The Eightieth Chart (Spurts)

April 26, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

In Four’s pre-kindergarten class the students share two responsibilities: holding the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning and acting as line leader when they come in from recess.  Apparently it’s quite an honor to be chosen as one or the other.  So one day this week when I picked Four up from school, I asked her as I always do who the flag holder and who the line leader were.

“I was the flag holder and the line leader today!” she reported happily.

“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed, sharing in the pleasure of the honor.  “I bet you were really excited, right?”

“Yes,” she said.  Then after a minute she said, “Actually, I was just excited in my brain.”

“You weren’t excited on the outside?” I asked.

“No, just in my brain.”

I guess holding in our emotions now equates to feeling something only in our brains.


Yesterday as we drove home from dance class, we heard “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis on the radio.

“She’s bleeding?” Four asked.

“Yes, she’s bleeding love,” I responded.

“Oh, so she likes a boy.  All right, lady,” she said, addressing Leona Lewis, “we know you like a boy.”

After a minute Four said, “The boy comes in for the kiss first.”

I frowned.  “What?”

“After the boy and girl get married, the boy comes in for the kiss first,” she informed me.  “And then he asks the girl, ‘May I have this dance?’ and the girl steps forward to dance.  And if it’s a Hindi movie, then the boy rides a white horse on the beach and rides in a circle around the girl.”

Glad to see we’ve got all that straightened out.


Six and Four went outside to play on Wednesday afternoon with another little girl in the complex.  Within 20 minutes they came back in, Four in tears and Six declaring in a loud voice that her sister had said a bad word.  Their grandfather came in behind them, frowning.

I told Four to calm down and asked Six for her side of the story first.

“Well, C. said, ‘No four-year-olds allowed on the blanket,’ and then [Four] said, ‘You s-t-u-p-i-d people!’ but I didn’t say anything at all.”

We’re still at that blessed stage where “stupid” is considered a bad word, although now that both of them read at least a grade level above their current ages they have no problem spelling things.

I asked Four next what happened.  Apparently the little girl from across the way had brought a blanket to spread on the grass in the common play area and didn’t want Four joining her and Six.  As Four finished her story, the tears got a reboot.

My husband and I told her to calm down and addressed her concern first, making sure she understood that we knew she felt bad and she had a right to feel that way.  It wasn’t okay, we explained, for her to use bad words.  Bad words didn’t fix problems and they didn’t explain how she really felt.  So she didn’t need to use them.

Then Six had her turn.  We explained to her that staying quiet when someone treated her sister badly meant the same as agreeing with the person doling out the bad treatment.  I explained to her in a serious tone that after the grownups in her family, Six had the responsibility of sticking up and looking out for her sister.

She got sad for a little while.  For the most part she’s a good big sister, but once in a while she does slip up and needs a little bit of a reminder.  As a big sister myself I fully understand the pressures of taking care of younger siblings.  I hope that I can continue to encourage and impart to Six through the years how crucial it is for her to stand up for Four no matter what happens or who is around.  Friends will come and go, as I told her, but sisters are forever.


Yesterday was Shampoo Day.  The girls have certain days they shampoo their hair and certain days they don’t, and because Six takes showers by herself sometimes she needs an adult to check her hair before she gets out of the tub to check her hair.  When I check her hair I saw a little bit of shampoo left and told her she needed to wash it out.

“No!” she exclaimed, frustrated.  I didn’t say anything to her, just pulled the shower curtain shut and told her to turn on the water.

“No!” I heard again from the bathroom.  “Really?”

I ignored the sarcasm for the time being, but I couldn’t help lecturing her for about three or four minutes when she got out of the bathroom.  I restrained myself for the rest of the morning, but I have to admit: I hit an internal limit and fumed quietly.  Sometimes teaching children gets so tedious.  We try and try and remind them and cajole them and yell at them and say things in a loving way, and still they talk back or throw tantrums and toss words in disrespectful tones over their shoulders.

I didn’t say too much to the kids as they ate their breakfast and got into the car.  I didn’t want to take out my anger on them and ruin their morning as they went to school.  So they played one of their games as we drove to school, and I listened to our classical music station as we do every morning.

The radio announcer mentioned that some of the local colleges were having their commencement exercises yesterday and commented that the weather (in the high 60s) would add to the excitement of the day’s activities “before they have to join the misery of the real world.  Oh, what?” he added facetiously.

It made me smile.  Is that terrible of me?  I suppose so.  Adulthood—and living in the “real world”—aren’t miserable.  Not most of the time, anyway.  But eventually the kids will join the “real world” themselves.  One day they’ll both have their own kids.  So maybe at some point in the future I’ll get my kickback from these moments of frustration.

A girl can dream.

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