October 25, 2013
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
One day during the drive home from school, the girls and I listened to the radio and heard something about a “male dolphin.”
“Mamma,” Five asked from behind me, “is a male dolphin a boy dolphin or a girl dolphin?”
It suddenly struck me, then, how commonly we use these terms and how the words “male” and “female” don’t make their way down to the preschool-kindergarten set. And why would they? Little kids have enough of a challenge keeping track of what to do when their shoes get untied. And when the words “boy” and “girl” suffice, then there’s no need for any other terms.
But if I can offer my children more information about their world in a positive, non-threatening way, I’m going to do it. So I didn’t hesitate to tell her, “A male dolphin is a boy.”
“So a girl dolphin is a…”
“A male dolphin is a boy and a female dolphin is a girl,” she repeated, satisfied. And I could almost hear the vault click as it encased this new information about the world around her.
Due to parent-teacher conferences two weeks ago, Five had a couple of days off from school. Not wanting her to succumb to boredom while she waited for her big sister to come home, I pulled out a math workbook and encourage Five to work on a few pages.
Well, her enthusiasm turned “a few” pages into 17 of them. Somewhere along the way the directions asked her to do some simple addition and then circle the correct number of objects to correspond with the answer. She did the math correctly to find the sum of 5 for one problem, but she circled one too many objects.
“Why don’t you count that again?” I said, trying to sound encouraging.
She counted and then began meticulously erasing the entire pencil line.
“You don’t have to erase all of it,” I said casually. “It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
“Yes, it does,” she said, exhibiting her slightly obsessive self. She continued to erase but then all of a sudden grinned. “And see, they’re cats, so it has to be ‘purr-fect.’ Get it, ‘purr-fect’?”
Great. I’ve got a kid fixated on perfection and puns. We’re in for a wild ride when she gets into elementary school.
Because festival season for Indians is in full swing, I couldn’t help Five with her spelling homework on Monday. She gets a new spelling list every Monday that she has to study during the week and then gets tested on it every Friday. Given the fact that her teacher informally tested her at a third-grade reading level, some of the words on Five’s list lean towards the complicated. This week’s challenge word: epiphyte.
In any case, because of having to get ready for a variety of things, I gave Seven the responsibility of helping her little sister review the words a few times and then give her a test at home. Relishing the idea of putting her older sister status in use with parental backing, she agreed.
On Tuesday Seven and I stood in the kitchen after dinner chatting, and she said, “[Five] said I’m a better dictator than you.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah. She said she liked the way I called out the words better. She said when you do it, it’s boring.”
Oh. Dictator. As in, a person who dictates spelling words. Not, you know, a power-hungry tyrant who’s just trying to get everyone to school on time and make sure dinner gets served before midnight.
Yesterday as we drove to school, Seven remarked on a bird flying over a dormant farm.
“I saw a V of birds yesterday,” Five announced.
“They’re migrating,” Seven said.
“Just like we migrated, right, Mamma?” Five asked.
“I was born in Texas,” she continued, “and then we moved to Salt Lake City, and now to [Illinois.] We migrated too.”
Heaven help me and also bless this child with the third-grade reading level.