Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Looking at the Bright Side

Today, as I continue to try to convince myself that, if Sweetie's biggest school-related issues revolve around recess likes and dislikes, than we're/she's doing okay - I will focus my writing on something really GREAT about Sweetie.

Sweetie loves words. Reading, being read to, learning about (and using) puns and expressions, word games and puzzles, you name it. Sweetie is a little wordsmith.

The other night she woke up sobbing at 10:30 p.m. from a nightmare. Hubby and I tried to console her and finally got her back in bed, only for her to come running to us shortly thereafter because she still couldn't stop thinking about the bad thing.

Then I got an idea.

I know, Sweetie. Why don't you come up with me to my bed. I'll do a crossword puzzle in my book and you can watch. Would that make you feel better?

Her face lit up! Yes! That's a great idea, Mama. Good thinking.

I know Sweetie has loved cuddling in bed with me on the occasional morning she catches me awake before either of us is "supposed to" be up. She snuggles in and rests her head on my shoulder as she silently watches me solve my puzzles. Recognizing words along the way that she knows, silently sounding out other more challenging words, or simply watching as I fill in all the empty spaces with letters that, in the end, make one united board. She is fascinated.

After she watched me do just one puzzle the other night, she felt much better and calmer. She and I came to a resolution about how she could stop thinking about her bad thoughts. And she went off to bed for the rest of the night. No problem at all.

Sweetie - much like her father, Uncle Rob, and other scattered family members - is quite the punster. Every day there are at least a few things she says that she follows up with, "Get it? I said _____ but I meant _____." She also loves to employ various expressions she's learned. I think she's fascinated how certain combinations of words literally sound like they should mean one thing, but they really mean another.

Sweetie was at my parents' house after school this Monday. When I went to pick her up, she had a couple of new (old) books to bring home with her. Both were books from my childhood (one was from when my mom was a little girl!), and one of the two Sweetie especially loves - The King Who Rained. This  happened to be one of my favorite childhood books as well. The play on words throughout the text, accompanied by the funny pictures, is really a treat for anyone. Especially our curious little girl who is learning so much about the various ways words can be used to express lots of different things.

Speaking of books, Sweetie always wants to read - mostly she wants to read to us. Her most favorite books these days are Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words and The Alphabet From A to Y with Bonus Letter Z. Both of these books are filled with long, complicated words that - I can tell - Sweetie is oh so proud to be able to read herself. She also likes her growing collection of Eloise books. Those books are a real chore to read aloud, because little Eloise sure does love to talk! No such thing as economy of words for that one, let me tell ya. Must be why Sweetie can relate so much - she can't economize her language either!

Sweetie also is becoming quite the Scrabble player. She and I can actually sit down and play a real game of Scrabble with each other (no scoring going on, though - no need to worry about placing your words in the most points-worthy spaces quite yet), without my having to help her make words with her tiles. She also enjoys watching me play games like Text Twirl and Word Twist on Facebook - games, like Scrabble, where you're given a number of scrambled letters to unscramble into as many different words as you can. She's often been able to point out words to me that I can make that I didn't see on my own.

Another thing Sweetie often asks me to do is to "quiz" her by placing down 4 or 5 Quiddler cards in front of her for her to make into a proper word (I, of course, always pick out cards I know can all be used to make one word). 

Sweetie is a natural lover of learning. At Nana's house you are most likely to find her at the table, working in one of several workbooks she has there. In fact, there have been a number of times when I drop her off there, leave for a few hours, and return - only to find her in the exact same seat she was in when I left, still working on more and more activity pages.

As Hubby and I are both active readers - as well as being curious people who are always interested in learning new things - we are, of course, ecstatic to see these same traits rubbing off on Sweetie. She's going to do well throughout her educational career, we have no doubt of that. She has already set herself a firm foundation for her future academic successes.

At the beginning of this school year, I had to fill out paperwork on Sweetie for her teacher, including information about Sweetie's strengths and weaknesses. I had to think a minute, as I realized that - for Sweetie - many of her traits could be put in both groups.

Strengths - very smart, loves to read, very outgoing, independent, imaginative, curious.

Weaknesses - stubborn, likes to play by her own made up rules, talks too much, overly dramatic, her ears are often "closed", bossy.

Today, as I'm preparing to pick Sweetie up from school - anxious to find out how she's handled her second day of consequences for not opening her ears or obeying her teacher's playground rules - I'm paying tribute to the great things about my sweet Sweetie. She's smart, she's a good "figurer-outerer", she's independent and creative. I'm sure she'll quickly realize how she can help herself create her own preferred outcomes and play by the established rules all at the same time. 

She's a smart one, that girl. She'll be okay.

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