In September, I started teaching my granddaughter to read over Zoom. It’s one of the blessings of being retired. I have the time to build a relationship with Alice that I missed with her older siblings all the years I was working full-time at school. Alice has come a long way from not knowing all her letters and sounds to this week’s lessons using -nk.
Some of you may recognize this drill for teaching students word parts. Alice and I have been working with this pattern. She was ready to give it a try in a book called Stink Bugs.
We were reading along and Alice was decoding very well. She decoded rostrums which was pretty impressive. Did you know that a stink bug has a rostrum which is like a long straw for a mouth? It can stick its rostrum into berries and flowers to drink. When not eating, it tucks the rostrum under its belly between its legs. Pretty handy.
Next we read about the life cycle of the stink bug. The pictures were vivid. I was having a great time learning about stink bugs (which have migrated to Virginia only recently). Alice clearly wasn’t having as much fun.
“Excuse me, Grandma. I don’t mean to be rude, but why are we reading THIS book?” She was so earnest. I had to chuckle a little as I explained that we were reading it to practice -nk words. Then I mentioned that it’s good to read nonfiction because we can learn cool stuff. “But Grandma, stink bugs are gross and icky!”
Feeling somewhat depleted, I absent-mindedly scrolled through Facebook for the umpteenth time. I stopped when I saw that my granddaughter’s kindergarten teacher had posted a new photo. I always love seeing Maggie no matter the setting. Today’s picture was celebrating “Colorful Day.” Mrs. S. is a young teacher in her second year of her career. I have been so impressed with how she has navigated this school year so that Maggie is happy and having a great introduction to school.
I touched the picture and spread my fingers to get a closer look. Where was my Maggie in this crowd of kindergarteners? “Ah, there she is!” I thought and smiled.
Then, imagine my delight when I could see that Maggie was holding hands with her friend, Kenzie. Is there anything more heartening than kindergarten friendships? It just made me so happy. For a moment, I wasn’t afraid she would get sick, or that she was breaking a rule. For a moment, I saw only kindergarten love.
I had finished teaching on this blustery first day of March. I knew chores and bill paying awaited me at home. Considering the time, I texted my daughter to see if she was at home. She was.”Yes!” I said to myself.
My daughter’s apartment is on my way home from teaching. I was there in 2 minutes. As I walked up the steps, my heart felt light. I didn’t mind the wind or cold.
When I opened the door, I smelled the delicious aroma of homemade minestrone soup. We greeted and she handed me her Peter, now 5 weeks old. I sat down in the rocker. He fussed a little, but then he settled into my arms. He held my finger and was soon asleep. I couldn’t help but stare at his eyelashes, his little hands, his soft cheeks. We rocked, and I chatted with my daughter. I waited until he gave up a big sigh, knowing that I could hand him back without waking him.
Every now and then, it feels good to know that you can still give what a baby needs, and by that, receive what you need. It was exactly what I needed today. Thirty minutes of Peter.