Archive for the ‘Language skills’ Category

Lessons learned at Grandma Camp

Monday, August 1st, 2011

 I spoke with Reid on the phone on Thursday. As I was wrapping up the conversation, I reminded her that there were only two more sleeps before Ken and I would be there. Reid answered, in a disinterested voice, “I know.” Feeling proud of her independence, and maybe a little sad she wasn’t looking forward to seeing me, I asked her if she had saved me any kisses and hugs or if she’d given them all away. After a long pause, Reid said, “I have something to tell you and it doesn’t have anything to do with kisses.” And then she belched. Right in my ear. In her clear, sweet voice she said, “Excuse me. That wasn’t very smart but if it had come out the other end, it would have been a fart.” There were giggles on her end of the phone. (Surprise!) I asked who taught her the rhyme – expecting Dylan or Brock or Shea – but she proudly told me that it had been Aunt Karin. It’s good to know my sister is playing Miss Manners with Reid! I’ll have the principal call Aunt Karin when Reid teaches everyone in the second grade her poem and the other parents call to complain.

Message received

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Reid was angry withh my yesterday morning because I wouldn’t help her wrap herself in two towels. She was cold and I wanted her to put on her clothing. When I got home last night, I noticed this on her bedroom door:

No Mama sign

I didn’t mention it but Reid did, “Remember this morning when I was so angry? I wrote this.” I nodded and she continued, “It’s my room and you can’t go in.” I was looking in through the doorway, feeling relieved, because that room is a mess and someone has to clean it before Grandma Joyce and Aunt Pam come. I’m glad I’ve been banned!

Reid paused a minute and then went to find her pencil – which she seems to keep in Ken’s office – and returned to add to the note. Poor man had nothing to do with the dispute.

No Mama and Daddy signCan I say how happy I am that Reid is starting to write independently? These are very exciting times at our house!

Did I hear you right?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Reid and I were looking at Scholastic book order forms last night and she asked me to read the title for a “Dear Dumb Diary” book. She asked me what “diary” meant and I explained that it was a record of what was happening in a person’s life and what she or he was thinking at a point in time. I was tempted to say that diaries are the old-school equivalent of blogs but it seemed like we might go off on a tangent if I did. Reid suggested, tentatively, that it also was about when you’re sick. The light bulb clicked on and I clarified that “diary” was close to but distinct from “diarrhea”. Maybe I need to ennunciate more clearly.

No one ever said English was an easy language

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

On the way home last night, Reid was telling us about something that had happened in class but she first used “him” for a girl and then auto-corrected to “she”. It seems to me that this is a new error in her speech but maybe it’s been there all along and I’m noticing it now because the other non-standard expressions are disappearing. In any case, we had a discussion that went something like this:

Me: He is opposite of she. Him is opposite of her. You want to say “her”.
Reid: I’m doing another kind of opposite.
Me: What other kind of opposite? (I know of only the one kind.)
Reid: The kind that means the same but sounds different.
Me: You mean synonym. Him and she are definitely not synonyms.
Ken: Antonym is the opposite of the word you couldn’t think of.

I greatly admired Ken’s quick and funny, or punny, response. I love grammar jokes. Reid ignored us both and continued with her story.

A few minutes later, Reid called out “atqp” and asked what that spelled. I told her that she a “q” needs a “u” beside it. She revised her “word” to “atqup” and I sounded it out but said that it wasn’t actually a word. Reid protested that it had an “a” – I’ve told her before that words need a vowel – and I agreed that she had included both vowels and consonants, which was good, but that letter collections need to also have meaning to be considered words. Reid’s next attempt was “cpa” and I told her that the consonants needed a vowel between them. And got out of the car to check the mail. When I got back in, Reid was delighted to report that “cap” spelled cap. It was a bit of a Eureka moment for her.

It continues to be interesting to me that Reid is very interested in spelling words. Occasionally she’ll agree to sound out words in a story that we’re reading – though she did scam Ken into reading a Fancy Nancy early reader book that I told her she needed to read to me – and she does a good job at decoding the words. She points out more and more words and asks about what the rest of a piece of text has to do with the word that she recognizes. Reid doesn’t, however, exhibit any inclination to learn to read. I feel a bit like a scientist observing an intriguing animal in the wild. It’s all very cool for a language nut like me.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 2010 in our house

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Last night, Reid and I played a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was Snow White, Reid was the Seven Dwarfs and the scene was set in that period where Snow White is taking care of all those guys who don’t really appreciate what she does for them. In our variation, the dwarfs have different names and all represent facets of one kid throughout a single night.

At bedtime,  Reid, in the guise of a dwarf, was Tricky, pretending that she fell asleep in the car so that someone would carry her up to bed. Next, she was Pouty because she really doesn’t like to lay there in the dark all alone. Then, she was Smarty and remembered that we should turn on the humidifier. At this point, Prince Charming, aka Ken, made an unusual early appearance to fill the reservoir.

Throughout the supposed-to-be-sleeping part of the night, Reid, I mean the dwarfs, were by turns: Sniffly, Sneezy and Wakey. Poor Snow White had a lot of trouble sleeping while tending to these demanding fellows.

No one was surprised that the dwarf who emerged from Reid’s room this morning answered to Sleepy and had exceedingly dark circles under her eyes.

Snow White, being a good caregiver, thought of keeping the dwarfs home from school today but this is Field Trip Day! and who wants to miss school when the rest of the kids will be going to the Canadian Children’s Museum?

Now Snow White (that’s still me) is waiting for the poisoned apple that will bring uninterrupted sleep. I know I can depend on Prince Charming to wake me at the right time. If only my brain and body would quieten itself to sleep without the apple. Until then, I tasting apples left, right and centre.

Wish my poor little dwarfs good health, won’t you. She has had enough colds already this winter.

And, by the way, why is the plural of dwarf not dwarfs? Seems wrong to me.

Seeing things from Reid’s perspective

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I took Reid to Melonheads hair salon for kids on Monday night. She’s been resisting having her hair cut because she wants her hair to be long for Amanda and Nam’s wedding in May. I finally persuaded Reid that a trim was necessary since it was getting more and more difficult to brush her hair. As always, Reid didn’t make a peep as her hair was washed, combed and cut. I can’t offer a police motorcycle for her to sit in at home but I do let Reid watch videos – especially Sesame Street on YouTube – or read when I brush her hair. Still, there is carrying on. After the trim, the hairstylist sprayed sparkle hairspray on Reid’s hair. Reid looked at herself and said, “Look, Mama, it’s like I have fireworks on my head.” And she was right. The way the light glinted off the sparkles was a lot like the little handheld fireworks. I’d never noticed that before.

On Tuesday morning, the biggest-ever snowflakes were falling as we went to Reid’s school. Reid was chattering about the “bits of fluff” and then she was silent as she stood, mouth agape, trying to catch some snowflakes on her tongue. It slowed us down but put a big smile on Reid’s face. It’s as important to take the time to taste the snowflakes as it is to smell the flowers, you know.

On Wednesday morning, I was combing Reid’s hair while she watched the Muppets singing Bohemian Rhapsody on YouTube. Ken was brushing his teeth but came out of the bathroom to ask, “What are you listening to?!” His voice conveyed surprise and disbelief. My matter-of-fact “the muppets are singing Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t allay either. He had to watch for himself. It really is something to see, especially the part where Animal improvises on the “Mama” passage. Reid liked the song and I liked introducing her to it.

Oops, I just missed my bus stop. Writing is too distracting.

Sleep stories

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Reid woke up on Saturday morning and asked, “Why aren’t you hugging me?” And then, once I’d snuggled closer, “Is there an ‘a’ in ‘cat’?” Her eyes hadn’t been open even 60 seconds and she needed to know. I didn’t ask why that question was so pressing.

On Sunday morning, Reid recounted a dream she’d had in which she woke up to Santa trying to kiss her while she was trying to sleep. She said that she rolled over but Rudolph was lying on her other side. She said that she then turned upside down – which is something she does somewhat routinely – but Donder was there on one side and Mrs Claus was on the other. Then, Reid added that Ken was dressed up as Santa but she didn’t know it. She shared a bunch more details but I suspect at a certain point, Reid was embellishing. Since she was telling about her dream and not her day, I didn’t try to tell what was fact or fiction.

At some time right around zero-dark-thirty this morning, Reid woke up and called for me. Once she’d found me, she wanted to know: “What time is the middle of the night?” It took all of the computational power of my nearly-still-sleeping brain to add 5.5 hours to Reid’s 7:30 bed time. Reid sighed a “oh” and promptly fell back asleep. Or continued sleeping. She is a very coherent sleep talker. It’s hard to tell.

ETA:  Aunt Karin tells me that my Aunt Nancy can remember lots of details from her dreams and that I may have been unfairly suspicious.

Spelling lesson

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Reid was trying to spell out “I love you” in finger spelling on the way to school yesterday. She remembered how to spell and form the letters I, L, O but needed help remembering how to form the V and E was forgotten because it is silent. I showed her the Y, O and U as well, since we were at a traffic light and I had a free hand. Reid asked for the W, though, and it took quite a bit of convincing before she believed me that there is no W in “you”. Finally, I had to resort to, “You’ll have to trust me on this one.” It sounds better than, “Because I’m the mom,” but it amounts to the same thing.

It made me think of a story Aunt Karin told me about when Reid was in Wheatley over the summer and Aunt Karin and Uncle Dave took her to Wheatley. Reid wanted them to play “I Spy” and Reid spied something that started with the letter Y. Uncle Dave and Aunt Karin guessed everything that the could possibly think of – there aren’t many words that start with Y – but didn’t guess whatever it was that Reid had spied and she wouldn’t tell them the answer, pleading for them to guess again. Aunt Karin finally said, “water” and Reid was delighted to say that that was the right answer. Aunt Karin explained what sound Y makes at the beginning of the word and they were all happy. Or maybe Reid was happy and the others were relieved that the game was over.

Starting to add up

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Reid is increasingly interested in reading, finally agreeing to sound words out when prompted. Her passion, though, remains math. Tonight she chose to work in an addition book while I got supper together. At first, Reid told me the numbers that she was adding together and then she gave the answer. After a bit, she started regrouping the pictures of items to be added and then asking me for the answer. When I told Reid that it was she who needed to practice addition, she assured me that she knew the answers but wanted to know if I did. When I hesitated in answering a question, Reid would offer the initial sound of the correct answer. I was tempted to defend myself – the delay was due to distraction not an inability to work sums less than 10 – but that would have seemed ungrateful since she was giving me hints.

Always listening

Monday, November 9th, 2009

I was listening to a story about H1N1 vaccination clinic in Toronto on the radio yesterday  when Reid asked me what “eligible” meant. I explained it meant that people qualified for or could get something. In a plaintive tone she said, “I’m sad that I’m not eligible.” I burst out laughing. I didn’t mean to, but I did. No sense denying it. I told Reid that she had had her shot last week because the rules were different in Ottawa. (Our health authorities said “6 months to 5 years” rather than “6 months to under 5 years”.) Reid said, “Oh, I didn’t know what it was called.” She sounded a bit relieved. I don’t know how much Reid has assimilated from reports on the radio about H1N1-related illnesses and deaths but I’m periodically reminded that she is always listening.