I sink exhausted in my chair at lunch, my 4-year-old grandson sitting across from me, and hit the play button on the VCR so that the next episode of Thomas The Tank Engine rolls through while we eat. The morning has been endless moves from inside to outside, upstairs and down, [...]
Brian Doyle, exceptional father and author, writes about his infant son’s timing for spouting: “He was six months old and fatter than the later Marlon Brando and I peeled his moist stuff off and leaned over to blow raspberries into his capacious belly to make him snicker and up periscope! and fire at will, captain! Good thing I wear spectacles, is all I can say.” (Children & Other Wild Animals, 76) Besides sharing the hilarity of the incident (his wife laughed so hard she had to lie down), he tells his reader as he writes, he wants that moment back again, its utter outrageousness [...]
The secret to building kids’ connections to the printed page is through stories—the pot of gold in books and the imaginations of young children. My grandson, Matthew, loved to tell stories about how he thought the world worked, or, better yet, the violence and valor (in his mind) of dinosaurs: how they lived and how they died.
I loved to listen, my form of bribery. I even upped the ante and the two of us improvised dino-dramas in my living room converted to dinosaur habitats—one for his carnivores and one for my herbivores. As time went on, [...]
“Do mine first,” my 7-year-old grandson, Matthew, whined, “cause you did John’s thingy first.”
I was about to cut the tops off pumpkins so the boys could convert them to jack-o-lanterns to enjoy during the week before Halloween. John was our guest. I squinted at Matthew. “Excuse me?” [...]
I remembered rocking my drowsy grandson in my arms, in his dusk-lit bedroom, our songbook closed long ago, his crib in the ready just a few feet away. I could hear the voices of his mom and dad at dinner downstairs. I felt hungry myself, but was never in a rush to give up the sleeping bundle in my arms. Unlike when I was a mom, as a grandmom I had time (lots of it) to give to the bedtime ritual, a routine I knew would pass all too soon. And I had perspective, not lots, but enough to realize that the value of moments spent with this small body nestled next to mine were invaluable. [...]
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched my grandson, Matthew, then 18-months-old, struggle to connect the cars on his train set via hooks. They were slippery, some turned the wrong way, making them difficult to fasten. Time passed—minutes that felt like hours. Would he ask me to help? Cry or throw the cars in frustration? No, none of the above, though I was on the verge of all of the above. Grit, resilience, self-control, and optimism are among the important traits, according to Paul Tough’s article, that lead to success in learning. [...]