Steven is curious and asks lots of questions about lots of things. I've found that it's in the car where we have our most interesting discussions, where so much is revealed about the both of us and it's a key place where the intimacy of the homeschooling relationship is developed. It occurs to me sometimes that it is so unique... and brief, so it is something to be served and nurtured. I realize this especially because I have a child in school and one at home. It changes when they leave.
And it could also be his stage in life, but there is a deep abiding trust that my words are integral to his current understanding of the world, and so I take his questions very seriously. He is a growing boy.
My mom used to hold the tiny hands of my oldest son when he was a toddler and say, "Look at these," as she would caress his little fingers, "one day these will do a man's work." It was amazing for us to imagine, this stranger, this miniature "other" becoming a man. I think about her holding those hands often these days as I walk this razor's edge of figuring out when to speak and when to be silent, when to teach and when to allow Steven to roam on his own. I understand what she was telling me though, and it is not just with hands that a boy will become a man, but with his mind and his heart. I choose to approach this with a delicacy and an intention. I am his first love. I am his first relationship with his "other."
There are days that I can't schedule learning. It just arrives, and it's when the questions are lingering, the motivation and inspiration are there, I've found that (and this was a long time process for me) I must veer toward the thing he is asking, not the thing that I think he ought to be learning. He, as a man in the making, knows what he needs to know. His thought is directed by millions of years of purpose and determination. I choose to trust that.
When he began to ask me recently about the facts of life, I knew that math and social studies had to be put to the side. I realized he was basically asking the oldest question in the world, "Where did I come from? Why am I here..."
I easily answered a lot of his questions. There isn't anything in me that feels uncomfortable speaking with him about anything he asks, but I wanted him to know that he can learn on his own, too. Because the subject is so personal and I honor a person's natural modesty (that seems to me is so often ignored or exploited in this culture), I asked him if he would like to read a book about it, too, and he was eager. One with pictures, please :).
So, I offered him this book and I really recommend it to parents who have children who like quiet corners to read on their own as much as they enjoy discussion. It is for girls and just as much for boys, which is not always easy to find: