Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sidewalks, School, Boots, and the Kids Down the Street

I shoveled the walks today or as they say in the South, scraped the sidewalks. Actually, I did scrape them today. Yesterday I shoveled slush several inches deep, then scraped the walks as clean as I could and spread salt because I knew if the slush were left overnight, it would freeze solid. It snowed most of the day yesterday, but the temperature hovered around 35. If it had stayed below freezing, we might have got the 9-12 inches they were predicting, but about half of it melted on the ground and mixed with the rest to form 4-5 inches of slush.

Last night the temp dropped to minus 5, and we got a dusting of real snow, which I scraped today. The temperature slowly crept into the teens, peaked at 20 or 21, and fell rapidly. Now it's 3 above with a windchill of minus 17.

GL fought tooth and nail against every instruction in every subject today. Then he whined for a video, but he was not as whiny as yesterday. After everyone got done what they needed to do on the computer, and he calmed down a bit, I put one on, so BB could do his work without interference. BB was working on symmetry, which we started yesterday. He thought he already knew all about it, but it took him much longer than either of us expected, and he got hung up on several points he thought he already understood. Today's lesson gave half of each figure on a grid, and a line of symmetry, leaving the other half for him to draw. He seemed to have the concept of symmetry mostly down, but had no idea how to locate points on a grid. He tried to just eyeball the lines, without checking the locations of the angles. I had him mark the points where the lines would meet, but he still didn't get the part about counting squares. Finally, I just walked him through a couple of examples. He made a few mistakes after that, but he finally seemed to get it.

MB went to the store to look for winter boots because her old ones had started leaking. They didn't have any warm women's boots in her size, so she ended up with men's boots. They fit well, they are warm and waterproof, and I think they'll hold up better than women's boots. I encouraged her to look at men's work boots, but the insulated ones cost more than the winter boots she ended up with.

BB has not been finished with his school work when the PS lets out, so he can't go out to play when the kids down the street get home. We don't let our kids play outside after dark. I don't mind them playing outside with other kids, I just like to be able to check up on them when necessary. Since it gets dark early this time of year, by the time BB is done, it's too late to go out. So from about 3:00 on, the kids down the street keep coming to the door to see if BB can come out yet.

Now I'm not about to let them dictate our schedule, but constantly telling them one or both boys can't play because BB is still doing his school work does begin to sound like an excuse. I'll admit I'd been wishing they would just go away, but that obviously wasn't happening, and it wouldn't be right to tell them to. GL wants to play with them at every opportunity. My main objection is that they are annoying. They have no idea of good manners or appropriate behavior, and GL will copy anyone he's with and do anything they tell him. But I'd seen enough to know they'd had no instruction, and almost no example. How are they supposed to learn?

BB didn't finish school until time to leave forAWANA* last night. It wasn't too late to play then, just too dark. I saw the kid who'd been waiting for BB just hanging around on the sidewalk, doing nothing. I cleared the table and put the school stuff away, and asked him if he'd like to play a game inside. He said he'd have to ask his mother, which surprised me. She hadn't seemed that concerned with what he was doing before, and even if she were, I hadn't expected him to remember. He came back a few minutes later and asked if his younger brother could come, too. I said yes.

So the two boys and GL and I played games. We played Chutes and Ladders, which they hadn't played before, and Sorry! which they had. They had the basic idea of board games, rolling the die (young children seem to have trouble with spinners, even when they do work right) or drawing a card and counting the spaces, but needed the rules explained again and again. They weren't trying to cheat; they just kept stopping to ask about this rule or that. Either they had a hard time understanding, or they just couldn't remember. Every turn, I had to remind every player that it was his turn. By the end of the game, I had a sore throat. Again, they either had a hard time following or paying attention. They consistently called me Mr. Bear, which I prefer but don't insist on, since so many kids are encouraged to call adults by their first names these days.

About halfway through Sorry! they asked if we could do a puzzle after the game. Everyone gradually lost interest in Sorry! not because they didn't enjoy it, but because we had been playing board games for an hour and a half. I pulled out Melissa & Doug Dinosaurs 48-Piece Floor Puzzle. It fits nicely on our kitchen table. We cleared off the table and got to work. By this time GL was asking for a video, not as a form of social interaction, but as a way of escaping it, as he'd had enough. I told him later, so he wandered off to play by himself. The younger boy seemed to have more aptitude for puzzles, but once he'd completed most of two edges lost interest and wandered off. His brother seemed to have considerably more difficulty figuring out which pieces went together, but was more persistent. I gave him clues, but let him figure it out. He had just finished connecting all four sides when their mother stopped by. She seemed surprised that I hadn't sent them home already. She had to take something to her sister-in-law two miles up the road. The older boy asked if he could finish the puzzle first. She said only if it were okay with me. He was working so hard at the puzzle, I suggested she could collect them on the way back. She seemed surprised and relieved. She returned about 20 minutes later, just as he was finishing the puzzle.

Now I don't subscribe to the theory that there's no such thing as a bad boy, but I've rarely seen boys so eager to please. They just didn't know how, and were eager to learn. Well, that's a hodgepodge of what's been happening here the last couple of days. No amusing narrative thread running through it like that in We Are Having Hamburgers For Dinner, but that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

*Yes, they would probably benefit from the program, but there are logistical problems with inviting them. I have to take GL to PT and OT Wednesday evenings, so BB depends on someone else for a ride, and the van is already full. I was only home this week because GL's therapy appointment had been cancelled.

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Blogger Arby said...

Momma said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like, my momma said...

December 11, 2009 at 6:27 AM  

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