Ben is a funny guy. Both boys are very funny in different ways. Sam specializes in physical humor, Ben in verbal wit. His parent teacher conference yesterday is one example. His teacher writes down things he says from time to time (she does for all students) to communicate to parents. When he was asked to help read in a read-along book, he recognized “The” right away and read it. The next word was “cow.” He said “That’s not one of my sight words” and refused to try reading it. His teacher doesn’t know yet that he knows all the letter sounds and could totally sound that out because she also noted that during “zoophonics” time – where the kids act out and say letters, their associated character name and gesture – Ben sits there with his jaw slack, just watching. He doesn’t participate. So she doesn’t really have a good read on what he does or doesn’t know from time to time, even though I shared with her that he’d worked his way through the second level of Fry’s sight words (so about 200 words he can read, and he can sound out pretty well – the word “instinct” the other night, for example). Anyway – Dave and I laughed pretty good at that. It really sounds like Ben!
So tonight I thought I’d just casually find out what the zoophonics characters are from Ben (as a way to see if he knows them and just doesn’t want to engage with the activity for whatever reason). He knows all of them, their names, the letter sounds and the sign/gesture! I asked why Queenie Quail has the little hook sign and he said that is because male quails have that. (But it is a queen quail which is female!) I would be so confused :0
Anyway then I asked something else – like when two letters make a sound together, what is that? I couldn’t remember the term. I said like “ch ch – is that Charlie Choker?” and made a gagging sound. He loved it. I said – so what is that called when two letters make a sound together? Ben said “That’s a biophobatic.” “What? How do you spell that?” I said. (Pause) “B I O F O B A (pause) T I K” he said. Five syllables spelled phonetically. This guy is funny. I asked later – so where did you learn about biophobatics? “Mrs. Pratt. She taught us.” (Mrs. Pratt is the school counselor – there’s no way she said anything like that!)
Do you see what I’m dealing with? We have a big rule in our house about honesty and not lying on big or little things, but he knows the difference here. I really believe he’s just messing with me and he knows I know. I don’t know how his sweet teacher is going to deal with him this year except for keeping her sense of humor and not believe him if he professes to not know something. He enjoys it when I make things up. Like I asked what a quail was. I said I thought it was a huge balloon and he laughed hard, then corrected me. That is how I get the straight scoop sometimes.
Ben, Ben, Ben. You are so funny!
Two other funnies from a few months ago that I don’t want to forget. We were prompted to ask the boys “Why do zebras have stripes?” So we did over dinner.
Ben first. “Because they are mag-NI-fi-cent!”
Sam. “So that you can tell them apart from other animals. Like donkeys.”
This is an email I sent to Ben’s teacher the other day:
From: Alli Krug
Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 8:54 PM
To: Ben’s teacher
Subject: Ben’s tall tales
So I was asking Ben how school was going and a few things about his day. I think he spun some yarns. J Perhaps a T/F quiz would give you a laugh?
I saw her today and in passing she said: “Um, the answer is false to all of the above, but I wasn’t sure if you were for real or not at first!”
In other news, poor Sam has a nasty nasty cold and was home with me today. We had to go to a meeting so he was in a district administrator’s office doing some math games on her computer while I met. She had to disinfect afterwards. Isn’t she gracious? Same office that Ben always went to for meetings with me last year. You can draw right on her wall, and she gives out candy when you leave. She’s awesome. But anyway, say some prayers he feels better soon. Also say one or two for Dave who was up all night last night taking calls and then left at 5am this morning for work. A guy in his office already has the flu. Everyone is asleep right now so I am heading there, too. Mom must stay healthy!!!!
There are just so many of them, but this one shared over dinner the other night really made me laugh! This is an excerpt from an email to Mom so I don’t have to retype 🙂
I heard a very funny story from Sam the other day – apparently another boy and Ben went to the bathroom one morning while I was in with the small group kids doing math. Both boys are always interested in a “field trip” any chance they can get 🙂 Anyway, apparently they were “factoring” in the bathroom with paper towels so loudly that a teacher had to come in and tell them to quiet down! I am partly sorry, and partly very amused that they took the lesson to the bathroom with them. I literally laughed out loud at dinner when Sam told us the story in his low-key way. It took a lot of prompting to figure out what in the world he was talking about!
Ben has been really sick the last week – sinus infection on top of a week of sickness already. Poor guy was exceptionally stuffy with a fever >101 for three days. Such difficulty breathing at night, hard to understand his speech, and lots of sinus washes with saline spray (which I tried to explain was like boogie boarding in Hawai’i – lots of salt water up the nose!). He is doing much better now and I am so grateful. Mommy has had a bit of a stressful week with end-of-school commitments and a sick boy. I am thankful for all the opportunities to contribute to learning at the school and get to know the kids, though. Always glad that I am there and able to help. In any case, last night was the first day without a fever so we had a “Ben is Back” dance party in our living room – me and Ben – while Dave and Sam were out at guitar lesson. I cranked up some Credence and we danced with stuffed snakes on the “workbench” coffee table in the living room. I took movies for Dave as Sam eventually joined in when he got home. It was SO funny, but there were so many near-misses with snakes flying around like lassos that it was a bit nerve-wracking! I feared we would REALLY get in trouble this time! Kids were jumping from workbench to couch and back, and they’re both big now so collisions are much more interesting than they once were! All ended well and I didn’t get in too much trouble. I’ll post the video later…they are rather long!
Little Big Man has arrived at FIVE! I can’t believe it. He is such a man, not snuggly anymore unless you are giving him scratchies or reading to him. He can be very affectionate, but it’s a stealth tactic. Most of the time he is just such a little man, keeping up with big brother and even bigger daddy.
Enjoy these pictures of Ben’s birthday party. He had his neighbor friends over and a few days later created wonderful thank you cards for them, with a picture of the present he received and good lettering. He’s such a nice boy – such a big heart under all that bluster. He’s forgiving, sensitive and strong. No mom could wish for a better boy. I love you, Ben!
Here is an excerpt from an email I wrote to Gramma, Ben, about spending time with you today (Fri Nov 2). We had gone for a bike ride (you) and jog (me) at Battle Point Park, played on the playground, watched geese diving in the pond for food, then went to lunch at Bainbridge Bakers, and then checked out a preschool – your first time in one. Turns out they didn’t have room for drop-ins – lucky me! No pressure to leave you with anyone else so I can spend a dumb hour at the gym wondering about you. I didn’t want to do that anyway. 🙂 Here is what I wrote to mom:
> yes you are right about the commitment to continuing to know your > little dears, and the humility to fully appreciate the tremendous gift > of a little hand holding yours, not someone else’s, every minute it. > I felt little Ben’s hand reaching up for mine today as we walked > around and was so grateful. I tell him that all the time. we stopped > to look at a delivery truck parked in the middle of the road. Just > stopped the entire world from spinning and focused on him – little > nose, little eyes, lips parted studying it. He picked out all the > letters and actually read the word “food” on his own after blending > sounds. That is the first time he has actually read a word on his own. I am so proud of him, so proud to be his mom, and will be so > very sad when he starts school. I am so very grateful for this time > with my boys. I do understand very > definitely that it is a gift that I am thankful for every day, to have > TIME with them, to know them intimately, better than anyone else ever > will. I am so lucky. but yes, it is hard work to take care of the > home, chores, volunteer and work, and still make sure your little one > gets big doses of love and attention as often as possible. :0
Little Ben – I love you very much! Your strong grip on my hand sometimes prevents me from getting my keys, or from saving my phone from another fall (at least I have learned how to replace a cracked faceplate now!), but I wouldn’t trade that vice grip for anything. You and Sam have colds today, and I am counting my blessings that I can snuggle you perhaps a few minutes today because you won’t feel like writhing to get away 🙂 Sam is too big – he may still get away. But you…I have you for a little longer my friend! You guys have just woken up – I hear your little voices! I’m running in to get you!
Mom: Uh, no. I don’t think so. (Because I’m tired.)
Sam: But you don’t know. He might.
This is what Sam said in the pool yesterday as I was teaching Ben to “fill up!” with air before jumping in. Sam is very funny but sometimes I’m so distracted by Ben and his antics and lack of listening and daring-do tendencies that I miss Sam’s jokes until later. I laughed as I fell asleep the other night and made a mental note to come back to Sam the next day to tell him how funny he was. This picture above is of feverish boys (mostly Sam) outside for a little air. They’re resting on soccer balls. Ben jumped up and used his soccer ball to “crack open” a “nut” – like a brown tufted Capuchin monkey. Then he proceeded to “eat” the “nut”! It was so funny to see him come up with this move after watching some nature DVDs which show these little monkeys learning how to get into the yummy nuts. My boys are NUTS!
We had a fun tailgate with Ben’s friends yesterday for his birthday (invitation to left). Ben loves (LOVES) trucks, and especially MONSTER trucks. He wanted to sit in a pickup truck and have cupcakes with his friends for his birthday. While we were waiting for the biiiig truck to show up (Giji’s big truck with her three kids!) it started raining, so we all piled into the Xterra and listened to the Boss’ “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” 🙂 After messy cupcakes in the back of the pickup, we went for a swim in the tide pools. Sam built the foundation for a building from huge pieces of rock that he moved around using a boogie board for a float, just like the way coral was harvested and hauled to build Kawaiahao church in Honolulu. After tide pool time, Ben took mommy and daddy to a fancy birthday lunch of his choosing – Taco Bell! Sam went shopping with Gramma and Richard to pick up a present for his brother, then lunch at CPK.
Happy Third Birthday, big man! We love you very much!
I feel like I’m somehow cheating on Sam if I take Ben out on an adventure while Sam is in school. I talked it over with Sam this morning and he said it would be ok provided I took him sometime later. So off we went, and I bought annual passes for us so we could head down after school sometime. Every time I go to SLP it is a great adventure. Today’s highlight was a scuba diver (woman) feeding the rays! She came up really close to the glass so we could see her hand feed shrimp into the ray’s gaping mouth. They were so gentle with her, giving kisses, coming to her when motioned to. It was so fascinating.
So Sam is back in school – a few minutes late this morning because both boys slept in until 7:30! (My “policy” is not to wake sleeping children until they are in 3rd grade.) We enjoyed bike/running over listening to Beethoven and talking about what life was like 200 years ago. Sam was very intrigued by how long people tended to live, how they had to heat their homes with coal, no bathrooms or phones, etc. Life was a lot harder in some ways, but in other ways they were slowed down enough to appreciate beauty all around them, much as we were during our “grounding” for Thanksgiving. Beethoven started writing music about the age Sam is now, and found his inspiration during long walks in the woods.(This is from memory reading a great biography about him 6 years ago, so hopefully I’ve retained these tidbits correctly ;0 ) Music is a really important part of life for us, and I am so grateful every time Sam picks up his uke to play.
I’ve been meaning to jot some notes down about two books, one of which I recently finished and the other is on my bed stand.
The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast, Too Soon (Elkind) This book struck a chord with me when I stumbled across it – our family was in a phase where the calendar had booked up quickly, we were double-booked often and having to choose between equally good opportunities, and it seemed like I was saying “hurry” from 7:07am straight through for 12 hours. When I noticed this book was in its 25th year of print, I had to pick it up – how could things have been so crazy even 25 years ago? Elkind observes that dual income families have placed a special burden on children – not just the mad dash out the door to daycare, but the multiple transitions we ask of children throughout a day, from home to preschool/daycare, from daycare to after-school care with a neighbor or friend, and back home for an hour before bed. He notes that the meltdowns upon returning home are likely due to the release of tension built up during the day – the child manages his or her feelings and “adjusts” but the fallout happens when the child can finally relax at home. While I think much of it could have been stated more concisely, it is a good read and helps parents reprioritize so that these very brief early years are healthy and nurturing for the whole family. It doesn’t have to be a period of life we “survive” until the kids are old enough to be more self-sufficient. This should be a time to embrace their dependency, create special bonds, and not hurry up all those developmental milestones to suit our own needs.
Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Kids in a Mixed-Up, Muddled-Up, Shook-Up World (Esquith) This book was sent to me by a friend (also a client) and I am grateful for it. The author is a teacher and parent with profound dedication to helping kids develop into extraordinary beings. He infuses his teaching with life lessons (about being on time, about valuing time and managing it so that it isn’t lost or squandered), and taking them on adventures such as a ball game for his fifth graders. I find that much of his philosophy is like mine – that important life lessons are all around us and certainly not confined to the mastery of sight words or basic arithmetic. While all that academic stuff is vital, it’s not what makes us extraordinary. Using our minds to think creatively about the world around us, to perceive the nuances of life and people, to have the freedom of time to dream about goals and pursue them…all that is important. It is part of why I am waiting for home school and public school to join forces for those of us who want the best of both: three months of school, one month of holo holo time with the kids. I think elementary school could be completely overhauled for the good of families and kids. So if I don’t head out this week, we’ll stay put for the month (Dave isn’t home to nay-say my ideas!) then go holo holo in March when we’re not competing with so many people.