Thursday, January 14, 2010

Deep Thoughts

When trying to describe something that is completely futile, why don't people ever say "It's like trying to sweep up macaroni and cheese"? Because have you tried that? It's horrible, spending a full minute trying to catch each noodle and whisk it in the general direction of the others, all the while watching it get more and more covered with the dog hair and sand that perhaps will unstick it from the floor enough to make it mobile. I finally end up on my hands and knees, manually picking up each and every piece of macaroni, every time. Don't even ask what it looks like when we have couscous.

No matter how much we are intellectually aware that the human experience is essentially the same for all of us, we can't help but feel that we are the first one ever to experience the things that are truly profound. Clearly I am the first person ever to fall in love, ever to lose someone I cared about, ever to watch her toddler dance in the kitchen and be overwhelmed by the urge to call everyone I've ever met and tell them, "You'll never believe what she's doing right now!" Never mind that kitchen dancing is a pretty common toddler activity. There has never been a little girl with soft curls down her back, pushing the button on the Leap Frog farm again and again, so proud that she's mastered this way of making music, twirling around in front of the refrigerator, whispering to herself, "Dance. Dance. Dance. Dance..." Or if there has, I don't want to hear about it, because I want to tell you about mine.

Sometimes there simply are no words. The other day, Zachary and Ezra were in their room doing something they weren't supposed to be doing, maybe wrestling after I'd told them for the thousandth time that they were going to get hurt and that game was done for today. So I walked in and, I admit, raised my voice a little. Ezra turned to me and said, "Mommy, will you leave the room now? I want to tell Zachary that you're a yelling machine."

And finally, just because he didn't get featured here and his siblings did, I would like to announce to the world my pride that my oldest son, my first-grader, is the best reader I have ever met. (Or if there's a better one, I don't want to hear about. See the reasons cited above.) It hasn't been a struggle exactly, but it hasn't come easy. I was one of those who was reading by kindergarten, but with a November birthday, I was almost 6 when I started, so I had nearly a year advantage over the rest of the students. And I don't remember whether it came easy or was a struggle. Zachary was barely 5 when he started kindergarten, and I've worried so much that he's at a disadvantage because he's younger than his classmates. But last week, he read--all by himself--an entire "Captain Underpants" book. If you're not familiar with them, and I wasn't, they're chapter books, but with a lot of graphic novel components thrown in. And he didn't just flip through the pages; he read it. He happily answered all my questions and then filled me in on the plot. Then he read another one. I've ordered numbers 3 and 4 from PaperBack Swap and he's asking every day if they're here yet. There are so many wonderful books in his future and such pride to be gained from learning to read them, and I'm delighted that a superhero in his undies is getting us so far.