Our neighbor found an unbroken egg lying in the grass yesterday and gave it to First Mate.
This little discovery has lead to all sorts of discussions on life and death and sex. With him asking me hard questions. Questions I stumble on. Things like "Is it sad that the bird inside didn't get to grow and become a bird?" Followed up with "Well is it sad when we eat eggs for breakfast?" Which of course led to talking about fertilized versus unfertilized eggs. And how that happens exactly. "The rooster does what?"
Don't get me wrong, I'm not squeamish about talking to my son about life, death and sex. I'm squeamish about scaring the crap of out him about life, death and sex. I'm still learning to walk that fine line between just answering his question in a simple way that a four year old can understand and rambling on and on and confusing matters. Just answer the question and then shut up. Wait for them to ask another question. Or not.
There is an art to this I think. My husband in particular was terrible at this. He'd answer a question with an entire biology 101 class. He meant well. He loves teaching and explaining things but even he realized that this method doesn't work too well on a four year old who was off playing with blocks by the third sentence. So we are both working on this.
It can be hard. Especially when you are new to homeschooling (like we are) you have this desire to seize any potential learning experience and run with it. To teach the hell out of it. Which totally ruins it and robs it of any magic it may have had.
Take this egg for instance. When our neighbor first handed it to him I had visions of looking up different eggs online with him. Of figuring out what kind of bird it was from. Of wondering why the egg wound up on the grass.* However, he didn't want to do any of those things. At first I was dissappointed but I forced myself to shut up. Let him lead. He wanted to talk about other stuff. You know, silly stuff, like life, death and sex. Oh what this child teaches me when I let him!
I'm thankful I didn't press the issue of what kind of bird layed the egg. I can see now how frivolous that was in compared to the questions he was grappling with.
Let him lead. Let him lead. Let him lead. Trust.
*It was a mourning dove egg and the nest was probably disrupted by the Cooper's Hawk that I've been seeing and hearing lately. The hawk swoops down and pisses off all the birds in our yard on a daily basis.