Someone very close to us announced her pregnancy this past winter. Her favorite flowers are sunflowers, so I planted 1500 square feet of sunflowers in the garden as a baby shower surprise. Charlotte helped me select the seeds (we planted 17 varieties!) and then she waited impatiently for them to arrive. She helped me sow them and water them and weed the plot. She helped me chase off the squirrels and document them as they grew.
Sunflowers have heart-shaped leaves, we learned. They are heliotropic. They are influorescent. Some of ours grew only ten inches tall and others were over elevent feet tall. Some had blooms no wider than Charlotte’s hands and others had blooms as wide as my forearm. Some had only one flower and others had twenty. They came in yellow and orange and pink and red and cream.
We drew them and photographed them. We made diagrams of plant parts. We made prints of the leaves. We counted the number of petals on different varieties. We learned how to say everything in French. La racine pivotante. La fleur de grande taille. La pollinisation. Les tiges qui suivent le soleil. Then we learned how to write everything in French.
And all the while, we saw this very-close-to-us person once or twice a week and all the while, Charlotte kept her secret.
The surprise was a big hit. After the baby shower, Charlotte asked me over and over again to tell her the story of how she kept a field of sunflowers a secret. Now, a few weeks later, the sunflowers are falling over and drying out. We make sequential timelines of the pictures we’ve taken. We pull them up and look at their roots, take pictures of the seeds scattered every which way upon the ground by the birds, watch the pollinating bees at work.
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“Maman! Maman!” Charlotte yelled at me this morning while I was watering the strawberry plants. Momma! Momma!
“Oui, ma puce?” Yes, darling?
“Maman, je suis La Reine Des Tournesols!” Momma, I am the Sunflower Queen!
I asked her if I could run and get the camera to take a picture of her dans son royaume, in her kingdom. “Non,” she said. “C’est trop special!” It is too special. So instead we made up silly sunflower poems and fashioned her a Sunflower Queen scepter, which was really just an uprooted sunflower plant that was setting seed.
To make up for it, Charlotte drew me a picture of herself playing in the sunflowers and told me that I needed a pen to write a sentence for her. I waited, pen in hand. “C’est moi, la reine des tournesols!” she said. I wrote it down. Then she wrote it after me.
And that is basically how homeschooling is going in a nutshell right now.
Next entry: Family of Five.