Cheesy confession: I opted IN to receive inspirational daily quotations. It was from a low dysfunctional dieting moment, no doubt, where I was ready to do whatever it took… even if it took me to the intersection of Velveeta and Sparkles. Today’s quote from Marian Wright Edelman, who founded the Children’s Defense Fund:
"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."
It felt like it arrived in my inbox as a confirmation. A little sign saying, yes, you’ll get there. Just keep at it. Then it made me want to give up TV (Except for Lost and The Biggest Loser, and all that Real Housewives absurdity). Three shows. That’s all I need. Because if I gave up television, my life would be a satisfying string of creative activities meant to stimulate, encouraging growth; my life would, indeed, sparkle. And it would feel fuller. Satisfying. Bright. I’d paint again. Scrapbook. Read more…
Which got me thinking of the beans, who today are age 3.5. In searching for youthful photos of my grandparents, I came across my Montessori School Evaluation Report–my pre-school report card, age 3.9. The READING section of my evaluation stated that I demonstrated a good knowledge of letter-sound relationships. "She is able to form some 3 letter words using her phonetic skills, and has a good overall understanding of initial consonant sounds." At which point, I turned to Phil. "We need to get on this like white on rice, my friend." Because up until this point, we didn’t realize how early reading began.
"You’re reading it wrong," he said, unaware of the irony in his declaration. "That was about your language. It means that you could string letters together in your words."
"Phil, it’s under the section READING. Don’t you think by the time I was Lucas and Abigail’s age I could say actual words, not just three letter sounds?" He walked away without responding.
Later in the day, I saw him reading my evaluation again. I wondered if he was up to the bit about LANGUAGE, right above the READING section. Stating that my speech and vocabulary were "very good… She enjoys verbalizing with her peers and is able to express her thoughts well. Her pronunciation is very good." Did he still think I spoke in 3-letter sounds, like a grunting cave dweller?
"So, we should probably start on this now, huh?" I said.
"Yuh." Now who’s the one talking in 3-letter sounds?
Sure, there’s the 6-month-old paraded on talk shows who can read (her parents both speech therapists/linguists). And there are those My Baby Can Read videos and all, but the most important thing, I thought (and still do), was instilling a love of learning, of books. And we have. We’ve got that passion for books thing covered with whip cream and a cherry. But phonetics? We had no idea it began with Kind Sir still crapping in his pants.
With the arrival of today’s motivational quote, I thought, it’s going to sneak up on us. We should probably do a little each day. At which point I Bing’d my way across the web in search of "Montessori Reading Activity Videos," then cracked open my educational materials catalog.
Oh, and add insult to educational institute, I was also able to write letters and numbers. PENMANSHIP. My taters can, at best, draw a triangle, circle, and something that might be a square. Bonus though: they know what a trapezoid is.
ARITHMETIC, I was able to "perform the operation of simple addition, up to 10." Holy hell. Mama’s got some work to do. I really think we should trash the TV.
On a final note, reading my own pre-school evaluation confirmed to me that we are born with certain proclivities. And my most important job as their mother is to pay attention to what they’re most inclined to do because we sometimes stray from our given talents in favor of what’s expected, to please others, to fit in. I want to be able to remind them where they began.
"Stephanie enjoys all group activities, particularly art, music, and dramatic play. She listens attentively to stories and is an active participant in group discussions." It might be because I wanted to be Annie, but it’s a reminder that we really are "born ready." Even if I do still count with my fingers.