Monday, January 28, 2002

January 28-February 1, 2002

JANUARY 28, 2002

Hoo-boy, Harry Potter. My daughter's class is finally finishing up with this contemporary classic, and although I know it's enchanted and enthralled many a young reader, my girl is most definitely not one of them. She hated the book. Hated it because it was make-believe and not nice concrete real life; hated it because it was long; hated it because it was wordy; hated it because it flew higher over her head than Harry on a broomstick. She didn't get it. And that made helping her with her end-of-book homework a pretty darn impossible quest.

The work that came home to be finished this weekend included long lists of vocabulary words for each chapter, to be matched with their meanings. My personal feeling on vocabulary for my very language-delayed girl is that if it's not in our Children's Dictionary, she shouldn't have to know it; of the Harry Potter words listed, at least half weren't in the dictionary at all, and often the ones that were weren't listed with the particular usage the author employed. The Harry Potter books use great creativity of language, and that's great. Maybe they get kids interested in those unusual words, and that's great, too. But getting my girl to figure out meanings of things like "oddment" and "treacle" and "quaver" for an assignment? Hey, at least they could have sent home a magic wand to help.

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JANUARY 29, 2002

It is with the pride of the mother of a genius that I take this opportunity to publish my son's very first book report. His teacher was awfully proud of it, especially since he started out saying "I can't do it" and then settled into writing (by fine-motor-delayed hand) three pages of insightful summary and critique. She said he read it to most of the other special-ed classes, and he's read it to various members of his family, so why should you miss out? The author is 8 years old and in a 2nd-grade-ish self-contained special-ed class. (And alright, I have a cold and don't feel like writing anything today. If it's good enough for that "Family Circus" guy, it's good enough for me.)

The Great Ball Game

I read "The Great Ball Game" by Joseph Bruchac. The story takes place in a field. The characters are the deer, the fox, the bird, the hawk, bat, bear, and crane. I love all the characters.

The story took place in a field. The problem was that crane and hawk were at war. Crane and hawk stole the ball from the animals. The animals said "Let's play ball." The bat solved the problem by getting in the game. He could see in the dark to get the ball. The bat got the ball and won. The animals made the birds go south.

I liked this story. I liked how the story ended.

Sheer brilliance, don'tcha think?

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JANUARY 30, 2002

Well, now, here's an embarrassing thing: Here I am, the big library volunteer mom, checking in those books, making a list of transgressors who haven't turned theirs in and turning it over to the school librarian. I'm the enforcer of the overdues, and yet, here I am, the night before my son goes to the library with me behind the desk, and I can't find his book. I know I've seen it around here recently -- "Curious George Takes the Cake," it is -- but I don't see it around here now. I've checked all the big sloppy piles o' junk where I usually put the library books, but there are no library books to be found. No school library books, anyway; there's a bunch of city library books on the end table in the living room, and actually there is a school library book that I checked out as a volunteer buried in a box in my room, but Curious George? I'm curious as to where he might be.

The problem here is that we cleaned off the dining room table on Saturday, and that's always a fatal thing to do in terms of finding what needs finding. Something always disappears into limbo when all the sloppy piles on that table are put into orderly places. Last time it was a $100 gift certificate. This time, it's a library book. Or maybe not. Maybe I took the book off the dining room table and put it in my son's backpack, and maybe he brought it to school on Monday two days early. Maybe the teacher's lost it! Yes, that must be it. And if not, at least my library mom status gives me a few minutes to pay for the book before my boy comes in so he can still check something out. Volunteering has its priveleges.

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JANUARY 31, 2002

The cold that has so far made its way through my daughter and me seems today to have settled on my son. I'm feeling much better, just as my girl felt much better as soon as I was stricken, but the little guy feels feverish and is coughing and acting subdued, at least for him. He was able to work himself up into a little bit of a frenzy around bedtime, but it was a pale imitation of his usual 9:30 wild boy act. He's a sickie, and if he's still under the weather tomorrow, we both get to take a sick day. I am not necessarily hoping for an overnight recovery.

Illness has been blowing through our town these past weeks, probably due at least in part to the fact that the weather has been snowing one day, 60 degrees the next. You hear whispers of various viruses settling in at the different elementary schools around town. Judging from what I heard in the halls while working at the library this week, our school has the "coughing like a seal" cold running rampant. This is loud and a little scary but preferable to the "throwing up" virus at my co-worker's kids' school. Let's hope that one keeps to its own campus.

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FEBRUARY 1, 2002

I had a meeting with my son's teacher the other day, and she told me this story: My boy had been reading a story in his reading book about brothers and sisters, and it included a passage about adoption -- something about siblings who did not have the same birthparents but nonetheless shared a forever bond. And my son looked up at his teacher with his big blue eyes, and said that was like him and his sister -- "We have different mommies and daddies, but she's my sister and I'll love her forever." Major aww moment there. My son's good at those. He's a regular walking Hallmark commercial.

Even so, I was particularly impressed by this piece of sentiment, because he and his sister are usually at each other's throats. He enjoys hitting her, hugging her when she clearly does not wish to be hugged, and making rude noises in her direction. She enjoys making sarcastic remarks in his direction, pushing him away, and putting a cereal box between them during breakfast so that she does not have to see his face. It's impressive that he would nonetheless declare his love for her in such a spontaneous manner. It's more impressive that he's actually been listening when I've talked about adoption, and about the fact that the two of them have different birthparents. I'm actually stunned that he's picked that up. It's further evidence that he hears and processes everything, whether he shows any signs of being in the same dimension when you're talking or not.

Because I enjoy pushing my luck, I told my daughter about what her brother had said. She rolled her eyes at that, and said, as she so often does. "But he's crazy!" Then, she thought about it for a moment, and said in a most exasperated fashion, "I mean, I love him. But he's crazy!" I tell you, it's these tender emotional moments that keep a mom going.

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