Wednesday, March 06, 2019

March tales

March is national reading month, which the children are celebrating whole-heartedly. Their celebration is, of course, spurred on by their school because I wouldn't have known it was national reading month otherwise. Part of their celebration is an at-home read-a-thon where the kids are asked to read above and beyond the twenty minutes per day that is usually required of them.

Benjamin's class has a goal to have each child read 125 minutes this week, so 25 minutes more than their regular 100 minutes. This should bring their classroom total up to 3000 minutes—and if they reach their goal they get to have ice cream at school next Monday (a thrilling prospect).

Benjamin, however, is under them impression that he alone is responsible for reading 3000 minutes this week (that's fifty hours of reading) and he has been doing his best to accomplish this.

Yesterday he read for 90 minutes. Today he read for over 120 minutes.

This does not include mommy-led story time.

It's a nice change from his usual after school craziness and I think it's safe to say that his class will meet his goal (even if half the class slacks off).


*****

My brother David was in town this weekend so we had a little party at our house on Saturday evening, which means we spent a good part of Saturday cleaning (even if no one could tell by the time company arrived). We vacuumed downstairs and then I noticed that the roller was getting strangled with hair so I flipped it over so that I could cut all the hair away, but I couldn't find the kitchen scissors so I had to leave the vacuum while I went upstairs to find scissors. 

Alexander, meanwhile, decided he'd played in the basement long enough and started coming up the stairs to find me. Unfortunately for him, he found the vacuum at the top of the stairs (and he hates the vacuum). He couldn't crawl past that evil beast so he just sat on the top step and cried, which brought me scurrying down from the top floor of the house. 

Poor little thing, too scared to crawl past the vacuum!


Last night the vacuum was left out again, this time upstairs after Andrew finished vacuuming. Alexander was evidently feeling rather brave because he noticed a button on the vacuum—and although he hates the vacuum, he loves pushing buttons—and toddled over to push it.

To his great shock, the vacuum roared to life!

Alexander screamed and ran away to cower by the couch and while he trembled and cried, everyone nearby just stood around laughing about it, the meanies! All he needed was a little cuddle!

*****


In other news, it was lovely to have my family come over. We had pizza for dinner and Miriam made cookies for dessert. We played games—Pit, which was loud—and visited. It was great!
*****

Today I told the kids we'd have pancakes for dinner (it is Shrove Tuesday, after all) and Zoë was excited for "panpakes" all day long and made me promise that I would let her help make dinner.

She loves helping with dinner. I...love it less.

I know she needs to learn how to do things and I think it's great that she is naturally curious about cooking but, honestly, she's just...three. 

Three-year-olds aren't the best listeners, nor are they the best helpers, so it's hard to just hand them a knife and tell them to go to town or to have them, for example, flip pancakes on a hot griddle. Mostly they cumber the whole process (though I will admit that Zoë is getting pretty good at cutting cucumbers). I constantly tell her that when I can trust her to do simple things (put the dishes away, wash her hands after using the toilet, picking up her toys, etc) without throwing a fit, then I can trust her to do more difficult tasks (like cooking). So far it hasn't changed her behaviour but I'm hoping that eventually it will sink in.

She was convinced that she was going to help make pancakes today, however, so she checked in the pantry for "panpake" mix and couldn't find any! 

"We're all out of panpake mix!" she announced, distraught.

"We're definitely not," I told her. "You just aren't seeing it. But even if we were, we can make pancakes from scratch pretty easily."

Growing up we never had pancakes from a mix (that I remember), but I did walk her to the pantry and we found the "panpake" mix to soothe her anxious heart.

Later I tried to get the kids to take their brother into the basement to play, but they couldn't because Benjamin was busy reading ("Then stop reading," I told him, "You've read long enough! It's time to do other things!") and Zoë didn't want to risk the chance that I'd secretly whip up dinner without her while she was pretending to be a princess or building a Lego tower or (more likely) tormenting her brother without intervention.

"I can't have playing time because I don't want to miss out on cooking time!" she explained.

"I will call you up when it's time to make dinner," I promised. "Right now I want to do the dishes without your brother climbing into the dishwasher so can you guys please just go play with him?!"

They tried. It did not last long. 

I had a friend once compare our families—I had five children at the time, a baby, a three-year-old, a five-year-old, a nine-year-old, and an eleven-year-old (so obviously this happened fairly recently)—and she had three—a baby (older than mine), a four-year-old, and a six-year-old. 

We'd been talking about making a similarly-lengthed road trip and how our family had made relatively good time and hers had not.

"But you have two drivers and we only have one," she said. 

"Well, that's true, but Andrew did all the driving, so..."

"He drove the whole way?!" she asked. "Why?"

"I've...never driven on the freeway," I admitted (driving anxiety is a real thing, okay?).

"Well, your children are all older than mine," she said. "So that must be why you made such good time."

I looked at her and blinked a little because...

"Sure," I said. "That's probably why."

But inside I was thinking, "I still have to deal with a baby, a toddler, and a kindergartener—who are each younger than your respective children!!"

But I suppose our trip was helped along by our older girls (when they were being helpful, that is, and weren't whining about someone touching them/looking at them/breathing their air/whining about being hungry and/or bored). In fact, I know it was because they're a big help at home.

Today—with Rachel at play practice until 5:30 and Miriam off at organ—I really felt the pinch of having no real helpers in the house. No one else to juggle babies or keep children entertained in the basement or stir a boiling pot on the stove. 

I made it work (I burned the pancakes, but I made it work), but I was sure glad when Rachel walked through the door. 

"Will you hold him for a minute so I can get something done?!" I begged. 

She reached for the baby and we tried to do a trade-off but he protested—loudly—so I retracted the offer, let Alexander snuggle into me, and said, "Will you wipe off the table and set it?"

And she did. Because big helpers are the best helpers.

(Unfortunately, the only way they get that way is by letting them help when they're little...but that takes so much patience, guys, and sometimes I don't have enough of that (especially at the end of the day)).

1 comment:

  1. "You've read enough..." -- the song my mother sang every day of my childhood (once I learned to read)...

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