I’ve noticed a discrepancy in the number of blog posts devoted to each of my children. Allie and Thomas have gotten all of the playing time lately and I’ve neglected to tell you what’s been going on with big sis. It is easier to make light of Allie’s escapades and talk about Thomas’ “firsts” because, for the most part, I am not in uncharted waters when it comes to navigating their growing pains. My firstborn is more like terra incognita every day as she grows into a young lady. Do you remember reading about the developmental milestone that infants reach around 6 months when they realize that their body and yours are actually independent of each other? Well I think I am hitting a milestone of my own and the epiphany that Nora Ruth is no longer living in ‘my’ world is unsettling.
The biggest development of the summer is that Nora Ruth has been learning to read! She has always loved being read to and has a memory like a steel trap that allows her to suck up any text we read aloud and “read” it back verbatim. Her favorites are more complicated texts (the Little House on the Prairie series, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Wind in the Willows, The Tale of Despereaux, Grimm’s Fairy Tales) and I’ve worried that she would be bored learning the basics so I haven’t pushed. A month ago I began introducing sight words, word families, and very basic texts and at first she pushed back. I almost relented but something that my Mom said changed my mind: “Nora Ruth is just like you at that age. If it didn’t come easily, you didn’t want to do it anymore.” Ouch! With that bump in the road far behind us now, Nora Ruth knows about 20-30 sight words, is learning about word families, knows some basic phonics for decoding, and is beginning to understand the limits of phonics and how to use context. She notices familiar words on signs and in books and attempts to read other words. Adult conversation has been lacking around here for awhile but now that spell-talking is out I guess we’ll have to work on some code words and smoke signals.
I’ve blogged about how much Nora Ruth loves the water but she is also fond of a good tree. Seagrapes are perfect for climbing; they have smooth, sprawling branches that reach upwards on a very gentle slope and they have many “elbows” for sitting or resting between climbs. Whenever its time to get out of the ocean, Nora Ruth heads straight for a tree to see how high she can perch before we notice she’s no longer on the ground. Her acrobatics aren’t limited to trees. Our neighbors installed a rope with a trapeze bar on a nearby tree. The bar is about 5 feet off the ground but Yia Yia taught Nora Ruth how to lift her legs over the bar and pull herself up to sit on it. She also taught Nora Ruth how to lean back, pull her legs off the bar and lower herself back to the ground. I have to admit that this really frightens me, especially after a long swim in the pool when I know she is worn out. Nora Ruth is also working on some pool gymnastics with her daddy. They get all giddy over how high he can throw her, how long she can stay “tucked”, and how big of a splash she can make. Pretty soon it will be how many rotations she can get before she hits the water. For all of her strength and daring she is still lacking in the coordination department. Several weeks ago she asked me to show her how to do jumping jacks and boy did I fail at that! Forget trying to get the feet and arm motions to coordinate. We didn’t make it past lesson one: jumping in and out.
I have to round out Nora Ruth’s post with a quick story about her sweet spirit. She went to play with some friends the other day. As I was picking her up, one of the parents was demanding that their child apologize to Nora Ruth. On our way home, I asked Nora Ruth what the trouble had been and she explained that the friend had shown Nora Ruth “special treasures” and then immediately told her in an unfriendly tone that she was not to touch them because she would break them. I asked Nora Ruth how that made her feel and she quickly said “sad”. She paused and looked at me carefully before saying, “and it kind of made me angry, too.” I told her that I understood and had felt like that myself plenty of times. Before I could “complete the lesson” Nora Ruth said, “Momma, I was mad but I didn’t say anything that would make her feel sad.” Love. My. Big. Girl. She practically raises herself.