Tuesday, October 06, 2009

10/6/09 Library afternoon

Busy kid day, but productive and fulfilling. I don't say that lightly!

Dropoff at kindergarten. Katrina loves playing in the playground, especially sliding down the slide with big brother.

I took her to the Y. I'd been looking forward to this for months, but had forgotten until I almost put her in the little-kid childwatch....she's three now, and can go in the big-kid childwatch! No adjustment issue at all, she launched right into playing.

The big-kid childwatch has an outdoor playground, so she got yet more slide time.

Picked up Julian, home for lunch....then back out to pick up Gabriel. School dismissal at 1:10pm this week, so I could sneak that in before Katrina's nap. Wait behind the blue line! Or use it as a balance beam if you're Katrina.

Usually the boys aren't crazy about clothes as gifts (I AM!), but Gabriel loves this Hot Wheels T-shirt, and insisted on changing into it this morning.

My mission was the library. Gabriel got his 2nd book report assignment yesterday, a "bye-oh-graff-ee" in his words. This would require an external book source! And we're not falling behind on it this time. So we went to the library to find a 2nd-grade level biography on a person important in U.S. history.

First, a note on book reports. As difficult and time-consuming as the last report was, I actually think it was a very worthwhile project. Far moreso than the routine day-to-day homework Gabriel gets. An in-depth focused project like this taught us -- and it was us -- a lot: how to summarize, how to talk about it, how to pace ourselves, indeed, even how to read it and pull the important points out of it. I'm almost looking forward to the next one, though I want him to do it on his own as much as possible.

I had an interesting conversation with another mom while waiting Gabriel's class to be dismissed. Her daughter was in Gabriel's first-grade class, and is now in a different 2nd-grade class. The mom was genuinely puzzled when I told her how much effort the book report was. Her daughter breezed through it, and did it entirely on her own! She did Alice in Wonderland too, not a simple story. She picked and did the drawings on her own, and all her writing too -- without prompting from mom. I was blown away. I know many kids probably had less trouble than Gabriel, but I never expected that level of independence for this project from a 7-year-old.

The same mom had volunteered in Gabriel's first-grade classroom a few times, so she was blown away when I told her how much trouble we had with the book report. "Gabriel??" She said that her daughter had said many times how smart and quick Gabriel is, that he was the smartest in the class. This is the 3rd time I've heard superlative accolades about him from other first-grade parents. Yet he -- we -- had a harder time with the book report than anyone I've talked to. Maybe it's that book reports use abilities that are lowest in his natural repertoire, yet shining bright in class (like calling out answers to math problems) uses abilities that are highest in his repertoire. That's Gabriel, always has been -- a set of extremes.

But, so what, that's neither here nor there. So, book reports will be tougher for him. That's life. Fortunately, this one looks much easier, and even more fortunately, we had a lot of practice last time. And, I'm not wasting a minute. Hence the trip to the library less than 24 hours after receiving the assignment.

And, Step 1 completed: pick a person, get a book, and read it. We found a perfect book at the perfect level, written in an interesting story-telling way, and about the perfect person for our electricity-loving son: Benjamin Franklin.

The others had a great time at the library, and everyone got fun books too. There's nothing so gratifying as seeing your children happily burst out of a library clutching a new stack of books. The boys rushed inside at home and read intensely for an hour. In this day and age of Google and iPhones, libraries almost seem like a quaint anachronism, but the joy and promise of a new book transcends technology.

Fortunately I had my technology handy for some group shots.

It was great having both boys home early in the afternoon. Katrina took a nap with no complaint (she was tired, she'd run around a lot today!), they read, they played (and fought of course), then I got them both to do their homework and reading before dinner. This is the way our days should go!


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