Thursday, December 22, 2016

I Put A 5 Year Old In Charge Of Her Educational Career And Now I Yell At Passing Cars

Ellie somehow managed to enroll herself in a Japanese language immersion elementary school. 

I know! I'm not sure how it all happened either....

I mean, sure, I remember signing some paperwork once a year or so ago, but, it's not like I really thought it was a real option, you know? I just thought it was a "this would be a cool option" option.

Ok, fine, I'm exaggerating. But only a bit. The VH1 True Backstory here is: I signed her up because back in college, my ECI 304 professor had us watch a documentary where kids were running around a playground talking in French. I'm 95% sure the point of the documentary, all wrapped up in some pedagogical theory, was that kids learn language more easily at a young age. Listen, the room was dark and I maaaay have fallen asleep. In my defense, you shouldn't tell your audience the ending of the movie in the first 2 minutes. It's called a spoiler for a reason, people! 

Anyway, it's year two and Ellie is still skipping to and from school, singing some song in Japanese that has a word that sounds like "booshi" in it. Which, let's face it, makes me giggle. Then, invariably, when she asks why I'm laughing, I lie, and tell her I'm laughing "for the joy of life". But, really, it's because booshi sounds like tushy. And I think it's funny. (Ignorant, uncouth American: party of one.)

Well, this year, I thought to myself, "Dude. You need to actually try and learn Japanese. You're getting laughed at by six year olds. On the playground. When you call jump ropes Nairobis*. It's getting a little embarrassing." (True story.) So, in defense of all my cool points I need to hold onto with the local six year old Japanese speaking population, I took Ellie out for pizza. Because, let's face it, I work better with a carrot metaphorically covered in cheese and pineapple than a stick. Because you can't eat sticks. But you can eat carrots. Although, full vegetarian disclosure, we didn't order any carrots. But we did order ice cream. Because I worked really really hard yelling out the color of cars in Japanese as they passed by our booth's window. And I deserved a treat. Again.

Now, what have I retained approximately three weeks later after gorging myself on pizza and ice cream and annoying all the other 5 o'clock diners at the local pizza restaurant? Owl**. Which, almost sounds like the Japanese word for blue. And, unfortunately, even with all of Ellie's corrections, encouragement and patience, is as close as I'm ever going to get to a proper pronunciation. Because I cemented it. Deep down into the roots of my brain. By singing this song. A lot.:

Yo listen up here's a story
About a little guy that lives in a owl world
And all day and all night and everything he sees
Is just owl like him inside and outside
Owl his house with a owl little window
And a owl corvette
And everything is owl for him and himself
And everybody around
'Cause he ain't got nobody to listen to (except an owl, whoo! whoo!)

I'm owl, da ba dee da ba die,
da ba dee da ba die,
da ba dee da ba die,
da ba dee da ba die,
da ba dee da ba die,
da ba dee da ba die,
da ba dee da ba die.
Note: This song is best sung while dancing like an owl. Because, as all Disciples of Confucius and education majors know, children learn best when they cement new information auditorily, visually, and kinetically. Pedagogical pyramids don't lie:

*Because you don't want to be laughed at by six year olds either:

**Or the way Ellie WANTS you to pronounce it:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What's The Looming End Of The Year Without A Little Whine? (But Not The Good Kind That Comes In A Box.)

Every Friday morning, as I'm setting up the painting easels at the back of Ellie's classroom, I listen to her teacher, as, in her warm, direct, friendly, and everything explained simply manner, she leads the daily writing lesson. Her main focus these last few weeks? Writing the small moments. Small stories, not big ones. Stories about making cookies with your sister, or riding your bike to school on a cold morning, or going out to dinner for pizza with your family, brushing your teeth before bed. She's encouraging these six year olds to keep it simple, and to add details. And, you know what? They all head back to their tables with the plastic tubs of fat red pencils in the middle and they write. And each week, as I'm washing and refilling the paint cups I think to myself, "Dude, they're like little tiny bloggers with really low tech stylus pens. If they can do it, so can I!"

And then, two hours later, jeans smeared with paint (because I'm an adult and don't have to use a paper towel if I don't want to), I bike toward home with every intention of sitting down, opening up my computer and typing my own small moment story. But, things, things get in the way. I have laundry to switch, or cupcakes to make for the class holiday party, or I realize that the last time anyone cleaned the shower was, well, it's not a time frame I want published on the Internets if that's any indication.

Or, I can't focus. And I end up wandering to the kitchen, wondering who drank all the coffee. (Spoiler alert: it was me.) Or looking desperately, searching all the way to the back of the cupboards for a box of Cheeze-Its, or potato chips, or anything processed and bad for me, and cursing the person who keeps buying  FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AS SNACK FOOD! (Spoiler Alert: it's me.)

Or, worse, I sit, and can't for the life of me think of the word that sounds like, say, exchange, but, isn't exchange, it just might start with an e, or have an x in it, or like an x sound, but, it has to do with cows, or rather, it has to do with cow jokes, kind of.... Wait. Or is it clowns? Like, with, three dots under their eye, like teardrops, and Johnny Depp in Cry Baby....GLOBULAR!!! That was the word! Now, how did that relate to the episode of Veronica Mars with the confessional again...?


Plus, it's an ineffective method for...for writing with any, um... shoot, ok, the word is like the book, with the kids, like 12 of them, they had a car, they all threw out their hands to signal a turn but some were signalling left and others right, bids were taken for household chores...expediency? (What is up with these "ex" words? Oh. My. Gosh.) Cheaper by the Dozen! Um, the dad was an...EFFICIENCY-that's it!  It's an ineffective writing, oh, method's not the perfect word there, more like, you know what? Method works just fine in that sentence. It's an ineffective method for writing with any efficiency.

Because, if I COULD write with any Frank Bunker Gilbreth skill, I'd... I don't know. Maybe I'd be less short tempered with my kids. Maybe I'd volunteer for more chaperone duties at Katie and Ellie's schools. The Powis Castle in front of my house would still be alive. I'd finally be able to win a game of Blockus against Katie. I'd speak Japanese. I'd know how to use spreadsheets properly to track Katie's troop's cookie sales instead of secretly having Jon do it. I'd be a faster runner! Fitter! With gloriously shiny and strong hair for full on butt* kicking.

Dude! I'd totally be a superhero!

You know...

I bet superheros have some really interesting small moment stories to write.

*Yeah. You heard me. Butt. I'll say it again, too. Butt.