24 Dec 2009, by


My daughter is playing in the sink, with soap and dirty dishes we just made. She’s pretending to make pies. She just said,”I don’t need an instruction manual to make these pies! Pies are my specialty!”

I think those are my husband’s genes speaking.

Continue reading

We had three days of seventy degree weather this week and it was wonderful. Fallen crunchy leaves, skies that stark blue of autumn, trees still hanging onto swaths of red and yellow and yet, instead of that crispness in the air, strange warmth. Comfortable and kind. Then Saturday we had the threat of flurries, but they didn’t come. Kurt put in the storm windows. This morning we had frost covering the roof and the yard. Last week must have been summer’s last hurrah, and now it will turn cold in earnest. Both the previous Novembers that I have lived here it has snowed before Thanksgiving. The first time it was simultaneously magical and scary. I didn’t know that we wouldn’t be snowbound after that first snowfall. It melted and went away, of course, but I didn’t know when it fell that it would do that. This year I’m kind of looking forward to that first snow, and if it doesn’t happen before Thanksgiving I may be disappointed. However, I need boots before it snows. Which means buying them. I think I’ve procrastinated on that shopping chore long enough. I better get them this week or my feet are going to be cold. Also, all my toe socks have vanished since last year. Must have warm and cozy socks.

This morning I was sharing giggle time with my daughter. This is where she climbs into my bed and we just laugh together. She will say goofy stuff, eyes bright and fixed on mine, trying to make me laugh. When I do laugh, she joins me. Sometimes there’s tickling involved, sometimes just silly words. She’s working hard on the concept of jokes. She wants to make them up instead of recite them, but she tends toward the nonsensical and hasn’t quite grasped that it needs to make some sense, but be slightly off as well, as that’s what makes a joke funny. Anyway, we always end up laughing at either her statements or my jokes. I love these moments. They’re nothing special, nothing unusual, but neither are they daily occurrences. They’re just a part of how it is. I treasure these times, but I have no idea whether Sophia will even remember them.

When I think about that, about whether she’ll remember occasionally coming to my bed in the mornings and goofing around, laughing until we can’t anymore, I try to bring similar memories up for myself and I can’t. I’m not like Sophia; she has an uncanny memory, and my memory is poor. I cannot say for sure that I never played around like that with my mom or my dad. But I have no memories to suggest I did. I remember my brother sometimes tickling me until I thought I would pop while I screamed and laughed. But I don’t have any comparable memories of silly verbal or physical play with my parents. I can’t tell you whether this means nothing like that every happened, or whether this means I just forgot about it. In some sense I can’t even imagine a circumstance under which it might have happened, so my guess is that it never did. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they were already very middle-aged when I was born, or because they are just very serious people. My dad is definitely a very serious person.

So what will she remember? Will she know that we laughed together like fools, or will she remember only that I sometimes scolded her? Will she see an older me and state that I am now and have always been a very serious person? We shall have to wait and see, won’t we?

Continue reading

In: Sophia | Tags:

There’s been quite a brouhaha recently over the President of Harvard’s remarks that the reason there’s no parity between men and women among science faculty at his university (or indeed, at most institutions of higher education) is likely due to innate differences in the brain between genders. Following the obvious outrage that ensued, he apologized backhandedly on several occasions, but the furor continues. The president has his defendants, people that say the PC police are out to get him, that a person has to sublimate what’s scientifically been proven for what doesn’t hurt people’s feelings in mixed company and that this sublimation is wrong. These defenders, as well as Lawrence Summers himself, miss the point. It’s not that people are offended at the suggestion that men and women are intrinsically different, even to the nuts and bolts level of brain differences. Most of us are willing to accept that these differences likely exist. Women may tend to have a thicker corpus callosum (though the 1982 study that proposed that, by Christine De Lacoste-Utamsing and Ralph L. Holloway, has not been successfully replicated), while men have larger brains overall (at least when not adjusted for the relative size difference between men and women). Girls usually attain linguistic skills earlier than boys. Boys can turn three dimensional objects in their head faster than girls, and there may be a link between testosterone levels and this ability. Boys can be trained to have a high degree of linguistic skills and equal girls’ supposed natural ability, while girls can be helped to compensate for the gender-given spatial disadvantage through practice (by doing things like playing video games, interestingly enough). There’s also some evidence that shows that the distribution curve for girls and IQ has a large number of girls clustered right around the median IQ (100), so that the bell curve for girls is high and tall. Less of us are autistic or otherwise seriously mentally handicapped, and less of us are intellectual giants as well. Not that IQ has been proven to measure intellectual breadth and life potential (or ability to be a first rate educator at a prime university, for that matter). Boy scores, on the other hand, fall all over the map. They dot the bell curve on out as far as it will stretch, wide and flat, and thus populate the extremes more heavily than girls can hope to. All of these are things we know, having discovered them through rigorous scientific study. What we don’t know, necessarily, is what these things mean. A child’s brain is different than an adult’s, so getting from here to there does not exclude the nature vs. nurture question when it comes to potential gender differences, even as early as elementary school. And how substantial are these differences? Is using both hemispheres of the brain when decoding language really that different than using only one hemisphere? Are these differences really fundamental, or are they interesting but ultimately insignificantly different approaches to thought, like the brain functioning differences between, say, right-handed and left-handed folks? We don’t know any of these things, yet. So what’s especially offensive and discouraging about the university president’s remarks is not that he notes these possible differences, but that he makes the leap that this explains the lack of women among his own faculty. Given such an inevitable explanation, there’s no point in trying to change things, you see? And that position is both unfortunate and dangerous. It also happens to neatly sidestep the pink elephant in the room, the more than obvious explanation, the one we all know is true. Social gender bias is responsible for the lack of parity in men and women faculty in the sciences. This bias is everywhere, it’s endemic, and it exists equally in men and women. This gender bias works against both men and women. It holds women back from attaining high ranks in all kinds of fields (not just academia and not just science) and it holds men who decide to be homemakers (or want sole custody of their children in a divorce) in social disapproval. Everyone knows this, and to not acknowledge it is outrageous and deserves condemnation.

Think bias is a thing of the past? Ok, let’s do a little gedanken experiment, shall we? Close your eyes, and picture a scientist at work in a research laboratory. Did you get Marie Curie or Albert Einstein? I’m betting you got a white middle-aged guy in a lab coat standing over chemical compounds and a bunsen burner, or possibly hunched over a complex computer model of a distant galaxy. You probably didn’t picture a vivacious young girl with sparkling eyes and lipstick. Even though I’ve given you a whole paragraph to think about gender bias, your own and that of others, you probably still pulled up that guy in the lab coat. Don’t feel bad about that. So did I. The thing about biases is not that having the bias makes you a bad person in some way. In many cases it’s just the product of a lifetime of conditioning. The problem arises when there’s a failure to acknowledge that the bias exists. Failure to acknowledge society’s biases means you will never overcome them. You can’t compensate for something you don’t admit is a factor. And the worst part about this is that if women’s brains do turn out to be different than men’s and they do think about problems and solve them in different ways then we desperately need women in those laboratories right next to the men, giving their potential solutions to the questions we are all trying to answer.

This brings me to the real point of my story, which is anecdotal, but especially meaningful to me in the context of this discussion. Last weekend we took Sophia to the Science Center here in St. Louis. We’ve been very excited about the number of wonderful educational things for Sophia to see and explore. There’s all sorts of great cultural opportunities that were simply not available to her where we used to live. As you probably know, because I’ve written about it, Sophia has an age appropriate and completely commonplace fascination with dinosaurs. We encourage it, and she has started to assimilate all sorts of facts about them: whether they are carnivorous or not, their names, what they look like, distinguishing features, etc. It’s really delightful to talk with her about these things. It’s true that she plays dinosaurs going to the ball, and dinosaurs coming over to play with the horsies, which is probably not the same sort of play boys engage in with their dinosaurs, but she is still absorbing all the salient facts (the carnivores often crash the party and scare the others off, for example). It’s all good, as they say. At any rate, we went to the Science Center, which is – astonishingly – free (though parking is seven dollars) and had the best sort of time. There’s a life-size animatronic display of a T. Rex and wounded Triceratops which I’ve been told many children are afraid of but which Sophia worked up her courage to go right up to and observe for a long time. She’s still periodically talking about how the T. Rex had clawed the Triceratops and how the Triceratops was hurt. It made quite an impression on her. A woman had set up a display nearby with different skulls, probably intended for older children, but Sophia listened very closely as she explained which belonged to dinosaurs and which were present day animals, and pointed out similarities and differences between the different skulls. Sophia was fascinated by the whole thing, and truly enjoyed touching the different skulls. Then, we moved into a darkened room with a sophisticated diorama of ancient St. Louis, complete with models of the ocean animals that were present here when this area was under water millions of years ago. A man was there, either a volunteer or an employee of the Science Center, and as we walked up he was talking to a boy whom I’m pretty sure was almost exactly Sophia’s age. He was a bit physically larger than she was and a bit less verbal than she, which is how I’m deciding they were close in age. The man was talking about the display to the boy, and telling him, particularly, about trilobites. Then he reached into his vest – he had one of those fishing vests with the seventy tiny pockets all over – and pulled out a trilobite fossil, which he handed to the boy so that he could see it. He talked about how it was unusual because it was curled up, and most fossils of trilobites are found flat and opened. Sophia edged up real close, and actually placed herself between the boy and the man, looking at the item and listening curiously. The boy set the item down on the display, and the man promptly picked it up without letting Sophia so much as touch it, and tucked it back into his pocket. Then he went on to pull a small nautilus fossil out of another pocket. I thought to myself, “Oh, he’ll give Sophia a chance to see this one, he was just intending to take turns. Don’t jump to conclusions.” As you have probably guessed, from reading the leading paragraphs, he did no such thing. He reached over her, completely ignoring her and her rather obvious interest, placing that second item too next to the boy and taking it back up from him when the child showed little motivation to touch the beautiful thing, again without giving Sophia any chance at all with it. I needn’t tell you, I suppose, that I was furious. I did nothing, because I thought it was important not to show my fury, but I ran through all the possible things I could have done in my mind. Would complaining to someone have changed that man’s attitude? No, probably just made him resentful and even more determined to exclude girls from his show and tell. I prompted Sophia to ask the man for the fossils directly, because I figured he couldn’t refuse a direct request from an interested child, but she was too shy to. I couldn’t blame her for being reluctant, walking right up to the man and watching everything he did should have been signal enough that she wanted a chance at touching the fossils. I don’t know what I could have done to improve matters for her, but I saw a thousand things I might have done that would not have helped and most of them would have been counter-productive, so I elected to let it go and not attract her attention to the obvious slight. Making a big deal out of it, too, could have imprinted something negative on her and I wanted the experience overall to be positive. What can I do? I don’t want her to grow up in a world where her clear interest is shunned in a place that is supposed to be specifically designed to be safe and welcoming to children and their scientific inquiry. I have no power at all to change the world. I can only compensate, compensate, compensate at home, filling in her interest with my limited knowledge, and my even fewer – as of this moment, none – fossils. Still, it makes me despair a little, because I want her to have all the open doors and get to pick one, instead of being faced with a series of closed doors she has to break through. It makes me sad that this fight still has to be fought, and it makes me sad that I can’t fight that fight for her. Ultimately, she has to make her own way. But she is so young and small, yet, and the deck seems – when things like this happen – stacked against her.


iTunes says I was listening to Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved) (feat. JC Chasez) from the album “Emotional Technology” by BT when I posted this. I have it rated 3 stars.

Continue reading

In: Sophia | Tags:

26 Mar 2004, by

Earlier this week Sophia noticed that she doesn’t say “oatmeal” correctly. She has always called it “opieomie”. I have always thought this was incredibly cute, and as per all the child rearing literature, we rarely if ever correct her grammar or pronunciation (supposedly over-correcting your child’s pronunciation is one of the causes of stuttering). Kurt asked her if she wanted oatmeal, and she paused before she answered “Yes! Oatmeopie.” She pronounced each syllable slowly, listening to herself, and frowning when she realized that even though she’d adjusted her pronunciation she wasn’t saying the same thing Daddy was.

Soon she’ll be saying it exactly right. Just like when she stopped calling herself “Sophis” and quit talking about her “banglet”, it makes me somber and dejected, for reasons I cannot understand.

Continue reading

25 Mar 2004, by

I’ve been mad busy lately. All my Thursday time (and any
other pocket of time I happen to have) has gone into trying to get the house really truly straightened up as it should be before the baby gets here. If I’m going to be at home eight weeks with little sleep and a crying infant, I need to be able to see order around me or I’ll break down and go postal. So all the long list of things that needed doing with the house are very slowly getting done. The termite infested tree was cut out of the yard, the kitchen’s been completely organized and my rolltop desk is now usable there (it used to be a convenient holding place for junk, because you could hide it by rolling the top shut. There’s now a place not the kitchen table for incoming mail and another place (also not the kitchen table) for outgoing mail. Order. Peace of mind. Progress is being made, but there’s still so much to be done, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get to it before the baby comes. I’ve got about 5 weeks (give or take, of course) left and my energy is really dwindling. I get home every day after work pretty much beat, with aching feet and a desire to fall into bed above all else. Needless to say I make myself do the things that need doing instead, but that doesn’t last long. I become useless pretty quickly as I get tireder and my body starts rewarding me with aches and pains for pushing it. Hope that explains my sporadic appearance on the blog a bit. Apologies to those who would like more regular updates about
how my pregnancy is going (overall fine), or those who long
for the lovely little stories about all the things Sophia is
doing these days.

Which brings me to this. Sophia is truly a wonderful,
amazing child. I’m sure this is a thing all parents say, and I’m sure that all children are intrinsically amazing in some way or another. I have been watching her so closely lately, partly because we’re trying to get some things accomplished with her (like potty training. It is time!) and partly because she’s changing and growing so quickly and partly because I have some concerns that I won’t have the freedom to soak her in the way I can now when there’s two of them and she gets more independent and private. At any rate, she’s really incredible in so many ways. It’s hard for me to distinguish, sometimes, what is just a developmental stage for her – something that all children do
and go through – and what things are just parts of her personality beginning to shine through.

So, given my penchant for making lists, I thought that today I’d make a list of all the things I cherish about Sophia. Not all the things I like about her are necessarily positive or permanent. Some of them will be phases of the almost three child that she is. Still, I want to know, and remember, and be conscious of what they are, if only for today.

And so, things about Sophia that rock my world:

  • How independent she is. I know that some people thought we coddled her too much as an infant. We held her constantly, we gave her lots and lots of attention and physical affection and closeness. I let her nurse for longer than I had anticipated I would, for example. And sometimes we worried that we were creating a child that would be clingy and needy. She walked late (still within the normal range, of course, but towards the latter part of that) and she often demanded help for things we felt sure she could do on her own, and we gave it. It seemed counterintuitive sometimes but we stuck to giving her aid
    whenever she asked or acted like she needed it, as much of the literature recommends. The theory goes that by showing your kid that she can count on you, you actually foster a stronger sense of self and independence. And whether because the theory has merit or by luck or accident or despite our overflow of assistance and attention, she is now an almost maddeningly independent child. She is unafraid of the world, and loves to explore. She wants to do everything “all by myself”. We encourage her and cheer her on, and are ridiculously proud of her ability to put on her own socks, climb into and out of her own car seat, bring her own dishes to the table for meals and then clear them away when she’s done, pick up her own toys, wipe her own nose, brush her own teeth, feed the cats, and a million other little tasks that seem trivial but are a lot of work for someone not quite three.

  • How she invents songs. I noticed this about two weeks ago, maybe three, but Sophia is actually making up her own songs now. Usually wordless little ditties, you can hear her singing to herself as she plays, with nonsense syllables like “deedeedee” or “dallydally” . She likes to sing songs she knows, as well, of course, like all children, but it’s most charming when she just makes things up. It makes me think that there are songs blooming in her head, just waiting to come out and be expressed. I have asked other people if their children do this, and several have told me that they do not, so I think this might not be a universal quality, which makes me cherish it in her all the more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she’s a prodigy or a musical genius or anything like that. Clearly, she’s not,
    but I relish her interest in music and her inventiveness

  • How much she enjoys animals. She’s not only crazy about our pets, but also about fishes and birds and bugs of every shape and size. I find it so fascinating that she’s always preferred stuffed animals to human dolls of any type. She cuddles her tiger and her moose constantly, and often doesn’t want to go anywhere without “one of my animals” but the only baby doll she has lies forgotten in the closet for weeks at a time, until she takes it out for 10 minutes, feeds it a bottle, then forgets it again. “Look, mama, it’s a bird! It’s flying to its nestes!” or “Look mama, it’s a squirrel!”. She watches the world of living things around her with complete fascination. When I come to the house in the afternoon and Sergei comes running to greet me, she
    says “It’s your best friend, Sergei!”. When she has imaginary phone conversations, she updates the invisible listener on all the pets: their names, colors, and locations. We tell her our pets are part of the family, and I think she senses that this is a special and treasured relationship. She’s crazy about the fish at the Natural Science Museum, spent 20 minutes or more in front of the otter tank at the New Orleans aquarium when we went there last year, is willing to touch worms and frogs and horses with equal delight. I very much want her to feel she is part and parcel of the natural world, and I think she does. This makes me very happy indeed. I find very few things make me more content than to sit on the couch and watch her and our dog chase each other around the living room, her laughing continuously and he looking just slightly puzzled but playing along, with his tail waving high like a flag.

  • How sweet natured she is. She is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a perfect child, and thank goodness for that, for how unsuited would we be as completely imperfect parents if she were? However, she is a very good child and really does want to please, to fit in, to participate and enjoy life. She can be so completely enthusiastic about the most commonplace activities that it’s infectious and refreshing. How would she like to go for a walk? “That’s a terrific idea!” she exclaims, jumping up and down with excitement and an eager light in her eyes. “I like raisins,” she’ll say with a gracious smile when I offer her a box. I’ll thank her for being still while I’ve combed her hair and she’ll make the “You’re welcome” sign and shout “You’re welcome!” like she’s genuinely pleased to have
    accomodated me. If I ask her to say hello to someone she almost always does so, even if she’s feeling a bit shy and can only manage to wave at them instead of saying anything. She may throw tantrums and cry and get upset, like all children sometimes do, but she can also come up to you, hug you and say “I love you,” completely unprompted. On the whole, she’d much rather be cheerful and happy, and she’d much rather you be cheerful and happy as well. Nine times out of ten her report from daycare has the word “happy” circled next to her disposition for that day. On a day two weeks ago when she was having a (very unusual) terrible day and actually spit (yes, spit! we were horrified!) at one of her teachers the teacher found the behavior so unlike her that she took her temperature to make sure she wasn’t sick.
    People are constantly telling us how sweet she is, how easy to get along with, how pleasant and tractable. To me, these
    qualities are worth more than 100 IQ points and all the child prodigy abilities in the universe. As far as I’m concerned, having a good nature will take her much farther in the world and in a generally more pleasant way than any amount of smarts or unique talents.

  • How much she loves books. Whether it’s library books or
    her own, she truly is infatuated with books. This, of course, is something I’ve tried very hard to foster, and was very important to me. Sometimes the things we want for our kids are destined not to be. Knowing this, I feel especially lucky witnessing her love for books which rivals mine and my husband’s. She loves to be read to, but she also loves to look at books on her own. We have found ways to spark her interest about topics and ways to follow her existing interests through books. She amazes and surprises me with her preferences. Often at the library I pick four books, thinking to myself: ok, this is a hit, this is a maybe, this probably won’t do anything for her and I need a letter or number or colors book. Often I am right in my
    prediction of which book she’ll enjoy the most (she is my
    daughter after all, I do know a thing or two about
    her) but more astonishing, I’m often completely off base about her favorites. It’s like an ongoing revelation of her
    interests, her dislikes and her preferences – a tiny window
    into her psyche. It’s also delightful to watch her reacquaint herself with books she hasn’t seen or read in a while. Recently, we’ve gone back to the book Aunt Kelly had given her about the Orsay museum. You can tell she remembers this book from our numerous previous readings, even though she hasn’t seen it in months. When we rediscovered Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb a few weeks ago she went around reciting it for days. It’s fun, too, to start reading and stop before dialog or other critical phrases and let her fill them in. For the last week she has asked my husband to read her night time story. This has been something that I have almost always done, and it’s both sweet and heartbreaking to have her say she’d rather her Daddy read it to her than me. In some ways, it will probably make things easier when the baby is here if he does it, but it was also a special time that we used to share that may now be mostly over. And yet, I get to watch her sit with him and go through the routine with me as an observer instead of a participant, and that too has its own joy. She’s all about being the page turner now, and you have to tell her when you’re done so that she can turn the page. Sometimes, she’ll look at you and say “Did you read the whole fing?” to make sure she’s not missing out. For a while she would say “Talk to the book” meaning read it, which was kind of cute, but she’s mostly stopped doing that lately. But yes, I think we have successfully instilled a love for books that with any luck will last a lifetime and will nourish her through many phases of her existence. We are so pleased by that.

  • Her growing sense of empathy. If you tell her you’ve been hurt she wants to kiss it and make it better. If you say something makes you sad, she frowns and tells you “You don’t have to be sad. You can be happy!” If you tell her you are happy she jumps and exclaims “Hooray!”. If you tell her you like something she’ll say “I like it, too!” although only if she actually does like said thing. I know this is an important developmental stage that all children go through, but sometimes in my every day adult life I wonder whether people forget how to have empathy with others. When I see Sophia putting herself in other people’s shoes, thinking about their feelings and expressing concern for those around her, it makes me pleased and proud of her, not just as my child, but more importantly, as a human being.

  • How she loves to color and paint and play with playdoh. This is another one of those things that I’ve asked other people about and doesn’t seem to apply equally to all children, but Sophia loves to draw and color and paint. She can sit for 20 or 30 minutes with a paper and some paints. She gets a kick out of playdoh. She likes to draw on herself and on her papers. Watching her with paints is like watching someone at the beach for the first time. She squeezes the paint between her fingers, mixes the colors together with intense concentration, sometimes announcing the result, “It’s brown!” and alternately piles the paint on in thick globs and smooths it out into tiny swirls of flattened color. Sometimes when she paints I know I’ll get a half hour to do my own thing and I try to get tasks done like fixing dinner or sorting the mail or paying the bills. Often I just sit there and watch her, though. I can’t help but wonder how many children in the world would take the same fierce delight in painting but for whatever reason may never get the opportunity to try it, whether it be for lack of funds and resources to paint with, or because it never occurs to their parents to try this with their children or because the children are in circumstances where painting is just not feasible or allowable. Then I wonder what other things Sophia would enjoy just as much as this if I were to provide her the opportunity to engage in them but am not currently doing so because I’m not thinking about these other unnamed and unthought activities as something that might interest her or be appropriate to her age. At the same time, with the same breath, I wonder whether she knows how lucky she is, how many opportunites we do provide her, out of love and interest and a desire to see her fulfill herself as a human being, that other children just as lovely and deserving as she is will never

  • How verbal she is. She speaks more clearly and with a
    greater number of words than almost every other child her age that we know. She hasn’t memorized any dictionaries, but we are nonetheless very pleased with how much she can talk. She uses almost every part of speech, and almost every part of speech correctly. She describes things with adjectives, colors her speech with interjections, names things and people, and tells me what is happening to them, with them or about them. I don’t know if the time we spent signing with her is responsible for this, or whether our constant use of words to describe everything we did around her before she could utter a syllable accounts for it or if it’s just luck or genetics. I’m a highly verbal person and communication is something vital to me. I have tried to give Sophia all the words she needs to tell us about her wishes, her desires, her discomforts and her needs. I’m delighted when she asks me to go away so she can play by
    herself, and not just for the alone time it grants us both, but because she is able to state her needs clearly to me. She can tell me what she prefers to eat, whether she wants to wear the pink jacket or the yellow one, what she doesn’t like, when to hug and hold her and when to leave her alone. If I ask a question, she can usually answer it. And she volunteers so much about herself and the world around her. It’s so much easier to help her and so much more fun to hang out with her now that we can have conversations. Although most of our talk still falls in the realm of knowledge based information, identifying things and talking about their qualities, there’s still moments of free-thinking and speculation, when I ask her why she thinks something happens, or ask her to predict what she thinks will happen, or ask her to imagine what might happen. We talk, for example, about what show might be showing on television
    when we get to daycare. She might say “I think it’s gonna be Aristocats!” and I say that it may be that, or it might be something else. It’s so much fun to see her draw parallels between relationships. “Look at all those cars,” she observes as we pull into busy traffic. Yes, where do you think all those people are going in all those cars? “To their houses!” or “To the grocery store!”. One of these days she may say “To the moon!” and I’ll reply, “Maybe so.” And smile.

  • How strong her sense of order and patterns is. She is, at heart, a neat child. She likes to pick up and put things away where they belong. She likes to group similar objects and lay them out in patterns or together. This innate desire for order seems to me a very positive thing, like a sign of an ordered mind. Some theories of childrearing say that all kids have this natural sense of order, and that they flourish in an environment where they are allowed to express this aspect of themselves. I don’t know about other kids, and it is true that Sophia often delights in making messes and disorders, but by far her sense of peace when things are placed where they belong and her confidence at being able to find things when they are put away and her willingness to clean up after herself predominate over the occasional desires on her part to make a huge mess. Even
    though we often have to do a great deal of picking up after her, it still makes our lives easier that she prefers order and that she is so willing to help.

She’s everything we ever could have hoped for in a child. We are beyond fortunate to have her be a part of our life. And surely, even her most diehard fan cannot complain now that I’ve written such a long entry all about her.

Continue reading

This morning as I was fastening the belt on Sophia’s car seat she was singing “Polly Wolly Doodle” or the portion of that which she knows, which is the chorus. When she had run through it a couple of times and stopped, I casually observed,
“We like music, don’t we?”

Contrarian as she is, she immediately replied, “No. We don’t like music.”

“Well, I like music,”I amended.

“No!” she insisted,”You don’t like music!”

I raised my eyebrows, “I don’t?”

“You don’t like music,” she affirmed confidently.

“Well, if I don’t like music, then what do I like?”

“You like pancakes!”

“Yes. Yes I do. I like pancakes.”

“You like pancakes in Sophia’s room.”

This refers to a game we play with her dishes, wherein she declares it to be “foodtime”, goes into her closet and pulls out all her toy dishes and serves you “pancakes for dinner” and tea. I don’t know why it’s always pancakes for dinner. Once, around Thanksgiving of last year, she served turkey sushi, and once a couple of weeks ago she served king cake, but nine times out of ten it’s pancakes, even if you ask for something else.

“I like to have pancakes for dinner in Sophia’s room. I also like to eat pancakes at the restaurant,” I tell her, trying to jog her memory about going out for breakfast last weekend.

“Noooooo, no pancakes at the restaurant! At the restaurant we have jello!”

Her memory had been jogged alright, but instead of to last weekend she was remembering Wednesday night, when we went to the Chinese place and they brought her a big plate of jello after her meal. She was, as usual, absolutely right.

“That’s true,”I conceded,”We eat jello at the restaurant.”

Continue reading

22 Jan 2004, by

My mom tells this story of me when I was little. I think it’s supposed to be an indication of how precocious I was as a child. I was in nursery school, I think, though possibly at a relative’s or friend’s home instead. This conversation follows, between me and an adult in charge of me at the time (paraphrased, of course):

“Oh look at that lovely bird. You see it? It’s a redbird.”

Adult points to bird out window. I look.

“That’s not a redbird,”I say authoritatively,”It’s a cardinal.”

And it was.

That sets the stage for the following like mother like daughter story. A couple of days ago in daycare, it was reported to my husband that much to everyone’s amusement, Sophia had the following conversation with Ms. Leona:

“Oh look at these reindeer!”

Ms. Leona points to two new toys, Rutt and Tuke, from the movie Brother Bear. Sophia takes the toys.

“These aren’t reindeer,” she informs Ms. Leona,”They’re mooooooooooooose.”

Continue reading

19 Jan 2004, by

I have a very long list of things I’d like to say about Sophia, most of which will probably never get said, so I’m going to tell you three things right now that I think are worth mentioning, instead of waiting for the right time or the right order or the right mood to strike me.

In the mornings, when Sophia climbs into bed with me, as she did this morning, she almost always has things to say. She brings friends too. At least one of her stuffed animals, and, more frequently, as many as she can carry. This morning I said to her,”Boy you have a lot of animals,” and she said, “Yeah, help me with them.” I put the animals in the bed then helped her climb in and get under the covers. She said “Here’s your Lucky,” and handed me the dalmation that Aunt Kelly had given her when we went to Europe. She told me he was soft, and so I petted him. Then she told me he was white and black which is, according to her, “kinda like Rorschach.” As if on cue, Rorschach strolled by and she said, excitedly, “Look! He’s right there! I see his tail!”

Later today, when she came home from daycare she brought me a heart shaped cutout with a handprint, presumably hers, in the middle. I guess this is a Valentine’s Day craft of some type or another. She handed it to me with a joyous exuberance. “Look, look, I made that! I made that for you, mama!” And I told her it was lovely and I liked it very much and it looked like a heart. “I made that,” she repeated, standing next to me and placing her hand over the handprint exactly. “It’s a Blue’s Clues pawprint,” she informed me, just in case I might not know its nature. I nodded solemnly. She calls all handprints ‘Blue’s Clues pawprints’. In fact, when we were in Michigan and she was walking outside in the snow (which was a thing unto itself that I should really write about in detail at some point) she looked back at her tracks and told me she’d made pawprints. I corrected her and told her that, actually, we called those footprints. She nodded sagely and walked a little further, then turned and shouted,”Mama, I made footpawprints!”.

During the day, Sophia will allow you to read any number of books to her, though she might want a particular one read several times in a row. At night, however, she tends to ask for the same book for weeks at a time, usually until I put it up in the closet and pull out a different one in its stead. Dr. Seuss enjoys particularly long runs in this way. Aunt Kelly had given her A Hatful of Seuss a while back and we’ve been on two “Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book” kicks and at least three “Horton Hears a Who” kicks since we started the night time reading routine. I tried “Sneetches” on her too, but she never seemed to hip to it. Lately, however, she’s been absolutely immersed in “If I Ran the Zoo”. I’m not as familiar with this story as with some of the others. I’m not at all sure what she sees in it, either. Even so, every night I ask her which story she wants to read and she says,”This one. Past the zoo.” and to make sure I’m not confused she points to the small graphic of the appropriate book on the cover. And so, we read “Past the zoo”.

Continue reading

Powered by WordPress