Archive for April, 2009

Stop eating

Monday, April 6th, 2009

There are many things that children blame their parents for, not the least of which is their weight. Recently we were having breakfast when Reid announced that she didn’t want to eat her crusts. I said that was fine but that she wouldn’t be getting another piece of toast before the previous one was gone. All of a sudden, the offending crusts were more palatable. Amazing how that happens.

A bit later, Reid announced, “I’m full.” I responded with, “Stop eating.” This is the sort of thing that I’ve been saying in these situations for a long time. I always wonder why we have such conversations since we say the same sorts of things each time. I don’t want food to be cause for battles – I have to save my energy for keeping Reid in her chair and using an “inside voice”.

Faith in machines

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Reid woke at about 5:30 this morning, snuffling and coughing. She asked me for a Kleenex and then to turn on the humidifier. I gave her the Kleenex and when I climbed into bed to snuggle her as the humidifier started spitting out its steam, she said, “It’s not working!” That’s faith for you, eh?

Confident, if not well-trained

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Reid’s started her new level at swimming lessons today. Even though I said I wanted her to be the weak one in the class, I was worried that it would be too difficult. The first part of the class was just like the previous level but then the teacher – the first male that she’s had for quite a while –  asked if Reid would like to be the first to do the front crawl. Reid didn’t say a word but just launched herself out into the pool and half-crawled, half-flailed for a couple of metres. The teacher smiled at Reid, complimented her on her efforts and offered some tips for improvement. When it was time for the back crawl, the teacher had the kids practice the arm movements while standing up. Poor Reid couldn’t manage to get her arms to rotate in the proper direction at first. I often look for signs that Reid has Ken’s coordination rather than mine and this morning was definitely not a good sign. When it was time to put the arm-turning together with the kicking and floating on her back, Reid gave it a good try and was able to move through the water and breathe at the same time. Her arm movements were not particularly close to being circular, though, but Reid wasn’t concerned. I think that she is at just the right level. It’s always nice to watch Reid develop a new skill. She is a determined learner and proud of her efforts along the way and her accomplishments in the end.

Teaching (false) modesty

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

On the way to swimming lessons on Sunday, Reid said, “I’m the goodest, umm, [pause as she looked for the correction that I always provide] best in my class.” I told her that I didn’t know if she was the best but I did like how she paid attention to the teacher and tried to do whatever the teacher suggested. She is, incidentally, the best in her class but her behaviour is my biggest concern. Given that she is now bold enough to be a bit of a danger to herself, I worry more.

During the class, Reid did the floats, bobs and rockets that the teacher asked her to do. She even got the rings from the pool’s bottom with her hands rather than her feet. At the end of the class, the teacher helped the girls put on their life jackets and then led them to the deep end where the rope for swinging out over the water was out for play. I wondered if Reid would balk but, of course, she is now “fearless Reid” and she didn’t hesitate as the teacher helped her climb the rope. Like most of the kids, Reid swung out and then let go when the rope made it back to the midway point.

Reid’s teacher was handing out report cards by the time I made my way to the class. To my surprise, Reid’s evaluation had a sticker attached to it, indicating that she passed. Reid spent so long in Preschool B, that I didn’t expect that she’d pass Preschool C after only one session. In Preschool D, they’re going to teach her to do front and back crawl, for goodness sake. I’d signed her up for C for the next 2 sessions. Ken thought she’d need only 1 extra session at the same level and so I added a Preschool D, that I planned to cancel. All this to say, I rushed home to try and find a class at the right level with spots available for the next session. The third was the charm and I snapped up the last spot. I sure hope it works out. I think it will be good for Reid to be weaker than most so that she has to work a bit harder and listen to the teacher more. Does that make me a bad human being?

French just sounds more romantic

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

One day when I dropped Reid off at school a boy whose name I don’t know looked up and said, “Bonjour, ma belle.” In English that’s literally, “Hello, my beautiful one” but more like “Hello, sweetie.” It certainly is different from the short, “Hi,” that Reid usually offers. It’s a difference in the nature of the languages and the way we perceive them. Who is more emblematic of childhood romance than Pepe le Pew, after all? Having grownup hearing English almost exclusively, French still seems a bit exotic after 14 years (!) here in the nation’s capital. I remind myself that the francophone kids aren’t necessarily smarter because they can already speak French while I’m still working on it. I can definitely speak English better than them. Of course, it’s likely that Reid will soon speak French better than me – her accent is already better than mine – but that won’t bother me. I hope.

Going undercover

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I’ve been able to take Reid a lot of places where my solo presence would have been questioned – like Kindermusik classes and the Family Adventures series at the NAC – and have, consequently, been able to learn a lot about music about which I wouldn’t have otherwise known. I think of it as being undercover. On Saturday, we went to the National Arts Centre Orchestra performance of “Bravo Beethoven!” (part of the TD Canada Trust Family Adventure Series). Reid had a chance to play a violin during the Tunetown (before-the-concert) activities. She was able to make sound immediately, something that didn’t happen with the stringed instruments. And, before you ask, it didn’t sound like cats being tortured. At the end of her turn, she declared, “This is my *favourite* instrument now.” If only I could have had a turn.

I was impressed that I recognized most of the musical pieces that were played. I guess Beethoven is ubiquitous so that even a musically-challenged individual like me can recognize his work. Think of a rapid, “dunt, dunt, dunt, dunh” and Ode to Joy (or “Drink milk. Love life.”) Reid seemed to have a serious case of ants in her pants while the concert was in progress. She didn’t often take her eyes from the stage – the music was lively and the interplay between the conductor and “Beethoven” was interesting – but she was a squirmer.

One of the themes of the concert was that Beethoven had been deaf for much of the time he composed. They spoke of how he heard the notes in his head but not through his ears. Bott, the conductor, noted that if he’d lived now, Beethoven would have needed only a hearing aid to correct the problem and then he gave him one. Though I’d known Beethoven was deaf, it was only when the actor portrayed the joy at hearing the orchestra play his music that I thought of how tragic it would be to not hear what you created. Reid got stuck on the fact that the actor had been pretending to be deaf and then pretending to be excited to hear and so didn’t think anything tragic about the deafness. We’ll have to talk about it again.

There are a series of books/compact discs/DVDs about classical composers, like Beethoven Lives Upstairs, that I’ll have to check out to see if they’re right for Reid yet. Parenting is so much fun!

Outsmarted by homework already

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Reid’s Kindermusik homework for this week includes composing a breakfast song – both lyrics and score. As you may or may not know, I am seriously rhythmically challenged. Ken can easily carry a tune but neither of can know how to write music. Reid has a innate sense of rhythm and is learning that the notes on a musical staff are related to bars on her glockenspiel and also that there are full- and half-notes (ta and ti-ti sounds if you learned music as a child). She knows about rests, too. All of this means that she can read music better than either Ken or me. What she can’t do, though, is write enough words for lyrics to a song, however short. Which isn’t so bad considering she could not read the lyrics anyway. I have to say that the assignment had me stumped.

When they first got home Monday night, Ken reminded Reid that she needed to work on her breakfast song and she dragged out her glockenspiel. The first instruction that Ken gave was for Reid to draw some pictures to help her remember what she would be singing about. Brilliant! She drew some grapes and a peanut butter sandwich. Next, Ken had Reid choose a few notes to play while looked at her “lyrics” pictures. She played 3 notes to accompany her first 3 syllables and then sang the rest of the song a capella. We suggested that she needed a note per syllable and Reid looked at us dubiously. Even though we don’t have write music we have listened to more than a few songs over the years. We insisted on the syllable-to-word concord. I know that it’s not always so but it’s a good place for a 4-year-old to start.

The resulting song goes like this:

I love to eat peanut butter sandwiches and grapes!

As of this evening, each syllable got its own note – from high C on down – and “grapes” came out on a glissando. I’m not sure if she’ll remember to strike each note or the glissando but at least she did for a bit. Also, I have to acknowledge that Shannon was probably hoping the Reid’s voice would match the notes she is playing but that’ll have to wait for another assignment.

I thought that I’d have until grade 6 math before I was stumped by Reid’s homework. Ah, well, I’ve been wrong before.

Tidy up songs

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

I was reading recently in a parenting magazine that parents should sing the same tidy up song at home as the child is used to hearing at day care. I wholeheartedly support this idea but it can be hard to put into practice when the child is too young to tell you the song or unwilling to sing in their second language. Guess which situation has been prevailing in our house lately?

Finally, though, I persuaded Reid to sing her tidy up song. It goes like this:
C’est le temps de tout ranger, ramasser, nettoyer.
C’est le temps de tout ranger, à l’académie.

This song doesn’t have the same magic that her Kindermusik teacher’s tidy up song did. When Shannon first sang it to a room of kids under 2, I was dubious that they’d give up their instruments but they were all drawn to her. Even if I sang it, Reid would do as I asked. The magic song went like this:
Put the (shaker) egg in the bag, in the bag.
Put the egg in the bag, in the bag.
Put the egg in the bag.
Put the egg in the bag.
Put the egg in the bag and go sit down.
I suspect Reid was more interested in doing what I asked when she was smaller but I’m going to have to remember to try it the next time I need Reid to do something.

Short of a cattle prod, does anyone have ideas other no fail obedience tips?