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Hawken's Pictures

Conserving a Child's Love of Learning

Hello Doc,

I have a splitting headache at the moment, but I'm going to try and write. I have been struggling to see where to begin, and I just realized I was alone and telling the story to no one. Once I saw this I took a breath and pictured telling you in supervision tomorrow.

Allow me to begin by saying that everything I am about to tell you was inspired by my need to play an active role in preserving my son's love of learning. I could tell from reading the chapters of your book, our discussions about seeing fractals and my ADD learning style, that left unchecked, I would have played an active role in killing my sons love of learning.

I need to begin by telling you how Inetta helped me see that I was transitioning too abruptly for Hawken. Hawken would be exploring a ball and I was ready to feed him and I would walk over remove the ball and pick him up and place him in his chair. It is painful to look at, but that's how I was all the time. Invariably, the disconnect would leave Hawken suddenly alone, wounded I'm sure, and then he would cry and fight for whatever it was he was connected with. I, in my "me-ness," would fight him, believing that my will should be done. It was, after all, time to eat, and so I blamed him for the fight. Imagine spending a couple of hours writing something that you where totally in love with and then suddenly it gets wiped of the screen. Without any warning, poof it's gone. If you can, then you have some sense of what I was doing to my son. It's very painful. And to think I was blaming him for giving voice to it.

Inetta observed our struggle and asked me if I could picture what I was doing. I had no idea what she was talking about and so I knew she was onto something. Immediately, I could see that I had no connection to anyone; I had no clue that Hawken had needs, nor did I care. I asked her about her observation and she told me that I had not given Hawken enough time to change pictures before I moved him to something else. She called it a transition, I had heard the word before, but had no picture for it. I had no idea what it meant at first. But I kept observing what my nature was till it emerged that I was abrupt. Then one evening, as we were finishing giving Hawken a bath, I noticed that Inetta sings to Hawken before we turn the water off. My son loves playing with and exploring the water, how it moves, how it feels, how it tastes, etc. Minutes before shutting the water off, Inetta would start singing, "Bye-bye water. Bye-bye water. Bye-bye water, thank you for cleaning me." I knew she was doing something more than singing and so I watched her until Hawken said, "Bye-Bye water." Then it emerged. She was following Hawken's picture and was slowly giving him a new one so he could connect with that before she did anything else. When Hawken said bye to the water, she could tell his picture had changed to that of shutting off the water and that defined the right time to shut off the water. What really struck me was the realization that conscious transitions require time. Until this moment, I had never seen anyone’s need for time, let alone a baby. Seeing this was like watching clouds grow and change and being aware of the time it takes. We have since incorporated this into nearly everything we do with Hawken. We now value Hawken's internal pictures; we make space for them and for the time it takes for them to change. As a result, we fight less and we get to experience more of Hawken's inner life and how he connects to the world. Amazingly, we become an active, creative part of that world. And from what Steve has taught me, this is where learning occurs; the world of learning.

Essentially, this was the first step in being relieved of the need to force my wounded style of learning upon my son and the beginning of creating space for my son's natural learning style. I tell you this because it sets the stage for what follows.

Since having this emergence, I have been studying how Hawken transitions. I have seen that everything is a picture for him and that he is moved according to his pictures. Further, even if he can repeat the words, it does not guarantee that his picture is my picture; which, when dealing with anyone, especially children, is vitally important for me to recognize. Why? Because I would rather have the choice to keep my son’s love for learning alive then to force upon him my notion of what is "right." I have seen, time after time, he is right; just not always logically. What I mean is that my son learns by seeing, ". . . pattern[s] that always repeats differently." In other words, his nature is to discover fractally; just like our friend Steve. Seeing this, I have made a commitment, as his father, to adjust my teaching style so that I protect and nurture his innate brilliance, even at the risk of my pain and frustration. What I get in return is priceless. Just by making room for Hawken's internal life, the external life we share is tremendously enriched; my family fights less and we teach each other more.

One afternoon I was standing at the sink washing dishes, when my son walked over to the fridge and began playing with his letter magnets. He walks over singing a pretty accurate rendition of the alphabet song, and begins arranging the letters. He especially enjoys balancing the magnets on the edge of the door. As he does this, he excitedly starts calling out the letters he knows, "That F!! That D!! That U!!" Then he picks up the letter W and says, "That U!" Immediately I feel the urge to correct him and tell him its not a U, its a W. I feel how abrupt this is and I see the joy of discovery in his face. I have no desire to crush his joy for the sake of being right, so I let it go. Suddenly I am pleasantly curious, and I walk over to him and sit next to him. He looks at me, smiles, and quivers excitedly then says," Daddy, that U". Although I do not see what he says yet, I have learned to trust his powers of observation and to look for the pattern that he sees before I say anything. I know he sees a U, and so I look for what he sees. I look for what looks like a U, and am pleasantly surprised when I see that a W is a double U. I laugh and say, "Yes baby, that is a U." He gets more excited. A few moments later I point at the W and say, "Look, Hawken, one U, two U." He gets very serious. He looks at me, at the U, and then at the W. He cycles through this and I point and say "double U". A few more seconds go by and he does a little hop, points and says, "That double U! That double U". He points at the U and says, "That U" then points at the W and says "That double U!" I know something emerged in Hawken because he still delights in the "double U". I know I healed something because I was left with a curiosity about the etiology of the W. I was amazed to discover Webster's dictionary confirm that a w is a double U. By seeing the pattern, my son discovered something I had never learned. Even more, by honoring his style of learning, he taught me to see something I had never learned.

Imagine what we would have lost if I had gotten frustrated and disappointed and abruptly told him he was wrong. I could have damaged many things, including, as Steve has pointed out to me, his confidence in learning and exploring. Amazingly, as with any good emergence, my confidence as a student, a teacher and as a father has grown. I would be remiss, if I did not include that these events have deepened my trust in my wife as a teacher, a mother, and a friend. I have since enjoyed many lessons from my son in the fractal nature of the universe. With Inetta and Steve's help, I have been able to guide him in a way that honors this. For example, instead of getting frustrated at his refusal to go to sleep, I lie near him and pretend to sleep till he begins to express interest and curiosity about, "Daddy Night Night?" Since I have adopted this approach, he often falls asleep as much as a half-an-hour faster than before. Where it not for Steve and Inetta, I would still be trying to hammer the square peg of my logic into the fractal pattern of my son's consciousness. I would have taught my son to become distant from his love of learning and distrustful of his ability to see connections. Instead, my wife and I get to play a vital part of my son growing up with access to learning consciously. Something at 36, I am only beginning to recover. I can only imagine the impact of growing up with the love of learning, intact and alive.

Wounding My Son

Wounding My Son

"It is three am and I have held him for what seems forever.


I Wounded Him

I Realize I Have Wounded Him

"I realize with a sick heart that I finally have my freedom."


My Son's Wound

I Heal My Son's Wound

"The next morning I am awoken by my little alarm clock named Hawken.

The Proof of Healing

I See the Proof of Healing
"I realize he didn't even flinch."