May 24, 2007

Hooky

Steel

Last weekend, when we took a walk at the art park, a 104-acre piece of land with art installations set along nature trails, With-a-Why seemed fascinated by the art. "I wanted to look at everything," he told me that night when I was putting him to bed, "but everyone else just wanted to run around." So yesterday, I asked if he wanted to skip school for the day, and we drove to the art park early, just the two of us.

Because he's one of four kids and a houseful of extras, I don't get much time alone with With-a-Why, except for an hour or so in the evening when I read to him before bed. He's a shy, serious child who will focus intently on the things that interest him — music, books, art. He's usually the quietest child in any group. On car trips with the whole family, he is so quiet that I will often turn to see if he's even in the car.

But alone with me, With-a-Why chatters non-stop, a constant stream of questions, most of which he answers himself. "Do you know when the saxophone was invented? Did you know that the guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland was on drugs? Do you want to hear me do the Xiaolin Showdown theme song?" The flow of interesting tidbits is interrupted only by his musical numbers; he performs the music by singing nonsense syllables, but clearly he pictures it as piano music. "Okay, want to hear me do it with both hands now?"

When we arrived at the art park, we were the only car in the visitors' parking lot. We had the place to ourselves. Everyone else in the whole world was at school or work, or still sleeping in bed.

It was a sunny day, cool but getting warm rapidly, so we first followed the mown trail that ran through farm fields, climbing down a big hill to look at a giant clay sculpture shaped like an ear. We climbed around on that sculpture for a while, with With-a-Why doing a suburb imitation of Spider Man, and then continued downhill to a black steel structure that seemed more like a physics experiment than a piece of art. "Look, this whole thing moves when I touch it," With-a-Why said. He stood underneath a long beam and pushed on it with his hands. The beam seemed almost to float. We puzzled over this, figuring out how it could be constructed, as we followed the trail to the next piece.

When it was time to retreat to the shade, we hiked the trails that went through the woods, with me admiring the wildflowers and With-a-Why taking time to look at each piece of artwork. He loved climbing on and over and through the works of art, rubbing his hands against different textures, peering through holes and slats. We took a break to eat some oranges inside a strange playhouse type structure, and then continued on until we had seen everything.

We stopped for lunch in the little town near the art park and drove home, getting back well before the school bus. "Where have you been?" asked my daughter, pretending to be surprised, looking at With-a-Why as we came through the door. "Skipping school?"

"Yep," he nodded smugly. Then he went over to the piano to begin playing – loud, fast, happy music.

Meditation Space

This piece was called "Meditation Space."

23 comments:

susan said...

Here's to skipping school every now and then: what a wonderful way to spend a day.

Sarah Sometimes said...

What a nice mom you are, and what a special day for the two of you. The part about eating oranges made me nostalgic for when I came to visit you--I remember With-a-Why eating oranges nonstop. "Can I have another orange," he would say, looking at you with those big eyes, and then you would say yes, and peel it (or cut it?) for him. I'm glad to know he still likes oranges, three and a half years later.

jo(e) said...

Sarah Sometimes: Yes, he still loves oranges. He can go through a whole bag of them in a day.

I wish you weren't allergic to cats! It would be fun to have you visit again.

adjunct whore said...

my middle son is just like this...people find him quiet and difficult to understand, but when he's with me or if it has to do with art in particular, he has a million questions and ideas. i wish i took more days off with my kids--you remind me to do that.

PPB said...

what a lucky day for both of you.

kate5kiwis said...

here's to skipping school *every* day
*cheeky grin*

i had a special hour today with my littlest boy and his "third best girlfriend" (???).. i do find that it's easy for the littler ones to get lost in the rabble sometimes.

good for you seizing the day.

Beth said...

What a perfect day.

liz said...

Beautiful.

BeachMama said...

What a wonderful day. I am sure he loved his day with his Mom, good for you for letting him skip school.

EA said...

So glad such a sensitive and artful young man has someone in his life to understand and support him to be himself. I see it as a blessing for our world, so full of hate and mistrust right now.

RageyOne said...

Sounds like a wonderful day with your son.

Yankee T said...

This sounds so wonderful and luxurious to me. All three of my girls are lunatics about "perfect attendance" in school. Older Daughter did not miss one day of high school. I'm afraid I did that to them. I need to relax. Think it's too late?

dr. zombieswan said...

Actually, I don't think you really skipped school. You just did it in a different environment. He learned probably as much or more at the park with you than he probably would have at a "real" school at this time of the year.

I think Mark Twain said it: "Never let school interfere with your education".

Picky Mick said...

I'm taking the day off in your honor.

Kyla said...

Awesome. As the kids get older, I think we are going to play hooky every year on their birthday. It sounds like a good tradition.

Terminal Degree said...

I love the idea of skipping school to do something special. You're an awesome mom!

cloudscome said...

One time Buster and I skipped school to see the elephants raise the circus tent on the village green. We walked to the bakery and got cocoa. Days like this are never forgotten.

Marie said...

Oh! You are the BEST.MOM.EVER!

Heidi the Hick said...

I think he got more out of that day than he would have at school...I'd bust my kids out of school for a day like that. Totally worth it.

I think it's wonderful that you singled him out so that he could soak up the art in his own time!

wwwmama said...

When I was little, the bus would arrive late every morning, and sometimes my mom would make deals with us. "If it's not here by such a time, you can all stay home." We'd gleefully wave the bus away when it eventually arrived. We lived outside a small, small village in Ireland and it was rather scandalous to be allowed to skip school. I loved it, and I continued the tradition in American schools by calling my mother from the attendance office with some excuse of illness (our shared code for "can I skip today?") and getting permission to leave school grounds. "Oh yes, she'd say, I'll pick her up outside the gate in ten minutes." And I was free to go. Most times I'd just go to the park with a friend to read in the afternoon sun. Or if I was overwhelmed with all the work I had to do, I'd skip school to catch up. My teachers eventually caught on but didn't seem to mind. One even told me it was a good coping strategy since I earned all As thanks to my catch-up days. Thanks for reminding me of those days.

Mona Buonanotte said...

I'm putting that on my List of Cool Mom Things To Do...skip school and go to the sculpture garden.

Girl-child and I have a standing date to someday have a 'Girl Day', very much like your day, albeit with more shopping and lunching and getting our nails done. Which is SO unlike me. But is totally like her.

SusieJ said...

I'm so happy for you and your son that you were able to do this. What a gift.

purple_kangaroo said...

You're so obviously a wonderful mother, and your kids are great.