Tuesday, September 8, 2009


We watched President Obama address the nation's children today, and, though Owen played more with his blocks than watched and listened, the speech hit home with Luke, especially this part:

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same... That's why today, I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education - and to do everything you can to meet them. Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

Luke's life goal is to be a paleontologist - at nine, he is researching universities that specialize in his chosen subject, and deciding where he'd like to do some field work; right now it's kind of a tie between The Burgess Shale in western Canada, and the Dinosaur Highway in the western USA. But he seems to think that the fossils will find him rather than the other way around, he doesn't understand that paleontologists work for years without any glory whatsoever. And, while Ben and I wholeheartedly want Luke to pursue his dream, we'd like him to remove the rose-colored glasses, to realize that there is physical work involved in paleontology (not Luke's forte, physical work).

Anyway, he took President Obama's words to heart, and spent the latter half of the day figuring out how to see what the physical side of paleontology involves. He and Owen found a bunch of odds and ends to bury outside:

From summer 09

From summer 09

One of my favorite overheard conversations during the burying-and-digging-up phase of the day was about paleontology vs. archaeology. Owen, it turns out, wants to be an archaeologist, and 'dig up royal things,' so the pipe cleaners, feathers, and popsicle sticks which he buried and dug up weren't dinosaurs at all - much to Luke's chagrin. I think a truce was called around 2PM, when they started setting up for a more long-term dig:

From summer 09

From summer 09

And then, questions began regarding 'food supply.' I guess that whatever kind of dig you happen to be on, archaeological or paleontological, you still need a parent around to feed you!

They begged to sleep in the tent, to achieve a good idea of what roughing it on a dig would be like (minus, one presumes, the cocoa puffs and roasted marshmallows that were tonight's dinner). I fretted about skunks, and also about the truly awful night's sleep that would await Ben and I if the kids really slept out in the yard - so fortunately, we reached a compromise: they are now in the tent, on the screen porch, as much 'in' as 'out.' And, they look so cute!

From summer 09

From summer 09

I don't know if the dreams Luke and Owen have today will become reality for them, but I do know this: giving children the power of that simple idea - that we each set our own goals for our own education - that is what it's all about.


Anonymous said...

Golly I loved this post!! Beautiful!!

The Stone Age Techie said...

Thanks, Topsy... anyone still getting up before the alarm this week?

Rana said...

They look so cute sleeping in the tent. My son right now wants to build Motorcycles for his dad and grandpa to ride. He's a great builder. I agree let them have their dreams and goals.


Annie said...

Beautifully written post. Thank you! And I agree completely with your final paragragh.

Firefly mom said...

Great post! I love it when kids take this kind of stuff to heart :) And they look so sweet sleeping in that little tent!

I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid (ever since my mom took me to see the traveling Egyptology exhibit back in the
70's). And then, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark came out ;) When I was in 9th or 10th grade they somehow got permission for me to go on a dig with the local community college. It was only for a day, but it was enough to make me realize that I hated field work! The part I really loved was the cataloging and research. Go figure. Anyway, there are some digs now that allow families. Talk about a field trip!

Susan said...

This is just so wonderful. I love how they collaborated on their digs. And how you found a compromise between their dreams and your comfort zone that everyone was happy with. It is also so nice when the message we are trying to communicate to our kids also comes from outside the family.

The Stone Age Techie said...

Rana - don't you find that they surprise you so much with what they want to, and really can, accomplish?

Annie - thank you! And, welcome to my blog :-)

Firefly Mom - we have a 6-year-old friend whose life's ambition is to be an archaeologist, because of Raiders of the Lost Ark - the movie lives on!

Susan - I agree, it is nice to get a positive messages from the greater culture; in this world of Britney and Rhianna and Chris Brown, it can seem rare.