Thursday, November 08, 2012

One Hundred

A few weeks ago Rachel rushed off the school bus absolutely beaming.

"Something exciting happened at school today!" she gushed.

"What?" I asked.

"I made the hundred club!" she managed to squeak out. "And I'm the only one in it! I'm the first one! I did it! I have got to tell Dad!"

Being the member of such an elite club is no easy feat—and, no, this isn't some club she invented to inflate her ego. The "hundred club" is a classroom club invented by Rachel's teacher. To get in said club you have to write the numbers one through one hundred in order after finishing up your worksheet at the math table during "centres."

I watched this in action when I helped out in her class a while back. That day the kids had each been given a little container of tiddlywinks that they had to count out and then draw on their paper. Rachel finished the task quickly and easily and then got to work on the back of her paper—that day she wrote all the way up to fifty (following a hundred chart). But she was bound and determined to get all the way to one hundred and was so proud when she did it.

We've been working on counting by tens at home, which had Rachel confused for a while due to a little speech quirk of hers. I'd call it a disorder but she's only five; I have a hard time saying that five years olds have speech disorders unless it's rather severe (like the case of my cousins' children who suffer from apraxia) because five year olds are simply five years old—they're still babies! We're required to send in an extra change of clothes to school, including underwear, because kids are still wetting their pants. If you suck your thumb, wet your pants, and can't say your own name correctly you're on the caboose of babyhood, the cusp of childhood. That's a completely different thing from having a speech disorder.

Be that as it may, we've been working on correcting Rachel's quirks, specifically when it comes to numbers. As I said, we've been working on skip counting by tens to one hundred. Last week we turned on the macarena and I taught the girls the dance while we counted by tens. It took Rachel about thirty seconds to understand the concept of skip counting to one hundred (we're still working on the dance part). The problem, though, is that she says thirty and forty completely the same and this confuses her.

"Ten, twenty, forty, fifty..." she'll say. Or, "Ten, twenty, forty, forty, forty, fifty..."

It's like she knows "forty" is only one number so should only be said once but also knows that for some odd reason she's supposed to say it twice (and sometimes throws in an extra forty or two for good measure).

She can say words with a voiced dental fricative (eth), such as "the," "that," or "those," but she can't say words with an unvoiced dental fricative (thorn), such as "thirty," "three," and "thirteen." That latter set of words becomes "furty," "fwee," and "furteen," which doesn't make a whole lot of sense because mouth placement for both a voiced and unvoiced dental fricative is identical. Since Rachel can say a voiced dental fricative without a problem it seemed to me as if she was simply clinging to one of her toddleresque speech compensation mechanisms.

So we talked about it and she's been practicing saying "the thirty" in rapid succession to help her get her mouth in the right position to say thirty correctly. Rachel has become a most diligent pupil and practices all the time. In fact, she stayed up practicing after she was sent to bed this evening. I could hear her in her room.

"The thirty, the thirty, the thirty, the thirty," she muttered, sometimes getting it right and sometimes not.

Soon she came tearing down the hall.

"Mom!" she said, trying to contain her thrill to a whisper. "I have got to tell you something!"

"What is it?" I said softly, pointing to her nursing brother to remind her to further reign in her energy.

"THIRTY!" she said perfectly. "I was just counting to one hundred and I...I dunno! I just said it and now I can say it! Thirty!"

Andrew came out to put her back to bed and she made him listen to her count all the way  from one to one hundred (by ones no less). She's rather excited about this and I get it. I totally get it.

I remember the first time I counted to one hundred. I can't remember when it was, precisely, but we must have been visiting my grandparents in Raymond (we lived in British Columbia at the time) because I was in the basement, bouncing on this thing they had down there—it was essentially an inner tube thrown over a pink metal frame. You could hold onto the frame and jump on the inner tube to your heart's delight. I don't know what it's called or where to find one but I know it was produced commercially at one time (and I certainly could use one with the amount of bouncing that happens in our house). Anyway, I was down in the basement, bouncing and counting higher and higher and higher when all of a sudden I realized that I had done it! I had counted all the way up to one hundred!

This was not something I could keep to myself so I raced up the stairs to spill the news to my mother and grandma, who were chatting in the kitchen.

"Mom, Mom, Mom!" I panted. "I can count to one hundred! Wanna hear? One, two, three, four..."

And then my mom did exactly I would have done in her shoes (I would have interrupted me)—she interrupted me. "That's great, Nancy, but we don't need to hear you count all the way to one hundred. Go back downstairs and play."

She didn't say it rudely or land the plane I was riding on—she was just enjoying a conversation with her mother and didn't want that interrupted and I completely understand (I actually said that to my girls last Sunday after hanging up from talking with my mom, "Sometimes I just want to talk to my mommy!" because the girls were trying to place demands on me while I was talking to her). But grandmas understand these things differently than mothers do and so my grandma did then what my mom would probably do now.

"It's alright, Myrna," my grandma said. "She can count for us. It will only take a minute. Let's hear it, Nancy!"

And so I dove right in.

"One, two, three, four," I began, racing through the 'easy' numbers, all the way to, "Twenty-niiiiiiiine!" because I always had to pause on the nines so that I could think of what number came next. "Thirty! ... Thirty-niiiiiiine! Forty! ... Forty-niiiiiiiiine! Fifty! ... Fifty-niiiiiiiiine! Sixty! ..." and on I went until I'd reached one hundred. And then my mom and my grandma clapped for me and told me what a wonderful job I had done. Satisfied, I smiled and raced downstairs and...probably started bouncing again to see if I could count even higher. I don't know; I can't remember because anything else that happened that day was completely ordinary. I had counted to one hundred, though, and that was amazing!

I'm glad that I can remember times when my mom wasn't quite as patient as she is now because I know that every time my patience is tried it means I'm getting more patient. So perhaps when I'm 'super old' (as I thought my grandma was at the time (and as my children likely think my parents are); looking back my grandma wasn't ever really that old (and neither are my parents but to a five-year-old they're ancients)) listening to my grandchildren count to one hundred won't feel like a burden. I won't be aching for them to go to sleep or play by themselves (so that I can have a moment of peace and quiet when nobody is touching me). Instead I'll be aching to hear little voices call out for my attention and eager to indulge them in the little things (like listening to them count to one hundred).

Patience is a learned thing. And that's why there are stages in life. I don't have to be perfectly patient now and I can't be, which is something my children will hopefully understand when they reach this point in their lives.

Today I'm simply grateful that she chose to only say 'thirty' to me, while Andrew had to stand there and listen to her count to one hundred.

Oh, and, thank goodness for grandparents!

PS. Grandparents, you should probably be prepared to listen to Rachel count to one hundred on Sunday (unless she learns anything else by then that trumps counting to one hundred) because she's pretty stoked about it!

1 comment:

  1. One time Ezra and icounted to was a slow day. My special congrats to Rachel, that is awesome :)