Is the secret to great architecture simply a matter of patience? Today I watched a 4 year old channel his inner David Carradine from “Kung Fu” as he attempted to build several complex structures only to be “helped” by some other less focused individuals ranging in age from 3 to 22. Charlie is our resident “Bob the Builder” at school and while I always knew he was capable of making some amazing train tracks and buildings, I never knew he literally had the patience of a saint. When I first pulled the tubes and wooden stands out, of course all the kids on the playground hustled over and were very excited (because if the teacher’s pulling something out, it must be good, right?). So a little chaos ensues at first and Charlie (in blue striped shirt) waits patiently for his cue to intervene with some advice.
and just to give you an idea of what kind of “help” he’s working with…………………..
Not surprisingly, the less architecturally inclined kids lose interest and start to give Charlie some building space and wow, he’s quick with the ideas!
But of course, we hear from the peanut gallery “Let’s bust it!” It was all I could do not to intervene (and I almost did), but with a voice and tone of someone much wiser than 4, Charlie simply says, “No, I’m building” and the catastrophe is averted. As I spend the next couple minutes marveling at both the social-emotional development of this architect in waiting, and the magic of play-based curriculums that teach these kids how to handle situations like this, Charlie decides to move the entire structure over to another side of the playground where he can utilize the rocks and logs in his design.
He still has one “apprentice” with him and one well-intentioned teacher decides to come help too. The teacher offers some advice and in one of the funnier moments of the day, Charlie tactfully replies, “Um Sean, I think that cannot work. I have a better idea”.
Are you kidding me what this kid can build?! He’s like MacGyver in a 4 year old body.
The 3 year old apprentice is still hanging around and I will completely throw myself under the bus and admit that he was even annoying me. He had an innate ability to knock down what Charlie had just put up so carefully. I’m starting to wonder if it’s Charlie’s complete and utter confidence in his own ability to fix and build a structure that gives him so much patience with the other kids? I would be throwing a tantrum of insane magnitude in this situation!
This whole afternoon reminded me of the first time I heard Lisa Murphy, aka “The Ooey Gooey Lady” speak at a conference in Denver. Among the many nuggets of advice and wisdom she doled out that day, the one that really hit home for me was “It’s great if your kid can count to 100 in French, but if they can’t get their shovel back from another kid, it won’t help them much”. www.ooeygooey.com So cheers to Charlie for being able to build skyscrapers out of plastic tubes, some wood and duct tape. But immensely more impressive to watch this 4 year old demonstrate an adult level of patience, persistence and concentration. Life lessons, young grasshopper.