High and low culture.

I’ve been on a real science kick of late. Part of me wonders is this is my way of pushing my daughter into loving science. I was a science nerd for years, until a lousy teacher (and, probably, peer pressure) caused me to lose interest. I’d love for Lenora to be a science nerd, too. There are worse things to push a child into than an interest in science: child beauty pageants, for example. (I was busted watching Toddlers and Tiaras this past weekend. I had heard a lot about it but had never seen an episode. I have now.)

Of course, at five months old, Lenora is too young to have opinions about anything besides “I love Mommy!” and “Wet diapers are uncomfortable!” But still, we watch Nova together, and I’m planning to take her to see the transit of Venus when the local astronomical society hosts a viewing next month. We go outside to look at the stars. The night of the supermoon was the first time I ever heard Lenora really laugh–I’m not sure if it was the bright, shiny moon or the breeze in her hair or being held by her daddy, but she let out a beautiful laugh, the likes of which I have not heard since.

Anyhow, the dual tuners on my Tivo are currently hard at work, recording my two favorite shows: Nova and America’s Next Top Model. These shows may seem mutually exclusive, but I love them both. Weirdly enough, I learn from them both, too. The lessons may be completely different–Nova teaches me about scientific developments, and ANTM teaches me about how to pose for photos without losing my neck–but I learn from them both.

For the last three years, I’ve been mentoring a middle schooler. She’s a wonderful young woman who has grown more confident and poised as she’s progressed through middle school, and I love that about her. Middle school can be a real self-esteem killer, and she’s survived–or, more accurately–flourished in that environment. Like many young women her age, she’s a huge fan of the Twilight series and has read all of the books and seen all of the movies multiple times. We usually play Mancala and talk during our weekly meetings (and she almost always wins), but today she saw a chess board and wanted to play.

Neither of us have ever played chess before, but as she said, “it’s a teaching set, and the pieces have information about how they can move on the board.” I was surprised that she wanted to play chess, but as the game got going, I realized that her interest was likely spurred by her love of the Twilight books–one of which includes a pivotal scene where the main characters play chess. It’s a situation where something that is considered “low culture” (Twilight) spurs an interest in something that is considered “intellectual” (chess).

I’m sure the game of chess that we played didn’t follow the rules correctly. Anyone even remotely familiar with how the game is actually played would have been pretty amused by our attempt. But it’s a reminder that curiosity about the world sometimes comes from curious places, and that we can learn new things from unexpected sources.

Thanks to our viewing of America’s Next Top Model, Lenora and I both know how to “booty tooch” (this is a move involving sticking your behind out just so) and how to “smize” (which is smiling with your eyes). There’s no booty tooch in this photo, just some smizing, and Tyra Banks would be proud of my (ahem) gracefully extended neck.

Mom & Baby

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One Response to High and low culture.

  1. Looking forward to meeting Lenora!

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