wait.  I may just record myself telling them, like a bedtime story and let his mommy play them on nights he can’t sleep.  And by favorably, he remembers some of the information and he remembers they put him to sleep.

We’re going to do fun DIY stuff.  We’re going to foster creativity with painting, coloring and mastering writing skills and I know how to make that fun, I’m not a total bore all the time.

Research shows that kids fall behind during summer vacation, not a lot, just enough to be a problem for a kid without good studying skills and quick learning abilities.  So when his dad and uncle were younger, they hated summers because I would make up lesson plans for summer activities that focused on science, math, and the creative arts.  Because I think having a talent, even if it’s soap making and writing novels, is a good thing or painting masterpieces and learning to make candles also nothing to be ashamed of… Now I can’t paint, but I know people who can and if he has a natural talent for it, I might try to get their help fostering it… I have trouble with paint by numbers things, so I’m not a good teacher there.  I’m also color deficient and that doesn’t help.

We’d go to this mostly dry creek bed to collect rocks for their rock tumbler.  One time, we left it on too long so I taught them about concrete, because one science project always leads to another.

Oh and geography!  The world is amazing.  So much better to know and understand it than be afraid to go 100 miles from your house to a big city where you might get mugged – ironically, my boss once got mugged twice in one day in Manhattan.  But that’s not the norm, he just looks like a good target, even jogging.

The point is I want to embed in him that learning can be a blast.  I want him to learn as much as he can about as many things as possible.  I want my husband, his great uncle to teach him about mechanics.  I want him to teach him how to create things with his hands, even if it’s just a chain link fence or changing the oil in a car…. those activities will wait until he’s a lot older.

I think he has an aptitude for learning and I don’t just say that because he’s my great nephew, but because I have noticed he gets bored with age appropriate toys really fast.  The flashy lights and songs keep his interest for a few moments, but you let me open up a blank word document and he wants to type.  He can’t spell yet, he only moderately talks, but I am beginning to look at the ages on toys with disdain because of it.  I think he wants to learn and if I can get him while he’s young and teach him that learning can be awesome and fun, I think he will find a passion for it that lasts a lifetime, like I did.

So, next year, we skip the box labels that aren’t important and start teaching Jude that learning is fun.  Essentially, I’m working to create another geek, like me.  But I’m okay with that.  I just hope his mommy is too!

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