Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


There was snow. There was skiing for (most of) the kids, and most of the dads. There was bowling for those too little, or too scared, to ski. There was sledding. There was snowball-throwing. There was snowman-building. There was a roaring fire. There was bacon and eggs in the mornings, pasta and tacos in the evenings. There was booze. There was a lot of booze. There was hot chocolate. There were nine kids under the age of 10, and eight adults. There was screaming (especially after the now-annual scary-story telling). There was giggling. There was laughing. There was the beginning of the planning for next year, our fifth annual trip up to Big Bear as a group.

And how was your MLK weekend?

Last week, N took his first kindergarten 'word ring' test. Ten words, including such stumpers as "I" and "a" and "on." But I was a little concerned about it. Not about N knowing the words, but about N being willing to read them, aloud, to Ms. F. He's been hiding his face a lot in class, refusing to come up to the board, not wanting to raise his hand, Ms. F has told me. She's been working on it with him. He's coming along. (Two steps forward, one step back.) I'm wasn't--and am not--actually worried about it. Except for the words rings.

See, before Mrs. W left, at that very illuminating parent-teacher conference, she talked about some of the testing she'd done with the kids, and how N had either refused to answer or had pretended not to know stuff she thought he clearly did know. Her take was that he was overwhelmed by having to both deal with lots of noise and kids in the class and with the stress of being singled out for testing at the same time.

Again, not a huge deal, but...in order to be promoted to the first grade, N has to be able to pass the tests for the first three ten-word rings. And while I'm fairly sure he can already read well over 30 words, I wasn't sure he could handle the testing itself. In fact, I was so unsure that I spoke with Ms. F about it ahead of time, and we came up with a strategy for dealing with the possibility that he would clam up or melt down when testing time came.

Of course, he did neither. Belted out the words without hesitation, first time around. He was the first kid that Ms. F tested, so that he wouldn't have time to get nervous about it, which I really appreciated. (I was working in the classroom at the time, so I was able to observe.) And when he got through it, she made a HUGE deal about it with him, congratulating him, giving him a sticker, giving him a hug. All good.

Fast forward a few days to last night. The phone rings just as we're finishing a late dinner, and it's Mrs. W, calling for N (who of course suddenly became shy and panic-stricken and wouldn't get on the phone) to tell him that she'd heard he'd passed his first word ring, and how proud she was of him. That was it. She just wanted to congratulate him. He was absolutely beaming as I held the phone up so he could hear her, too. He couldn't give in and say hi to her...even she realized that, because she said "I didn't think he'd be ready to just get on the phone with me"...but he was so simply happy to hear her voice.

It's the next day, and I still can't get over that phone call. How wonderful it is to have had that woman in N's life, even if only for a few months. How much we all miss her.

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