Monday, September 14, 2020

Mom Brags; Mom Gripes; Book Talk

 Yesterday I participated in the launch of a new We Stories cohort. Families in St. Louis and across the country joined in the start of a new program focused on reading diverse kids' books as a way of starting important conversations about race and anti-racism with their families. This program was an important part of my own learning and has meant a lot to our family. So when one of the directors of the program asked if Zuzu would want to read a book out loud on Zoom for everyone in the launch, I asked her what she thought and was delighted when she said yes.

We'd originally thought she'd read our family favorite, Please, Baby Please, but that book is up at David's school. So she read Squeak, Rumble, Whomp instead. It's a book we don't read very often because I actually don't enjoy doing the sound effects (voices, animal sounds, and efforts at foreign accents, yes... random sounds, not so much). Since it wasn't very familiar, I had her practice reading it a few times. It's a bit challenging to read out loud because you really have to sound out the letters to make noises like "Tlock" and "Grrrrrumble" and it has words like "pizzicato violinists," which she kept pronouncing as "pizzical volcanoes." We actually have her on a wait list to be tested for dyslexia because I've noticed such a discrepancy between her oral language processing and her writing/spelling abilities, so I honestly wasn't sure how she would do sounding out silly or unfamiliar words.

But then it was time to read out loud to 100 families in a Zoom call, and she did fantastic! I was so proud of her! She read with such expression and spoke loudly and clearly. She had told me just a bit earlier, "I'm kind of shy, Mom. I don't really like the spotlight." But she did so great! I was beaming. It was seriously just the cutest.

It helped to soften the irritation I'd felt the night before when she and Coco carried their name stamps upstairs. They each have a self-inking stamp that prints their first name on paper. Honestly, I had a strange sense of foreboding as they carried some art supplies upstairs and I said TWICE, "We only stamp paper." 

Then I went upstairs and discovered that the white fabric lamp shade on Zuzu's dresser had "CAROLINE" stamped in pink across it. 

WHY? WHY? Why would she deliberately ignore what I had JUST SAID TO HER in order to graffiti a lamp shade?

I know kids make impulsive decisions--and Zuzu is more impulsive than many other 8-year-olds--but it was still infuriating. I stomped off to treat the lamp shade with rubbing alcohol and the suds of blue Dawn in hot water. It helped some, but I can still see the faint pink outline of her name.

* * * 

Coco usually wants to read out loud to me during their Zoom school reading time. I had her read a couple of the books included in her reading curriculum, and then I suggested that she continue a beginning reader "chapter book" called Little Bear's Friend that she'd started yesterday. Little Bear's Friend is just a little more challenging, and Coco really likes to read the books that she has nearly memorized. She wanted to read Nibbles the Book Monster (her longstanding favorite... we read it almost every night. She loves a good metanarrative.). As she was reading Nibbles, she pointed out the books that he was eating, "Oh, look, Mom, he ate The Secret Garden!" and I looked at the illustration which shows the book with a nibble out of it and said, "Oh, no! The Secret Garden is my favorite!" Then she pointed to a book that didn't have a title printed on it in the picture and said, "Uh-oh. Nibbles ate Little Bear's Friends!" That made me laugh. Guess that solves the problem of having to read it... 

Coco gets very cranky when she is hungry, and at the start of mealtime (especially if it's a non-preferred meal), she will occasionally need to be reminded to speak nicely. I often say, "I don't want to hear you mean-mouth Daddy when he has worked hard to fix this dinner." Now she has started to use that phrase and if Zuzu says something rude and hurts her feelings, she'll say, "Zuzu is mean-mouth!" It can be a noun, verb, or adjective.

* * * 

Genevieve continues to be our little wrecking ball, but she's got such a stinking cute grin that it's impossible to get mad at her. She was a real champ on our walk/hike yesterday at Powder Valley, although you've got to keep a close eye on her, as she will veer off-path, or turn around and start walking the other way. I'm always astonished and slightly alarmed at how unconcerned G is as to whether we are in her line of vision, even when we are away from home (which is rare, so I always think she'll be more cautious in unfamiliar places!). My friend Erin reminded me that I'd once told her (in reference to her son) that this habit of running away is actually a sign of a healthy attachment because it means the kid is very secure and knows that the parent will always be there. I must have read that somewhere? In that case, it seems that our G is definitely feeling secure and attached. 

G's current favorite book is Busy Doggies. She loves the pictures of real dogs and will say, "Woof, woof!" as we read it. (Her "woof, woof!" is very cute.) I had to laugh the other day because she picked up a stuffed Corgie dog and said, "Woof, woof!" and I was so amazed that her knowledge of what is a dog extends to all kinds of breeds, even sort of strange looking dogs like Corgies. I even said something to David like, "She's so smart! She's figured out that dogs breeds can look so different but are all the same species!"

Then I read her Very Busy Spider and when we turned to the page with the cow, G pointed it and said, "Woof, woof!" And proceeded to do the same for the horse, the sheep, and the goat. So much for my insistence on her toddler brilliance! LOL. We're still at the "all quadrupeds are dogs" phase of life.


  1. Just curious as to how "Zuzu" came to be her nickname. Is that just used by family and everyone else uses "Caroline"?

  2. I don't want to get all diagnose-y on you here -- you very obviously know your own child better than I ever could. Just the thing you said about the discrepancy between oral language and written/spelling really reminded me of Ewan. That and the not exactly listening or paying attention all of the time... I always wondered about Ewan's horrendous spelling and the teachers always just shrugged it off until tenth grade when it was still a problem. We finally got the full range of tests done and for him it turned out to be ADHD inattentive type. I would have never guessed it in a million years. He has medication now, which I also would not have ever believed would work until we suddenly saw dramatic improvements in his writing. So that might also be worth considering? Maybe? (not necessarily the medication -- just the fact that ADHD can come out in spelling, which is what shocked me)
    I love reading the stories about you and your girls! Thanks for keeping me connected to all y'all and the goings-on of the Lou!