26 hours, 48 minutes, 33 seconds was the amount of time it took to travel from Austin, TX to Pontiac, IL. It was Addison and Elijah’s 4th train ride with the other three rides being no more than 2 hours long. Trains have that nostalgic feel where you go back in time; when time goes just a bit slower than usual. I was hopeful I would catch a glimpse of time truly slowing down.
While planning this train ride, I was curious at how this trip was going to work out. Would my children enjoy it? Would they hate it? Would they want to do it again? Would my body survive sleeping at very odd angles? What I was sure of was the certainty that within two hours, the swaying, back and forth, back and forth, the motion would lull two children to sleep. WRONG! The reclining seats, foot rests, and tray tables were just as mesmerizing 5 1/2 hours later as they were the first minutes when leaving the station. And the bathrooms… obsession is what I would call it. At one point, Addison started pressing buttons. That’s when I noticed she pressed the ‘Call the Attendant’ button. When I asked her why, she calmly stated, “Mom, it says press here. So, I did.” I went on to explain to read above the button, below the button, even around the button before pushing anything the next time. She saw the same button on the way up the stairs, and restated why we push the button. Luckily, an attendant never came. At least I think that was luck.
We gave the kids mini iPads for this trip and for our soon to be subsequent trips. Both children were ecstatic, not for the games I preloaded, but for the camera and options on the camera. This was the opportunity for me to see what children see through their eyes. A glimpse of what they found interesting, weird, question, love, and fascinating.
Addison was taken with all of the graffiti. At least 200 pictures of the shapes and colors that represent to me defamation of property. She saw the raw beauty and artistic aspects of the words and symbols. Something that I knew deep down is Addison is my noticer. She sees details and remembers every things I have lost within my mind. She is a connector of knowledge and experience and to people. She is also a visual learner. As I create learning experiences and share expectations for her throughout her life, this is what I must keep in mind. These are her strengths.
Capturing Eli’s attention was the architecture. Buildings and towers capitalize his photographs. A tough cookie to crack, Eli is very reserved and shy. He looks at the world quietly; yet deeply through analyzation, reflection, and a fierceness for right and wrong. He sees things as black and white with nothing in between the two. This is my biggest challenge as a parent and an educator. Teaching him the difference between fairness and equity requires a good deal of conversation often met with debate during the day. However, it is at night after deep processing throughout his waking hours, the questions come and the conversation turns to learning and understanding the world. As an educator, I normally would not be able to help him process this way simple for the reason most educators do not live in the same home. Yet, as his mom, I can provide the time. I must build in this precious, precious time for his growth to mature. His deep thinking and fierceness are his strengths.
Being vulnerable to time means taking time to really listen, to watch intently, and be in the space my children need me to be. This is one of the greatest challenges of all by taking a different perspective. Being vulnerable to time is, in actuality, a great gift.