Monday, May 03, 2010

David, Goliath and Molly (Age 3)

Molly, this morning, announces that she wants to look at science books.  I explain that the book nearest us is about art.  It's called The Art Book and we inherited it from Uncle Walt a few weeks ago.

She flips deliberately through the pages until she lights upon Castagno's The Young David which has a picture of Goliath's head lying beneath the legs of a victorious David.

"Why is the man in the mud?"

I try a number of explanations avoiding certain words until I find one that's most comfortable to me: Goliath was a monster and David was a hero for confronting the monster.  I honestly consider giving her the details and using the conventional words to describe what happens in the story but it seems too soon, too harsh.

"Why was David a hero?"
"Why was Goliath a monster?"
"Why is he in the mud?"

Then, I manage, for the moment, to divert her to other pages but she wants to return to The Young David.  She likes Mary Cassatt's Woman Sewing in a Garden.  She loves Cezanne's La Montagne Saint Victoire Barnes and traces a mountain with her finger as she describes climbing up and then down it and I can't help but wonder if she'll love art as she grows.

I love these moments together and our mornings and Molly's learning.  She directs me and asks me and wants me to know things so that I can teach her.  I know nothing about art history or art but I learn. I learn for her.

Molly lives through pictures and I have an image of her sitting in her stroller at about 7 or 8 months and for the first time purposely turning back through pages in a book to revisit something she liked.  Here, too, she is taking in each detail with equal significance: the green hills, the brown mud, the wavy lines, the sky that could hold a rainbow like the one she saw at her grandmother's house a few weeks ago.

The sun lights up the dining room, exposing motes of dust, and warms the room. The pages are warming, too. I look up from the book for a moment.  Across the table, the keys on Devyn's laptop are hot -- she told me so earlier. Behind this, windows bear evidence of little hands. Through these, I see a dozen or more old-looking balloons on the floor of the porch, left over from Molly's birthday celebrations last week.

Everything today reminds me that Molly is growing up.  We move on to the living room.

"Here," she says, handing me a CD cover of Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet.  "Why is he lying on the stairs?"

I'm suddenly struck by how much attention she pays to her environment.  I start to consider all of the cultural information that she could gather from this living room alone and it seems a bit overwhelming . . .

"Uh, well, Romeo & Juliet is a story about two young people who wanted to be together but their parents wouldn't allow them to be together."

"Why?"

"Well, they had their own ideas about who should be together and why."  I don't know why I avoid talking about the conflict between the families.  I guess I'm caught off guard.

"They were very sad," I explain, "about not being able to be together . . ."

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