Friday, March 1, 2013

Not all 'Denglish' in the Forest

How quickly can I peck out this post, as the minutes tick by after midnight...?!
Knowing that I'll have a whole day tomorrow, with little to no opportunity to share, has me pushing past my unofficial bedtime because this experience excites me so...

A few days ago, while "gathering data" for our school-decision process, my friend Megan (another Mother Earth School mama) was telling me about how her son knew a lot more than just the names of the plants in the forest, but how to use them, too. She relayed a story about a fern on a tree, how he had instructed her in the best foraging practices, as well as how to use it: "You don't just pull the whole plant off, Mom. You have to just take the root...and you don't just eat that, you have to scrape off the outer layer first..."

I was in awe. All this from a Kindergardener with just two years of Mother Earth School under his belt.
As I said in my post yesterday, this was one of those things that I really wanted for us, and for Kaya.

And then, it happened to me, too.
Just 6 months in, and Kaya is teaching me now, too!

Lately, I've been a bit sad, concerned that perhaps Kaya doesn't share with me much about the specifics of what happens at school because it's all in English. There are so many terms that she, not to mention I, don't know in German. I figured that, in so many ways, it's probably so much easier for her to share with Dada about her day that she would just bypass me and wait for him.

But today, she proved me wrong.
And oh how joyous it felt to be so wrong.

Licorice Fern, surrounded by moss
Walking down the dirt road, heading for home after school, Kaya points up at the tree above:
"Diese Pflanze heisst Licorice Root in Englisch, Mama." [That plant is called Licorice Root in English, Mama.]

I turned around, amazed at what I'd just experienced.
Did Rylan tell Kaya that I was dying for this experience, dying to know what she knows, what she's learning, desperately eager for my daughter to be able to identify and use the plants in our forests?!

Naturally, I was curious if she'd say more, so I waited a few. When I heard nothing, I couldn't help but inquire further:
"Benutzen wir die ganze Pflanze?" [Do we use the whole plant?]

"Nein," she responded, confidently. "Wir muessen nur die Root nehmen." [No, we musst only take the root.]

Damn. She nailed it. And then, she topped it off in the car by telling me, in a solid Denglish mix, what to do with the root: "Und wir benutzen das nicht bis wir den Moss scrapen." [And we don't use it until we scrape the moss off...].

If we hadn't already decided that this would be her place for next year (whooohoooo!), this experience certainly would have solidified it. Maybe she was holding out on me until I actually got my ass off the fence and let her really settle in...

How do people without kids ever learn these really big lessons in life?


  1. I so love this- when kids surpass us! I have learned so much from my son about trains and soccer and now he is correcting my Japanese. I may rue this day eventually but for now I am happy!

    Well done Kaya!

    1. That's awesome, that you can enjoy this moment, these moments, and see then for the growth they represent in your son. So cool, huh? Kaya doesn't correct my German (yet), but she does laugh every time I use an English word...
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight! So appreciate that!

  2. How wonderful, and the school sounds amazing. I grew up in a very rural part of Wales and when I moved to London I was really surprised on a school trip to hear the teacher explaining to the class what a fern was... didn't everyone already know that?!

    We live in the city now and though I try to pass on names of and facts about flowers & plants to my children, it will never be the same as growing up in the countryside where nature is your playground.

    1. Thanks, Tallulah, it really is an amazing place. Nature as playground certain is a gift, and I'm glad you had an opportunity for that, too. While your kids won't have that in the same way, i'm sure they're soaking up your passion for the natural world in subversive ways. Great to hear from you again! Hope you're well! Tamara


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