On the rainy Saturday afternoon in June, we have a lesson on leguminous plants. It comes as a surprise that there are more children than expected on such a wet day. Our special guest is the 12-year-old Po-huei. When he came two years ago, he was still a child, and now he has graduated from elementary school. I feel he's coming this time to say goodbye not only to us but also to his childhood.
The golden shower trees are in bloom now, and though the yellow flowers are commonly seen, the structure of the flowers is actually amazing. It's nice to see the kids learn with such enthusiasm.
There are three sizes for the stamens. Even the curving lines of the filaments and the style are the design of nature to help the plant reproduce.
I am amused by how the big boy wears the flower behind his ear. More interestingly, some boys take notes today, which greatly moves me!
Next we observe the flame flowers. However, because of the continuous torrential rain, Guei-mei finds only three to four intact flowers to show to everybody.
I see the golden shower flowers and flame flowers only from far away, but without close observations, I would miss the mysteries of their flowers and fruits.
Even the ordinary-looking mung bean and soy bean sprouts are a lot of fun. The latter smell like farts!
We play the brainstorming game: Each group has to think of as many soy bean products as possible. See how devoted everyone is!
We top off the day with the folk beanbag game. The kids enjoy it so much!
This year we have cut down on the times of the activities. On the Saturdays when there are workshops, I sometimes grumble and wonder how great it would be if there were no such thing on my way to the herbarium. But at the end of these Saturday afternoons, I feel there is always a small flame lit up in my heart, a glow of light that warms me and pushes me to continue. When I don't feel like defining the significance of education, these Saturday afternoons always prove to me that education can be fun and enjoyable.
Before the end of the day, an eight-year-old boy asks me to watch his specially-prepared show. He keeps failing, so I tell him, "All it takes is practice. I believe you can do much better when you come next time." Before he leaves, he says to me, "Thank you for encouraging me." One day we might not go on with the activity, and it certainly won't kill me. Perhaps I might feel thankful for the decision, but I will certainly, definitely miss those lovely and innocent children and whatever they have said to me.
This year I started to have some reflection on my pattern of making a picture book. For the past few years I have written the text first, but the danger is that sometimes part of the text doesn't conjure up any visual image, which I might not be aware of.
Since I've always wanted to include too much in my stories, I fail to express the themes successfully. Also, they are too abstract for children to understand. My teacher said that I can try starting from drawing pictures because that way I can give concrete images to abstract ideas. Then a story can be developed by connecting the images I have.
Even if the drafts are a failure, I don't mind begin anew. As long as I can learn to tell a good story, every effort is worth it.
Ray asks me, "Auntie Wanda, did you have a dream when you were in first grade?" Unfortunately, I didn't. I felt pity for not being able to give a more creative answer.
Ray goes on to say, "I want to be a singer."
Mimi encourages Ray to sing, and thus starts our late-night mini-concert.
Mimi tells me more anecdotes about the two brothers. For example, as the other kids panicked, the boys got so carried away when experiencing farming that they started to chase after the ducks.