Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Do I Teach That?

One of my favorite parts of the day is from about 3:30 - 4:00 ... getting the kids home from school.  We live about an eighth of a mile from the kids' school and we have made the habit of walking up in the morning (as long as the weather is good and it's not a MOPS morning) and walking home in the afternoon (again, as long as the weather is good).  We have a double stroller that we got when Norah was born (thanks, Dad & Mom Kellum ... it's the only way I ever got out of the house when the big ones were little!!) and we load it up with the two little girls, some water bottles, and a few snacks before heading out.  There is a pretty good hill up to the school, so it's a bit of a work-out for Mommy, too - especially as the girls get bigger.  There have been a few times I was convinced that they girls had loaded their pockets with rocks before we left!  Huff and puff! :)  I figure if I walk the kids to and from school, I'm getting an extra 3 miles a day into my exercise plan ... and every little bit helps!!  But that's not why I like this time of day.

The real reason I love it so is because I get to be the first to see my kids after they have been gone all day!  I get to see their smiles if it has been a good day and I get to give them a squeeze if it was a little rough.  Also, we have about 10-15 minutes (depending upon how pokey we feel) to re-connect and fill each other in on the morning and afternoon, before they get distracted by buddies, homework, after-school activities or screen time.  This bonding time doesn't typically happen in the van because it's too quick and we can't look each other in the eye ... at least not while at the same time driving safely!

Anyway, it was just one such after-school walk that got us talking about a new big-kid challenge.  Norah informed me that in the 2nd grade music class they were learning a song that required the boys to learn to whistle.  Fortunately, the girls just have to sing:  tra-la-la-la! :)  This discussion, however, has inspired the kids to learn to whistle and we have had a lot of drooly, spitty, noisy practices.  Which, of course, reminds me of one of my favorite characters from Madagascar 2 ... King Julien.  He cracks me up!  Here is a little scene that comes up rather regularly in our home:

Ha!  "I want to become a world famous whistler!"  Such aspirations! :)

This challenge, learning to whistle, has brought to mind several other skills and abilities that I have found difficult to teach.  We have had several focused and determined training times at the kitchen table ... learning to blow a bubble.  The conversation goes a little something like this:

Me ~ First you have to chew the gum until it's really soft.
Them ~ Like this?
Me ~ Well, keep it in your mouth, but, yes.  Keep chewing.
Them ~ My mouth is tired.  Is it soft yet?
Me ~ It's getting there, but you have to keep it in your mouth.
Them ~ chew, chew, chew ... How about now?
Me ~ In. Your. Mouth. sigh ... Okay, ready?
Them ~ Yeah!  Oops ... It fell on the floor.  Can I get another piece?

Siiiighhhh ..... Eventually we get to the descriptions of needing to flatten the gum against the roof of your mouth and then pressing it against your teeth and finally starting a little stretched-out part with your tongue and then slowly and gently blowing a little air into that hole, but  ... we have yet to have a successful bubble.  We've had lots of gum shooting out of our mouths onto the table.  We've had a few pieces of gum with little pooches in them ... which then fall onto the floor due to our excitement.  We have had gum in someone else's hair (don't ask!) and we have had a few tears.  Who knew something as simple as blowing bubble gum would be so difficult?!?

And then there is the challenge of learning to snap.  I love the story of my little niece, Rebekah.  She was about 3 and was quoted as having said, "I can't snap, but I can button" which consisted of putting her pointer finger against her thumb and flicking it out.  That is definitely easier!  The only real consolation of learning to snap is that it requires no supplies, can be practiced anywhere and is not sticky, wet or messy.  Norah has been practicing to snap for about a year now and has accomplished a periodic snap, much to her delight!  Consequently, Ashley has been inspired to try and while she has the definite idea, she has been rather limited to muffled finger slides.  But again ... think for a moment about how to teach someone to snap.  And to think we have that phrase for something that is easy, "It's a snap" ... apparently you can't use that phrase until you are an accomplished snapper!

Being a parent is full of sticky situations and formidable feats ... I just never imagined that teaching my kids bubble blowing, whistling and snapping would be at the top of the list!

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