Sunday, November 17, 2013


This morning, you declared your hot cocoa to be preposterous. You didn't quite know what that meant, so we talked about it, and decided it might be "preposterously good."

Yesterday at lunch, we talked about how settlers in covered wagons might have gotten across a mountain range.

Last night we had friends over for dinner. You read them "Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo," and you read so fluently that one of the friends jokingly grabbed a book on pedagogy from my shelf and asked you to read that, too. You did.

This morning, you bent my fancy lamp out of shape (for the third time), woke us up early, and have been hooting and whistling most of the morning.

These days, I post a lot of the funny things you say and do on Facebook, and I don't update this blog very frequently, but I think someday all those little things will have vanished into the ether, and you will want to know what you were like as a child, what you did and said.

And there are a few things that are too private, or too much like bragging, or not pithy enough to share with all those goofballs I went to high school once, or worked with a decade and a half ago.

Here is one of the brags: The other night, we walked to Three Sisters for dinner. You wanted to bring your book, a collection of poems I bought you. One of your favorites is a Robert Frost, mainly because it's illustrated with a fairy on a rose. On the same page is a short excerpt of The Tempest. While we waited for our food, you read that one, and then on the next page, an Emily Dickinson. So yes… you're five, and voluntarily reading Shakespeare at the dinner table.

Here is one of the private things: you've now been on your ADHD medication for four months. It does a lot of good. I still sometimes confront the friends or articles that indicate that ADHD is over-diagnosed, over-medicated. All our kids need, these people say, is a chance to have some freedom, or to spend some time outdoors, or a less-structured or more-structured school environment, or a gluten-free diet. And I briefly, guiltily question our choice to medicate you. But the thing is, you are you, yourself, not some trend or statistic or study. And when you were not on medication, you got in trouble in school, got in trouble at home, got kicked out of karate, found that all but the most hyper of the other kids avoided you, and could not sit still long enough to do the things you now enjoy -- reading, dressing dolls, writing, drawing, knitting. And it's not as though you turned into some zombie drone child: you are still energetic, funny, playful, and sometimes pretty wild and loud. For you, it has improved your day-to-day experience. For you, it has kept you out of some trouble. For you, it has expanded your friend circle. For you, it has allowed you to learn some things. For you, we've made the right choice.

Here is one of the not-pithy things: You went to your first karate tournament a couple weeks ago. Your interest in karate has ebbed and flowed, but it's been higher since the long break we took this summer. I asked if you wanted to do the tournament, and you did. We paid our registration fee, tied your hair back, put your freshly washed gi on, and drove to Auburn. There were only six kids in your age group (although this took a while to sort out -- they had initially combined the 4-5 year olds with the 6-7s, and then one very small boy kept insisting he was 6). You were the last to present, and you sat patiently while the other five went. This alone was a gratifying miracle. When it was your turn, you proudly, in loud, clear tones, introduced yourselves to the judges. You started off well, getting six steps in before you forgot what to do. You paused a long time, looked around… and I whispered, mainly to myself, "punch isa!" You heard the whisper, though, and, looking for help, turned to me. I said it again, but by then you were off your game. You finished, and thanked the judges, and sat down again.

You waited patiently then, got your scores (they were low, but not significantly lower than the other kids, leading me to believe that if you hadn't forgotten, you'd probably have earned a medal), and sat waiting. They did the math, then announced the winners of the gold, silver, and bronze medals. You were not among them. Then came the 6-7 year olds. I asked if you wanted to leave during the break, but you didn't. We watched their demonstrations, and then the judges came back to give a fourth-place ribbon to another child in your age group, but that left you as one of the only two who still didn't have anything. I asked if you wanted to leave, but you wanted to watch the flag game as well, and I think you were secretly hoping they would come back again with more ribbons. After flag game, we left. Though you had been patient and dignified in the dojo, you bawled your eyes out in the car. We talked about how next time you could practice more, and you agreed you would want to go to another tournament (although initially, you wanted to give up karate and try soccer, or ballet, or gymnastics).

Here is what I have to say about that. You choked -- it's true. And you hadn't practiced enough beforehand. That was a choice you made. But I'm still SO PROUD of you. You were patient, attentive, polite, respectful, dignified, and you even were reflective enough to understand that it was your own choices and actions (or inactions) that led to your loss. So you lost the tournament. You lost HARD. But I'm so glad for it all, because I saw you grow up a little, or perhaps you had already grown up and I hadn't noticed. One way or another, you behaved like a newer, bigger, wiser, and more patient kid than I was used to seeing, and I am so proud that you were a good loser. Next time, maybe you'll be a good winner instead, because this will push you to work harder. Not a bad lesson for $20 and a drive out to Auburn.

Anyway, I love you like crazy, and there's so much more I could say, but right now you're thumbing through one of my Japanese animation books waiting for me to be ready to go to yoga.

Love you always,

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