April 12, 2013
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from last couple of weeks, readers!
Most of you have probably heard the song “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. If you haven’t, it’s a lovely ballad where Christina pledges to love “you” for a thousand years. Given the right romantic circumstances, this could really set the mood for a thousand nights of passion. At a wedding it would probably induce the use of a thousand tissues.
It’s funny, though, how children understand most words, sentences, and phrases at their most literal level. Kids still see the world in black and white terms. This became clear to me one day as I drove Six home from dance class. “A Thousand Years” came on the radio, and I hummed along and enjoyed a fairy tale romance for those few minutes.
When she heard the chorus of the song—which goes “Loved you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more”—Six said simply, “She’ll be dead by then.”
Last week during spring break when we enjoyed our girls’ day out, I let Six and Four each buy a book from Barnes and Noble. They each also bought a pair of binoculars, their impulse buy for the day (and probably the next six months.)
We thoroughly enjoyed our day, and on the drive home the girls opened the packaging around the binoculars. They immediately began testing them out as we sped down the highway, and I could hear their joy as they exclaimed about how close things became (or how far when they flipped the binoculars around and looked through the wrong end.)
I glanced in the rearview mirror designed for looking in the backseat and saw Four look at her sister with delight as she said, “I’ve been dreaming about these for years!”
Really? At the age of four, she’s already spending years dreaming about something? What’s going to happen when she’s fourteen??
Six has spent this school year learning about various states from the Midwest to the West Coast. In addition to hearing classmates do reports on these states (Six has to do her report on Michigan, and her presentation is in May,) the students have learned tidbits about the history and geography of each state. The lessons culminate in geography tests once every three to four weeks. Today Six has her test on Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Six’s drive to succeed and attain perfection (have NO idea where she gets that from! :>) gives her plenty of room for self-doubt (again, the source for this is a mystery to me.) She’s a smart kid; she has dozens of resources at her disposal. She does well in school, and she usually does incredibly well when she attempts something. But that Type A personality also drives her to get easily discouraged.
This morning as she ate her breakfast I quizzed her on some of the facts she’d studied last night, and she got stuck on remembering that Minnesota’s nickname is the North Star State. Within seconds her face began to crumple, and I heard the familiar refrain of, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.”
So, being the kind, caring, sensitive mother I am, I did what any kind, caring, sensitive parent would do: I lectured her for five minutes about how school stuff would only get harder after first grade and that if she didn’t keep trying now, she’d always find it hard to do anything.
I know, I know. Not the best way to start a Friday. But after letting her put her breakfast dishes away and all of us bundling into the car, I also followed that up with a pep talk to reassure her that all of us feel discouraged at one time or another. Her feelings were normal and okay. It wasn’t okay, I told her, to allow those feelings to get so big that she just spent all her time focusing on them and forgot about trying.
She nodded and said she understood what I had said, and I saw her grin as she suggested that we work together to come up with a fun way to remember Minnesota’s moniker. I managed to turn “Minnesota” into “Minnie (Mouse) drank a soda” but couldn’t find a way to connect North Star so that she’d have all the key words at her disposal. I wracked my brain as I navigated the highway and reassured Four that we’d get to a discussion about Mississippi in a minute (no, Four isn’t studying geography in school, and I have no idea what Mississippi has to do with anything, but I guess it was her way of trying to stay involved.)
The funny thing about us Type A personalities is that we may moan and complain and find doubt in the smallest of errors, but we’re persistent.
After a minute, Six smiled in triumph.
“Minnie Mouse drank a soda, and she had to go the North Store to get it,” she declared.
I nodded, impressed, and heaped her with about five minutes of praise for figuring it out. Gotta love those mnemonic devices, and you have to love the child even more who finds a way to use them to her advantage.