Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes...My Baby Can Read

As I drove the children to school this morning it was hard to concentrate on the road. My daughter pulled her book from her book bag and told me she was going to start reading at page 18 where we'd left off the night before. After telling her she needed only to read the first story starting at page one, she found the start of the story, corrected me and told me it began on page 7 and then she started reading about Henry, his dog Mudge, and the picnic lunch they had in the park. This morning as I listened to her she was reading with a different boldness. It wasn't because she knew all the words and could read it effortlessly -- she would try the words that she didn't know first, then spell them to me to help her fill in the blanks. But, as she read this morning I knew that she understood what she was reading. In the last week or so she has just begun to associate the words in the story to real meaning. So I listened to her stumble over "picnic", shout out Mudge, and laugh when she asked me about a "ginger snap". I was so proud of her and also aware that her brother, who never stops talking, was quietly and patiently listening to his sister as she read.

Riding in the car with my kids to school has become the favorite part of my day second only to when I pick them up after school and they run to me and begin telling me about their day. Or maybe my favorite part is waking them up and hearing the princess say, "Mom, oh my gosh I'm too sleepy," while the handsome prince, tells me to look outside, "Mom the sun is not up." He also uses the sun is not down line when I tell him it's time to go to bed. I don't know maybe my favorite time is sitting around the dinner table and them telling me about their day, what they want to do during the week, or sharing a story about Ethiopia. No, it's definitely when I put them to bed and we go through the same routine every night. Dinner, shower, pajamas, TV (maybe), 7:45 goodnight. People have asked me how I get my kids to go to bed so early and we've come up with a system that really works for us. We usually eat dinner around 5:30 or 6. After dinner my children know that if they want anything, a special treat or a chance at watching TV they have to be showered (with soap), have their pajamas on and be in their rooms.

My son runs from the table to take a shower everynight. The gentle princess typically takes her time eating and just moves at a slower pace. She will try to wiggle out of the shower or try to negotiate but ends up not far behind her brother. They are usually in separate bathrooms showering or bubble bathing at the same time. They each scream for me to come and sit with them so they can talk to me about how many times they've lathered up, asking questioned about how near finished the other is. I run back and forth between them until I hear one scream, "Mom, T-O-W-E-L!" That's my job. I am the towel lady. Since the day that my children arrived they have not needed me to help them or monitor them taking a shower. They are capable of adjusting the temperature, deciding if they want a bath or shower, stopping up the tub and draining it when they are through. However; they both love for me to hold out the towel, help them from the tub, wrap them in their towels and hug them as I dry them off. It's in this sweet loving embrace that they whisper in my ear. "Mom, TV?" "Mom is Meron finished?" "Mom, ice cream (juice, special treat)". The always end up giggling, hugging me tight, kissing me on the cheek and telling me that they love me. Mmmm....maybe this is really my favorite time of the day with them.

Anyway, all cleaned up, most nights they are running for their beds between 7:00 and 7:15. That's when the negotiations begin. No matter what time they hit the bed the TV goes off at 7:45 after a 10 minute warning. First negotiation is what to watch. I-Carly vs. Sponge Bob oh my but the princess will usually give in because she understands that the clock is ticking and any TV is better than none at all. Or we could watch a few minutes of one of three favorite movies: Shark Tales AKA Jelly Fish; Pinnochio AKA Father, Father; or The Emperors New Grove affectionately known around my house as, "What's Your Name?" Don't even ask but they have giving movies and songs their own names I even speak the language. My son does understand that watching a movie means they will not see the end and he tries to plead his case up front. Somehow they work it out every night, they watch, and the mommy walks in at 7:45 and they say in unison, "TV off?" Yes. "Awwh Mom...okay." Because they have learned that too much protest means NO TV the next day or even longer. They get under their covers stretch out their arms for hugs, the princess arranges all of her babies and stuffed animals under the covers with her and after hugging me, exchanging I love yous, she covers her head for sleep. The handsome prince always calls for me to come and lay next to him so he can look in my eyes. That's when he does things like count the moles on my face and tell me that's where God has kissed me. He tries to come up with many reasons for me not to go but after about five minutes will say, "Go mom, see you tomorrow." That's definitely my favorite part of the day.

Still, mornings aren't bad either. I decided early on that I didn't want to be the screaming mother in the mother so I go in and gently rub my children on the back telling them to wake up. My son the entertainer likes to imitate by using a soft voice and saying, "Good morning babies, wake up." It doesn't usually take much more than that to have them sitting on the edge of their beds. I go downstairs to start breakfast and before long they make their way down announcing that they have already washed their hands with SOAP. Our goal is to be dressed and out the door by 7:30AM and most days we make it. In the car we practice spelling words, saying bible verses that Meron needs to learn for the week, or taking turns picking our favorite CD selection. They will ask me when we get in whose turn it is to pick and then we usually listen to their choice or Marvin Sapp or Martha Munizzi. I've really tried to play other things but these are their favorites. I'm usually smiling all the way hearing them sing the words to songs and even getting some of them right. But this morning, nobody asked whose turn it was. We pulled out of the driveway with Meron saying, "I trust...Mommy you say it." Her bible verse this week is "I trust in you O Lord, I say you are my God." I said it but she cut me off to say it herself. The handsome prince also says it and is learning right along with her. Then she said asked me if I wanted her to read her book.

When she pulled the book out and started to read, I just kept thinking back to the second day of school when her teacher met me at the door and told me that my newly immigrated, limited English speaking daughter with little formal education did not read well in class "today". I was surprised that she was surprised since I was shocked, stunned and amazed that my six year old baby was reading at all. I wanted to tell the teacher that if my sweet Princes on day TWO could do all the things that the other kids her age could do that would suggest that she was far more advanced than her peers. The teacher asked me again that day if I wanted to consider putting her in first grade and again I declined. What I knew was that as my daughter developed more language skills that her ability to read would catch up. So, I didn't stress over trying to make her read the 62 page Frog and Toad book. I accepted that it may take two to three books before she would be able to read out loud in class. Well, we are in the fourth week of school and Henry and Mudge are book two. This morning I saw and heard that by the time this book is finished not only will she be reading it well aloud, she will also understand what it is that she is reading.

I was listening to her just amazed and proud and humbled and thankful beyond belief. Everyday I realize that somehow I was given the honor of mothering two of the most precious children ever. Every moment with them is special to me.


Robbin Hopkins said...

great post. MR is bright like her name sake. Love your writing and miss it so much!!`

Debbie said...

I warms my heart to hear how well your kids are doing.

Monica Lidya's Mom said...

That was a beautiful post! I agree it is really hard to pick a favorite part of the day, they are all so great.

Glad your daughter is just taking off. She sounds like my favorite kind of kid a bookworm in training :-).

Tami said...

Ahhhh...VW....I love you! Great post!

Bennett said...

Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed this post

kristine said...

i'm happy reading along just enjoying the morning the afternoon, the dinner, showers, bedtime. and then i have to end up crying with you and the teacher and the princess.

children need parents to be their advocates. what if you had said yes to first grade. how come i could spend only a couple of hours with her and i knew she and quinn would not belong in the same class?

i'm so happy for all three of you!!! this is a beautiful beautiful post! i love your little man telling you to look out the window!

Single PAP said...

love all the details! what a blessing your children are!

waitingarms said...

Love the updates on the kiddos and I just love, love, love your daily routines. Cheering you along as you raise wonderful children!

p.s. are you still selling any of the AA dolls?

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]