Aug. 22nd, 2007 05:43 pm
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At the bus stop, this morning, with Josh. Two third-graders, two fifth-grade older siblings, one other dad.

The other dad is telling me about how someone plowed into a fire hydrant two streets over (that's why we're hearing sirens). His third-grade son: "Where does all the water come from?" Him: "From the main city water supply." Son: "Is it going to use it all up?" Him: "Yes. It's going to use up all the water and you won't get to have any. You'll be dead in three days."

The kid's eyes widen, not sure if his dad really means this.

Josh turns to me. "He's joking!" he says to me. I nod to him.

Watching fifth-grader to her third-grade sister: "Wow. The little boy understands sarcasm!"

I near bust a gut laughing. "Yes, indeed he does. He has an older brother and older sister and two parents who all use sarcasm a lot. He's had to."


Aug. 20th, 2007 03:49 pm
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So here's this evening's relaxing schedule for the last day of summer...

  • 4:00 pm: Sherilyn drops Kate off for soccer practice at Eureka School.
  • 4:10 pm: Sherilyn, with Robert in tow, arrives at Excelsior School for Class Assignment Night to volunteer (serving pizza to 1000 parents and kids).
  • 5:10 pm: I drop Josh off for his lesson at Tricks Gymnastics.
  • 5:30 pm: I pick up Kate from Eureka. Note this is at another school in the same district, likely also having a Class Assignment Night, so parking will be ... interesting.
  • 5:40 pm: (hopefully!) I arrive with Kate at Excelsior.
    • collect Robert
    • feed pizza to Kate, Robert, and myself
    • visit first, fourth, and sixth grade lists, posted at various places on the school campus, to copy down each kid's teacher names, room numbers, and known classmates
    • Kate and Robert find restrooms and change into their gis
  • 6:15 pm: I drop Robert and Kate off at Granite Bay Karate.
  • 6:40 pm: I pick up Josh at Tricks.
  • 7:00 pm: With Josh, I pick up Robert and Kate at GBK.


Jun. 6th, 2007 08:33 pm
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I'll have more to write about Josh's teeball team -- the one I've been the manager for -- later, possibly this weekend, when I write up a postmortem.

But I had to mention this.

One of my players - Garen - would be a credit to a ten-year-old little league team. (He's six.) He can throw the ball from third base to first and hit the first baseman's glove. (He's six.) He can also catch a ball at home plate fired from the outfield by an adult. (Again, he's six. He's been telling me the things he plans to do when he's in the majors. I believe him.)

Today for about the first time we were playing with actual outs, in that if the team on the field got the runner out by normal baseball rules, he didn't stay on base but actually went back and sat in the dugout.

With runners on second and third, the batter lines the ball hard to third base. Garen, playing third, catches the liner on the fly. He immediately steps on third. He then turns, charges up the basepath toward second, and tags the runner.

I just watched a six-year-old turn a by-God unassisted triple play. One that he could very plausibly have turned against kids twice his age.

I'll remember a lot about this season. But that I'll definitely remember.
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Josh comes out from his skating lesson, all excited. He has a ribbon (meaning he's shown proficiency in one of his maneuvers for his class).

He hands me the paper that cross-references class levels with ribbon colors.

I pointed to the left-hand column. "Which one is your class?" He looks, and points to "Tot C". "How do you know?" "Because I'm in Tot C, and that's a C!"

"Very good. Now, on the top, which one of those words is the color of ribbon you got?"

He looks. Burgundy - White - Blue - Green - Gold. He points correctly to White. "Very good! How did you know that?" "Because it starts with 'wuh!'" "That's great, Josh! You're reading really well!" "Yeah! Like in 'owl', right?"

Then we cross-referenced Tot C and White, and I pointed to it. "What letter does that start with?" "T!" And what did you just learn to do?" "T-position!"

I don't think he could do any of that a week ago. Certainly couldn't do that a month ago. He's so excited about kindergarten, and the reading they're learning to do, and it shows. He really didn't have nearly this much interest in letter decoding till just now. Great leaps forward...
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Poor Josh. He finished his skating lesson as Robert and Kate were starting theirs, and he told me he wanted a churro. I looked through the glass and saw four people in line waiting to be served at the snack bar, handed him $1.25 and asked him if he knew where the line was; he nodded. I finished packing my things up and followed him a minute later.

When I got there he was proudly walking away from the counter, holding a churro. The same four people were still in line.

Um, I thought. I congratulated him on buying the churro properly, but pointed to the line and told him (in a sympathetic normal tone, only loud enough that nearby people paying attention could hear) he was supposed to stand in line first -- "so you know for next time."

His expression crumpled, his eyes filled with tears. Sobbing, he handed the churro to me, telling me he didn't want it anymore. It took several minutes to convince him no one was upset with him, it was okay, five-year-olds are still learning these things, and really, no, it was okay, he could have the churro he paid for, and I knew next time he'd stand in line.
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Sherilyn can't journal about last weekend because she wasn't home, so I will. Read more... )
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A ball game, a three-year-old chimpanzee, mondo shopping, WD-40, a star party plan, McDonalds, vomit, homework, plans down in flames, all in the same day. Read more... )
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My father was 38 years older than me (less 27 days).

Robert's 30 years younger than me (less two months and a few days).

My dad died the year Robert was born - I was thirty. So when Robert is the age I am now, I'll be as old as my father was when he died.

This year I'll become a greatuncle.

And the first presidential election in which I could theoretically have run will be held this year.

Okay, so I may be stretching the significance a bit. :)

When I went to get Josh from his crib this morning, he played and delayed a bit; Robert showed up in his door and said "Happy birthday, Dad." Josh stopped playing, looked up at me, and said "Hahee buhday, Dad." Katie called "Happy birthday, Daddy" from her nest as I left Josh's room with him.

There are far, far worse things than growing older.
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So my ears are almost all better. Unfortunately I've acquired the same bug Katie and Josh have (and Sherilyn's probably getting) -- 101.4 fever, nausea, loss of appetite. Fortunately the kids are almost over it, so let's hope in a day or two I'll be better too.

Read to Josh tonight -- or rather, he read to me, as he insisted on giving me his version of each page before I was permitted to read it. "Nah bah, nah fah, nah how, nah mou, da ba deh ANYWHAH!" "Day oo day oo Sah Ah Aahm!"
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Robert and Katie got into one of their actually very infrequent fights last night -- she was curled up on the couch and he wanted her to move her feet. It escalated to him shoving her feet off the couch, causing her to decide to get off the couch completely, sit on the floor, and bawl. No one was hurt, of course, other than bruised feelings.

I came in and calmed them down (not having seen it, I nevertheless am pretty sure the escalation was gradual, with Katie jerking her feet in a not-quite-kick to get him to stop sitting in proximity to them, him complaining with increasing volume, then pushing them when the dialogue just didn't work), and we all talked about conflict resolution and manners. (I did talk a bit, but mostly listened.)

Near the end, when everyone was calm and sitting on the couch, Josh walked over to me, and quite deliberately shoved himself up against my leg, then stepped back and said 'Hey! That hurt!' (Beaming with his own cleverness.)

I was unfortunately way too amused to be properly horrified at him. :)

I went back in there later, and all three kids were nestled on the couch comfortably. On the floor in front of Katie's spot on the couch there was a whole pile of pillows, on which she was resting her feet. "Robert built this for me!"

Robert got a big ol' daddy-hug.

The moment

Mar. 2nd, 2004 08:38 am
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Sherilyn and I have discussed this on occasion: when a baby starts developing into a toddler, especially when he's pre-verbal, it's hard sometimes not to think of him as, essentially, a pet... not yet quite human.

This continues for a while even as he starts picking up language -- it's still kind of like how a puppy learns to scratch at the door to go out. He starts calling his big sister 'kay-ee' and his brother 'wa-wa', and puts words together to say what he wants: 'my tun!', and makes more and more words and gestures describing what he wants and thinks: when thirsty, he opens the fridge and carries me the gallon jug of apple juice (sometimes all the way across the house), or protests 'Hey! Tha' my!' when something's taken away...

For his brother and sister, I don't remember it happening suddenly; full sentences and their own imagination and questions gradually made me start seeing the human-level thoughts going on behind them.

But evidently you can pass the rubicon all at once.

Last night, as I was putting him in his crib, he sat, looked up at me, pointed to his chest, and proudly announced "I'm Joshua!"

Yes. Yes, you are. Hello, son.
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Last night, Joshua and I read his 'counting to ten' book, after which he stunned me by, without prompting or help, counting to five on his fingers.

When you're two and you've decided to count to five on your fingers, quite apart from the cerebral challenge of counting to five and associating the sound pattern with the right number of fingers, there's also a logistics problem. While you can make a fist, you generally lack the manual dexterity to hold down fingers with the thumb. So, for example, you can't do "two" by doing a peace/victory sign.

Thus Josh counted "one" by holding out his thumb. "Two" was thumb plus index finger. "Free" was thumb, index, middle finger. Then he sort of worked his fingers around, staring in concentration at his hand (the whole ring finger/pinkie dual wiring nonsense was clearly biting him hard, and the idea of just putting down his thumb turns out to be way too sophisticated a concept -- after all, you've counted your thumb, you can't uncount it!) I expected him to give up, and was prepared to help him.

But he invented his own solution. He opened all five fingers, and crossed his pinkie over his ringfinger. "Four!" he said proudly, then uncrossed his fingers. "Five!"

Cool kid.
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Joshua got a deck of Wiggles cards -- they're for playing Go Fish or simpler games: about six of each of nine different cards with different Wiggles characters on them.

He was shown a sorting game and immediately understood. He would take the shuffled deck, take one card at a time, make nine piles with cards in the correct place. Not a big stretch for a two year old.

So he was playing this repeatedly on the floor in the den while I webcruised yesterday, and suddenly I realized he was saying something while he did it.... 'fie siss sewen aye nie ten ewevenn telv fawtee fitee'.

I don't recall anyone ever trying to teach him to count past ten... and it shows, of course, because he skipped thirteen... :) and no one had ever counted the Wiggles cards, so the idea that numbers are abstractions and can apply to anything has evidently provided him with no difficulty whatsoever.
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Josh pointed and pulled, indicating he wanted juice from the fridge. "Okay, okay, I'm getting it." I pull out the juice, bring it to the counter, grab one of his spillproof sippy cups.

"No!" he tells me. "No! Cup!" Wow. He really said "cup". New word.

He's not finished yet. "Awanna cup!" I'm boggled -- diction may be a bit vague even for a two-year-old, but that was a real sentence.

So I pour him a bit of juice in a cup and he eagerly goes to his high chair. Context: normally, when we give him a real cup, he gets only a swallow or two at a time, and the balance of the juice or milk is in a second cup on the table, away from his high chair, to refill as needed. But I didn't pour the second cup yet.

He looks at the cup and the juice. "Nother cup!"

"Did you say "another cup?" Him: "Yeah!"

I've been saying all along I think he's been speaking in sentences, and he just has unclear diction. We'll see if more starts to clear up this way over the next few weeks.

Speaking of a few weeks, Katie has suddenly made a leap, thanks to the marvel that is her kindergarten teacher. "Ccccc... (pause) Uhhhhh... (pause) Llllll... (pause) Uhhh.... (pause) Rrrrrr. Ccccccuuuuulllluuuurrr. Color!" Without help. Two weeks ago she couldn't put a two-letter word together even if she knew both sounds.

Her biggest difficulty at the moment is with the letter H, since she pronounces it 'huh'. So "he" is still "huh-ee" and she doesn't recognize it. She's also listening to, but not yet using independently, the rules Robert helpfully informs her of -- "the E on the end doesn't get sounded, it makes the vowel before it say its name. Except the letter R, because R is so strong and big that the other vowel can't see the E."

And on the topic of Robert: "Hey, Robert. I'm making two boxes of this stuffing mix. One box says to use one and two-thirds cups of water. How much water do I need to make two boxes?" Promptly: "Three and one third cups." (blink) "How did you get the answer so fast?" "Well, one and one are two, and two thirds and two thirds is four thirds, and that's more than one, it's one more third." And he was telling me what would happen on the next page of Harry Potter more or less through the whole evenings' reading, because he'd read and memorized it the day before.


Mar. 31st, 2003 01:48 pm
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Katie, on the way home from the park on Saturday, announced that she was "Not-Fall-Off-Bike Girl!" She distinctly pronounced the hyphens and the capital letters. I'm very amused. Yesterday, I took her to get her 5-year-old pictures taken. She was sulky and recalcitrant till we got in the car, at which point she perked up. At Walmart we had to sit for fifteen minutes, so she enthusiastically read me most of Hop On Pop, then charged in, perched before the camera, and posed adorably for every shot. Afterwards she was the very model of a perfect kid -- making me, by the way, look like a wonderful father out there in public (when around a kid in a good mood, you look like a good parent. It just happens). Later last night, however, she completely exploded when told she had to share a banana with Josh, and had to be sent shrieking and fighting up to her room for a while. Moods... Robert had the same sorts of moods at this age, and I fancy I'm a little better at dealing calmly with them than I was two years ago.

Josh, this morning, brought me a small rubber duck and announced it was a "Qwwcckk" (say "quack" without the vowel. Go ahead, try it. Sounds like clearing your throat.) Add this to his current word count -- 'wih-wih' (Wiggles), 'yah!', 'Da!' 'Maamaa', 'Uh-oh', 'nana' (banana), 'bahpah' (backpack -- from Dora), and a number of other less distinct or repeated ones. (And 'please', 'more', and 'all done' sign language, plus an endless number of distinct gestures, like fetching a plate for himself when he's hungry, pulling at the fridge door when thirsty...) Josh is also showing some signs of being a southpaw, like his dad. (And like one of my cousins, and my uncle for whom Robert is named, and my late eponymous grandfather...)

Robert and I had a talk while waiting for the bus this morning about why school was important. It struck me that he'd never had this talk before -- what you do when you're an adult depends on what and where you study in college; the kind of college you get into depends a lot on how well you do in high school; how well you do in high school depends partly on how well you learn the basics of english, math, science, society, and study habits in grammar school. His eyes were shining at the connectedness of it all by the time I was done, and he agreed that his schoolwork must therefore be very important. And he then told me a bit about how good a job he was doing. Knew already from teacher's reports and papers sent home, but nice to hear from him too -- he's often reluctant to say anything about his day at school.


Jan. 21st, 2003 12:23 pm
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Josh, this morning, was sitting on the couch with Katie watching Cosmos (more on that in a moment). She said "Look at /that/!" in a tone of wonder. Josh echoed it. "Deuh a' /dat/!" Same tone.

A lot of times he says something that makes me think he's just said a complete sentence -- (point) "Ah wa dah!" "Okay, you can have it. Hey, did you just say 'I want that'?" "Yah!" I think he's learning language by sentence as opposed to by word...

Katie has been watching most episodes of Cosmos with me -- I often put them on in the mid-morning on weekends. She asked this morning, for the first time, to watch Cosmos -- I asked if this was so she could watch with me, or if there was something she specifically wanted to see, and she said "I want to watch it! I want to see the cells!" So we put on the section that shows the insides of a cell... when done, she said "I want to see the animation of the animals now," meaning the evolution animation that goes from simple water-repelling molecules to modern humans. Then she wanted to see it again. And again. Very cool.

Robert asked me, last night, "Is the story about the Israelites traveling to the Promised Land true?" I asked why he asked the question. "It's not just a VeggieTales story. I saw it in a movie at Chanel's house." No, it's from the Bible, which is an important book of old stories. "Are the stories in the Bible true?" he immediately asks.

Why does my son not ask about something simple, like where babies come from?

"Some stories in the Bible are about old kings and countries, and they match what else we know about the period so we think they did happen. Some stories in the bible are stories like the boy who cried wolf, that are there to teach a lesson about how to behave. And some stories, some people will get very very upset if you say they didn't really happen."

He welcomed the info but didn't let it distract him from his first question. "So did the Israelites really travel to the promised land?" "No."
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Earlier today, I came out of the den for a break. Joshua saw me coming, took me by the hand, led me to the fridge, pulled on it to try to open it, then pointed and said 'Enh!'

Me: "Do you want something to eat?"
Josh: [shakes head]
Me: "Want some milk to drink?"
Josh: [eyes shining] "Yeah!"

Not the first time; he's been doing this distinctly, clearly, and discretionarily for a couple days now. It's his word. He shakes his head no, and enthusiastically chirps "Yeah!" for yes. But today was when I remembered why this moment is so special.

With each kid, there's been a moment of disorientation at the first real communicative word ('mummummum' and 'dadadadada' are more sounds than words, more emotion than thought; 'mummummum' is a needing-comfort sound, and 'dadada' is playful.) It's as disconcerting, in a way, as if your cat turned to you and said 'Hello.' This isn't an entity that talks, it's an entity that gets into things and gets talked /at/.

Up to this point, they're almost like pets; you take care of them, keep them from dangerous things, talk to them, humor them... but until they talk they're not really people.

Welcome, Joshua.

More to say

Dec. 3rd, 2002 10:16 pm
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In other aspects of my life.

Going to Florida soon -- overnight (ugh) flights with the three kids, but I'll get to see my mom and my oldest brother, his wife and kids (my godson is in /college/, my god I'm getting old).

Robert has undergone an amazing personality transplant in the last few months. He slowly started getting sullen sometime after Joshua was born (and I stopped working from home), and it accelerated sharply when I started working in the bay. But in the last few months something powered up and clicked on inside him -- he started realizing he has the power to affect other's moods with his own, and -- when he's sufficiently alert and nontired -- he has become downright angelic. Much of the time. (Some of it may have to do with my schedule settling down; one night away each week is a biiig improvement over what I had to do over the summer. Or perhaps I delude myself by thinking I have something to do with his change.)

Katie whines, but that's because she's four. She's also remarkably precocious in conversation, not in subject matter but in mature conversational style.

Joshua is a cherubic little terror. Nothing is safe from this destructive monster -- and we adore him despite it. My mother's house -- with its glass tables, fake potted plants, and tables of pictures -- is going to be a wreck by the time we leave.

They've lived through a million things since I last journaled about them. But they're growing up -- the important thing is that the things happened, not so much that they're recorded... of course it's a happiness when you have the stories to look back on, so perhaps I'll journal more.

Or perhaps I won't have the time. Having time this evening to write anything was pretty unusual.

which is a whole nother entry...


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