Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meet Me at the Fair... With Lots of Money

Saturday, my sister and I took Little Girl to the fair. It wasn't a REAL fair -- not like what I think of when I think of a fair, anyway. No craft booths. No animals. No races or contests. It really was just a carnival. But Little Girl was in the parade Friday night and saw the carnival and wanted desperately to go, and as she had earned five greens since getting her last reward, my sister decided the fair could be her reward.

Two of my sister's friends were supposed to meet her there -- The Fish Murderer with her two-year-old, and another friend who has a nine-year-old.

We arrived at 3:30. My sister had said that she was going to pay $8 to buy Little Girl an armband so she could ride all day, and that we wouldn't have to buy armbands for ourselves because the 9 year old could ride with her. However, when we arrived, it turned out that the 9 year old was at her grandparents' and had not yet come home so would have to join us later on. My sister and I decided to go ahead and get armbands so we could ride with Little Girl.

So we go to the ticket booth. The Fish Friend met us and said that tickets were a dollar each. She had purchased five tickets for her son, and they did not say a WORD to her. She discovered afterward that EVERY ride cost TWO tickets. Now come on, how deceitful is that? How many families bought tickets thinking each ride was costing a dollar and then when their tickets were depleted so quickly, wished they had bought armbands instead? And to not even tell her when she asked for five tickets, KNOWING she had to buy either four or six, as that one odd ticket was going to be no good. That's just rotten.

Turns out armbands were not $8 as the paper had said, but rather $10. Oh, and they expire at 5 pm. From 5-9 pm, you have to buy another armband, and that one costs $15. OKAY.

So my sister calls her friend with the 9 year old to see if perhaps we wanted to go somewhere else and then meet back at the fair at 5, but she couldn't reach her and this friend apparently frequently stands her up, so she wasn't sure what to do.

I then noticed that every single ride at this fair was indicated for those UNDER 50" only, or for those OVER 50" only. In other words, Little Girl who is under 50" could ONLY ride kiddie rides, and her 9 year old friend could ONLY ride big people rides, so they couldn't ride ANYthing together anyway! Nor could my sister and I ride anything with Little Girl. Now how poorly designed is that? What if you're a single parent with two kids, one under and one over? They can't ride anything together, so one has to wait while the other rides, then vice versa. That's awful! And a family can't ride anything together!

And it's not as if the big rides were that major. They were things like bumper cars and the scrambler -- rides that Little Girl has been riding at amusement park for two years now! She could not understand why they wouldn't let her ride them. I told her she wasn't tall enough, and she insisted that yes she is tall enough because she's ridden them lots of times!! "Yes," I said, "But they're mean here and won't let you ride." Well, they are.

So anyway. Since Little Girl and 9 year old can't ride anything together anyway, we decided to go ahead and get the cheaper armband and just let her ride for an hour and a half and go home. Since all she could ride was kiddie rides anyway, we figured she'd have gotten her fill by then anyway.

And then we pass this big inflatable dinosaur "obstacle course" -- the one thing she had spied from the parade the night before that she had talked about before even leaving the house as the thing she most wanted to do. And guess what? No armbands. $2 a pop. My sister forked out the money and in she went. When she came out, guess what? "I want to do it again!"

And then there was the Sky Walker attraction. It looked REALLY cool. You're on a trampoline and get strapped into this seat-like thing attached to long stretchy cords, and you can jump and bounce SOOOO high, and do flips and all sorts of neat things. No armbands accepted, of course. $5 a shot.

And then there was the duck pond. She had to pick a duck after all. Another two bucks, but at least she got a little stuffed animal out of that one.

And then there was the giant slide. No sign on it. We approached, and Little Girl got in line. They let her up and said nothing about money. "WOW," I said. "This thing is actually FREE? I can't believe there is ANYTHING free in this place!" She rode several times and we then realized that we'd better get her moving on to the rides that the armband is needed for and we can come back to the slide after 5. So that's what we did.

At 5, she was turned away from the rides and we returned to the slide. She rode twice more, and on her second ride down, a woman with a little girl approached the man running the slide and asked, "How much is this?" "Uh, three dollars," the man replies.

My sister and I just LOOKED at each other. Why hadn't he charged us? Did he just not care and only made the woman pay because she asked? Was it because Little Girl was so cute?

Alas, when she lined up for a third slide, he looked over at us and said, "Her armband's expired, she can't ride anymore." Thanks a lot, lady.

Thus ended our day at the fair. Or rather, our very expensive two hours at the fair. But Little Girl had fun, and in the end, isn't that all that really matters? :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Fish Who Lived

My sister went to stay with a friend for a week while some electrical work was being done on her house. While there, one of the funniest incidents that I've heard in a long time occurred.

Her friend has a two-year-old who just loves watching the fish in the aquariums at Wal-Mart. So said friend decided to buy her son a goldfish. Tropical fish in an aquarium -- goldfish in a bowl. Big difference, and the child cared absolutely NOTHING about the goldfish.

The friend was getting very tired of caring for said goldfish that her son didn't even pay any attention to anyway. She had to clean the bowl every couple of days and it was seriously smelling up the place even so. So she decided to commit murder.

Simple task, right? She flushed the fish.

A few seconds later, my sister heard shrieks coming from the bathroom. She ran to see what was going on. Her friend screamed, "I flushed the fish and it swam back against the current! It won't go down!!" Sure enough, Mr. Fish was fighting his way against the whoosh trying to send him to his grave, and he made it.

My sister reached over and flushed the toilet again. The fish frantically tried to swim against the current but was unsuccessful. The toilet bowl refilled, and the fish was gone.

"But what if it comes back!?" her friend shrieked. "What if it comes back and jumps out of the toilet bowl!?"

"It won't," my sister assured her. "Look, it's gone. I'll flush it one more time for good measure." Flush.

A moment later, both girls began shrieking as when the tank refilled, up swam Mr. Fish again! The water settled, and Mr. Fish swam happily around the toilet bowl.

Her friend resigned herself to owning a fish that would not die, scooped him out of the toilet, and dumped him back in his fishbowl.

Now that is one unbelievable fish!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Visiting Kindergarten

So after a full week of greens on her behavior chart, I told Little Girl that since she was being such a good girl, I would come to school and have lunch with her. She told me I can't do that. I said I certainly can. She seemed very speculative, and didn't display the excitement that I thought she would. I'm not sure she really understood what I was talking about, or realized I meant it.

So when I showed up at her school Monday just in time for lunch, I finally got the excitement I had expected earlier. A look of sheer joy crossed her face when she looked up and saw me and gasped my name, and she literally bounced her way through the cafeteria line. The cooks filled our trays and we sat down and ate. She introduced me to her classmates seated near her, and they were full of questions and interesting comments, as five-year-olds tend to be.

I also met Mrs. Glory, who immediately asked about our "Little House" trip, stating it as "very cool". I hope she thinks trips to Disney World are very cool too, seeing as how we haven't yet asked for permission to take Little Girl out of school for a week over the winter to go. :)

After lunch, I hugged Little Girl and told her goodbye. "Oh, no," she says, oh so seriously. "When your FAMILY is here, they are allowed to play on the playground with you." I'm still not sure whether that is true or not, but out I went, and we had a fabulous time going on an acorn hunt and talking about how little acorns grow up to be big oak trees.

Now I had asked Little Girl if she was still on green today, and she assured me that she was, but that afternoon when she went to Grandma's classroom, Grandma asked, "Did you have a green day today?"

"I don't want to talk about it," was the reply.

"Did you have a purple day?" she asked.

"I don't want to talk about it," Little Girl reiterated.

"You didn't have a RED day, did you?" asked Grandma in shock.

"No," was Little Girl's informative response.

"Well, if you dont' want to talk about it, I guess I'll have to go down to your classroom and see what you got," Grandma told her.

At once Little Girl blurted out, "I got purple, but PLEASE don't tell my Mommy!"

She went on to say that she got in trouble for talking. "Who were you talking to?" Grandma wanted to know.

"Nobody," she says. "I was just talking to myself."

Only Little Girl. Oh, well, nobody's perfect. :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!!!!

Yesterday we celebrated Baby Boy's first birthday!! I can't believe it was just a year ago when I got the call that his mommy had gone in for her doctor's appointment, and they were keeping her and inducing her that night! It was Labor Day weekend then too, so I took advantage of the holiday weekend, hopped in the car, and started driving. I hadn't planned to be there for the birth, since I live almost three hours away, but when I got the word on a Friday night, and knew it was going to be hours yet before he was born, I just couldn't stay away!

So I drove in that night, and my sister and I ended up going to the hospital around 11 pm to wait. I don't even remember what time the little guy was born, I think around 2:30 or so. We got to stay in the room right up until the time of delivery. We waited for about twenty minutes, and then they came to get us, so we got to see him when he was just about five minutes old. His little head was covered in black hair -- the doctor looked at his blonde mommy and said, "Where did all this black hair come from?" Then he glanced up at dark-haired Daddy and said, "Oh... I see!"

The entire family was up all night, of course. We went home about 5 am, I think, and got a little bit of sleep before rushing eagerly back to the hospital to see him again. So a whole year has passed, and Baby Boy has gotten so big! He's not walking yet, but almost! He's been crawling around everywhere for months now, and he does a crab walk using just his feet and hands to crawl on rough surfaces. He pulls to stand easily, and just needs a tiny bit of support from a hand to walk. So it won't be long before little footsteps will be heard everywhere. :)

Baby Boy's birthday started off with his dedication at church. He was a very good boy until the pastor wanted to hold him, and then he scrambled away and clung to his mommy and daddy. However, after the dedication, while seated in the pew next to the pastor, he crawled over and tried to get on his lap. Guess he just needed some time to get used to him. :)

After church, we all went to Baby Boy's house where Daddy grilled out, his favorite thing to do, and Baby Boy got lots of presents. He got his own special cupcake. The poor little thing is allergic to practically everything on the planet, so he couldn't have regular cupcakes, but Mommy managed to make one special one with no dairy, no soy, no anything that he's allergic to that we know of so far, and he loved it. Curious George was the party theme, because Baby Boy is so curious and always into everything.

It was a fun day, and we are all excited that Baby Boy is one year old, although a little sad to see his babyhood going away so quickly. Before we know it, he'll be the one in kindergarten, and Little Girl will be entering the preteen years -- YIKES!! Guess we'd better savor the moment! They pass all too quickly.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Kindergarten vs. Preschool

Well, we have some answers as to why a child who was so well-behaved in preschool is apparently so awful in kindergarten.

A letter was sent home about her misbehaviors. She hums frequently. (Little Girl said, "But a song was stuck in my head and it wanted to get out!") She talks frequently. And she "squeezes" other children. (Um, we call it hugging...) She chews on her shirt (probably in an effort to keep from talking!) She told Miss Brenda, who whispered to her to stop, "If I had some food to eat, I wouldn't have to chew my shirt!"

The director at Little Girl's preschool heard about her behavior issues in kindergarten (small town... everyone knows everyone... won't even go into the circuitous route that this information took to get to her...) and is aghast. She said, "We always encouraged hugging!! We wanted the children to love each other and be affectionate! We never expected children to sit quietly, they're too little!! We encouraged them to express their ideas and feelings, and we love to sing in preschool! If she hummed a song, we'd all join in and sing together! Why stifle their creativity and interest in learning by making them sit and be quiet all the time? Little Girl was NEVER a problem at all in preschool, we LOVED having her and she was always very cooperative and did whatever she was told."

Wow, I like that approach so much better than this kindergarten stuff. I've also learned they get NO nap. They get ONE recess period, for twenty minutes. They are FIVE YEARS OLD, for pity's sake!! I haven't taught for three years, and I can't believe the vast changes that have been made. I keep hearing, "Kindergarten is the new first grade, and preschool is the new kindergarten", but I didn't realize it was really as true as it apparently is. Just three years ago, I taught in a primary school, and our kindergarteners got an hour naptime, a morning recess for 20 minutes, an after lunch recess of 30 minutes, and if the weather was nice, they often went outside to play for another half hour before school let out! And they still managed to be reading by the end of the year. Why must kindergarten be SO academic now? They're stressing these little children out and turning them against school from the beginning. Don't they realize small children NEED rest and play to be ABLE to learn effectively?

Apparently not.

Oh, and the "hitting another child" she got in trouble for? Little Girl's explanation of that: "I LIKE that boy, I want him to be my boyfriend. I didn't hit him, I just patted him gently on the head." I absolutely believe that, because she is always patting Baby Boy on the head like that.

So Little Girl is not the horribly misbehaved child we were led to believe she was. Her teacher also has taught second grade for years, and Grandma suspects she may be expecting second grade behavior from kindergarteners...

Poor Little Girl stated on several occasions this weekend that she misses preschool and wants to go back. When asked if she likes kindergarten, she always says yes, but then when asked WHAT she likes, she answers, "Lunch and swings."

Sigh... I hope she survives the year.