Monday, September 12, 2016

A new era

Maia is off to kindergarten! When she woke up this morning she said, "I'm not going to school today." Then she dressed herself with care and brushed her hair and her teeth, and came down to breakfast, and watched her daddy pack her lunchbox. "I might say I like it," she said when we crossed the street in front of her school. We were early to her classroom (apparently we were supposed to line up with everyone else under the covered area), and she waited more or less patiently. When everyone else got there, she hung up her backpack and lunch with her classmates, we hugged her goodbye, and she ran off to the circle where everyone was meeting. No tears, no frowns, no hesitations. She's going to do so well.

And Eric and I came home to a childless house. I will get lots of work done today, and he's going to be starting his tutoring work as well (also possibly doing more of the porch-painting that took up our yesterday). It'll be nice to have the quiet house. But...but...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My kind of girl

Maia is currently reading an Elephant & Piggie book in the living room, mostly by herself except where Eric supplies sound effects. (Note: why are Dr. Seuss books considered good for learning to read, when they're filled with nonsense words?) She's been working so hard on learning to sound things out, and she's doing it. She's not doing it by recognition yet, except for some sight words, but she's so close and she's doing so well and I'm so proud. Also slightly concerned that I'm going to have to watch what's on my computer screen when she's around, now, too.

What are we going to do with her in kindergarten? I'm genuinely concerned about this. I think she's going to be more polite about being bored than Chloe has been, but I think she's going to be bored. She can add, too, and do very simple subtraction, and she's at least trying to count on (this is where, when a child adds four and four, she stops counting to four on one hand and then adds the other four; she can just start at four and go up from there). We've been kind of assuming she'll follow in Chloe's footsteps (and ours) and go into the accelerated program, but that's not until second grade. I want to go tell the school that she needs to be in first grade next year, not kindergarten. That's not my call, and I don't want to be a pushy parent, but I wonder if it would be the best thing for her. There's an open house for the accelerated program next month, and I'm going to try to ask questions then.

And in the meantime, more books, more workbooks, and more doing math and spelling in the car when the girls ask for it. We went to the library recently, where Chloe got a Minecraft instruction manual that she wouldn't stop reading until we made her and Maia got some chapter books she can't actually read but likes to look at (and I read to her). On the way home they were both uncharacteristically silent in the backseat because they were both intent on their books, and I looked at Eric and said, "I have the family I always wanted."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Chloe's been on a gluten-free diet this week. Her chronic stomachache hasn't responded to any other treatment, and it isn't responding to this one, either; we're giving it another day or two and then calling up the pediatrician again and demanding that they fix our child. I made a worse mess than I've made in quite a few years, baking-wise, trying to make gluten-free bread. I look forward to this being over too. But Chloe's been quite depressed about it--though much happier when she heard there was gluten-free pasta in the cupboard, and then in her bowl.

Yesterday, after school, the girls decided to take a picnic "lunch" out to the middle area of the apartment complex. This led to about three hours of play with the other kids, including, I was told afterward, the older boys coming to play school with them, plus some sort of parading and chasing game, plus a making-soup game with regular snack refills. When they came in for dinner I served up leftovers, including the last of the gluten-free pasta. "This is all there is?" Chloe said when I warned her that was all the leftovers we had, and she started to cry. 

It wasn't a tantrumy sort of crying; it was the crying of a tired girl who was very disappointed. I offered her rice and seaweed and tomatoes, which helped. "Can we snuggle on the couch and read before baths?" she said wistfully, and of course I said yes. We've been reading The Rescue Princesses, a series of books about princesses (well, girls who are called princesses; other than wearing tiaras all the time their lives are not actually different from the standard American chapter-book reader) who like to rescue animals in trouble with the aid of sparkly gems. And ninja moves. Don't ask. I only read a chapter, because it was getting late and I wanted to get her to bed on time. When we'd done baths and tooth-brushing and were snuggled in bed (after another chapter), I tucked her blanket around her and said, "You're tired, aren't you?"

Every other time I've asked this (of either girl), the response has been "I'm not tired!!!!" But this time she nodded and sighed. I kissed her good-night, and Maia as well, and she was asleep within a few minutes. My poor little growing-up girl.

Friday, April 22, 2016

On being Rarity

Chloe gets up early in the mornings now. For the past few years--ever since she's been able to read a clock--I've enforced wake-up time at 7 AM. But she's been waking up earlier than that most days lately (probably her bedtime could use some moving back, but that would cause problems because Maia needs more sleep and they're in the same bed at the moment) and now I get up at six for work anyway. So, I've allowed her to get up at six. She can do it on the weekends too; but she's still not allowed to wake me until seven.

We got out my beading things recently to make barefoot sandals, because a show they watch, Winx Club, features fairies who wear them and the girls admire the look. In the course of making this and that, Chloe made herself a little bracelet out of some long glass tube beads, and Wednesday she wore it to school. "A lot of people really liked my bracelet," Chloe said yesterday morning, when it was just her and me, "and they want one for themselves. So I'm going to. But I don't have to make them all right now."

"How many are you making?" I asked.

"Some for my friends, and one for the new girl." I thought that was lovely. We took the beading stuff out and sat until Maia woke up, me working, she beading. She made three or four bracelets and brought them to school and passed them out--apparently somewhat on the sly. When I asked her about it, she said, "Well, I gave Fiona's to her when we were in line. And I gave the new girl hers when I was going to the door to go to the bathroom. Because she sits on a line between me and the door."

This morning she sat down to the bead box again. "Lots more people told me they want bracelets," she reported. "Even some boys! Two Davids and two Stevens. Lots of people want them in Seahawks colors. And some people want the exact thing that someone else had."

This last was a grumble--I'm not sure whether it's because she didn't want her creativity stifled or because she couldn't actually remember what the desired pattern was. We have a decent variety of beads, and she mostly wasn't following any easily-remembered patterns as she made her bracelets.

I told her that sometimes people admire things they see and don't think about how they might want it changed for themselves, and she didn't seem discouraged. As she plugged along I had to keep stopping myself from saying, "You don't have to make things for people just because they ask." She wasn't treating this as a drudgery, or something she had to do or fear reprisal; people had told her they liked her work and she wanted to share it with them. It was a beautiful thing. But I kept thinking I should tell her not to do it.

Earlier in the week she made tiny paper fans for everyone in her class, because it had been hot and was going to be hot again, and she thought they would like them. I loved that so much. I might have thought of doing such a thing when I was in school (though I didn't) but I certainly would never have decided to pass them out to everyone. I was too shy. Chloe is not, and that makes me happy. Chloe is a generous girl, too, and that also makes me happy. That's one of the top few things I would like my children to be: compassionate; confident; generous. I have a hard time with it myself, and I don't like that about me. Though I do at least share the desire to share things I've made, but I think that's more connected with my fear that if I don't produce something useful, I'm not useful. I hope that's not what motivates Chloe. I don't think it is.

(I do wonder if that's that motivates Rarity in My Little Pony, though. I find her interesting because she embodies the spirit of generosity, but she also seems to feel the opposite pull a lot of the time, which the others don't. Would you like to discuss characterization and themes in My Little Pony and other kids' shows? I'm your mama.)

She made as many bracelets as she could, asking me to tie each knot. Then she noticed a set of four big blue beads in the box that I distinctly remember buying from the bead shop in U-District when I first got interested in beading, when I was fourteen or so (luckily beads have no expiration date). "I'm going to make matching necklaces for Fiona and Lily and me!" she said, naming her two best friends. "Because those beads are all the same!" And so she made three necklaces, too, and put one on, and scooped the rest of the jewelry she'd made into her hands to put into her backpack for school.

Monday, March 21, 2016

I can't hear you, la la la la la

Chloe came home a couple of weeks ago with a notice that she had failed the school hearing test in one ear. Eric was taking her to the doctor anyway not long after, for a mild but chronic stomachache (which we haven't yet gotten to the bottom of; the doctor suggested constipation but we've taken steps on that and the stomachache hasn't gone away. Eric and I thought we were done with close encounters with other people's poop once our children could wipe themselves reliably, but lo, we were wrong). While there, he asked them about the hearing test, and they did another and agreed that she totally had trouble with the lower frequencies in her left ear and that there was nothing in the ear canal to explain it. She went to the audiologist a few days ago and the audiologist concluded that the damage is in the nerves or the processing centers of the brain, which means it's permanent.

She's already started using it as an excuse.

It's mild to moderate, and only in the lower frequencies. Since none of us really suspected it* until the school report came home, it's obviously not very significant. I feel bad for her nonetheless, but it's comforting that it's not a very big deal--at least, not right now. She's getting an appointment with an ENT and we'll be following up to make sure that whatever caused it is not still causing it and making things worse.

She mentioned the other day that she was having trouble hearing one of her friends in the lunchroom. "But the doctor said I would have the worst trouble in that kind of situation, where it's loud everywhere," she said, very matter-of-factly.

Eric believes that this explains why we've never succeeded in getting her to achieve any sort of "car voice." Possibly she's also just a loud child, but it's true that we've always had to shush her more than we have Maia. We've told her that we're going to work on it so she understands what the right volume is, but we're going to work on being more understanding when she misjudges, too.

*I have in the past thought that we ought to see if she had wax impacted in her ears or something. But it never occurred to me as something to seriously pursue. Should it have? Children are notorious for reputedly having selective hearing. The audiologist said that one of the possible causes was her jaundice. We don't know, and we may never. Are there other things that may develop into problems, or be worsened, because it does't occur to me to act?

Friday, March 11, 2016

The closest we've ever gotten to Spider-Man

The girls are at this moment trying to climb the walls using loops of duct tape. I told them it wouldn't work but I didn't tell them they couldn't try. "We need plunger-shoes!" Chloe told me. "Oh, really?" I said politely. I think they're better off with the wall-climbing they've already proven they can achieve.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dress-up girls

Maia wears tights most of the time. It's not a comfort issue like Chloe's socks; if there aren't any clean ones, she's disappointed but not distraught. But she really loves them. She tries to convince us that they can be substituted for pants. (In fairness, Chloe tries to convince us of the same thing, but only when she's changing from her dance outfit to her Girl Scouts outfit when she's just come out of class and is still warm from dancing.) She can put them on herself, which is better than Chloe can do, and she's done her best to get us to let her wear tights and a skirt all winter.

(She's succeeded surprisingly often. This is because winter here is not like winter in Ohio, and she can do that without freezing...sometimes. I do so wish she liked to be warm.)

She's also quite preoccupied with her hair. There was a time when she seemed to dislike it because it was curly. It's settled down some now, possibly because it's longer, possibly because she's older, and now her joy is hairstyles. I even got her a hairstyles book for Christmas. If you need a hairtie, look no further than the floor of any room in our apartment. The girls use them for their dolls and ponies, and for making tiny purses and monster traps, but quite a few go into Maia's hair. She can put her own hair up, sort of, but what she loves is when Eric or I give her a ponytail, or pigtails (always "piggie-tails"), or braided piggie-tails, or pull half her hair back, or put in clips, or do little twisty braids. Sometimes she asks for a hairstyle after her bath, and wears it all night, waking up in the morning with little wisps of hair framing her face.

Chloe, on the other hand, likes to put together outfits. She particularly likes an outfit that Omi sent over, a dark tank top with a black sweater and some dark leggings (both girls love their leggings; I'm still the only one in the family who will wear jeans). She beamed when I said it looked grown-up. She likes her hair long and down. We cut four inches off recently because the fights about keeping it brushed, and her screaming during brushing, got to be too much.

I love watching them play and run. I love seeing Chloe curled up with a book on the couch, like I do (...or hanging upside down off it, like I did when I was her age). I love being Maia's audience when she gets a running start and leaps down the steps that go toward the apartment complex clubhouse. I can't say I love it when they howl in despair, "Why haven't you done the laundry??" when they have drawers full of clothes but they're looking for one particular shirt or pants, but it does highlight how particular they are about their appearances now, and while it's less convenient, it's a lot of fun.

Now if only I could convince them that clothes shopping isn't the deadliest of chores. I know their opinion will be radically different in eight years, but right now I can't get them into a clothing store without threats and/or bribery. Which makes supplying their individual styles harder, and is my excuse for why both girls are wearing too-short leggings half the time. Of course, they also howl in despair when I say it's time to get rid of them. "They're not too short!" Maia says. "We love those pants!" Chloe says. And I say, oh, all right, if your ankles don't freeze. They haven't yet.