The paper airplane guy

This month I’ve taken over as the class room liaison for the Kindergarten class at Primo’s school and taken the opportunity to help in the class one day a week. Since Segundo is such a great kid he gets to hang out too and get involved with the bigger kids and their lessons. Primo’s school is Reggio Emilia based education so the students have a self guided curriculum and while I was there one of the kids wanted to make an airplane to see how it would fly. The rest of the kids were busy with snap cubes, blocks, and other activities while I helped the aeronautic enthusiast with her paper plane. Once we folded a couple of models we decided to head outside to see how they flew and a few kids joined us with paper in hand. Soon we had all but two of the kids folding airplanes and flying them from the top of the play structure. We made hypothesis based on the designs and then talked about what happened after we tested each plane. we decided that longer planes went farther so the kids started using giant paper to make planes that were over two feet long.

The morning blew by and we all had fun folding and decorating our planes before flying them. As more kids from other classes came out to the playground they joined in with planes of their own. The next week on my helper day the kids were ready to make planes again but it was a terrible rainy day out. We could make planes but we couldn’t go outside to fly them. The kids still had a good time folding the planes and talking about what they thought their designs would do in the rain and wind. While I’ve had a great time in the classroom the last three weeks I’m beginning to fall into a paper airplane rut. When the kids see me coming in with Segundo they head right over to the paper supply and start clamoring for new designs. I’m pigeon holed as the paper airplane guy but I guess there’s worse things.

The Birthday boy, or coffee’s for five year olds

Beautiful and I woke up to a quiet room with both boys missing. They were up already and upstairs with their Aunts Mandy and Meg while we slept the morning away. It was just past 7 AM but that was practically noon on this vacation of early mornings and late nights. We rushed upstairs to find our birthday boy and there he was at the kitchen table, cup of coffee in hand, chatting with the ladies. “I’m 5 now mommy so I drink Coffee!” he told us emphatically. Aunt Mandy, the Doctor, said it was OK and she watered it down with lots of chocolate milk. He was pretty proud of himself as we smothered him with kisses. He had already had two birthday cakes and opened a few presents but today was the day, today we smothered him and told him about the day he was born. The Middle Eastern family in the waiting room, daddy needing to go for a walk during the epidural, and Grandpa Tom Tom sneaking into the room after the nurses made him leave. He got the whole story over our morning coffee.

Later in the day we went to Uncle Bob’s farm. He is Grandpa Tom Tom’s Uncle Bob and at 82 is still running the farm on his own. We toured the grain silo’s full of junk the American Pickers guys would drool over. We saw old scooters and motorcycles, 100 year old John Deere engines, and generations of equipment telling the history of farming on this land that has been in the family for close to 200 years. The boys climbed up every tractor and truck in the large barn, always asking first and always being told it was OK. They had the run of the place, eyes opened so wide you’d have thought their faces were stuck that way. They played in a 1948 dump truck, and a Bulldozer that had two engines, one to start it and one to run it. There was a 24 row planting trailer that was pulled by one of the tractors and the boys examined that thoroughly as well. It was a wonderland for little ones and the best birthday destination for Primo who had his John Deere t-shirt on for the occasion.

With so much great stuff to see the boys were bouncing back and forth between it all, but by far the two favorite pieces of equipment were the Piper Cub airplane and the Model A car. The Model A had four flat tires, no front hood, and no seats but two 5 gallon buckets were placed on the frame and the boys were in heaven. They hoped up there and started driving where ever their imagination would take them. Primo would get down and pretend to work on the engine with his helper named James. “It’s not you daddy, it’s my worker also named James.” Then he would run over to the plane, climb in, and start checking the flaps. He would move the stick all around looking back to see what part of the plane moved with each action. We told him to be careful, but Bob said he was fine, that he wouldn’t hurt anything. That was best part for me, the willingness to let a 5 year old lose on some expensive equipment and old treasures, and let him experience everything on his own terms. I wanted to hug Uncle Bob for that, but there is only so many times you can get away with hugging an 82 Iowa farmer.

We gave Primo the option of staying longer at the farm or heading back to Newton where presents were waiting to be opened and he choose to stay at the farm. Whatever was wrapped in all those packages couldn’t possibly top sitting in a real airplane and pretending to fly. We drove in a Semi truck as it was moved from the lower barn up to unload soy from one of the silos. We toured the property on a quad, taking turns riding Primo around. We roasted hotdogs on a fire of corn cobs started with a blow torch and got dirtier than we have ever been. When it was finally time to go we washed off in the bath and said goodbye to Uncle Bob who offered to take the boys for a summer of farm work when they were old enough. He will be up over 90 when that time comes but I bet still going strong. The boys slept hard as we drove the 2 hours back to Newton, and Beautiful and I marveled at what a great Birthday present that was for our 5 year old.