I’m glad you are here to celebrate!
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Sam hijacked my Instagram feed this week with this photo. Andy and I were cooking dinner in the kitchen and he said, “I’m inspired by all of the wind. All I need is two old belts and five paperclips, and I’ll be able to put the idea in my head into the world. “
He took his supplies and went to the basement. (It’s his workshop. Every inventor needs a workshop, according to Sam.) It’s not very easy to get winged arms up the narrow basement stairs. We heard him before we saw him.
The first run didn’t go so well. “It’s a good thing I have my helmet on!” Sam laughed as he hurried back to his workshop.
Sam deemed the second run as successful as possible given that he’d ran out of duck tape. Sometime after dinner he hijacked my Instagram account. The caption read:
This is how I spend my Wednesday evenings: inventing.
Correction: every evening I spend inventing.
I’m trying to “fly.” This last run gave me 2 seconds of air time!
If only I had duck tape, I could flyyyyy!
Sam is in 5th grade. He tells us often, “I don’t have a school brain. I have an inventor’s brain.” Sam scores high on standardized tests, he loves to read, he thinks about numbers in unconventional ways. He is a spacey, brainy, witty kid.
School isn’t on his favorite list.
Right now he’s working on a train layout. He called Papa yesterday and asked for a piece of foam installation board to build a “vertical layout for his trains.” He wrote a sticky note reminder and put it on my steering wheel so I wouldn’t forget to stop at Papa’s house for the styrofoam.
He met me at the door last night. “Did you remember the foam installation board?”
“It’s in my car.”
Sam and the styrofoam were heading down the basement stairs into the workshop before I put my shoes and school bag away.
Sam comes up the workshop stairs and says, “You might not think a vertical train layout will work, but I think if I figure out the right angle it will.”
I nod and keep writing this post.
“I like inventing, Mom. I get to use math in creative ways. I like to make up stories or think of advertising jingles for my inventions. It’s not really playing, it’s just fun.”
I look at him. His eyes are wide. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to stop inventing so I can get better grades at school.”
Sam is sensitive and his eyes get watery. “I don’t want to give up my inventor’s brain, but I don’t know any other way to get better grades at school.”
I want to tell him not to worry about grades, but he is concerned about his grades. (His concern is valid.) “Maybe you can work on focusing in school. When you’re at school you do school work. When you are at home you invent.”
Sam is sincere when he says, “An inventor’s brain doesn’t work that way, Mom. When I’m at school and we’re talking about finding area of triangles, my brain begins to think about my train layout, I think about how I need more tracks, and I could figure out how many new tracks by using parameter instead of area. Then I start wondering how knowing area would help me. That makes me start thinking about painting my layout and then I think about the pond I want to add. I probably need area for that because you need to get the special gel to make it look like water. Only I don’t need to know area of a triangle, I need to know the area of an oval. My brain starts thinking about filling the pond with triangles, but that won’t really work either. I probably need a different formula.”
I nod, unsure of what to say.
Sam continues, “See what I mean? I have to just turn off my inventor’s brain.” He blinks back tears. “Then all the fun will be gone, but my homework will be done.”
I take a deep breath and say, “You know, Sam, it’s Saturday. I don’t think we need to figure this out right now. Saturdays are a good time to just be who you like to be. Don’t worry about being something else.”
He worked a little more on his vertical train layout. Then he moved on to a Lego creation. Now he’s talking with Andy about fishing. I hear him say, “When I get home from bowling, I’m going to ride my bike over to the river and put in a line.”
And I’m left wondering how will his inventor’s brain survive school?
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