Random Thoughts: The Growing Up Edition

Last Saturday, the girls cleaned up their room with minimal supervision. And NO bribes.

I almost couldn’t believe it.

Dan and I asked them to go to their room and pick up all their stuffed animals. (He and I were also busy cleaning.) They also made their beds (to the best of their abilities), and picked up their books (stashing them in the bottom drawer of their night stand).

It was totally stunning. And we praised them to high heaven for it.

Also, we need to put a bookshelf in their room.

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Kate loves to help me. She helps me load the clothes washer, or move clothes from the washer to the dryer. She likes to fold her underwear (I know) and put it neatly in her drawer. She likes to wipe off the kitchen table or wash dishes. And by “wash dishes” I mean wash five things over and over again. I’m okay with this.

Flora likes *to offer* to help me. But if I don’t move quickly enough, her attention wanders, and she decides to go draw or watch Looney Tune cartoons instead.

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Last night, as I was finishing my dinner of a big ole salad (with a Quorn cutlet and feta cheese thrown in), Flora walked up. “Give me a bite!” she begged. So I did.

“Do you want a salad?” I asked her. We get salad greens from our CSA that are stellar. Flora said yes, and I gave her about a cup of dressed greens.

She ate every last leaf. I’m so proud!

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Flora is really reading now, and she loves to pick a book and read to me as I’m feeding Michael, or reading the bedtime book. She is still occasionally skittish about sounding out totally unfamiliar words, but she is getting better. I’ve noted that being tired makes her quicker to ask for the word rather than sounding it out. Her frustration level ramps up at night.

It’s fun to listen to her pick her way through the words. I often think of two things while she’s reading aloud:

1. How much I love to read, and how knowing how to read is opening up worlds for her. Worlds of fantasy and fun, of learning and language, of different lives and different universes.

2. How many people still don’t know how to read. I am still stunned to know that there are illiterate people in the United States — most likely due to educational access or learning disabilities. I didn’t set out to teach Flora to read, but here she is, reading to me. I know a lot of that is because I read to her *daily*, because she is in a good school system, and because — as far as we can tell to date — she doesn’t have learning disabilities.

When I think of the illiteracy rates in the United States (about 21% to 23%), I often wish I had the patience to teach others to read — actively teach. But I know I don’t — believe me. If you have suggestions as to what I can do to help boost literacy, please share them in the comments.

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I have videos of Michael ALMOST crawling and also drumming with his dinner spoons on his high chair. I’m having some issues uploading them from my phone, so you’re going to have to wait to see them. But: CRAWLING (okay, not completely belly-off-the-ground yet; he still uses his elbows) and EATING SOLIDS.

Father’s Day we went to brunch with Dan’s family. Michael woke up from a 2-hour nap right before we had to leave. Flora gave him some of his bottle in the car — he was fussing to eat — and when we got to the restaurant, I got out his cereal and pureed banana. His whole face lit up and he sat straight up in his high chair. It was hilarious. If he had been holding a spoon, I think he would have started banging it on the table, all, “Hurry UP, woman!”

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Also Sunday, I prayed for my children. Prayed for their bodily integrity, for straight limbs and clear eyes; prayed for their buoyant and curious spirits. I know that I cannot protect them from every injury, every scrape or boo-boo, every heart ache. I have to be strong enough to let them go out into the world.

But I did pray that they not be crushed, not be broken. That their limbs and senses remain straight and clear; that their minds remain alert and curious; that their spirits remain open and loving. I don’t want to shelter my children from failure, hurt, or pain. But I would like to teach them to survive these things, and go forward stronger. I’m not 100 percent sure HOW to do that yet. But I prayed for the wisdom to learn.

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