Friday, April 16, 2010

I Hate Birds

I am not really a nature loving girl. I grew up in suburban Saint Paul. My idea of roughing it was a hotel without a pool. I spent most of my free time at malls. Then I moved to the Northland and had kids. Now I do enjoy being outside more than I used to. I like hiking and going on bike rides. It's even rumored that I enjoy camping however I cannot confirm that in public.

One of the parts of nature that I dislike the most is birds. My mom is deathly afraid of them and she's passed that on to me. I'm not deathly afraid, I guess I just hate them. And here I am today totally excited about birds. I am totally pumped about a bird banding class.

When I used to work at my home church, my friend Heather and I ran kids day camps all summer. Our least favorite day was nature center day. Taking a bunch of kids knee deep in a pond to look for critters was not our idea of fun. But at least we were getting paid for it. On a side note the best day was going to the PlayZone. It was an indoor playground, air-conditioned with Diet Coke in the snack shop!

Anyway, I spent this morning walking around a nature center with Maren and Annie's class. It was freezing cold and windy. We were looking for beaver teeth marks in trees. In the cold. Did I mention how much I love nature? I couldn't care less which tree a beaver chewed. Then we looked at the snakes and turtles in the building. Gross. The good news is that I had a can of Diet Coke in our lunch bag. The thought of that helped me fight on.

I can think of about 501 other things I would have wanted to do this morning. Number 500: a root canal. Okay, it wasn't quite that bad. But you get the picture. We do things for our kids that we have no interest in. It's not that hard to do things I don't like for the sake of my kids.

As they get older, I'm finding out how important to recognize each of my kids' gifts, talents and personalities and find ways to encourage them. It's not about what I want them to do or what's fun for me. It's easier with some kids than others. Jenna and I are a lot alike. We like a fast bike ride or a walk with friends. We had a great basketball season.

Then there's Grant. Grant has become passionate about ornithology. Huh, come again? Yeah, that's the term science and nature people use to talk about the study of birds. Yep, birds. He's bringing home large books on birds and talking about having a pet bird. I shudder at the thought. How am I supposed to connect with my son who is passionate about something I loathe?

Today at the nature center I noticed a bird watching center with charts and binoculars. I asked the naturalist about it. She told me they are having a bird banding class in May that we could go to. They have camps about birds for kids. And all of a sudden I was super excited about birds. What a great opportunity for Grant. I had to hold myself back from running right up to his classroom when we got back to tell him. He can learn about birds. We can connect through the love and interest of a naturalist that does not shudder at the thought of touching a bird.

I don't love birds. But I love my son. I want to encourage his unique personality and interests. So ornithology here we come. Even if I never learn to enjoy it, I'll certainly enjoy the time with him. And as long as I can watch through the window with a Diet Coke in hand, we'll be good.

How do you connect with your kids? What are the gifts and passions you are seeing in them that need to be encouraged?


SahlbergFamily said...

Aren't boys great? It could be worse, my boys caught and brought into my house a giant water bug. Google it, it's nasty. It then escaped this week and THANK GOD it got into Daniel's rat's cage, who ate it. Yes, a rat. Then two night's ago, all three boys (including husband in "boys" here), waded into Mission Creek at 9 PM to have a fish fight with suckers. Picked 'em up with their bare hands and threw them at each other. Bizarre. Anytime you want to go to the mall, shop and have a diet coke, give me a call! :)

Peter and Nancy said...

My oldest has already decided he wants to be a chemist or a pastor. (He's 9. I'm petty sure I didn't even know the word chemist when I was 9.) :o) It's pretty easy to think of things to encourage him . . .

But our current middle child is harder -- he loves Legos, other kids his age, and being goofy. Maybe a career in stand-up comedy? Comedy that appeals to 7-year-olds? We try to make sure he has chances to be in plays, etc. which he loves.

Our daughter loves arts & crafts -- easy for me to go along with those!

I think you're doing just what you should do by noticing what they love. I heard a good teaching once about the verse "train a child up in the way *he* should go." The emphasis was on discovering the way God had in mind for each individual child. Like you're doing. :o)