ENZO & NICKY'S
Papa’s Guided Tour
February 16 & 17:
Sunday was Build-a-Castle Day. We took five large computer boxes used for moving; built a tower by sealing two of them together with packing tape and nuts and bolts, the other three formed two tunnels with a an upright garrison to connect the two underground passages; we then secured the halves of the castle by tying illegally acquired (stolen) milk crates to the back of the structure, so it would no topple over; cut-out variously styled windows in the sides (i.e. French, old subway car, Al Capone Valentine's Day Massacre bullet holes in the garrison, and a sunlight circle for a vestibule); and best of all, over two days we began to glue a collage of hundreds of un-albumed photos to the façade of the castle—leaving most whole, and cutting others into triangular puzzle pieces reassembled and even employing the paper shredder (Enzo got pretty excited about this method, but I soon got tired of trying to match 25 different strips for each photo).
And not only was I genuinely amused and proud to be leading this learning experience, but I was thrilled to actually witness evidence of development, for there were a couple of instances that it seemed clear that Enzo had learned by example the principle of organization by categorization and design in the form of pattern creation.
In the case of the former, without prompting he began separating pictures into 4 categories: black and white pictures created from a standard paper printer, color still life photos, color people photos, and a category for pictures he associated with me - "Papa's pictures." This separation may have stemmed from our prior exercise where I asked him to choose from only the B&W photos which I had to trim before pasting to cardboard, or maybe it was our discussion about animal species categorization earlier at lunch, or perhaps it was even taken from witnessing my separation of wire twists, rubber bands and dry cleaning tags into separate bags.
As to the latter case of pattern creation, I watched from above as he drew wholly different patterns on paper; dots in one corner, a lopsided concentric design at center and in a different colored pen and stretch of linear vertical strokes, which looked quite akin to the results of our photo shredding an hour earlier.
More relevant was our grand creation of the spaceship I have been promising—The Babyship Enterprise—made of baby bottles and their parts (turbo nuclear-powered rocket engines), a pacifier (headlight and hood ornament), the shell of a flashlight (second tier and captain's command center) and the casing of an old power surge box we stripped of its soldered wires and electrical posts (serving as the hull of this galactic voyager). We fastened everything with nuts, bolts and screws and then I had Enzo help me paint it with white house paint. Tomorrow morning I'll apply gold trim.
And the final use of our imagination had us creating creative cuisine on the fly. Not apt to rely on recipes, I can put together a sumptuous meal in matter of minutes and truly believe I have managed to create a masterpiece out of leftovers and dashes and sprinkles of this and that.
So, it was, with two boys in hand (it was girl's night out) I managed to start the rice cooker (a recent source of joy for me, since it has been ten years since I last used it, and I used to use it almost daily —it has been especially pleasing since I bought a 5 lb. Bag of Japanese rice which is soooo much better than minute rice and uncle ben's), preheat the oven for the jin-toy, make four cups of jasmine tea in the coffee percolator, and think on a moment's notice what kind of sauce I was going to add to the frozen butternut squash, sting beans and broccoli menagerie I had tossed into the pan. It ended up being a on the verge of perfectly delicious - a mix of a spoonful of apricot preserves, two tablespoons of milk, and a generous sprinkle of ginger —I could envision a few revisions with fresh steamed crisp vegetables, a premixed mixed sauce of fresh ginger, apricot jam and coconut milk and a then a quick sauté of the two in a sizzling wok.
Enzo and I continued the collage on my workshop sliding door by first cutting pictures out of a photostock book and then gluing them to the door later on in the day.
We also finished decorating the Babyship Enterprise: painted gold trim and added stickers, spelling out the name of the vessel on each side; also added crescent moons to rocket boosters, stars under the evidence of its christening, and purple phantoms on both the starboard and port sides (all Enzo's design).
As it was a crisp, yet not unbearably cold, day we also raked the yard as per Enzo's spontaneous suggestion, pulling weeds and cutting branches that had not been tended to for about half a year apparently. Our imagination kicked in with the movement of three dozen large stones from the edge of the front lawn to the side of the backyard to create a border beneath the 17 Christmas-like evergreens parallel to the sidewalk.
Examples of Enzo's employment of imagination greatly outnumber any of my own attempts to lead us through creativity. Moreover, mine pale in comparison because I actually have to try, his are effortless. Per his command of the helm, we navigated through shark infested waters, spotted a whale starboard, and steered clear of icebergs in our makeshift cardboard ship and the lifeboat for Nicky which tagged alongside the master vehicle. To my pleasant surprise this sea cruise was able to keep him occupied (and stationary) for a about half an hour, long enough for me to do some cleaning and housework—all I had to do was step in upon the viewing deck occasionally to avoid menacing fish and having to walk the plank because I had ignored the Captain's orders.
" Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán
Immediately, I tried to make a connection for him between "steam" which I taught him was water evaporating when we were washing dishes one day, to the evaporation of the water of the bobbing bird's head ("ducky" to E) after it bobbed again for a sip of agua. Even though it was not entirely clear that he made the connection, I simply have to have faith that some neurons were triggered and new synapses made, as he has surprised me with his declarations so many other times.
He was toting about a piece of paper with his newest scribbles on it this morning, which is not unusual, but I do believe it inspired the following paper-rock-scissors thought from him, he blurted:
"Aunt Michelle at school is going to give me scissors to cut open an insect and frog, so I can see their strings."
Red lights of warning started flashing before me as my parental concern started to churn images of Enzo cutting open animals, or God forbid, experimenting on his brother. So, of course, I did what I usually do to allay may paranoia and recited the latest dictum: "You only dissect frogs when you get much older." "When I grow up?," you could almost see the slight lift of enthusiasm upon his toes with the soprano rise of the last word of rhetorical inquiry. "Yes, when you grow up. Then they'll provide you with special frogs—preserved in formaldehyde, for-mal-de-hyde. Repeat after me FOR-MAL-DE-HYDE ," making sure he saw my lips as I reiterated this new word.
He mimicked me with phonetic perfection, and I was very proud. I knew that he may not have grasped what the preservative liquid was, but being able to pronounce it well I thought was the first step towards understanding.
Aunt Michelle: is not actually his aunt, although he does have an Aunt Michele who happens to live right up the street. The AM her referred to is another Michelle who has cared for him on occasion when we have to leave him at the daycare center at my office.
Scissors: His maternal grandmother—who he oddly enough distinguishes from his paternal one(s) - (i.e. California Grandma and Golfing Grandpa) - as Scott's grandma (or grandpa), Scott being his first cousin—son of the real AM (who is the eldest sister of E's mother)— introduced him to scissors by bringing him a child's pair and construction paper on Saturday when she kindly babysat for us.
Strings: his (really mine) analogy for muscles and their purpose, which I explained to him as the strings that allow us to move our bones. I originally explained that tendons were really the strings that attached our bones to our muscles, but after seeing the linear form of muscles in a medical reference book I showed him to explain our skeletal, muscular and internal organ systems, muscles as strings clearly stuck as the most lucent metaphor.
Despite the fears that his inklings of scientific curiosity and subsequent inquiry spawned in me, I was quite pleased to hear his enthusiasm for actionable discovery. A friend of ours gave us an "antique" game of Operation some Christmases ago. I wonder if I could employ this battery-operated take out-the-organs but don't-trigger-his-Rudolph-red-nose alarm game to further develop his knowledge of our physiology—but then again I fear—afraid that he might get the idea that he should really operate on someone. I think I'll try to find a plastic dissection model of a frog as a substitute, at least for now. His birthday is coming up in a little more than a month, so that might serve well as a gift. Then again, I'm not sure I can wait that long to further explore in area of life which he is so inclined to explore now. Guess I'll be going to Toys "R" Us at lunchtime today.