Two Stories and Two Asses

I would have called them “donkeys,” but our Writing and Rhetoric book is encouraging us to reclaim that sadly fallen word.

Let’s start with the first ass in “The Ass and His Driver.” This is the 4th grader’s fable for the week. Essentially, a donkey sees a faster way down the mountain (over a cliff) and tries to get his driver to go that way. The driver resists fiercely, but then finally gives in, unleashes the donkey from the load, and of course the donkey plummets down the mountain to his death. The moral: Listen to good advice and avoid the road to disaster.

Ass number two? Remember how pleasant and lovely and productive my little reading sessions with the kindergartner were going? All those hugs and giggles?

Yeah, well that ended.

He started hating reading. Those “20 minutes” a day were turning into 60+ and it just wasn’t working out with the focus ability, body count, and work load in our family. Still, he was making progress and the stories were making him laugh. And we are almost on lesson 70 or something. We’re so close! Come on, buddy, let’s just finish this thing up!!

But every reading session was turning into misery… for both of us. Sometimes we had to miss a lesson, and well, I didn’t try very hard (read as: I purposefully didn’t bother) to make up the lesson later in the day.

This was not what I was anticipating. With my now 2nd grader, we battled through the first half of the book and then giggled and snuggled through the last half. I thought I had figured this out and all my struggles with this new kindergartner were going to be over about mid way through (20 grueling lessons ag0) and our warm fuzzy moments were just going to multiply. But it was getting worse, and worse, and worse. Lunch time kept getting pushed back (because reading time is right before lunch) until we almost had no time for lunch at all. We wouldn’t have time to let him narrate his stories to me or illustrate them or anything.

But, come on, kid! You have to learn how to read!

So two days ago I say to my kindergartner, “Ok, let’s go upstairs to do reading.” And he just breaks down crying.

Can you identify the ass in this story?

Let me give you a hint.

It’s me.

I looked at him. I thought about it for about 10 seconds. My eyes strayed to the book shelf right behind him, and I said. “Do you hate your reading book?”

“Yes!!” (DUH!)

“Ok, how about we read this book instead?” And I pulled “The Cat in The Hat” off the shelf.

For the past couple days, and on into the foreseeable future, little K(indergartner) and I are going to read REAL books (Hop on Pop is next). He reads 3 or 4 pages with a little prompting, and then I finish out the rest of the story. On day two he read the next 3 or 4 pages he hadn’t read yet, and then I have to start at the beginning read the entire thing over again. That book, by the way, is something like 60 pages, so at the end of this we are going to have the entire thing memorized 20 times over. But, we will also have a lot less tears. And one much improved reader. And did I mention we giggle and snuggle through the whole thing?

In other potentially disastrous yet redeeming stories, said Kindergartner was also starting to hate his German videos. More than once he has come downstairs 15 minutes into a 35 minute video and told me he was done and had turned off all the power to the TV. (Can’t you just press the “off” button?) Truthfully, I myself was beginning to wonder how I was going to get an entire 8 months worth of learning out of 6 short little movies.  So, we switched gears. I told him to grab some toy bins from downstairs, bring them up, and he was just going to play while listening to German music instead. We used to speak only German at home. (My oldest 3 were technically ESL kids until about 4 years ago – wait, wouldn’t English still be their second language? The point is, they grew up as babies speaking only German and now they don’t.) So anyway, I have a handful of German DVDs (real movies) and CDs and books that I used to beg people to bring me back from Germany when they would go over. All the begging was worth it for these three little plastic discs of magic. So instead of watching the videos this week (and next week and maybe the week after) we are learning the chorus’ to a new song each week. And school life for this little one is beautiful again.  (Photo bomb by our new fish, Gulpa.)

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That road to disaster has been successfully averted… for now at least. And I can shed the unpleasant title.

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