Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Power of Language

I attended an anti-bias workshop today, which restarted my thinking about language, the power of words, and when and from where we acquire their meanings. As someone who has fiercely protected and molded my kids' lives so far, I've been very intentional about addressing the issues of fairness, inequity, respect, acceptance, and difference. As a result, I get even more embarassed when my kids make a statement that I believe reflects poorly on me, or at least on the liberal, social justice side of me.

For instance, there was a Memorial Day period in which Raina was entranced by all the flags she saw. Suddenly, flags were her new favorite item to point out to me. We spent an afternoon walking down the Delmar Loop with my little daughter loudly demanding "I want see more FAGS, Mommy, more fags!" She, of course, could not pronounce the L's. I understood exactly what Raina was communicating but no one else did, so I received a fair amount of shocked and aghast looks that afternoon. I was nothing short of mortified.

Fast forward to Lola. Her first real word was "cracker" which for her meant a Triscuit or Wheat Thin, i.e., her favorite snack. However, no one at the Zoo had that background knowledge when Lola began shouting racially charged language at them. I never stopped my children from saying their words -- how do you explain to a two-years-old the nuanced history of race and/or sexual orientation in the States? -- but I was grateful when they gained more words so that their sentences had clear context for any bystander.

Two weeks ago, a cicada flew into my car and startled the crap out of me when I was driving. After I flung it out of the window, I said "Ugh! Those things are UGLY!" to which Raina replied, "What's ugly, Mom?" Raina, age 6, learned the word "ugly" that day and I don't know if I should be ashamed or thrilled that she learned it from me.

She and Lola know the power of words -- they see how overjoyed Eric and I are when they say "I love you so much!" -- and I sincerely worry about when they will be exposed to words that have the sole purpose of hurting someone else.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lola's Powerful Memory

Lola has quite the mimic's ear and she captures songs and books after just a few repetitions.  She frequently sits down with books, recites the words from the page, and "reads" to herself.  Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas, The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Horse in Harry's Room by Syd Hoff, Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney, and A Good Day by Kevin Henkes are regular "Lola reads."  We've had a fair number of parent reads on those, so it's no surprise that she can do them solo.  What's more impressive is that we read her a few library books two times and then she was reciting those too!  It's incredibly cute to watch, and she's so proud of herself each time.

Lola's ear also helps her with music.  Lola LOVES to sing and it's one of my fail-safe "Distract the child before she goes into total meltdown" strategies.  Her go-to songs are standard kid classics like "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," the ABC song, "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes," "Little Bumblebee," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "If you're happy and you know it," "Clean up!" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  Clearly she's getting those reinforced at daycare, but she's brought home some others that she belts out at frequent occasions.  There's a Halloween song that has all her classmates names in it, there's a Turkey song, a Days of the Week song, a Wash Your Hands song .... there's a pre-school song for every occasion!  The most impressive for me is that she sings a song about colors in Spanish -- the same one that Raina learned in JK and sang a few times around the house.  I can only presume Lola picked that song up from Raina and it means that Lola recites her colors in two languages.  "That block is gris, gray!" Lola told me today.  Yes, indeedy.

Lola joined the Two's daycare room in late December and she turned two in late February.  We were surprised (and pleased) that daycare moved her up early.  They are planning to move her into the Three's room in August, a full 5.5 months ahead of her actual third birthday.  The daycare teachers keep pointing out that she's super smart but more it's that she has a super memory.  Here's hoping that spelling words and multiplication facts stick just as easily for her!

Month in Review

The month of May, in review:
Lola received a medal for "Gym Bus" which is a mobile gymnastics program for little kids.  She LOVES Gym Bus Thursdays and wears her Gym Bus shirt and excitedly reports about her experience during the ride home. 
See the pride?  She slept with her medal as a lovey for weeks.

Whomptons wear hats all the time.  Raina and I have a matching pair.

Lola tried it out too. 

Raina and her best friend Isabel.  This play date had a disastrous middle, in which Raina and Isabel decided to cut their hair.  Raina trimmed a few pieces of hers, and Isabel cut out a massive chunk from hers.  They filled a basket full with hair.  Her parents were cool about the whole thing -- in fact her mom was thrilled that she was "acting like a normal kid" -- but I still hang my head in shame about it.  On the plus side, Isabel's new hair cut is really cute.

Lola tried to escape getting a bath, but Daddy is quicker and stronger!  He mightily tossed her over the shoulder and dumped her in the tub.

Tickles!  Giggles!  Daddy torments his girls.

Mommy, instead, calmly cuddles with her girls and their lovies. 

The Whomptons visited with lots of old friends (and their children) at Turtle Park.  Samantha, a former-Whompton-in-residence, now lives next to Turtle Park and happily joined in the fun.  Here are she and Lola on top of a massive turtle.  (Also, you can tell Samantha is a Whompton because she has a super cool hat!)

Raina climbed on top of the turtle's nose.  (Do turtles have snouts?)  It was really high up!

Fearless and headstrong Lola knew she could do whatever Raina could do.  She required spotting.

Raina, Lola, Addy, Kennedy, and Samantha claim turtle eggs for their very own.  They also happily rested in the shade.  100+ temps make the shade a wonderful place to be.