I’ve written here about Dante’s interest in space, but he’s got other passions going as well. I think the second place slot would have to go to rocks and minerals. I’m not sure how this interest began — it feels like it built quite gradually. Probably at least part of the origin goes back to when Laura would take him out to lakes and rivers to throw rocks into the water. From there, he started to absorb information about the rocks themselves. My mom brought him an old book from when I was a kid — I went through my own rocky phase — and he paged through that with interest. Also, souvenir shops in Colorado, especially mountain ones, tend to have a lot of tumbled and polished rocks, so they made a natural gift for him from time to time.
Now the love of rocks has become a part of our everyday lives. He’s got some special rocks that he takes out on a regular basis to admire and show off to us. These, too, accumulated gradually. He’s got a very kind babysitter who bequeathed him a number of gorgeous samples from her own childhood rock collection. There’s a piece of a geode with lots of crystalline amethyst, a piece of rose quartz, and a piece of milky quartz combined with clear quartz. He won a bingo game at Stargate, and was immeasurably thrilled that one of the prizes he could pick was a boffo clear quartz sample. In fact, his love of rocks is so public at Stargate that a couple of times now he’s come home with some jewel-like bit of plastic or glass that another kid gifted to him. He recently told me that his two favorite classmates are Micah and Stella, but not because of anything they’ve actually said or done. He just likes that their names sound like a mineral and a star.
Funniest of all, though, are the spontaneous collections. He’s become quite enamored of cargo shorts, because he can stuff the pockets with rocks. Take a walk with him, anywhere outdoors, and he will periodically slam to a halt, bend at the knees, and inspect some rock or other on the ground. The majority of the time, he’ll then stuff it in his pocket and walk onward. Every day he comes home from school and unloads a bunch of stones and pebbles onto our table. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve had to tell him that he’ll need to be returning those rocks. I’m picturing Stargate’s next fundraiser — “We’re selling gift wrap and entertainment coupon books for the funds to repopulate our rock landscaping, which has suffered a startling amount of erosion this fall.” We’ve told him that he can think of it as a rock library — he’s welcome to check out interesting things and bring them home, but they will need to be returned. Quite honestly, I have no idea where he’s even finding these things, but once the checkout bin starts to get full, we’ll need to figure it out.
He’s the same way with the rocks out in front of our new house. He’s become quite a quartz connoisseur, and wants to bring samples in by the armload. Laura quite cleverly taught him how to make cairns, so now we’ve got little piles of rocks near our front door and steps, but at least the stones are remaining outside.