School has never really been the boy’s thing. Learning has. His mandatory 8 hours away from home to learn new skills, exercise his body and brain really are just a means to an end for him. Thus turning in homework–completed homework I might add, really isn’t that important to him. Learning however is. I remember one time when he was five, while waiting for a doctor’s diagnosis of pink eye, we were sequestered. To fill in the boredom, I began telling him the story of “Star Wars” in a very condensed way. He became enthralled, and thoroughly impressed that his mother was coming up with such a neat and diverse action adventure story. Afterward when we watched the movie, though disappointed his mother wasn’t as imaginative as he first thought, the “science” behind what he was watching enthralled him. Then we purchased Reader’s Digest science edition-4 books that covered various scientific topics-biology, astronomy, geology etc. He not only devoured the books, but others like them from the library. Science sparked his imagination.
May 2007: Yesterday the boy’s class went on a field trip to the Ritter Planetarium at the local university. They were treated to an hour long presentation on the planets and stars. When the professor concluded his program he asked if anyone had questions. Well the boy of course had to raise his hand–he’s compulsive that way. The boy asked the professor about the mythology behind the planet names. The professor seemed pleased by the question and went on to explain what cultures were involved in picking the planetary names. The parents however seemed shocked that a second grade student would ask such a different question. When the professor ended his explanation, he asked the class if they could tell him something they learned from the presentations project on Jupiter. Once again the professor seemed amused when the boy raised his hand and began talking about the moons of Jupiter. One parent leaned over and said, “Boy, he really knows his stuff!” Tilting my head back I replied, “Of course he does. He loves this stuff.” Another parent overhearing our conversation asked, “Am I looking at the next rocket scientist? Smiling I said, “Well, we’ll see…”
When the boy was finishing up his seventh grade year of school he told me, “I think I know what I’m going to major in in college”. We were walking home from my dad’s and this topic came up out of the blue. “Oh yeah?” I asked, intrigued. “I’m going to have a dual major in biology.” “What like microbiology and biology?” I asked. Smirking he said, “No, like biology–human and animal biology with a minor in English.” “What do you hope to accomplish with these majors?” I wondered. “Well, I want to study animals-predatory animals in reality. Man is a predatory animal. I want to understand if its a basic instinct that can be found within all the species or if there is an actual chemical component that causes one to be a predator and one not.” Impressed I asked “So what’s with the English minor?” “Easy, I need to know how to write grants to fund my study”. He smiled. I could not believe that I was listening to a well thought out plan of action from a twelve year old. “How do you plan on studying these components?” I wondered, clearly excited by all that he announced. “By field study”. He said which ignited a sarcastic response from me “You do realize boy, that means you actually have to leave your house, dorm room and or apartment right?”
Choosing to ignore my last statement he simply smiled. “I’m still going with Cryptozoologist bay…I still think that’s what you’ll grow up to be.” “Well, I’m not, but if I were….” he began, but I finished it for him, “You would be studying the same things…” “Um yeah” he replied and then dropped the subject. Considering Finding Big Foot and Destination Truth are among his favorite television programs….
In reality, as long as he finds something he loves to do…then all is good. But first…he needs to learn the value in turning in his homework assignments.
For those of you who might wonder: Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτός, kryptos, “hidden” + zoology; literally, “study of hidden animals”) is a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proved.