Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Princess Doesn’t Wear Socks

It’s hard to reason with Disney-brainwashed little girls. Everything must sparkle, be silky, or otherwise befit Belle, Cinderella, or Ariel. When String Bean wanted to play outside on a 45-degree afternoon, I told her she needed to change out of her Sleeping Beauty dress and into warm clothes. She consented to pants, a pink fleece shirt with crown imprints all over it, and a gold tiara. She drew the line at socks. I told her she’d be too cold outside in her little pink flats, but that I’d let it slide if she put on warm socks under them. She looked at me like I was telling her to play in traffic and said, “A princess doesn’t wear socks.” So there you have it. They also, in case you were wondering, don’t wear jackets, mittens, scarves, or hats. She says they don’t need to, as their long flowing hair keeps their head warm. Also, it’s hard to wear a tiara with a hat on.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Age of Wonder

So now I have a four and a five-year-old. My girls can swim, pli√© and chass√©, String Bean can read like lightning, and Peanut knows the name of every animal she’s ever seen. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with their little sponge minds, but I’m loving every minute of it.

String Bean suddenly wanted to learn to write in cursive, so I set her up with a sample sheet of cursive letters and a blank sheet of lined paper and let her rip. She dabbled for a half hour and now is doing her homework in such fancy script that I’m worried her kindergarten teacher will think I’m doing it for her.

Peanut wants to know everything about everything, down to the most intricate details of how long cars are supposed to pause at stop signs and how books are produced. She’s learning to read herself, mimicking her big sister and adopting the same habit of simply memorizing every word she comes across. From the back seat I hear her shout out the words we pass that she now recognizes: “Stop! Guest! Park! Hill! Halloween!” These simple moments fill me with such joy that I cannot believe I ever thought I was happy before them.

Over dinner they ask me to translate endless terms into Spanish and when their dad is traveling we pull out a globe and plot his travels. In this way they now know the names of a variety of countries and continents. They like to try food from the countries he’s in, or at least String Bean does. Peanut wants to see it, smell it, ask endless questions about what makes Chinese food different from Italian, and Japanese different from French, but most nights she sticks closely to her good old yogurt diet.

I’m sure when I was their age I learned the same way, more by the world around me than in school. I have strong memories of sitting with my father while he read the newspaper and asking endless questions about all that we saw in there, and his patience in answering each one. I remember that my mother never used baby talk or simplified sentences, she just talked to me as if I could understand everything she said, and, eventually, I could.

We still have plenty of emotional drama from String Bean and stubborn battles with Peanut’s iron will, but overall, I’m really enjoying this age. The age of wonder and knowledge and the misguided belief that I have the answers to every one of their questions.