Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Stuck in Cartoon-Land

Help! It's only Wednesday and already it's been a long, looonngggg week. You know the kind - where you don't have much scheduled on the 'ol calendar to look forward to, your husband, who really only works 3 days per week until he gets a "real" job as an attorney (come ON, Bend job!), is gone a solid 12 hours a day because he has to commute from here halfway to the moon for work, and the "big outing" for the day is a trip to Costco that no amount of exuberant promotion is convincing your kids that it will be any fun for them. And who's kidding who - it won't be fun for you, either. The kind of week when you call some friends to try to arrange a playdate at the park and no one's home. Yeah, it's that kind of week. Where the hours between 4pm and 7pm when Daddy gets home are the longest on record because by then the kids have completely sucked you dry of patience, creativity, and sanity. The kind of days when you admit you sometimes don't like your kids very much. The kind of week when you feel you just cannot keep up with the mess no matter how hard you try, so you feel you live in a pigsty at all times. I swear, I cut Lauren's hair just for something different to do! So I'm here, on the computer, putting off the Costco excursion and essentially hiding from the kids for a few precious moments because they are completely entertained by Dragon Tales. And because our house is small, I can hear Dragon Tales loud and clear from my bedroom - at the other end of the house. And what prompted this post in the first place is that I found myself actually singing along with the stupid, insipid song from Dragon Tales. And no, not the theme song - a song that was part of the storyline. Do you know what this means??! This means that I've heard enough Dragon Tales in my day to not only know the theme songs, but the songs that are only sung occasionally. "She's the dragon that is oh-so-shy. But a better friend you cannot buy." Arrggg! Save me now! I'm totally stuck in cartoon land and I'm going down for the last time.

On an up-note, Nicholas is starting to read. This is very exciting and gratifying. We've known he recognizes certain words for a long time now. He can identify every pizza place we drive past. "Mom! There's a pizza restaurant. Can I have pizza?" And he knows the word "Oregon", too. And many others, really. I've learned that his "reading" method is known as whole-word reading vs. phonics. He's not seeing the individual letters and sounding them out to figure out the word. He sees the word as a whole and has learned what it is in totality. Sort of like memorization, I suppose. Anyway, at preschool yesterday he was reading with a teen from the adjoining high school and must have been recognizing some words in the story and "reading". The teen was blown away, never having encountered a kid in the preschool who could do that. She told the lead teacher, Miss Laura, who told me. She said she wasn't surprised he could do this because of his high intelligence. We'll see... I hope she's right. I mean, every parent believes their child is smart, but it's nice to hear it from a professional. His former preschool teacher, Miss Nadine, also said Nicholas was bright, so this is a trend I'm happy about. Of course, he totally resists any attempts Mr. Chick or I make to actually teach him something. He resists our instruction. But he's apparently learning despite himself if we keep hearing about his skills.

So, on the heels of this latest reading report I thought I would try, try again to work on reading with him. I've always approached it from a phonics standpoint, but it seems he learns in a different way. OK, fine - we'll do it your way. So before his nap (my saving grace in the day), he picked out a book about bears. Very factual. We sat on his bed and I started reading the book and moving my finger along the words as I went so he could better track the words and story. He's always liked when we do that. He knew the book was about bears so every time I came to the word "bear" I would pause so he could "read" the word and participate in the reading of the story. This was working - he felt comfortable and unchallenged by this (his preferred state - when we push or challenge him he resists). Then I started pausing at different words - words like "cub" and "babies" and "sun", and he was reading these as well! He was correct 90% of the time! I think it helped that they were all in context to the story so maybe a lot of it was lucky guessing. I usually had read the word first at some point, then paused when I reached the same word again for him to try. But he was able to "read" more and more words than I had thought he could (or would?) before. So this is encouraging progress! The high point of this exercise is when Nicholas read an entire sentance. And read words we hadn't yet come across in the story! The monumental sentance? "Bear cubs love to play." That alone made up for an otherwise shitty day.

Another Nicholas learning that sort of helps to minimize my current frustration this week is something else he got from preschool. Apparently he was having a "sad" morning yesterday after I dropped him off and it took him a solid half hour to get into the groove of school. He was missing me and asking when I'd be back to pick him up. His teacher had the brilliant idea of drawing him two clocks: one for the time he's dropped off, and one showing the time I arrive to pick him up. He clutched that clock picture for most of the morning, comparing the pick-up clock drawing with the clock on the wall. Sooo... taking my cue from this I asked Nicholas if he wanted to learn how to tell time all by himself. He was very enthusiastic about this notion. So after naptime I rummaged through the recycling for a bit of cardboard, cut out a square, and drew a clock face. I cut out big and little arrows and fashioned a way to attach them to the center of the clock so they moved, just like the real thing. Then I sat down with Nicholas and explained how there were 60 minutes in an hour and proceeded to mark off 60 ticks around the clock. I went through the whole schpeel about how to tell time and he seemed to be catching on. He's now able to identify the time on the hour. If the big hand in pointing at the 12 and the little hand is pointing elsewhere, he can tell you the time "it's 4 o'clock" or whatever. He knows what bedtime looks like. He still struggles with half-hours, but we're getting there. He's planning on taking this silly clock with him to school so he has it to show his teacher and not have to have them draw him a clock.

The rock painting adventures and the time telling and reading lessons are all well and good. It's encouraging for me as a mom to see my kid learn stuff and demonstrate his intelligence. Really, it is. But in the meantime I'm rapidly losing my patience by the end of the day and I'm sick of playing cruise director. I think we're ALL bored with staying home. My kids don't entertain themselves very well and rely on me to get the party started. There's only so many trips to Costco and so many times I can clean the kitchen. It's just a hard week.

Maybe I'll borrow Nicholas's clock and set the time to when Mr. Chick comes home. That's always something to look forward to.

You cool chick, you. Hey it's me from the land of KY. I've been trying to breeze thru what you've been up to. Still can't get over the MIL thing at the party you had for Mr. Chick. OMG, that woman is a nut case (we already knew THAT) but still....
Anyway, love all the pics. (Love the ring and new Coach purse. Mr Chick outdid himself. You must have been a VERY good girl) You're kids are so beautiful and growing up so fast. Great hearing from you the other day.
BTW - I think you and I had the very same day. DH out of town for almost 2 weeks (coming home Sat.) and boy am I burnt out. MY song of the day was from Tarah Time (it's a song segment that's on after the Big Comfy Couch). "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I made you boo hoo hoo. I'm sorry, I'm sorry I made you blue hoo hoo...." I need to get out of the house more often.
Keep in touch and take care.
MP - thinking of you. I hope your week has gotten better!!! You sure do have a smart little guy on your hands. That is awesome!!!
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