Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Little Angel

I work in our children's Wednesday night ministry at church, with preschoolers. Tonight, one of the leaders told the kids to bow their heads and close their eyes so they could pray. Most of the children did, but as soon as he saw the leaders with their eyes closed -- not realizing leaders intuitively know when children near them are misbehaving even if their eyes ARE closed at that time -- one little boy made a dash for the toybox.

He's a blue-eyed pixie with long blonde curls that any little girl would covet -- and as he headed for the toybox, I and another leader immediately turned to go after him. As he scrambled up the toybox to sit on top, both she and I reached to pull him off... yet we both suddenly stopped as this little angel realized we were right on his tail, spun his little bottom around while perched on top of the toybox, and instantly folded his little hands and closed his eyes piously.

Neither of us had the heart to admonish him or even pull him down from his roost after that -- this darling little angel-boy praying so earnestly could certainly have never infringed on any rules whatsoever.

We both just turned our backs so we could laugh without him knowing it. What a doll! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Car Games

Wendy and I went on a little weekend excursion.

It was an eleven hour drive. Brave of me to even attempt it, because Wendy has never been on such a long drive before.

"Why don't we just fly?" she asked, when I tried to explain to her how long it was going to take to drive it. Spoiled little thing. We'd always rather put out the extra money to fly than endure taking her on a loooooong car ride -- but now she's seven, and really ought to be able to tolerate a trip like that, right?

Now she's always good in the car. But again, she'd never gone more than maybe 3-4 hrs in the car before either... so we had no idea how she'd deal with this.

I picked her up at lunchtime Friday, from school. I explained to her that it would be late at night when we reached our destination. Long after dark, I said.

I brought lots to keep her occupied. Paper and colored pencils for drawing or writing stories. STACKS of books. Her DS. My laptop and some movies.

And the first three hours went by splendidly, with not a word of complaint from the back seat at all.

And then it started.

"Are we there yet? I'm tired. I can't sleep because I'm uncomfortable. Why can't we stop for awhile? My back hurts. My legs hurt. I can't get comfortable."

I was seriously considering turning the car around and going home. After all, we were still closer to home than we were our destination and if she was this grumbly after three hours, how would we ever survive the next EIGHT?

She quieted for a few minutes after I made that comment, after begging me NOT to turn around and go home, and then she said, "It's not looking very dark outside."

"That's because it's 2:30 in the afternoon!!!!!" I exclaimed. "School isn't even out yet!!" How could she possibly think we were almost there and I had been mistaken about it being dark when we got there!?

I searched my mind, trying to remember just how my brother, sister, and I entertained ourselves on our long car trips during childhood vacations, and suddenly I remembered: car games.

We played finding letters in alphabetical order on signs. We each picked a color and counted cars passing us to see who got the most in her color. We played I Spy. We played "I went to Grandma's house" naming the items we took in abc order and recalling all previously named items until her little brain just about exploded.

And then we sang. We sang and we sang and we sang. Her mother will surely be SO pleased with me whenever she discovers that I taught her daughter 99 Bottles of Beer Pop on the Wall... ;)

And she never made another complaint the whole rest of the way there. Nor did she ever utter a moan or a groan the entire eleven hours home. As a matter of fact, when we reached my house, I said to her, "Look who's here!" (I had arranged with her mother by phone to come get her so they'd know when we were nearing home.)

She looked, saw her mother's car in my driveway, and shrieked happily, "Mommy!" Then she gasped, and burst into tears. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I don't WANT to go home yet!!!!"

Eleven hours in the car and she wasn't ready to be home yet?

My, how car games work wonders!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Brown Hair... or Golden?

I find it ironic that after a lifetime of envy of Mary's golden hair, Laura has at last turned the tables.

Wendy is a blonde-haired little girl, you see. And this hasn't bothered her a bit. But it bothers me -- not that she's blonde, but that in the land of Laura Ingalls Wilder, she's discriminated against for being blonde.

Case in point. Laura look-alike contests. Several of the homesites have them annually. But... what do little girls do who don't have brown hair? They can't possibly look as much like Laura as those blessed with chestnut locks, now can they? Do you see what I mean about Laura turning the tables on all the little golden-haired girls of the world?


Owning a prairie dress and all, I thought that Wendy might -- just might -- be interested in participating in one of these contests, but I also knew it was unlikely she would win because of her hair color. I went back and forth between not telling her the contest was even taking place and informing her and letting her make her own decision.

At last, I decided to ask and see how she felt about the matter.

"Wendy... if there were a Laura look-alike contest, would you want to be in it, or not?" I asked.

"I want to be in a Mary look-alike contest," she responded, without hesitation.

You see? Seven years old, and she instantly recognized the discrimination she would face for her blonde hair!

"There's not a Mary look-alike contest," I said. "It's Laura or nothing."

(Not fair, not fair!)

"Then no," she decided. "Because I don't want to dye my hair brown."

Laura sites -- please sit up and take notice!!! Could it not be possible to have a, "Look like a Little House character of your choice" contest!?!?

This is sad. Very sad.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's All the Rage in Iowa

So the other day, my sister was putting Wendy's backpack on her. She slipped one strap through her arm and hung it on her shoulder. But as she started to slip the other strap onto her other arm, Wendy said, "No -- it's okay this way. It's the second grade style."

I think this means adolescence is right around the corner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Funny Things Kids Say

This morning I was working with a little boy on naming body parts, using a very cool monster puppet whose various body parts attach with Velcro.

As I pulled out a long curly strip of orange hair, showing it to the little boy and asking him to imitate "hair" before giving it to him to put on the monster, his four-year-old sister took notice.

"That monster has curly hair just like me... but it's not the same color!" she declared.

"Oh?" I responded. "Let's see... his hair is orange -- what color is your hair?"

"Well," she began matter-of-factly. "Do you remember what color my hair was the last time you were here?"

"Yes," I nodded, and at her expectant look, I said, "It was brown."

She smiled at me approvingly, and said in the cutest voice ever, "Well, I haven't changed a bit!"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Very Literal Girl

My mother teaches at Wendy's school, so the week before school started, she was there working on getting her classroom ready, and since she babysits Wendy several days a week, Wendy of course had to accompany her.

While there, Wendy saw her former kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Glory. "Oh my, Wendy!" she exclaimed. "How much you've grown! Look how tall you're getting -- why, I bet by Christmas you'll be as tall as I am. We'll have to check at Christmas and see!"

Wendy solemnly replied, "I don't go to school at Christmas."


Update on the Kids

So last spring I talked about John's "quirks" and Wendy's diagnosis of ADHD, and had a plan on how to help both of them for the summer.

The bad news is that not a whole lot got accomplished between vacations and the arrival of Peter Pan and all the busyness that came along with that. But the good news is that the little bit that did get accomplished apparently had good results.

Wendy is back in school now, with a reputedly strict teacher. She is unmedicated, and has been since school let out for the summer, despite the strong disapproval of her doctor. She hasn't gotten in trouble at school even once yet, and her teacher assured my mother (who teaches at the same school) that Wendy's behavior has been stellar. Hooray!

As for little John, now that he's three, he is no longer eligible for early intervention services. His occupational therapist wanted to release him earlier this summer as she felt he had corrected all issues she was working on, but stayed on to finish out the summer at our pleading. He was tested by the school system and his speech and language skills were judged "normal" so he no longer receives any services at all. (I disagree with that status, but I'm glad he did as well as he did on the testing.) He started back to his daycare (his mother is also a teacher, so he doesn't go during the summer) and the daycare staff commented on how much more he's talking there, and how much more social he is with the other children.

So great news for both kids!

Deep Spiritual Ponderings

Wendy stayed out in "big church" a couple weeks ago for Communion. As the plates were being passed, she looked at her tiny glass of grape juice, then looked up at me and whispered, "Why is it always grape juice? Why don't they give us apple juice sometimes?"

Trying to quickly think of a short explanation that she could understand, I simply said, "Because it's red, so it reminds us of Jesus' blood."

"It's not red," she retorted. "It's purple!"

"Well, doesn't it kind of look like blood?" I asked her.

She looked at her cup again, thought for a moment, then replied, "Yes -- only nobody could have THAT much blood."

"Yes, they could," I began, and she interrupted, "Only if they died."

"Well, Jesus did die," I responded, and she was satisfied with that.

All that from a little cup of grape juice.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy... I mean, John!

Baby Boy is three years old... and officially not the baby any longer.

I asked Little Girl a few weeks ago if she thought Baby Boy was going to be a big brother or a big sister. She hesitated, but she's a smart girl -- she didn't fall for it. :)

Baby Boy is indeed going to be a big brother... and we learned today that he's going to HAVE a little brother! We're all actually in shock as each and every member of the family has been convinced all along that the new baby is a girl, and in fact, the child had already been named with a girl's name that it is not likely to appreciate, given the circumstances. ;)

So while my brother and sister-in-law now begin the quest for a boy name, I too am on a quest for names... for Baby Boy isn't a baby anymore and two baby boys are going to get very confusing. And while I'm changing his name, I might as well change Little Girl's as unfortunately she's not going to be little forever, and is looking soooo big to me these days.

So, in honor of Baby Boy's current pirate passion, I now dub them Wendy, John, and Michael Darling. And Little Girl's little sort-of-brother will be Peter Pan.

So if you didn't get that:

My sister's children are: Little Girl, now known as Wendy. And a temporary baby boy known as Peter Pan.

My brother's children are: Baby Boy, now known as John. And the new baby boy, now known as Michael. And I will probably often call him Michael Darling while he is little, because when I was younger, I didn't realize Darling was the kids' last name, I actually thought the littlest one's name was Michael Darling. It was fitting, he was such a wee boy and so darling. :)

(Of course, we'll have to call my brother Captain Hook... what with the sawn-off finger and all!)