Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lairnin' Logan

Jo, Atticus ... they follow a pretty easy pattern. Read a book. Talk about a book. Maybe even write about a book. And voila! They have a file folder in their brain that they can access at any time to retrieve even the most minute details.

Teaching them is easy. In, fact, it's so easy that I'm fairly certain they could lairn (as my Poppy used to say) from one of those dry-as-toast video school jobs. Now, they'd be bored to bits--but they'd learn. Why? Because if they hear it, it's theirs. Plain and simple.

Logan hangs in there pretty well in this house dominated so often by words. Perhaps it's simply the fact that words--written, spoken, sung--are the backdrop of our family's life in a much deeper way than the average lot. I write: fiction, nonfiction, reviews, this blog, the occasional unit study, diatribes that never see the light of day. Mr. Blandings writes: press releases, articles, a now-massive Bible study for fathers that will hopefully make it to book form some day. Jo writes: short stories, one full novel, and more letters than you can shake a stick at. And Atticus writes: an epic novel divided, LoTR style into three "books," comic books, frighteningly observant articles, and the random poem.

Logan writes, too. Poetry, mostly. I'm proud to say that it doesn't rhyme, and that he uses words like "epicenter" correctly, even though he misspells it. He also has a story going. I haven't been invited to read it yet, but my hopes are high that I may get the nod sometimes soon.

Here's the thing: Logan doesn't think he's a writer. And that pains me.

Because he doesn't follow the words=learning all there is to know about a subject pattern set in place by Jo and Atticus, he thinks he's different. 

Case in point: Yesterday, driving home from a fun outing with friends. I hear a somewhat strained discussion behind me in The Walrus (our name for our big white van). I let it go for a minute, trying to get a bead on what was taking place. Whatever it is, Jo is not buying it.

"I do, too!" Logan shouts, slamming his hands into his lap and refusing to turn around and see eyeball to eyeball with his sister any longer.

I ask what's up.

Jo yells above the din of the preschoolers: "Logan says you think in pictures. But you don't think in pictures. You think in words. I told him that."

Uh, yeah. You think in words if you're you, Jo. Or if you're me. But if you're Logan?

If you're Logan, you think in pictures.

It's always been this way with my second son. From the time he was tiny, I could tell that he saw the world in a way that I couldn't quite touch. Logan could differentiate between red and scarlet, the scent of two types of roses, or the sound of bells of differing sizes. He loved certain clothes for their style, or for the way that the colors hit his eye. He adored spreading table-sized art books all over the living room floor and admiring them, memorizing the names of the artists. Foods that "looked nice" were more likely to be eaten than those that were simply tasty. 

As he grew, I transitioned from merely sensing Logan's differences to seeing them outright. He was an artist. A visual artist. 

Heaven help me.

I admit that I've probably failed Logan in the area of his art education thus far. Taking my cues from various sources that claim that teaching children the specifics of drawing at a young age stifles their innate talent, I have chosen to allow my own lack of skills in this area to win out. Logan has had the tiniest smidgen of what one would call actual art instruction--and most of that has come from a DVD. In my defense, I did try to hook up with a local homeschooling mom for art lessons, but it never came together past the first few visits. 

Instead, I've given him high-quality materials, as much access to them as possible in a household with six smaller hands anxious to grab, and all the cheerleading I can muster. For the most part, Logan seems satisfied with this.

Except, of course, when he has to bend his learning style to meet with ours. While he doesn't complain or whine, I know that he always has the sneaking suspicion that everyone else does better, is more creative, has it all right. No matter how much I tell him, he still seems to shy away from my praise of his written work and fall back into, "I don't really like writing."

Except, of course, that he does. He just writes with pictures.

Logan is only 9, and I'm still absorbing the emerging bits of his personality as he steps closer and closer to the edge of manhood. Nine is such a precious, awe-filled time for a boy. They are courageous, they are witty, and they are so silly that you want to pull your hair out. But oh, how deep their thoughts, and how full their hearts. 

I'll take a 9 year-old boy any day of the week.

And Logan? Yes, I'll take him any day of the week, too. The more I lairn, the more I fall in love all over again with this blossoming boy. Yes, his shirts are almost always smeared with oil pastels. His pockets are doubtless full of Lego pieces. He's most likely forgotten to brush his teeth. But he is boundlessly creative. He sees beauty in everything, from the way the moon hits the river at night to the sound coins make as they clink in my pocketbook. 

I'm learning more every day, and Logan is one of my teachers. 

Now, to see if I can score him a real art instructor ...


joana said...

Hi, Mary Grace!

I have a 9 year-old girl who is very artistically inclined also. Please, I would love to know what you will be doing to nurture Logan's talent. I would love any new ideas of books, materials, ideas, etc!

Thank you so much!

A catholic fan from Portugal

Diana said...

Much food for thought here...still pondering. I have one dreamer/artist personality emerging here.

Nine is one of my favorite boy ages as well!

Sandi said...

I have loved and identified with your last several posts. My 8 year old boy sees in pictures, resists words on paper and prefers to draw an answer to every thing. His rendition of a dragon and dinosaur is pretty amazing! haven't seen much else becasue that's what he prefers to draw. And he identifies the continients by animal shapes he sees on the map not their names. Love it!
I just recently discovered he thought in pictures which has helped in many ways.
Thanks for sharing :o)

Kat said...

You've got me in tears, here. You are a good mama.

The Reader said...

I also have one who thinks in pictures...making it very hard to teach him to read. But I'm sure we'll get there.

For art materials, I have been VERY pleased with Artistic Pursuits. The student can self direct if needed, and it lays out the information very well. My 10 (nearly 11) yr old loves it, my 6 yr old hasn't started yet, and my 14 yr old writer plods along b/c he'd rather write than draw, but it serves all of my boys well. The 6 yr old will start next year (a more mature 6 yr old could tackle it easily).

Michelle said...

It sounds like Logan is an amazingly gifted young man. I think in words and come from a family rich in artists. I was the one who (I perceived) was lacking. You're doing a great job encouraging him and providing him with materials to work with. Recognizing the situation is 99% of the battle, imo. You're an awesome mom!

Benny said...

You can tell him I think in pictures too. Pictures are a great way to think. ;o)