Monday, December 03, 2012
Our nine-year-old gets up to things.
His older brother is a teenager, and has gone quiet. But he is not inscrutable. The little one is literally inscrutable. He is my flesh and blood and kith and kin and I have no idea what's going on in there sometimes.
He is currently sitting in the dining room. It's the only really warm room in the house. He's eating a waffle and reading a Calvin and Hobbes compendium aloud to no one -- or everyone, including one sleeping person. He also has handy a giant book of New Yorker cartoons that he reads by the hour. He reads them over and over, but never laughs at those. He reads them like a stock report. Then he turns to a giant, 1000 page visual dictionary he stole from his brother's room. He reads them all like morning newspapers.
After he's done eating and reading, he'll probably watch physics lectures on YouTube on an elderly laptop we keep in there. I have no idea why he watches physics lectures on YouTube. He doesn't seem to think there's any difference between physics lectures and the Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys for entertainment purposes. He often sits impassive while watching the most absurd thing in a viral video, like it's instructional, then laughs at gravity drawn on a whiteboard. None of this has anything to do with his schoolwork. He does all this stuff before his schoolwork. Whenever I see those whiteboard animation lectures that are popular in college nowadays, I can't help noticing that they're perfectly suited to a nine-year-old's attention span and interest, as long as it has nothing to do with school. Parents are blowing 40 large on Sesame Street Science class for children that shave and drive and occasionally procreate.
He likes lists and like things, like many small boys. He favors flags right now. He's fond of drawing each one in Microsoft Paint. He draws all sorts of things in Paint. He's the last person in the world to use it, I think. He exhibits a behavior I admire. He'll be interested in something, so he'll try to reproduce it in every medium at his disposal. He likes Calvin and Hobbes, so he draws them in crayon, and then in Paint, and then he assembles giant totems of them out of blocks in Minecraft, and then he gets outre and draws the giant, blocky versions of them he made in Minecraft in Paint again. Then he erases is all and starts in on something else.
I do not spend as much time with my children as I'd like. I am always around, but I am busy. Yesterday I took a moment to try to teach the little feller something on the drums. His older brother had learned the guitar parts of a song, but the drumming was, I thought, more complex than anything the little boy had ever heard. I showed him a video of the fellows playing the original song, and it was a regular music video, not just a performance, and he was giggling uncontrollably at the way the rock stars presented themselves. He did not know that they did not intend to appear as clowns. He thought they were the circus. He wanted to watch it forty times, but wouldn't pay attention to the musical part. He could wear out a stone, that boy.
I painstakingly learned the drum parts and went upstairs and haltingly worked them out on the drum set. It took me fifteen minutes or so to get through it, slowly, once. It was deuced difficult. Then I went and got the little weirdo and stood him next to me at the drum throne and tried to teach it to him. He wiggled all around, and looked at the ceiling like there was money up there, and fidgeted enough for me to ask him if he needed to go to the bathroom, and he looked out the window, and generally ignored me until I was exasperated. I could tell he wanted to watch the video, and all this other stuff I was on about was superfluous.
We do not force any musical instruction on the kids. They play because they want to, or don't. I got up because it was pointless to continue. He sat down and played it, without error, right away. I hate that little kid sometimes.
He wants to be funny. He's still unsure exactly how to be funny. He says riotous things at dinner, and we all laugh until tears come. He starts after we do, and laughs more uproariously than we do, and then gets stonefaced and says, "I don't know why that's funny," and we laugh at that, too.
I advise you to get a little boy or two and watch them. They're better than television, and use less electricity.