Monday, March 23, 2009

Freedom to Experiment

Four excited ten year-olds bump and clump into my house after school, rosy cheeked and dripping with wet snow. No longer shy or fearful of me, they find me, offer a quick hug and get to work on their gratitude journals. Today, they work in twosomes to read and follow directions. I stand asside for backup, because I really want to see how they do on their own.

"This didn't work. What did we do wrong? I think we have too much ice. It is too heavy for the ice on the string to hold. Let's do it again."

After attempting to stir 1 tablespoon of water into 4 plus tablespoons of sugar for over 12 minutes, they ask, "What does dissolve mean? Oh. This is still crystalline. It has not dissolved
yet. Why is this so hard? Oh yeah. The instructions do say 3 tablespoons of water."

I watch as the wrong ingredients go in the pan, in the wrong measurements. Oh, I want so bad to say something. I can't resist. "Check the recipe one more time. What do you do first?" Cocoa spills all over the floor and counter top. The nuts are so fun to chop, that they all want a turn, chopping them into fine nut dust.

My girls display their experiments with pride and with no less pleasure, describe their errors and what they learned from them.

"I now know that "boil" doesn't start right as I put the ingredients in."

"Our experiment took so long because we were not reading the directions carefully."

They are mostly gone now, except for Ladybug. I slowly clean a cyclonic mess. Often, like today, I forget they are coming over and come up with an activity at the moment. This could definitely be done better, but the most meaningful gift I give them is FREEDOM. Freedom to experiment with new things. Freedom in my home and my cupboards, freedom to make mistakes and messes, and freedom to b
e themselves.

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