Before I launch into the subject of the letter, I need to talk about the quilt block that accompanies it.
I’m growing quite fond of the quilt I’m making you. I think I’ll have to speed up production, otherwise I may not be able to let it go. I’ve started to think about how to put all the quilt blocks together. I want to add a strip of fabric between each block. Probably a solid purple, but I am looking at alternatives. I want to achieve a good balance so that each part is shown off at it’s best.
The quilt block, this time, is called duck and ducklings. I like the pattern, but I’m not sure I understand the name. I see ducklings, at a squeeze, but the mother duck seems to have wandered off. Unless the middle part is the mother. Or not. Not that it really matters. I like the balance.
So. There is the quilt block. Now for the letter that goes with it, as part of the Dear Daughter Quilt project. In a way, it is about balance too. Different people joining in to achieve a harmony. Bear with me. You’ll see.
Last week, your brother looked thoughtful. He obviously had something on his mind that was troubling him. As we walked to school, he asked me a question. Took me back. I remember you asking a similar question, albeit the other way round, when you were even younger than he is now.
“It’s OK to have friends that are girls, isn’t it?”
“Yes, of course,” I told him.
“It’s just that T at school keeps on teasing me about me being friends with M.”
“Being friends with girls is good, just as its good to have friends that are boys. Ignore him. He’ll grow out of that attitude, one day. You can always ask him why he feels that way. Might make him think.”
I watched your brother disappear into the playground to find his friend. Presumably to chat about scooter tricks and Minecraft, as they usually do. Or ways to escape out of school. In his mind, it makes no difference whether she is a girl or boy. She likes the same things as him.
It got me thinking. Will that change? Will his friend T finally realise that boys can be friends with girls? Will your brother reach a point where he starts to believe T and think that girls don’t make good friends?
And while I am navel gazing, I don’t think I had a clear parenting directive on this aspect of friendships. Maybe I should have done. Although I didn’t think I needed to spell it out or artificially manufacture friendships. It should be natural. You like the people that you like.
At your age, I had best girl friends, but I also had a lot of friends that were boys. More like brothers, without the sibling rivalry. They were fun to be with and made me laugh. That was enough. I wasn’t about to start scratching our joint intials into the school desks (as if!)
I went on to carve out a career in an industry that was male dominated. Still is. I’m not sure I’d have felt so confident and held my own, if I’d not had that experience of having good male friends.
The work teams that I have enjoyed working in the most, have been a good balance of genders and/or a real mix of people. It needs to be mixed. If everyone is the same, has the same experiences, then they bring the same ideas to the project. More than likely, it will skew the approach and possibly the results.
You used to be friends with boys. In fact, I often thought you got on better with them. I don’t hear you talking about them anymore, only the really annoying boys. Maybe it will change again. Maybe you are surrounded by people who share your brother’s friend T’s take on life. I don’t know.
I guess I’m trying to tell you that it is still OK to be friends with boys. It will add something to your life. Balance, a different way of thinking, different interests. Who knows? There will always be people who try to link you romantically, but, hey, they’ll get over it. You can’t live your life for them.
Your loving mother
If you would like to see more quilt blocks or letters from this project, then click here. There is also an explanation about why I started on this marathon in the first place. Even I read that occasionally to remind myself!
I’m back with the 24th quilt block and 21st letter for your Dear Daughter Quilt. I’ve chosen the Broken Sugar Bowl block, this time. I like the pattern, but I struggle to see why it’s a sugar bowl. Is it just me? I guess I can see a break, but if you showed me this quilt block, I’d be unlikely to guess the name in a million years. It could be the fabric I chose, making me see a different pattern in the finished block.
Maybe it’s like looking up in the sky and seeing a cloud in the shape of a snapping crocodile, while the person next to you sees the same cloud as a person lying down in a hammock. As humans, we are set up to search for patterns and try to make sense of them, which brings me almost too neatly to the subject of this letter. Science and patterns.
Made up language
Science is about recognizing the patterns in the world around us and within, and wondering.
Numbers, equations and scientific terms are our way to express, manage the understanding and communicate these patterns. It is a made up language. The number 3 is made up. Two horse shoes, one sat on the other. Another symbol could easily be universally substituted and it would not change the value. So long as we’re all using the same symbol, we can communicate.
We use the language to explain the rules of the universe, or, in other words, the patterns they make. The patterns are already there.
Do you remember when you were younger and you used to add glitter to your Christmas cards? First you would add glue to the card. Arranging it carefully. Depending on the type of glue you used, you might find it difficult to see where you had already glued. Then you would sprinkle the glitter on and shake off the excess. Almost by magic your pattern would appear.
That is the same with science. It is already there. More than we can see yet. Using our made up language, experiments and observation, we can reveal it.
Learn the language and patterns/rules
Science, at your stage, is learning the language (and wondering).
You are unlikely to make big scientific breakthroughs at this stage, in exactly the same way that you were unlikely to write a best-selling novel while learning to read and write. Not impossible. Just unlikely, but maybe one day.
You are learning the basics and beginning to wonder. You need this knowledge. You need to know the patterns so that later you will notice when something doesn’t fit. It may seem to break the rules. Also you’ll need the basic rules so that you can use them to their full potential and apply them. Maybe putting different patterns together, to make something amazing. (Thinks aeroplanes)
You will have moments when the penny will drop and those will be wonderful moments. Savour them. There will be plenty more of them, given time.
You love science. You always have. You always loved joining in the experiments that we have tried at home. Leading the others and helping to explain it to your younger siblings. Teaching me a new way to express it, in some cases. I really liked that. I know that you are finding one of your science lessons boring. A bit dry.
May I suggest that you look at this subject slightly differently? It involves the use of maths. Maths is a useful language for expressing a pattern. Don’t believe me? Let me try and explain.
Imagine an algebra equation. A mixture of numbers, letters and signs. The letters represent numbers that are either unknown or could be a whole range of numbers. If you were to repetitively substitute numbers into the equation, and work it out, you would begin to create a pattern. (Think graph.) That is a formula. All it is, is a few (hopefully!) well placed letters, numbers and signs that represent a bigger picture, or pattern.
Maths allows this science subject to be expressed. It makes/reveals the patterns. The patterns help you to solve the puzzle. If you approach this subject as if it was a series of puzzles to be solved, would that make it more interesting? Your teacher, unknowingly, has become the clue giver.
I hope I’ve offered you a different way to look at science. I hope it inspires you to tackle your studies with fresh insight.
Look for the patterns.
Your loving mother
There are more quilt blocks and letters to read here. Some funny. Some serious. You can also read about why I started the Dear Daughter quilt for my daughter.