Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Like all parents, when my first baby was born, I looked forward to many milestones – first word, first sentence, first steps, no more diapers. As they grew, I even looked forward to ones like outgrowing the annoying car seat, being able to open the fridge by herself. The one I didn’t expect until it was upon us was learning to read.

That was particularly slow of me, given how central reading and writing is to me. Maybe that is why – it seems as natural a breathing. It isn’t, though. It is work.

Boo, my last baby, has just figured out the key. Reading isn’t just a switch – one day you can’t, the next you can. But, at least with my kids, there has always been one day when the kid suddenly gets running those sounds together. For the longest time – desperate to read – Maya would sound out words like ‘cat’ as cuh-ah-tuh and then run it together as ‘cuhatuh.’ Then she’d get frustrated and take a wild stab at it – “Chicken?” It was hard not to laugh, I admit.

She spent a long time in the ‘cuhatuh’ stage, not quite getting it. And then, one day, she did. And I realized that the whole world had just open up to her. I teared up, I admit.

It was somewhat harder for Asher, in that he didn’t care, and somewhat easier, in that he didn’t care. He didn’t kill himself at it the way his sister did. But one day, about a week before he was to enter grade one, I decided it was time to see if he could get phonetics. We sat down with Hop on Pop, and he Got It.

Having never really thought about it before, he was wildly delighted to realize that he could actually read.  I’ll never forget the excitement with which he raced up the stairs to demonstrate to his dad that he could actually read. Unfortunately in his case, it immediately got difficult and figuring it out has been a struggle ever since. It just doesn’t seem to come naturally to him, much as he wants it to.

But with Boo, whether it is because she is a third child, or a lucky one, it has happened with the greatest of ease. She figured out the alphabet by herself. As we went through the grocery store when she was 2 and 3 years old, she’d say, “I see my letter! I see Bubby’s letter!” Only later did the letters get their own names, and she already had a good idea of their sounds.

A couple of weeks ago, while I read to the older two, Boo was looking at one of her own books and suddenly said, “puh-ah-tuh … pat!” I cheered, “Boo, you just sounded that word out!” She was delighted, and has been sounding out everything she sees since then, with varying degrees of success.

So last night, I dug out Hop on Pop. And she read it. She even took little leaps, like sounding out ‘see’ as ‘suh-eh-eh’ and not running it together as ‘seh’ but ‘see.’ The best part is her utter delight. She was so excited I had trouble getting her to stop (it’s a long book) and go to sleep, then she showed up bright and early this morning in my bed insisting on continuing the book.

Later, when I insisted on cutting her fingernails, she said, “Okay! I can read while you do it!” She grabbed a book and picked a word, then said, “Buh-uh-tuh-tuh-on. Button! Button? I always thought it was ‘buttin’! Wow, this reading thing is really cool.”

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Snow! Snow! Woo hoo, snow!!

Okay, I don’t actually feel that way, but the children – both human and canine – sure do. In the backyard before school, Asher tried to make a snowman out of the perfect, sticky snow, but every time he got the snowball to a decent size, Jasper lunged at it, ripping it to pieces. Asher couldn’t even be angry with him, it was so funny.

Snow that actually sticks to the ground caught me by surprise. I’ve been meaning to go get a decent pair of walking boots for my treks through the woods with Jasper, which I have no intention of stopping just because it is winter, but haven’t yet. Now I have to go out today. And remember to load blankets in the car to protect it from wet dog.

At least I’m pretty much organized for Hanukkah, which in itself is a Hanukkah miracle. I still have to finish knitting the cute little hats I am making for the girl’s AG dolls. I got one hat finished in the time it took to attend a Judy and David concert, even though I had to pause to stand up and spin like a dreidel, and eat Boo up like a yummy latke, etc.

Judy and David, for those not in the know, are a Canadian singing duo for kids, based in Toronto. They do concerts all over North American, but aren’t exactly the level of the Wiggles in popularity. They are, however, marvelous. My kids have been into them for a long time and, even though the older two passed on being seen at one of their concerts this time, they are happy to play their CDs at home.

They have lots of clever stuff, like spoofs on fairy tales and fun music that teaches math concepts. But the reason I really love them is for the looks on my kids’ faces upon discovering that Judy and David have a CD called “Matzah Ball Rock” and a Hanukkah show. Not do Judy and David, who are, like, way famous (because they are on TV!), turn out to be Jewish, but they have a whole concert aimed at Jews! Whoa. Blows them away.

The show really was great. David came out dressed as King Antiochus (the big baddie) and ordered the audience to bow to him, then started to cry as the children yelled out, “No way! We aren’t listening to you!” Then Judy came out as Judy the Maccabee and called him King Anti-tuchus (tuchus being the Yiddish word for your bum).  I thought Boo was going to choke, she laughed so hard.

My favourite part of the show was getting to watch Boo’s face as she watched the show. That’s always what I like best when I take the kids to any live show. They are so engaged, dancing and singing and their faces are pure joy.

Read Full Post »

First Boyfriend

Not Maya – Boo.

There is a family one street over whose kids go to the same school mine do. The oldest girl is Maya’s age, and her best friend. The second kid is a boy Asher’s age, and they are also friends. The youngest is Boo’s age, but a boy. By virtue of proximity, they’ve hung out together, but never really bonded. They were in the same class last year and this year. Suddenly, they both started demanding to be allow to play at each others houses.

Yesterday, I carpooled their kids, dumping the girls at shul school. I then dropped Asher off at their house and brought the littlest one, D, here. On the way home in the care, he announced, “I hate pink. Blllech.” I cringed slightly, waiting for Boo to become offended, as she loves pink. Instead, she yelled, “PINK!” He responded, “YUCK!” and they were off to the races.

She ordered him around terribly, but he just did what he was told. Then at one point, she got a catalogue of toys that came in the mail and told him she would show him some toys, but would protect him from the pink ones. She’d open a page and then slap her hand over something and warn him, “It’s pink!” He’d roll around as if he’d been shot, groaning, then she’d say, “It’s okay. I covered it for you.”

Okay, none of this is particularly romantic behaviour. My kids have always had friends of the opposite sex, and Maya’s best friend until she was in about grade 3 was a boy. One of Boo’s best friends, in a different school, is a boy.

But this was the clincher. I drove them back to his house, side by side in their booster seats and when we arrived, and D started to unbuckle himself, Boo yelled, “Hug! Hug! Hug!” I was sure he’d be horrified, but instead he said, “Just a minute, I have to get unbuckled.” Then he went and give her a big hug. She’s never done this with any other little boy. And he was so nonchalant about it, I wonder how many other hugs there have been? At least she had good taste – he’s got red hair and blue blue eyes and is really cute.

Read Full Post »

I confess that for years, I’ve been dreading Maya’s bat mitzvah. They are such huge deals and it all seems so overwhelming to handle. Maybe it is because I converted and therefore never went through one of my own (or, more likely for my generation, watched my brothers go through bar mitzvahs), but I’m not sure that is all, because J is pretty much terrified too.

Her bat mitzvah date is April of 2009 – a year and a half away. I thought that was enough time to keep my fingers in my ears and loudly and tunelessly sing, “Lalalala, I can’t hear you” for a while longer, but apparently not. A few days ago, a friend whose kid is having her bat mitzvah about the same time asked me if I’d signed Maya up for her class at shul yet, and was I going to the meeting? Huh? I knew nothing. J knew nothing.

So I called the synagogue, where the nice secretary peppered me with questions – how much is she going to read? Are we having our evening even at the synagogue? Are we having the lunch kiddish there? Will we be doing a Friday night thing, or Saturday morning thing? I dunno I dunno I dunno.

So I went to the meeting, where I was happy to see I wasn’t the only perplexed parent there. I realized that it was in fact high time Maya start the classes, as apparently they are supposed to take them for 1.5 to 2 years. I can’t figure out what it is going to take so long to learn, since she can already read Hebrew fluently and knows many of the prayers. As far as I can tell (but as I said, I’ve never done this before), she needs to learn the cantillation.

The Torah is a complicated thing to read. Hebrew for grown-ups doesn’t have vowels. You can put the vowels in, as they are marks that go under and over certain letters to let you know, for example, that the ‘t’ sound will be ‘ta’ or ‘to’ or ‘ti’ but after you learn how to read fluently, you drop the vowels. So no vowels in the Torah. There are lots of other little marks on the words, though. They tell the reader how that word is to be chanted. All the different marks, called trope, have their own specific tune and the kids need to learn them so they can properly chant their Torah portion.

This does strike me as nightmarishly difficult and so I do see requiring a far amount of prep time, but now I’m not so sure, since Maya came home from her first class at ‘shul school’ last week with a page of the names of all the different markings, and began singing them to me. Next!

Okay, it isn’t that simple, but she certainly is sucking up the information. At least one of us has a brain. I panicked at the meeting when I discovered that classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. I asked the Rabbi about tutoring as, I explained, Maya has piano on Tuesday and delivers her papers on Thursday. I know one has to make priorities, but piano is unmovable and I think having a job is very good for her. To bad. The tutors are booked solid.

Thursday seemed more flexible, but then I saw that the class was currently populated with 4 boys from her grade at school. Nuh-uh. One boy’s mom came over and told me if I put her in that class, they’d carpool her there and back. That’s very sweet, I told her, but Maya will freak if I put her in that class. But, said the mom, they are very nice boys. Nice? Nice has nothing to do with it. They have penises and nothing else matters.

I then realized that piano is only half an hour and I could race from it to the synagogue, and at least she’d be in a class full of girls, with her best friend. I signed her up. Leaving the meeting, I phoned Maya to tell her the news, as I knew she was keen on being with her friend. After I told her, she said, “Mom, my piano lesson is on Wednesdays.”

So, so not ready.

Read Full Post »

Allergies

While I am an unhealthy mess, with so many annoying conditions and syndromes that I dare not list them all, my kids are healthy. Really healthy, particularly Maya who, when Asher is bedridden and feverish for two days over a stomach virus, experiences the same virus by being slightly put off dinner one night. So it seemed odd this spring when she had an annoying cold that just would not go away. Finally, it occurred to me to try an antihistamine and, sure enough, things improved somewhat.

I took her to our GP, who referred her to an allergist. The appointment was yesterday. He did a scratch test, where drops of different common allergens were placed on her arms, then the nurse used a pin to make a small scratch in each one. We then sat in the waiting room waiting to see if anything happened. In short order, several spots along one arm began to turn red and swell.

May I just say it is a good thing Maya isn’t sick a lot, because that kid is a huge whiner. First, she was so freaked about the scratch test in the first place that I had to order her to sit down and then hold her arms down for the nurse. Then, as the spots began to react, she flopped around and moaned about not being able to scratch, and complained that it didn’t just itch, it hurt horribly. We were sharing the waiting room with a mom and little girl of about 5 or 6, who watched her with huge eyes. When Maya started to say it hurt, I said very, very pointedly at her, “You mean it itches, right? Nothing here actually hurts. It is just annoying that it itches.” She got the message, but didn’t stop whining about how unbearable the itching was.

So, she’s allergic to several trees (including cedar, as in the cedar hedges we have in the backyard), grass, ragweed. Basically, she’s managed to cover the entire summer. The doctor says that it is likely to just get worse and worse each year and we should do allergy shots.

Off my game, I just agreed without questioning and paid about $200 for them to order the allery serum to be sent to my GP, who will administer them. As we were driving home, I wondered why so many people put up with seasonal allergies when you can just get the shots to cure everything once and for all. I found out when I got home and actually read the information he gave me.

I have to take my kid to the doctor for the shot once a week, staying half an hour to watch for a bad reaction, for twenty-eight weeks! Then it goes down to every 2-3 weeks for a while. That’s seven bloody months of weekly doctor visits!

I know it is still better than sneezing your way through summer for the rest of your life, but I still don’t know if I made the right move here. Maybe she will buck the trend and not get worse. Maybe all these stupid shots won’t work. Maya, of course, is horrified, and I didn’t even tell her how long this has to go on.

I think I need a nap.

Read Full Post »

I’ve always been quite pleased with my kids’ Halloween choices, with the exception of my fairy princess. This year, Asher is going to be a knight and Maya decided to be a clown. I found a cool knight costume at the Children’s Place. All we needed was a sword, which the Children’s Place politically correctly did not include. How long is a knight going to last without a sword, I ask you?

Maya went with something new this year, deciding to be a clown. I was delighted. That’s an easy one. Wig, make-up, goofy clown costume. Since my kids are past the days of being impressed with my no-sew homemade halloween costumes, off we went to find a clown costume at the store.

The first one we went to had no clown costumes at all. How odd that they would have run out. They had good face paint, though. The second one had a clown wig and clown nose. It also had ailses of costumes, but nary a clown in sight.

The third one had ailses and ailses of costumes. The had an entire wall of swords, so now Asher is the most dangerous knight around (when we got home, I allowed him to attack and kill all the dead plants I had yet to clear from the garden – boy heaven). They had Bratz, pumpkins, regular vampires, slut vampires, angels, bunnies, slut bunnies, knights, ninjas, Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Spongebob, an entire ailse of princess dresses of all sorts, cowboys, dogs, kittens, slut kittens, turtles, Ninja turtles …

Not one damn clown.

It seems to me that a clown costume would be very easy for them to make – two pieces of cheap colourful polyester sewn together with pompoms down the front. Maybe a ruffle. Certainly, that is easier than the slut bunny costume I saw. Why no clowns?

We did find a pair of stretchy polyester pants that I strongly suspect came from another constume, but it was alone when we found it, and they sold it to us for $3. And a hat with a flower on it. Clearly, clowns are not off the radar, what with the hat, clown nose and wig. but since when do marketers then assume people will just make the actual costume themselves, providing us with only the accessories? They make ghosts, for god’s sake, and even I can hand-make that costume.

Fortunately, with help from some internet back-up (“See, these people made it themselves and it looks cool. These people too.”), I have convinced Maya that a colourful over-sized shirt with big patches and pompoms or buttons sewn on by us will make a perfectly good clown top. But still, it means I have to go buy some cheap colourful shirt at Walmart, find or make pompoms and sew on the colourful patches. I am so past personal effort for Halloween costumes.

But, even though she’s 11.5 years old, Maya is still my baby and she doesn’t have too many Halloweens left. And she does have the good sense not to want to be a fairy princess, so I’ll do it.

I want all her Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, though.

Read Full Post »

When I was pregnant with my children, I used to wonder if they’d have my eyes, or hair colour. It didn’t really occur to me that more than that would get passed on, which is short-sighted of me, as it all got passed on to me.

I have (among many other things) Restless Leg Syndrome. It basically means my legs twitch uncontrollably at times. Sometimes my left arm too. Annoying – sometimes very – but not life-threatening. Turns out, according to Consumer Reports, only 3% of the population have it. My mother has it too, as has one brother, so I never felt that weird.

A little while ago, I happened to be sitting with Asher as he fell asleep. He kicked his feet as he faded off, and continued to kick in his sleep for a while. He did it the next night too. I then asked him about it, why he moves his legs as he goes to sleep. He said, “I just need to move them or it feels weird.” And on it goes. I feel kind of bad about that one.

I bought a pill organizer that is comprised of 7 small containers that screw together, one on top of the next. They are all different colours and come with the days of the week on labels to place on them. As I labeled them, I commented on my irritation that they didn’t have the right colours for me to use. “I need a brown for Monday,” I said, mostly to myself.

Another quirk – I have a form of synesthesia called grapheme, wherein you experience the days of the week and, for some people, the months of the year, as having an inherent colour. In my case, Monday is brown. Tuesday is blue. Wednesday is yellow. And so on.

I had no idea everyone didn’t have this until I read an article on it somewhere. I asked my family about it and they all made it clear they thought I was insane, then tried to trip me up by asking me at different times what colour various days of the week were, to see if the colours changed.

So I was kind of delighted when, after I commented on Monday being brown, Maya said, “Monday isn’t brown. It’s green. Use this container.” We compared our days and agree that Tuesday is light blue and Wednesday is yellow, but our days and months are different colours. We had fun arguing over them.
I told her how weird she is, which she did not appreciate. The days and months are so inherently colourful to her that she cannot imagine that other people do not experience them this way.  I said, “Go to school tomorrow and ask your friends what colour Monday is, and see how many know what the heck you are talking about.” She said, “I will! And they’ll say it’s green!” “Brown!” “Green!” “Go to bed now.”

She not only has my eyes, she has my grapheme. And on it goes.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »