Picasso, the Apple-Faced Man, and Fireworks

Tonight was a gift, pure and simple. It was an Art & Poetry night, and I had big plans for both the boys with new books to share with each of them. But first, Ben needed to get his Math homework done. This has been a challenge for his entire life of school. He is in 3rd grade, and as smart as he is and as creative and imaginative, somehow the act of doing something that is required rubs against his grain and makes him surly.

He has fought his homework with a sullen attitude that breaks my heart, because I have all these fun things to share, but we have agreed that to keep giving him these fun activities when he won’t do the basics would actually undermine anything he is supposed to be learning.

He started out that way tonight, he got sent to his bed for a while, but then something triggered. We talked about how Math is like exercise for your brain. He likes to push himself to the limits with his mini-bike and his bicycle, going off jumps down the driveway and going as fast as that little engine will take him. He is a daredevil. I told him how the brain will look at something it can’t figure out – like a math problem – and all of a sudden the brain decides it’s going to push itself to the limit, and Figure until it solves that problem, until it moves past the confusion, and wrestles it out until it wins!

I told him his brain needed exercise just like his body craves it. I turned my back to start on dinner, and next thing I knew, he was hunched over his paper writing in strong strokes. He was grinning. He was humming. Subtraction wasn’t going to win, he was going to win. He said to me, “I’m like that guy who never married, and showed up at his friends’ houses at 5:00 in the morning with a notepad and a pencil in the middle of an equation. I’m going to be like that guy!” I spun around! I couldn’t believe he quoted me almost word for word from a story I told him a week or two ago. And he was really proud of himself. He got it. He had turned off the part of himself that was resisting, and suddenly it was easy for him. Oh – I was rather beside myself. He was sticking out his chest and pounding on the table and making the sounds of fireworks in the sky. It was quite a banner night for math at our house!

So tonight I got to bring out the fun treats I’d purchased. For Bean, our 4-year old, we looked through “I SPY: An Alphabet In Art” and for Ben, we read through the early reader book on Picasso. Ben has been fascinated with Picasso since he was only 3 1/2 years old. I did not introduce him to Picasso – the movie Toy Story did. He only needed that little reference, and his little artist brain grabbed onto it and filled in all the rest.

We absolutely loved our Art Adventure tonight, but I think I am more hung up on how excited Ben was to have had a breakthrough in Math. I am resting well tonight!


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