Among the many things Brendan brought home from school that he hadn’t completed was a very interesting assignment. For it he was to draw a map of the United States and then show either Lewis and Clark’s original journey or show what path he himself would have taken if put into their position.
This was one of the two homework assignments Brendan chose to take over to my parents house on Saturday night. The kids would be spending the evening there while Matt and I went to our friend’s wedding and since Brendan had chosen to not do his assignments in the morning like I’d asked him to, he had to take them to his grandparents house and complete them there.
Actually though, it turned out to be a genius move for him. My parents have owned a United States map puzzle for pretty much Brendan’s entire life. He has always been enamored with the thing. For a long time when he was around Cameron’s age he would spend pretty much every minute we were at their house taking it apart and putting it back together again. Asking anyone who would sit with him who we knew that lived in each state.
He loved it so much that over the years I tried getting him a couple of the same type of thing for at home but I never found one of as good a quality. The first one I tried was a small 8×10 wooden puzzle. Some of the pieces for the New England states were so small he had trouble picking them up to put into the puzzle and it wasn’t long before Rhode Island and New Hampshire were lost. Later I found one that was approximately the same size as my parents (which I’d have to guess is about 16×20) and was made out of foam. However, while the wooden pieces of their puzzle fit together nicely with a little bit of play around them so they are easy to get back out the foam puzzle was supposed to fit together snugly and he had trouble getting them to stick in the puzzle. Soon the foam pieces became something for Cameron to chew on so it too went away.
I hadn’t seen my parents puzzle in quite a while. When they moved in 2010 the kids toys and puzzles all got packed away for a while and in their new house there wasn’t really a good spot to store them. They moved again in 2012 and found a new home for the kids toys but had never gotten the puzzles back out. Recently, my mom realized that Kaylee was getting big enough to be into the puzzles and had dad dig them out of storage. The day she did that Brendan went straight to the US puzzle like it was an old friend. He picked up with it right where he’d left off as though there hadn’t been a 3 year gap since he’d last done the puzzle.
And this puzzle is why I think my boy was incredibly smart to take that particular homework assignment with him to my parents. Rather than try to approximate the US map himself, he brought the puzzle up to the kitchen table so he could draw the outline of it on his paper. Luckily he’d asked me for a big piece of paper and I’d given him our giant drawing pad. With it he was actually able to lay the paper over the map and trace the outline. Like I said it was a genius idea.
Once he had the outline done he pretty much phoned it in for the remainder of the assignment. He drew one line from around the Michigan/Wisconsin region of the map down to approximately Louisiana. My mom thought it was the route Brendan would have taken (making the assignment complete) and so didn’t make him do any further work on the assignment. She did tell me that the other assignment he had to do (a persuasive story about visiting Yosemite) might need re-done since after working for more than 30 minutes he’d only written 2 sentences.
On Sunday afternoon I sat Brendan down and went over both assignments. Evidently he just wasn’t in the mood to write the previous day because after another 30 minutes he had a decent length story persuading me to go and visit Yosemite. After that we got out the map. I told him he’d done a good job on it but that it looked rather plain. I’d sent our big crayon and marker bucket with him the day before but he hadn’t colored his map at all. I recommended that he add some color to the map.
As I was talking him through that I told him to take some sort of bold color and trace over the route he’d drawn. That’s when he informed me that wasn’t his route it was supposed to be the Missouri river. (actually…based on it’s placement it’s more like the Mississippi river but hey who’s counting). So instead I had him color his river in blue. Then I recommended he draw in the Rocky Mountains. So he took some brown and drew a big brown jagged line down the left side of the map in a fairly good approximation of where the Rocky’s lay. Finally he wanted to showcase the Great Plains and colored the whole center of the map in green.
Once finished I recommended again he get a different color to trace his route. It was at this point that he asked me if Lewis and Clark travelled from East to West or West to East. I told him it was East to West. I was hoping that he wasn’t going to ask me what route they actually travelled because to be honest I don’t remember it. It’s been a bit too long since I learned about it in school and truthfully their route is not something I use in every day life.
Instead he stated that even though they went East to West he wanted to travel from West to East. And with that he took his red marker and drew a line from Washington state down to Louisiana. Satisfied that he’d finally done a complete job of the assignment I had him put it into his backpack for school the next day. Meanwhile I pondered his wanting to travel from West to East. While logic wasn’t part of the assignment I really had to wonder about his logic.
If he were travelling at the time of Lewis and Clark how exactly would he expect to get all the way out West to begin his journey. It’s not like he could just hop into an airplane and fly to the Seattle airport to begin his journey. I couldn’t resist, so I asked him how he expected to get out there when all of that land was unexplored. His answer made me chuckle almost as much as the thought of him travelling from West to East. He said, “I don’t know…I’d probably come up from Mexico.”
Mexico…Well, so long as he’s logical about it.