2 Comments

Potty Talk

When I look at all of the early photos of May, that gleam in her eyes, the mile-wide smile that brightens her face, the look of discovery that can only be seen in the eyes of the very young, it is with bittersweet emotion that I realize she is now entering the stage of responsibility and all the restrictions that accompany this developmental time.

No longer can she experiment with “potty talk” without people casting a critical and disdainful glance her way. Yet, it is obvious that the love of being a bit off color continues to delight her, whenever she belly laughs at her young sister’s use of such words.  May, on the other hand, has become more discriminatory with her use of language. Wasn’t it a millisecond ago when May used to parrot some of her mother’s pet expressions when driving in the car?  How vividly I recall Nancy telling us how she had to watch her mouth in front of May. May had proven herself to be rather too skillful in effectively using certain terms to describe those drivers who had the impertinence to cut her mother off, or came too close to her rear bumper. We laughed at those stories, just as we now laugh at Elosie ‘s use of “potty talk,” and as May laughs at her sister’s emerging use of language, but as befitting her age, May refrains from their use.

I remember talking to my good friend Dan and sharing some of May’s pet expressions. Dan, would laugh with that marvelous chuckle of his and say, “Betty, you have to write these down in your blog.” I looked at him with total disbelief that he would suggest such a thing. May was three years old at the time and I was afraid that if the word got out about some of the things she said, people would think less of this marvelous little girl. How ridiculous I was! May, like all children was testing the limits of language. With her parents’ intelligent handling of her “colorful” language, May learned that some words are not socially acceptable, just as Eloise will learn in due time.

Recently, I spoke with a good friend about “potty talk” and how children, upon discovery of these “sure to get a reaction,” phrases love to articulate them for an audience. At a very young age, toddlers master the ability to separate and apply those attention-getting words from everyday “socially acceptable” language. Clever little imps, aren’t they? My friend, Arna, stated that her grandson is allowed his freedom of speech, but with the understanding that “potty talk” is called “potty talk” because it is confined to the bathroom where there is a potty. By taking this approach, her grandson soon lost interest in using the words. I thought this approach brilliant! The forbidden is far more tempting than the allowed, especially to young children who are in the throes of discovering the world around them.

Now, Eloise at almost three years of age seems to be picking up the gauntlet left behind by her big sister’s emerging social skills. When we hear an outburst of words pertaining to body parts and bodily functions exiting the mouth of our youngest granddaughter, we give a stifled laugh and steer the conversation towards a new topic. However, there is no doubt that we adults get a charge out of watching our granddaughters enjoy their naughtiness; Eloise as the speaker and May living vicariously through her sister’s daring nature. Perhaps May is remembering the times when she brought on peals of laughter under similar circumstances.

It has been written that “children learn what they live.” Obviously the use of “potty talk” is a learned behavior.  When children realize early on that such language brings about a reaction from those around them it gives them control of a situation and what a powerful tool that becomes for one so young.

I do not profess that “potty talk” should be encouraged, but my experience has been the less attention paid to these often amusing linguistic discoveries, the more it will serve to thwart the behavior. Confine it to the bathroom and, at the same time, be aware of how we, as grown-ups, through our words and actions, impact the behavior and thinking of the children we love. After all, children do learn what they live”

7 Comments

A Grandmother Remembers

Each time I watch our granddaughters at play, I think to myself, “Look at all the ‘stuff’ they have,” much of which, I should add, has been purchased by her grandfather and me. “Why,” I think, “am I constantly searching the Internet and perusing the shelves of toy stores in search of something to stimulate their appetites for learning? Are we doting grandparents or are we reliving our youth vicariously through our granddaughters?” I’ve come to the conclusion that our reasons are a combination of both.

Growing up in the Bronx, [yes the Bronx, that infamous borough about which Ogden Nash once said, ‘The Bronx, no thonx’], my main source of entertainment was my imagination. The last of six children, my parents could afford very little besides the food that was put on the table and even that was not what would be considered “haute cuisine.” So, we made do with a “spaldeen” (little did I know that it was a bastardized version of the word “Spalding,” the company that manufactured the rubber balls), the street, and a group of friends.

Spring and summer were our seasons. They were the long-awaited respite from the limited freedom that accompanies the cold, bleak wintry days. Sure, there was winter sledding to be had, and those of us lucky enough to own a “Flexible Flyer” were the most popular kids on the street, but words couldn’t describe the feeling of freedom that accompanied the shedding of one’s coat and meeting friends outside on the street to play such games as: box ball, stick ball,  Ace/King/Queen, devil or angel, hopscotch, jump rope, ringalevio, Johnny-on-the-pony, and hit the stick. We would chant out rhymes to a bouncing ball, turning our leg over the ball between bounces, each successful turn acting as a prediction as to whom we would marry, how many children we would have and other innumerable fantasies that served to whet our appetites for a Cinderella-like future.

When we didn’t have a ball to play with, we would toss pennies against our building, the closest penny to the edge of the building would win the toss and the recipient would walk away a few cents richer. Of course, the newly found wealth wouldn’t last too long for the fellow gamblers would accompany the winner on his/her way to the candy store that was conveniently located around the corner from our building.

Dolls were a favorite pastime of girls between the ages of four and nine. Still in our single digits of life, playing “mommy” was the norm. When we reached the mature age of ten, we would have to rethink our doll-playing ways, perhaps even continue to pretend in secret within the confines of our bedroom.

Yes, life was simple. I had a couple of dolls, some chalk, a doll carriage, a jump rope (tailored from my mother’s worn out wash line that hung outside our living room window), and my “spaldeen.” I never knew that I was deprived. Everyone in my neighborhood seemed to have similar items. There was little to no TV to remind us that there was a wealth of things that we didn’t have, computers and all their offerings were yet to be invented, and credit was something that you asked “Harry the Grocer” to give you until your dad got paid on the first of the month.

Sundays would find us gathered around the one radio we possessed, listening to newspaper comics being read aloud. Often we would follow along, reading our own newspaper aloud to the tempo of the disembodied voice that resonated throughout our living room. Picture books? We had “Golden Books” that were purchased at the local five and dime.

Church was a major part of my Protestant background. My parents went twice a year, Easter and Christmas, but my siblings and I were expected to go every Sunday. We never questioned their absence, children obeyed.

Sundays also involved a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house for dinner. “Dinner” was always served at two o’clock in the afternoon and usually consisted of a roast, potatoes and some sort of vegetable. Grandma was old. She wore “house dresses,” had grey hair, and wore no make-up, but she was funny and loving. She adored her grandchildren and listened intently as we related our anecdotes about school and became our captive audience as we performed our made-up songs and dances for her pleasure. Having no formal instruction, we would put forth our best efforts to invent skits that were deserving of her rapt and loving attention.

School was probably boring, but boredom wasn’t part of our vocabulary. School certainly lacked all of the “bells and whistles” that are part of today’s curricula, but we didn’t expect it to be a source of entertainment. School was for learning and the teacher had all of the answers. Heaven forbid a note was sent home from your teacher! You would catch the “back of dad’s hand” if you didn’t behave and do what was expected of you. Education was our way out of poverty. It was our parents’ hope for our future. Parents never questioned the teacher, she was always right. So, we sat, we listened, and we learned.

There was no formal dress code for school; we didn’t need one. We had “school clothes” and “play clothes.” We dressed for school in a fashion similar to the way we would dress for church and, upon returning home in the afternoon, we would immediately remove our school clothing, hang them on hangers, and put on our play-wear. Our clothing, although limited in number, was always clean and always ironed. Good grooming was both a reflection of yourself as well as your home life.

Today, as I watch my granddaughters at play, I take a deep breath and wonder what their future may bring. Mine brought an advance in technology that was incomprehensible to my generation, a generation that read 1984 by George Orwell as a work of fiction beyond the limits of one’s wildest imagination. Little did we know at the time that he would prove to be clairvoyant; some of his predictions off by just a few decades. Will there be comparable advances in their future? It almost seems incomprehensible to me. For it was the generation who relied upon their creative imagination and limited resources, who were disciplined and directed, and who took great pride in achievement, that gave birth to the many innovations that are a part of our lives today. On the other hand, who would have thought that the rise in technology would give birth to Facebook, Twitter, and the iPad? The wheel has been reinvented; the world that will emerge remains to be seen.

Now, as I write this entry, I ask myself, “Were the good old days as good as I would like to believe they were?” Reflecting back on my youth, and not wanting to sound like my parents before me, I can only say that the good old days were good for me. They brought me a road map leading to a career in teaching, a career that enabled me to constantly evolve in order to meet the needs, both emotional and intellectual, of an inquisitive and tech-smart generation. They brought me a sense of comfort through strong family ties and developed in me a respect for those who had seen war and hardship in their lives. They brought me rules to live by and values to pass on to my children. Hopefully, they brought me the building blocks that have formed and will continue to form a similar foundation for my children and my children’s children. What more could I ask for?

8 Comments

A Little White Lie

This past week, I logged onto Facebook and saw the many children of friends, striking poses for their first day of school, poses struck so that their parents will have a keepsake of these precious early years to look back upon when these same children reach adulthood and have children of their own. As I looked at these lovely children, some smiling tentatively, some unsmiling, and some clowning around for the camera, I wondered what was going on in their young minds.

While perusing these many “first day” photos, I came across one of May carrying her lunch tote. With toenails to match her turquoise painted fingernails, and the latest trendy bracelets going up her arm, she gave her best attempt at a smile. I was aware of her angst prior to this “cellphone moment” and questioned the sincerity behind her seemingly confident air. Were her parents’ accolades about kindergarten taking effect, or had she become resigned to the inevitable and was braving it out for a photo-op?

I must admit that I lied to my granddaughter during the days prior to her first day in kindergarten. I recall the exact moment when I lied. We were driving in the car, just the two of us, when May quietly and out of the blue said, “Grammy I’m really scared to start kindergarten.” I remember reassuring her that kindergarten would be so much fun; that she would get to play with all kinds of new things, learn about amazing “stuff,” meet so many new friends and that she would love her teacher. She then asked me if I could remember my first day and if I remembered how I felt. That is when I lied.

I may have forgotten about a movie I saw two days ago or what I had for dinner last night or I may even have forgotten the gist of a story I was reading late into the night, but I can still remember my first day of kindergarten. I recall crying my eyes out as I sat in a classroom surrounded by people I didn’t know. I remember crying so much that my teacher had me sit outside the classroom until my older brother came to talk to me. My recollection of how the rest of the day or week passed is hazy, but the impact of sitting on the corridor floor, crying and being scared remains vivid in my memory. However, that is not what I told May.

I told May that I remember a huge playhouse that I would hide in with the new friends I made. I told her about how kind the teacher was and that I liked to dress-up in the many available costumes. Finally, I told her a funny story about how my mother always called me “Betty,” but registered me as “Elizabeth” and that when the role was called, I didn’t respond because I didn’t know my given name. Sadly, I am embarrassed to say, the last part of our conversation was true. However, May got a huge laugh out of the story and it took her mind off the real issue of being scared.

Her question and my answer led my thoughts to May’s Aunt Jessica’s first day of kindergarten. I recall walking her to her classroom and wanting to hold her back, to protect her, to keep her safe. Without realizing it at the time, my personal experience was affecting her willingness to let go. My mouth may have been singing praises about kindergarten, but my body language was saying something else, instilling in her a sense of foreboding. Today, I can see how I inadvertently caused Jessica to feel anxious over starting something new. With May, I made sure that body language and words were one in the same, regardless of how I fantasized.

Although my early school experience was less than stellar, May’s was fantastic! It was everything the people she loved and trusted said it would be. I have no regrets over the story I invented during our car ride that summer’s day. How fortunate I was to be in a position to tell a little white lie in order to bring comfort to a person I love!

4 Comments

A Child’s Pain On the Path to Growing Up

The more I am in my granddaughter May’s presence, the more I become aware of the complexity of the mind of a five-year-old. As grown-ups, we take pride in our grandkids as they master and, seemingly effortlessly, move through each developmental stage on their road towards maturity. We thrill over their first word, first tentative steps, first tooth, and each inch that they grow. Then as they move towards independence, when they no longer rush into our arms upon seeing us or ask us to drop down onto the floor to play with them, we become aware of how quickly they are growing in the precious time that they have shared our world. But, do we ever stop to think about the depth of their thoughts as they journey through the ever-increasing scope of their world? Do they stop and reflect upon their journey thus far or is reflection strictly reserved for grown-ups?

On a recent visit to our house on the Cape, May had a difficult time going to sleep. Sure, she was overly tired from a busy day of shopping, going to the ice cream store for her “purple cow” cone, and proudly demonstrating her newfound ability to swing on the monkey bars in the town playground, but the tears that she was shedding were unlike the tears we had come to know as her ploy at gaining more stay-awake time. This time her tears bore a real sadness, a sadness that was heart wrenching to anyone within earshot. It was obvious that she had something on her mind and, in her tired state, was limited in her ability to express the reasons behind her unhappiness.

On this particular night, May was put to bed in her Aunt Jessica’s room where the computer kept flashing a compilation of pictures that were taken over the years. Since Eloise is our most recent addition to the family, most of the photos were of May taken since birth. As May lied in bed watching the show, she was reminded of all the happy times that she experienced during what she viewed as her “baby years:” May kite flying on the beach, May playing with the kitchen set Santa brought on her second Christmas, May beating eggs with her tiny “pig egg beater,” May licking the huge peppermint stick that was given to her by Aunt Jessica, May digging in the soil with her little blue bonnet protecting her from the sun, May with her nose pressed against the glass door watching grandpa plow the snow, May helping grandma roll a huge ball of snow for the base of her Frosty etc. At the time, May took these events as a matter of course, but now, having a little sister who has a whole new world opening unto her and with May as the observer of Eloise’s discoveries, May wished that she was once again a baby.

May’s longing for the past brought to mind conversations that I used to have with her Aunt Jessica when she was a little girl and watched who is now May’s mother steal her thunder. My older daughter saw her little sister as cute and funny and had a love/hate battle waging within. I am not sure how I handled the situation at the time. I probably made light of it and pointed out all of Jessica’s wonderful qualities before moving on to something less upsetting. However, as is often the case, with age comes wisdom and I am now better able to see the world through the eyes of the older child and I empathize with her plight.

After a long while, Nancy managed to work her magic and abated May’s sadness by turning off the computer and talking about all of the wonderful activity-filled days that lay ahead.

Change can be a scary thing for anyone, especially children. The known is usually more comforting than the unknown and right now, May is entering the world of the unknown. Summer is drawing to its close and so are the carefree days spent with her family. She is soon to begin a new school where she will no longer see the familiar faces of her friends at the nursery school where her mother is a teacher and where she has spent the last three years of her young life; the nursery school that gave her that special “mommy-May” time as they travelled back and forth each day.

May will go to a new school knowing practically no-one and her little sister Eloise will now attend May’s former school and have that special “mommy-Eloise” time. And May will once more experience the pangs of what it means to grow up. It is no small wonder that May longs to be that cute, curly-haired, toddler that continuously flashed across the computer screen.

The next day, Nancy called to ask my advice about how to handle May’s emotional turmoil. I don’t know if I offered good advice when I suggested that she tell May that right now, Eloise wishes that she could do all of the amazing things that May is capable of doing. It just seemed like a logical response at the time. I seem to lack the convictions that I possessed when I was a young mother. Then, I seemed to have all the answers, but now I know that I didn’t.

It is Nancy’s turn to stand by her convictions and I have every faith in her for finding the right words and giving the love and support that will guide her children into becoming the thoughtful and caring person that she grew to be.

1 Comment

From One To Two! Now What To Do? The Saga Continues…

When May was an only child, she was easy to entertain. We would spend hours taking nature walks, doing special art projects involving glue, paint and paper, building tall towers with plastic cups and knocking them down with a Nerf ball, dressing up in funny hats that were often our own creations, and playing age appropriate board games. I would lift May to pick leaves from trees, fly her through the air like a bird, and carry her, endlessly carry her, up and down the stairs throughout our home. I often think back on those early years and ask myself, “Was I much younger and my body more agile two brief years ago?” For now, with May’s sister on the scene, I seem to lack the super-grandma energy that was part of my gene pool.

In the past, watching both granddaughters was a breeze. I would simply put Eloise in her Exersaucer, supply her with some Cheerios and occasionally draw her attention to one of the many figures surrounding her while playing close-by with May. May was happy. Eloise was happy! Grandma continued to shine.

Increasingly by degrees, Eloise began to emerge as a toddler who was no longer content to be an observer and as her interests developed, so too did her desire to become a part of whatever came May’s way. Gone were the days of the individualized attention May had come to know. True sibling rivalry was about to begin. I had anticipated that this day would come. What I hadn’t anticipated was that Eloise would become the greater offender and if I were to keep our visits enjoyable and memorable, I had to come up with some activities that would make both girls happy. Time for the great outdoors!

My garage contains a stockpile of odds and ends accumulated over the years that appeal to a child’s limited attention span. Various sized balls, Badminton birdies, rings for ring toss, bubbles, Frisbees made of material, foam planes, oversized colored chalk, and beanbags are kept in a large basket on one shelf. Badminton rackets, plastic golf clubs, large material covered baseball bats; nets and pegs for ring toss fill another shelf.  Pull toys, a tricycle, rescue rider and hopscotch puzzle board are scattered around the floor. Many of the items were either purchased at flea markets, Christmas Tree Shops, or given to me by friends and relatives who wanted to clear out their garages. It’s good to have friends and family with growing children.

When May and Eloise arrive at my house, along with Mr. Woo their much-loved Pug, they immediately head towards the garage to select what they want for play. Mr. Woo happily sniffs out his well-worn tennis balls, May her rackets and birdies, and Eloise her riding toys as well as the basket filled with odds and ends. Initially everyone is happy with each of their choices, but after about four minutes it becomes apparent that May wants to regress and ride Eloise’s rescue rider. But that’s O.K. because Eloise wants to swing the racket that May has. And Mr. Woo? Well he wants me to throw the ball for his game of “fetch and hold.” Then, the circus starts all over again. Eloise wants her riding toy back or May realizes that having the racket was more fun or Mr. Woo incessantly barks for another go at chasing the ball. And, unfortunately, their wants and needs are never in sync with each other.

I used to run myself ragged trying to be all that I felt my granddaughters (and Mr. Woo) would want me to be, but then I had an epiphany. To my dismay, I realized that I had limitations; a true revelation for a grandma who rarely if ever uttered the words, “I can’t.” Tears and arguments (along with barking) replaced a once joy-filled playtime. Something had to be done. As a teacher, I always managed to avail myself to meet my students’ individualized needs. Surely I could work some magic with a toddler, her older sister and their beloved pup.

Out-of-doors, whenever possible, is the ideal milieu for bridging age differences. Using the materials from our garage, I created games that could be adapted for various skill levels and, at the same time, reduce rivalry. Removing the contents of my large basket and giving May and Eloise an opportunity to select their “special ball,” we played  “Ground Basketball” where each of us (myself included) took turns tossing a ball into the basket. May had a line to stand on, my line was farther back and Eloise could toss it from wherever she stood, with May and my private understanding that “Eloise is a baby.” Knowing that children quickly grow tired of a game, I planned a few activities in advance, all of which allowed for flexible rules and all of which can be found on a “Fun With Grammy” entry to follow. In between turns, the girls and I would toss one of many balls to Mr. Woo, keeping him happy.

I now look forward to playing outdoors with my granddaughters as much as they do. When they arrive for a visit, I am quick to respond to their desire to enter the enchanted garage where a cache of child-friendly odds and ends await a metamorphosis into something new and exciting. The lifting, twirling and flying through the air may happen much less frequently than had happened in the past (lifting two is much harder on my weakened muscles and aging bones), but the laughter and excitement are doubled. Grandchildren provide a respite from all of the behavioral expectations of being a grown-up. Each time we are fortunate enough to enter their creative, imaginative, world; we are transported back to our own carefree days of yore. We can act silly, scream aloud, and jump for joy. Our senses revert back to less jaded days when the earth was filled with wonder. They are our very own “Fountain of Youth.”

7 Comments

A Mothers’ Day Tribute

Mothers’ Day, a day set aside to let our mothers know how much we appreciate all that they are and all that they have done to help us along the sometimes bumpy road of becoming. While it is nice to be recognized on a special day, those of us who are mothers and grandmothers receive recognition every day of our lives.

This recognition has many forms: a brilliant smile when we arrive at our grandchildren’s homes; the hugs they so willingly give us; the miraculously cured aches and pains whenever we lift them into our arms; a simple phrase like “play with me, grandma” becomes a symphony to our ears; a drawing decorated with those “very special stickers” that their little hands so proudly made for us; an exchange of funny faces upon each departure, in order to ease the sadness we feel parting from one another; and the happy memories we hold onto until we are together once again. These are just a few of the ways in which our grandchildren enrich our otherwise ordinary lives.

We constantly receive recognition from our children. As much as we appreciate the card, small gift, email or phone call, our greatest present on Mothers’ Day is seeing our children blossom into the adults we always hoped they would become; young women and men who demonstrate a love for family and friends, possess strong values, display ethical behavior and are fair and open-minded. When our children display these strengths of character, our entire being swells with pride. The self-doubt that plagued us at times during our children’s developmental years disappears as both they and we age and grow wiser together.

When our children become parents, we receive further recognition upon seeing them pass their childhood memories onto their children: warm hugs after a trying day, Band-Aids covering phantom scrapes, kissing away tears of frustration, empathizing with hurt feelings, laughing over silly jokes that make little to no sense, making loud noises just for fun, blowing bubbles in tub water, playing pretend for hours on end, and always finding the time to listen, really listen.

Whenever I am thanked for babysitting, I want to say “Thank you!” Thank you for trusting me with your most precious gifts, your two beautiful daughters.  Thank you for reaffirming my belief that I was on the right track those many years ago, when I was riddled with self-doubt about my parenting skills. Thank you for enabling me to witness your exceptional devotion to each other and its affect upon your warm, loving children. As I observe you, I realize that you may be experiencing doubt over some of your decisions, but you should know that self-doubt is the sign of good parenting. It makes you think about your interactions in life, mull them over and reassess each situation. We don’t know all the answers, but we do our best when we think about the consequences of our actions.

So on this Mother’s Day, I want to let all mothers know that you have the most important job in life, far more important than any CEO of a big corporation. You are the CEOs of human development. You are the major shareholder in the values and ethics that will mold the future of this world. Your job is far from easy. It is often accompanied with tears, angst and frustration, but it is never dull, and its rewards are immeasurable. We, who have gone before you and generations to follow, place our trust in you. And from what I have witnessed through my limited involvement in the lives of my granddaughters, their friends and families, the future is in wonderful hands,

Happy Mother’s Day! This little phrase comes with deep appreciation and heartfelt thanks.

4 Comments

An Invitation to Read

Selecting the right book is one of the most important steps in generating excitement and developing young children’s interests in reading. The language should be on a level that is easily understood and the pictures should be vivid and engaging. It is a lesson I learned over and again during my teaching tenure and one that I apply as I peruse bookshelves when searching for a book for my grandchildren. So when our daughter Nancy asked us to read a story to May’s preschool classmates, Richard and I jumped at the chance. We had the perfect book!

 I first read Hey Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose to my grandniece Amanda’s first grade class and was delighted by how well it was received. The story is about a “kid” who is about to step on an ant, but his foot remains raised in midair as the ant pleads its case as to why it should live. The exchange of dialogue is entertaining, informative, written in verse, and illustrated from the perspectives of both the ant and the kid, all very appealing aspects for grabbing a child’s attention. What I particularly enjoy about the book is the way it ends by asking whether or not the kid should squash the ant.

On the day of our visit, May, upon seeing us enter her classroom, rushed to us with arms outstretched yelling, “Grammy, Grampy!” Music to our ears! As I held her close and felt her little arms wrap themselves around my neck, I became aware of how quickly this little love of our lives was growing and how fortunate we are to be a part of her ever-evolving world.

As visitors to the Land of the Lilliputians, Rich and I had to crouch down in order to enter the playhouse that served as the reading room. Once inside we sat, knees to nose, upon the tyke-sized chairs reserved for us, the honored guests.  Eleven bright-eyed, eager little bodies surrounded us waiting with high expectations to be entertained.

Ask children a question and an endless stream of answers is guaranteed to follow. It is a great icebreaker! So, we began our visit by asking May’s classmates how many of them had seen ants crawling on the ground and been tempted to step on them. Our simple question opened a flood of responses, each more fantastic than the previous one, as would be expected coming from the creative minds of uninhibited five-year-olds. Fact and fiction became intertwined as these budding biologists excitedly shared their limited knowledge of ants, bringing broad smiles to Richard’s and my faces. There is nothing as refreshing as the spontaneity of children when they are asked to offer their opinion on any subject.

Once everyone had the chance to speak, we began the story. Rich and I came equipped with two copies of the book with the intention of showing the illustrations while taking turns reading the text aloud, a very effective way to maintain young children’s interests in the story being read.

The book’s text increasingly leads its readers to feel compassion for this tiny speck of nature that lay at the mercy of the “kid’s” moral dilemma. By story’s end, when the question of squashing or not squashing the ant was raised to our enwrapped listeners, ten of the eleven children sympathized with the ant and yelled out a resounding “NO!” the exception being a free-spirited little boy who had no qualms about squashing ants. It is always refreshing to witness how preschoolers openly state what is on their minds without the weight of worrying about appearances, a benefit to being so very young.

As a memento of our visit, May gave miniature rubber ants and jumping beans to her friends.  While May’s classmates excitedly watched their jumping beans move about in their little hands, Rich and I feasted our eyes upon the happiness that radiated from our granddaughter’s small face. She was the star of the day and we felt profound joy that we were there to watch her shine.

May and her sister Eloise are our motivation to be all that they would want in grandparents. And so we continue…

%d bloggers like this: