Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Concrete Thinking and a Bit of Golf

Earlier this spring, in anticipation of the impending "I'm bored!!" complaints of summer, I started looking for some activities for the kids. Ben presented a conundrum. After last year's baseball debacle, which consisted largely of twelve post-toddler children moving in a herd toward a lightly swatted baseball while Ben rolled around in the grass behind them, rising only occasionally either to throw handfuls of grass on someone's head or else to make a mad dash toward an adjoining baseball field, I felt like we needed to try something new. Since Ben's oldest brother Zach is a pretty good golfer, and since I was already looking at some golf instruction for Zach, I asked Ben if he would like to try golfing this summer, too. "Sure." Why not. So I signed him up for the "7 and under" class at Fox Hollow golf course.

He's been to two lessons now. The first lesson taught Ben how to set up for his swing--proper stance, grip, etc. I thought he did pretty well, except that large portions of the class were spent asking me and the class instructors why he couldn't use the tees that were scattered and splintered around the driving range, and the more persistent question: "How long or more until this is over?" I really don't know when he decided that the "or more" part belongs in that question, but he always uses that phrase when he wants to know about time: "How long or more until we're there?" "How long or more until I can use the computer?" "How long or more until until my 15 minutes is over?"

At golf class, he wasn't asking about the time because he was bored (I told him he could stop if he didn't want to hit balls anymore and he said he wanted to keep going); he just wanted to keep track of the time. I probably should get him a watch...

Yesterday, he got to use the tees. So he spent about half of his hour-long class hitting balls, and the other half counting the remaining balls in his pile, and assessing the length and quantity of broken and remaining tees that were spread around the grass. And of course the question: "How long or more until this class is done?"

After class, as we walked toward the car, he was particularly quiet. I assumed he was thinking about the class--the sand trap that had caught his attention, the tees, the machine that scoops up balls from the range. Finally he asked the question that was on his mind:

"Mom, why did Heavenly Father choose to make all the people out of meat?"

I really wasn't prepared for that one, but it reminded me of a question he asked a few weeks ago as we sat down to dinner. That night, he had put a piece of chicken into his mouth and then asked, "What kind of animal did they kill for this meat?"

He has asked a lot of questions lately that have demonstrated his very concrete way of perceiving the world around him. For example, Chris (Ben's dad) has sported a beard for the better part of this year, until a month or so ago when he shaved it off. Ben took one look at his newly shaved dad coming down the stairs and said quite matter-of-factly, "It's weird that you don't have a beard and you have a chin. Where is your beard now?"

Not long ago, Ben asked me to make some popcorn for him. I said, "Ben, I'll do it in a second--just wait." He left, and then came back a few minutes later to repeat his request. I still wasn't ready to make popcorn, so then I said, "Just a minute, Ben, and I'll do it." Again Ben walked away, and then, about three minutes later, he came back and repeated his request a third time. As I started to tell him to wait, he stomped his foot and exclaimed, "Mom! It's been WAY past a second AND a minute!" He was right--it literally had. I made popcorn.

And on another night, as I was washing dishes in the kitchen, Ben and his older brother Joey were playing in the family room. Joey said, "Mom--look at this!" I responded, "Joey, I can't see into the living room; I haven't turned on my x-ray vision today!" After a moment of silence, Ben's voice quietly and hopefully called out: "Can you turn your x-ray vision on, then?" And that same evening, as Chris sat at his computer, I said something that made him chuckle. Ben came over to the computer and said, "What are you laughing at?" Chris replied, "Oh, nothing. I'm just laughing at your mom's logic." Ben said, "Well, can I see mom's logic?"

It's hard for Ben to distinguish sarcasm from truth. Often when I tease him he'll ask, "Are you being serious about that?" He needs me to tell him when my words mean exactly what they say, and when they have a veiled meaning. I suppose it's hard for him to be in groups of people when he's always struggling to assess meanings of words and behavior. No wonder he didn't do well in baseball, I suppose--it's not surprising that a more solitary sport would better suit him.

He's only got one golf class left this summer, and I don't know what he'll be doing. But I'm pretty sure I know what question he'll be asking when it's over: "How long or more until I take another golf class?"

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