Wednesday, March 16, 2011

coping through play

There are so many ways to frame what we did this afternoon. We killed some time between activities. We set up a spiffy homeschool science experiment. We got soaking wet and laughed a lot. We made a big mess. To the folks passing by on the dock asking what we were up to, the short answer was, "We're making a tsunami."

And we were. We happen to have Naia's "bathtub" out in the cockpit through a rainstorm. So voila, we had an ocean. After lots of NPR'ing and clip viewing on the computer and science talking through the past several days I wanted to assure Zach that tsunamis were harmless to boats out sailing in the middle of the ocean (kind of an important little piece of info if you're a kid living on a boat). If you're in harbor and a warning is sent out, the safest place to be is out to sea.
Our little boat bobbed happily on the small waves we created by flopping an underwater tectonic plate (a plastic "Hundred Board").

Then it was time to create Japan. Ok, this WAS killing time as it kept Zach busy going back and forth to the marina garden collecting rocks and sand and such to create our little land mass thus giving me a period of quiet to get Naia to nap.  Add some plastic citizens and some homemade playdough houses and voila!
Ok, so the people are like 30 times larger than the houses and we all know that Japan is not populated by hut dwelling elephants, giant seals, and dashing Muskateers but you get the idea. If we had some spiffy scientifically accurate way of making our tsunami I would give you all the details in a tutorial, but in truth, we were just creating a big wet mess.
We tried smashing tectonic plates together (cutting boards, hundred board, stones, wood blocks). We tried popping a balloon underwater. We stopped short of dragging cinderbocks from the parking lot to the cockpit of the boat. We made some big waves. He saw them hit the land mass and topple on to shore. The houses and our fine citizens of Japan went splash. Japan even shifted a couple of inches.
Scientifically, we needed a longer tub of water. Check this out for a fantastic visual.

But in the end Zach just throttled a bottle of wool wash soap into our ocean like a meteor and took everything out.
Then he happily drove in a rescue truck, plucked the survivors from the frigid water with a net, and set up a triage. "I have to help them," he said matter of factly. "I want to be the rescuer now. I can search and rescue and save all these people."
I bit my lip, put away my camera, and helped him. It reminded me so much of 3 years ago when his best little buddy was in a traumatic boating incident. And then a few months later he was still working it out in his head and his heart. And beautifully through the magic of imagination and the alchemy of play he made it right again.

How wise these little people are in knowing how to heal, how to process, how to control the uncontrollable. We grown ups read books and filter media and sugar coat truths, but in the end I'm the one still reeling from this remote tragedy and he's already saved the world. It wasn't science or water play or a time suck, it was healing. Wet, wonderful, pure, joyful healing.

And then he asked how we can recreate a nuclear reactor meltdown. But we won't go there.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...