I have a teeshirt from a friend. It portrays a cat playing with a ball of string. It says “String Theory Research.”
Fleur asked: What does that say?
So, I read it. It didn’t register, so I started to explain:
Everything we touch and feel are made up of these teeny, tiny so small no one can even see them strings…
She changed the subject.
This interaction reminded me of a saying that if you cannot explain something to a 6 year old, then you do not really understand it. Some claim Einstein said. He said a certain topic was not teachable to undergraduates. Feynman was closer in saying if can’t explain in very simple terms, you don’t understand it.
25 years ago, I did some work in a classroom assisting the teacher. After teaching the Solar System, she lamented that I wasn’t doing Elementary Education because I was gifted at helping others understand. Others have said similar.
I love to explain things. So Fleur will roll her eyes. But some things will get through.
Back when before Fleur was born, Ada and I were shopping a store’s closing sale. Some of the toys were things she would not get until she was a year-ish.
A few things I resisted were noisy toys. My stance was: The adults in her life are going to get her those kinds of toys, so we don’t need to add to it. Aunts, uncles, and close friends will give her the unicorn that sings the most annoying song ever when you hit the button. Grandma will give her the karaoke Elsa. We won’t have to.
One thing to regret life because of others. Another because of ourselves.
That said, it hasn’t been too bad so far. Fleur plays with the thing hard for less than a week. She then returns to it for a small amount of time, diminishing over time.
From the stories my parents told and my vague recollections, I held on the noisy fire siren on a fireman’s hat my uncle gave me for weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks. I even replaced the batteries, so my father glued that compartment shut. (I haven’t taught Fleur about batteries.)
The weirdest thing are that these toys wake up on their own. The karaoke Elsa, will ask if Fleur if wants to sing with her if the play stops. Putting the laundry basked on the couch squeezed the paw of Pandy, who started with the Gabby’s Dollhouse intro music. My home is a mine-field of things making noise.
I love watching Fleur work through challenging behavior with others. It reminds me how much more I need to work on myself.
Spending time with her older cousins, she doesn’t accept their unfair behavior.
She used to just cry. A year ago, she would tell me “no, sir!” Or sometimes just cry. Now often she has the vocabulary to tell me after getting over the crying. We have work to do getting to the point of expressing the need instead of crying. Baby steps.
There is also this sense of not wanting to disappoint us. So, when she does something wrong, she experiments with deceptions. Some of my favorites:
The stuffie did it.
The stuffie told me to do it.
It was her cousin.
There is also the good:
Organizing play dates. When Fleur and Lyra (the best friend from the Friendship post) get picked up at the same time, they emerge from the building, they tell both parents their plan. It might be dinner or the park.
Since she is starting to read, I wanted to help associate the letters with things more… tangible.
So, when it returned to a bedtime reading staple the other day, I included her name in the appropriate letter. She commented about it, so the next time I included her cousin. She commented about both.
Now, I as I read, I am trying to anticipate the next letter and include for her a person’s name in the appropriate letter. The reaction tells me she is engaged more than when I read it without the personal connection.
Hopefully, that game is the kind of brain game appropriate to staving off my own impending dementia? I’m multi-tasking reading and also searching for names.
Ada took Fleur to the animal shelter because they had an adoption event. She was specifically interested in one named Hawkeye.
Funnily enough, she ended up not being large enough to get spayed, so Ada opted to bring the whole litter home with us. So we had four kittens for a month.
Through that ordeal, Ada fell in love with one and Fleur with another. So, we gained two.
Hawkeye and Hulk went on to a new home.
During their time with us, the big cousin Sophie started calling Hawkeye: “Hawkboy”. Okaaaay. Fleur picked up on it too. I gave up trying to correct them when it became clearer she wasn’t going to stay with us. It was wrong for a couple reasons:
Wrong comic universe (Hawkeye is Marvel.† Hawkman is DC.)
As a child, I loved LEGOs and spent hours upon hours building with them. We got Fleur Megablocks early and she aspired to build towers taller than her. I tried getting her in Duplos (toddler LEGOs), only to find her interested in the Minifig(ure)s. For the past 6 months she has really been interested in Magna-Tiles to build zoos for toy animals and houses for her Minifigs.
Coincidentally, she has also had a verbal explosion about the same time.
And I’ve run across a study looking at bleed over affects spatial ability into the verbal domain. These are older students, getting new lessons on spatial ability who then showed skill gains in verbal reasoning backed by changes in the brain through longitudinal fMRI scans.
The more students improved on spatial scanning and mental rotation, abilities that are specifically theorized to support mental modeling, the more they improved on verbal reasoning, and improvement on spatial scanning mediated the association of the spatial curriculum to improved verbal reasoning.
This might be something akin to findings that students who struggle with reading find word problems more difficult, so improving reading also improves math ability. The mental modeling aspect is truly fascinating.
The SAT wants verbal and math to be separate things, but we keep finding that they are subtly linked.
For years now, I have insisted Fleur hold my hand in parking lots. In recent probes for independence, she questioned why I needed to hold her hand. I explained that while she is a big girl, I pointed to a Toyota Highlander next to us and asked if she could see the steering wheel? No. I pointed to another large SUV a bit further and asked the same. No. If you cannot see them, then they cannot see you. Because I am bigger, they can see me and if you are holding my hand, you are close enough their avoiding hurting me means they will avoid you too.
A recent study…
Results suggest that children are eight times more likely to die when struck by a SUV compared to those struck by a passenger car.
There are a lot more SUVs and trucks on the road than when I was her age. The average vehicle is much bigger. So, I want her to hold my hand a bit longer.
In exchange, I give her a bit more freedom in the store. I let her walk with me instead of riding in the cart. I’m hyper aware of where she is, the people around us, and judging who might appear sketchy. And, lots of the time she gets tired and wants me to carry her, so I can drop the hyper awareness.
I wanted emphasize “right” in the context of side and not correctness. Left/right and correct/wrong. I am perhaps a bit sensitive to how in technology we take existing words and re-use them for new meanings. For a time it creates confusion as people acclimate to the new meaning.
The usefulness of language is in how easily we communicate concepts to each other. This right shoe case is a niche where the same word with different meanings could cause confusion.
But, at the same time it makes me think harder before my morning coffee so it left an impression.
If as a side effect she becomes overly precise in her word choice too, it may drive Ada and Fleur’s teachers nuts, but I will adore it. Words have meanings.
We know the game about keeping the balloon off the ground as “Keepy Uppy” due to the show Bluey. The father’s name is Bandit.
Setup: The same as traditional games of this sort. Inflate a balloon.
Action: Someone puts the balloon into the air. Each person hits the balloon back up into the air to keep it from touching the ground. The more acrobatic the better. Easy mode: control the balloon with soft hits so the other person can also controlled hit it.
In the episode, Bluey complains about it being too easy, so Bandit makes it harder. Fleur likes to make it harder by hitting it where I am challenged to keep it from touching the ground. Sometimes she transitions to Hard Mode after half an hour where other times she gets there after a few minutes. Sometimes she announces the change with “I am Bandit” while other times I figure it out because she’s started making it hard.