Lessons from Dino Eggs (SOL)

Over Christmas, a close friend got the kids presents—an absolute blessing. But two presents for the 6-year-old were dinosaur-egg-dig-kit things. After letting the eggs soak, I let my son spread himself out on a table and begin the good work of digging into the plaster/clay. I tell him that paleontologists have to painstakingly excavate little by little, sometimes weeks perhaps even months so as not to damage the delicate fossils.
With astute devotion, my son digs in with small tools into soft clay for about 4 minutes. By then, I see the visible frustration begin to rise—the small plastic tools too inept for the task at hand. He asks to simply run the eggs under the sink and to let him just hack away with a better tool.

I try to gently show how he must embrace the slow process and work of excavating for the hidden treasure inside. As the words tumble out of my mouth, my mind remembers.

The day before, I had been frustrated that my writing felt stagnant. (Before Teach Write sessions, which I just started in December 2020, I wrote very little creative writing for myself during the school year, even less over the summer.) A few days before and a few afterward, I stare at my poems, lifeless heaps of words that don’t sing to me. I don’t register that I haven’t tried writing poetry in a long time, and I’ve only written two poems with my classes so far this school year. I began exercising more regularly in November. I grimace as the scale only tells me I have gained weight when I have put in the work for weeks. Weeks! I recall a meme shared somewhere of how it feels to work out for one day and stare at the mirror or scale in expectance.

I know it is my obligation to teach my son good things take time and work. Progress is gradual. A core building block of work ethic and character is to be able to delay gratification.
To enjoy the journey.
“It’s not about the destination but the process.”
“[Good writing] is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.”
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
The First Temple in Jerusalem took seven years, and that was led by the wisest guy around. Supposedly no hammer, chisel, or iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was built.
“You eat the whale one bite at a time…”
—or so my brother says. There will be a day when this is all passed down. But today is not that day. Today we merely wash the clay, submerge it. Dig in. Break-in. Process be damned. Today we plunder.

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8 thoughts on “Lessons from Dino Eggs (SOL)

  1. Patience is such a valuable lesson for kids to learn. I’m watching my daughter learn to type right now. She’s practicing daily and it’s coming, albeit slowly. Slowly, she’s learning that she has to be patient, even when she makes a mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BEAUTIFUL. I’ve been a mom for almost 17 months, and my own mom reminds me sometimes how hard I am on myself about his development or what I’m teaching him or good practices or whatever. It’s so important to slow down, isn’t it?

    Thank you for sharing this. Glad you’re in the writing community!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jonathan, Your post brings back memories of a similar experience I had with a dinosaur digging kit nearly 15 years ago! I was ready to tell my godson to step aside as I took a hammer to it! We labored on instead. What a perfect analogy for writing and life in general. – Krista Senatore

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, the beauty of choosing our teachable moments! Love the ending lines: “Today we merely wash the clay, submerge it. Dig in. Break-in. Process be damned. Today we plunder.” Your use of repetition as well as the combination of long and short sentences adds such great rhythm and punch.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This reminds me when I was trying to carefully break open a geode when I was 8 or 9. I simply didn’t have the patience for it. I remember asking my dad a similar question as your son. Like you he tried to teach me a lesson in patience. I didn’t make it very long (and at 32 I still lack in this department). I truly enjoy reading your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great parallel to recognize–thanks for writing about it! I’m glad your son got to experience a few minutes of effort. As we’ve seen, patience is a skill that has to be nurtured. He–and we–will get there eventually!

    Liked by 1 person

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