My early morning time was invaded by my youngest son today. I was up before 5 a.m., something that just occurs naturally for me most days. The big surprise was that my 14 year old sat down beside me while I was doing homework this morning around 6 a.m. I was watching Ted Talks for my mass communication class, and my son was interested.
I unplugged the headphones I was using, turned the speaker volume up and moved the Ted Talk video to the other monitor so that my son could watch and listen with me. I found myself pausing the first video a lot to explain why there was an East Germany in the 1980s, why they required registration of typewriters, why this was significant to the suppression of dissension, and how the very nature of registration hindered free expression among East Germans (and totalitarian governments everywhere).
I was able to define, create context, and help my son understand the issues that were at the core of each of the videos that I was watching for my class. We discussed censorship, copyrights, and the common practice among the younger generations to ignore copyrights altogether. We learned about how U.S. companies are selling hacking software to totalitarian governments so that they can spy on their own people. (I love that my sons are benefiting from my online college classes. My 21-year-old son even took my communication textbook in the car with him so he could read it while I drove him to work one day last week.)
My youngest son then wanted to check out his YouTube channel. Yes, he has his own channel; he creates videos based on games that he plays with his friends — they can be pretty silly, but my very quiet, shy son is putting himself out there and using language (speech). These videos take place during “recording sessions” where everyone in our house is instructed to be quiet but where I often forget — occasionally you can hear me being a mom in the background.
While we were looking at his YouTube channel, he wanted to choose a simple Pivot video to upload. I looked at one that he wanted to upload but it contained what I considered objectionable violence. I explained why, and he decided that I was probably right. So he chose a different video.
My son had joined my world for a time, allowing me to share with him what I knew and was learning. This relationship reversed when we began looking at his channel. I realized that I knew nothing about using YouTube even though I had a handful of videos on my own channel. We switched accounts and looked at my channel which was not even set up. We explored the settings together, he showed me what I can do to personalize my channel, how to set privacy, hide what I like and subscribe to from visitors (just not their business IMO), and begin to consider how I want my channel organized.
Next, my son wanted to show me his favorite YouTube channel: Spacerip. He wants to be an aerospace engineer, so he loves anything related to space. When we went to the Spacerip channel, I asked my son if he knows who produces those videos. I then asked him if he checks the information against reputable sources to ensure that what is included in that video content is not fictional or full of misinformation. He admitted that he didn’t. I explained a little bit about media literacy, and he understood that he needs to be checking what he sees in the Spacerip videos against other sources of knowledge.
Finally, it was time for me to head outside to check on my gardens. I asked my son to go with me so that I could tell him what is going on in the garden right now because I will expect him to help maintain it while I am in Texas next month. He protested a bit explaining that he doesn’t learn well with lectures, me pointing to something and telling him about it (I still think he struggles with auditory processing, and I taught him about learning styles so he can communicate with his teachers about his own educational needs). He said he prefers reading about gardening to me trying to teach him. I understood. I am the same way. I explained that I wanted him to know what was growing where, which were the weeds, and some basics about garden care. I told him that he might need to grow his own food someday.
He agreed that it made sense and began to show a little more interest. I explained what “bolting” was, some issues I have been having with deer, which weeds are edible, and what a cover crop is (and how it nourishes the soil). We opened a couple of immature buckwheat seeds and saw the flour-like substance inside. I told him we could make pancakes from that substance when it is fully mature and dried. I think he began to understand how cool gardens could be and how they connected to his life. I told him that this year he will participate in canning pickles and how wild grape leaves containing tannins will ensure that the pickles are crisp and not mushy. He showed a little more interest when I mentioned pickles.
I will probably remember today as one of those wonderful days where I truly connected with my youngest son. I didn’t even tell you about how he explained what he believes regarding the start of the universe. I listened a lot because, to be honest, he knows more than I about science, at least pertaining to space, planets, and the Big Bang Theory. I know more about biology which he dislikes immensely (yes, he told me emphatically that he detests the subject of biology). He listened to me, I listened to him, and we exchanged knowledge like reasonable, logical human beings.
What a wonderful morning.