Exploring a child's interests
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Grandpa Frank stood by the small lake’s edge with his grandchildren, 5-year-old Thomas and 7-year-old Lacy. Thomas bent down and picked up a stone and tossed it into the water.
“Good job, Thomas,” Grandpa Frank said.
Not wanting to be outdone, Lacy picked up a stone and tossed it further and it made a louder splash.
After complimenting Lacy, Frank began searching on the ground for a nice smooth round stone. He found one, tossed it in and it skipped four times. Both grandkids quickly figured out there was much more to a stone’s existence than kerplunking it in the water.
Lacy asked him about it after four failed attempts with her stones, “Grandpa, how’d you get it to skip in the water like that?”
“Well, Lacy, you do know that you’re talking to the Susquehanna River Stone Skipping Champion of 19, er, well, Back in the Day. One throw, 22 skips!”
“Really, Grandpa? Can you show us how?”
In reality, it was closer to 27 or 28 skips, but the pitter patters at the end of the throw were just lumped together. With high speed photography today, they could slow down the video and count each one. And it wasn’t really a formal contest, but one among fellow campers. No official title, just the bragging rights.
“I can show you, but you have to practice a lot and everything has to be just right, the stone, the water, the time of day, even the wind.”
Both kids looked up at their grandfather as if he had two heads. They didn’t want explanations. They wanted results from this champion stone skipper, their Grandpa Frank.
“The key, kids, is a round, smooth, and flat stone. All three and you have a winner. Two could work.”
One by one the kids picked up the stones and presented them to their grandfather for his approval.
“Not flat. Not round enough. Definitely not smooth. Getting better though.”
Close to this lake the kids weren’t going to find great throwing rocks, though Frank picked up a few good ones.
“The other key is the angle you throw it. Your hand has to be close to the water when you throw it. Otherwise it’ll just go kerplunk. If you do it right, the stone will skip across the surface of the water. Oh, and be careful you don’t lean over and topple….” His words drifted off.
Thomas was already bored by the mini-lecture and was searching for small puddles to jump into. Lacy was throwing more stones into the water and not paying any more attention to her grandfather.
Frank stepped back and just watched his grandkids play and explore, just as they were born to do.