"A Host of Strange Skills"

My favorite portion of The Well-Trained Mind is this, from the Prologue:

I had a host of strange skills: I could diagram sentences; I could read Latin; I knew enough logic to tell whether an assertion was true or faulty.

A host of strange skills. I have always loved that phrasing. I do not know if it is an appropriate goal to have for one's offspring, but I admit: it is a goal I have for mine. I would love for each of them to say, "I have a host of strange skills, strange interests, and strange behaviors." By "strange," of course, I don't mean "undesirable," but rather "uncommon." Skills, interests, and behaviors that would be considered desirable, but not often found.

I actually think that perhaps I am doing well at meeting this goal. There have been several times lately that I see a glimpse of this.

For example, EG got some money for her birthday; $5 from my great-aunt on my father's side, and $10 from her maternal great-grandmother. The first thing she thought of when she got the $5 was taking her siblings to Bruster's for ice cream. So, on Saturday, that's what we did. Last night, she spent the remaining money on a toy for the new dog.

No, it's not horribly uncommon, but if I raise a child that thinks of others before herself, then I have succeeded where too many others have not, unfortunately.

Last week, a lovely eighteen year old of my acquaintance came by the house. While she was here, she was in EG's room. She saw a large book* sitting on EG's bedside table, and moved closer to discern the title. "Oh, poems," she said, "I wondered what kind of big book your mom was making you read."

"Oh, she's not making me read it," EG hastened to assure her. "It was a birthday present!" This was said without a hint of dismay or any suggestion that she was, in fact, forced to read it.

Said eighteen year old furrowed her brow, and made a comment about when parents give books as gifts, it's usually a hint. Her voice trailed off as she spoke, and one or another of us in the room changed the subject within a few seconds, natural in the course of conversation.

Clearly, this was not exactly "normal" behavior.

I know that we still have a long way to travel, and I of course have other goals, including those that are, shall we say, more quantifiable. Still, I hope I raise children with a veritable laundry list of strange skills, behaviors, and interests.

*The book in question is The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti.


Smrt Mama said...

Captain S got Science: The Definitive Visual Guide as a Christmas present and it was one of his favorites. I don't get people who DON'T give big books of random knowledge!

Daisy said...

LOL. GREAT post!

Heather said...

Books are lovely gifts and should always be given! They are not hints - they are the most valuable things!

Anonymous said...

My not-so-secret dream for my children is that they have many strange skills and interests. They'd be taking after me for sure! :)

Books are well loved and much appreciated gifts in our house, too.

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