Do you remember this cartoon? I thought of it this week in reference to sweet Buster. Chris’ parents were in town, and one of the fun things we planned was going into the city to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. In an effort for our crew to have some information and understanding before we went, I printed off a teacher’s planning guide from the website. (Chris’ parents have been to China, his mom several times, so they have a much broader base of understanding than any of the rest of us had.)
The teacher’s guide is wonderful. Good pictures, tons of great information, and really helped us understand what we were going to see, yet how infinitesimal the number of warriors we were going to see was compared to the vast number at the actual site in China. (The exhibit had about 15 full terra cotta warriors, plus some chariots and bronze statues. The original site has over 7,000 warriors.)
As the children and I sat on the couch and read through the guide, Monkey was intrigued and interested, Yessa was half-interested, half just wanted to be part of the group, and the Buster, well, he stayed with it for 10 or 15 mintues, and then he was done. He said he was done, he didn’t want to even hear any more, and finally I took him upstairs to hang out with Dad while the rest of us kept reading. Hmmm, I thought. I wonder how this will play out at the museum tomorrow.
The exhibit was great. I could have spent a lot more time there reading, watching, thinking, and learning. We were there about an hour, working our way through. Zachary and Noa were done after about 45 minutes. Zachary got so overwhelmed that he finally put his head under my sweater and followed me around through the last hall, acting like he was my tail. He had had it with Terra Cotta Warriors. He told me he had had it.
“Mom, if you make me see one more warrior my head will explode.”
It wasn’t that he was tired, and he wasn’t famished. We went to Potbellies for lunch after the museum, and the kids all did great. No one melted down.
It really was just that he was done with the Warriors. He found them interesting to start with, and when his brain was full up on them, he knew it.
Of course, very often things lead back to homeschooling for me. This was a prime example for me of how grateful I am for the flexibility we are given by homeschooling. Just like with reading, or playing the piano, or learning about the Civil War, I wanted/want our time going to museums and learning new things to be joyful and interesting for all of us. If pushed past a point of readiness and interest, the topic can become a point of dread or dislike.
When we go to China to visit our good buddies in a year and a half, I want the Terra Cotta experience to be a positive memory. By allowing Zachary the right to end his interest when he needed to, odds are good that he’ll remember the day in a positive way.