Dec 29, 2006

Blue Skies

The problem with the questions my children ask is that it’s in my nature to try to answer them, even if I have no idea what the right answers are.

“Why is the sky blue Mommy?” my son asked me as we walked on a gravel road under a glorious blue sky upstate.

“’s something to do with water,” I start. And then I get an idea...”and water’s blue,” I add. “And then there’s so much water in the air,” I continue, adding the thing about H2O and how the O’s f or oxygen, “and since there’s so much water in the oxygen and the sky is so huge our eyes end up seeing all the blue in the water in the air.” I was on a roll. My answer had it’s own momentum, everything was falling into place. I was impressed.
Emboldened by the certainty of my own tone, and the math of the solution that seemed to be adding up perfectly: blue plus air equals sky...I remember the thing about purple mountain’s majesty and that the mountains are so far away they look purple and if you think about it it makes sense because you need blue to make purple and I explained that part too.
And my son nods along.
And my sister, who only has a baby who doesn’t ask these amazing questions yet, whispers to me out of the side of her mouth--”you know that’s not true, right?”
And I didn’t know it wasn’t true--it sounded so good after all. But my sister’s one of those phi beta kappa/high school quiz show geniuses who remembers everything--even though she’s younger than me. So I don’t even argue about it.
As she points out that H2O means water I realize--what was I thinking? And all the pieces of my neat answer shatter and crash out of the sky where they’d been fluttering happily seconds before.

Minutes before the discussion about the sky, I was being brilliant in a conversation with my sister about how I was seriously considering home-schooling my kids. A creative way to avoid the New York City school chaos, and how amazing would it be to eat a healthy breakfast and then visit a farm? Learn about eggs, and milk...and then hop on a plane to Florida to visit an orange grove, an orange juice processing plant. Plant a tree. How amazing would that be?

But my sky fumble humbled me and I realized that, while it’s not important that a homeschooling parent know everything, it is important that a homeschooling parent at least knows what it is she doesn’t know.

And that’s never been a strength of mine.

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