Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to Read to Kids

Reading to your kids is an inevitable part of parenthood, like contemplating cutting your heart out with the plastic gingerbread man during Candy Land, cursing while you sweep up pasta and it just keeps tumbling away from you, and lying that your daughter is 10 so you can take her to Yad Vashem. (What? Not everyone does that? Also - see what I did there? Linking to the non-snarky blog I write for. So sneaky).

There are a number of ways you can read to your kids. As an example, I am going to use Curious George (the Original). A book that Nadav is currently enthralled by. "Monkey? Abba?" (Abba = other people's daddy; here, the Man with the Yellow Hat.)

Now, I love me some Curious George, although reading the book as an adult has left me feeling somewhat concerned about H.A. Rey's ethics. Stealing indigenous animals to sell to a zoo? Giving tobacco to young impressionable primates? Arresting a minor and throwing him in prison because of a prank call? The lack of guards in said prison? The balloon man selling balloons right outside the prison wall?


Nadav does not seem bothered by this at all. So we read Monkey over and over. I've been doing the Full Read lately.

The Full Read
"This is George. He lived in Africa. He was a good little monkey and always very curious."

Although it takes a long time, it requires little brain power. You can read every word without paying attention, freeing your mind to think about something more important, like how long till Grey's comes back. (Thursday Jan. 10. I'm already on to thinking about something else. Like playing "Dust or bug?")

The Summarizer
"Look! Here's George! He's trying on the man's hat! The man put him in a bag and took him to a ship! Oh no! George is in the water!"

This, I find, is actually the most difficult way to read a book. It sounds promising in the beginning - just tell them the gist of the story, no need to read every word. However, summarizing involves analytical skills. So, no thanks.

The One Sentence Per Page
"This is George. He picked it up and put it on. George was caught. Across the water to a big ship. But it is easy for little monkeys to forget. Finally he HAD to try. And almost all tired out. At last he was safe on board. And on into the city to the man's house. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Just then the watchman came in. What a nice place for George to live!"

If your kids are young enough, they won't understand that what you're saying makes absolutely no sense. They'll be happy that you are turning the pages and reading the familiar words.

The Board Book Version
(My personal favorite, but there is a limited amount of time you can get away with it.)

Fire engines!

What method do you prefer?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In Which Two Boys Cannot Both Play Nicely at the Same Time

What happens when the brothers play:

Nadav finds a toy --> Yaakov's older brother instincts kick in --> Yaakov does something small-enough-to-seem-innocent-but-enough-to-upset-Nadav (knock something down, touch a toy) --> Nadav's nice playtime is over --> Yaakov now settles down with a toy --> Nadav notices Yaakov has the motorcycle he wants --> Yes, the same damn motorcycle from last time! --> Nadav grabs the motorcycle --> I try to placate Yaakov by doing a puzzle with him ('cuz I'm out of money) --> Nadav wanders over --> Nadav also needs to do a puzzle --> But not one that is, God forbid, age-appropriate --> So I end up doing a 60-piece puzzle with a two-year-old --> Lining up each piece precisely so he can push it in, after which we discuss if it's "matim" (fits) or not --> "Matim?" --> "Matim?" --> x60

This was a day of Chanukah vacation; I had thought that since we spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon running around, I had earned myself a few moments of quiet while the Boys Played Nicely. The Parenting Gods, were, of course, looking at each other and shaking their heads in exasperation. "'Earn myself a few minutes of quiet?' HA! When will she learn??? It doesn't work like that! Hey guys, come on, let's go hide one of the kids' shoes or water bottle so she can't find it in the morning!"

They have a mean streak, those Parenting Gods.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mommy Points!

It's time for the weekly roundup of Mommy Points! Let's see how well I did this week!

Cut up leftover chicken and meatballs into cubes and speared it with toothpicks and added a plate of dipping sauces, resulting in a creative and attractive lunch for my children that also used up my leftovers: +7

The "dipping sauces" were just ketchup and mustard: -2

Engaged in a fun game with Nadav... +3 just for that.

...that involved me blowing up a balloon over and over (and over) and letting him hold it while the air phlbbt-ed out. +5. Did I mentioned the over and over and over part? +3 Till I got lightheaded? +2

Paid Yaakov a shekel to let Nadav play with a motorcycle that they were fighting over: -5, for not using the opportunity to teach about sharing, taking turns, blah blah blah.

However ... it wasn't an actual motorcycle: +2

(Seriously, this is the smallest, plainest motorcycle imaginable. It doesn't move, or beep or light up. In fact, its only attraction is He Has It. No points. Just mentioning).

Helped Ariella study for her Chanukah chidon, which meant I had to scan through 8 pages of very dense Hebrew about the history of Modiin and understand it enough to ask questions, and understand it even more to make sure she was saying the right answer. +7 because I attempted it; -3 because I didn't do such a hot job, especially when it got to the end, about various battles that took place here in 1948, and I just said to her, "You know what? Why don't you just read these last two pages and make sure you understand them. Okay? Great!"

Yelled way too much: -10

But didn't use actual curse words: +2

The children are alive, reasonably well-fed and not visibly filthy. +one meeeelyon

Yay! I won! My prize? Doing it all again next week!!

How well did YOU do this week?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Nadav Writes a Story

A Very True Story, narrated by Nadav and written by Meema. This Very True Story occurred in our own house, just this past Shabbat.

(Amended to include the correct chapter six; see comments.)


Chapter 1: Bee! Bee!

Chapter 2: Bee! Cookie! [Ed. note: The bee had landed on the bag of cookies.]

Chapter 3: Daaaa-dddyyyy!!

Chapter 4: DAAAA-dddyyy!!!


Chapter 6: Bee. Go.

The "bee" in question was actually a fly, so don't be too concerned that Daddy doesn't make an appearance until Chapter 6.

Also, for all of you Save the Flies activists (flyctivist?), Daddy did not kill the fly. He simply opened the window. First, the fly failed to notice the open section and hurtled himself into the glass a few dozen times. Because let's face it, even you flyctivists have to admit that flies, as a species, are rather dumb. After a few dizzying minutes, though, he (the fly) found the opening and zoomed out.

Till next time, Bee.