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Kids fighting. I sent mr. flea out with Dillo to get cat food, figuring he could use the exercise (Dillo, that is.)

I calmed the freaking-out Casper and fed her lunch and talked her into going to Joseph-Beth booksellers with me. We totted up her allowance owed and talked about buying a gift for Dillo.

We walked in and found mr. flea and Dillo, of course. But we all agreed to pretend we didn't see each other.

A peaceful half hour ensued. But each kid only wanted things for him/herself. Casper was better than Dillo, and saw several things that would be reasonable gifts for him.

Finally Dillo pitched a fit that we were obviously not going be be buying him a Playmobil castle, and mr. flea took him home. I found Casper counting up her change and planning to buy herself a little (adorable) stuffed dog. I reminded her that we were shopping for others, and also noted that Dillo would plotz if I let her buy a gift for herself when I'd just sent him home for wanting gifts for himself. She stormed off and we stormed home together and she's in her room.

Ah, the spirit of giving. It takes practice.

(In other news, their car bickering has gotten so sad we literally can't take them anywhere.)


Mar. 21st, 2011 07:27 pm
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Casper has just written her first letter to the president.  It is about "tocsic gases" and global warming.  All her own work.  I helped her address the envelope.  I hope we get at least an email back.
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Dillo is obsessed with paper airplanes lately; the house is littered with them.  He makes them at afterschool, with A., S.'s twin, who is in second grade (in Casper's class) and working on a paper airplane science fair project in the Spectrum class.  Amusingly, A. and Dillo could be brothers; they have a very similar look.  Dillo is also obsessed with a new PBS show called Wild Kratts, a mostly-cartoon show about brothers who interact with wild, usually endangered, animals.  He wants to watch it constantly.

I worked a split shift yesterday and picked Dillo up at 2:30 as a treat. We scootered home (after scootering to school that morning with an inch of snow on the ground, so pretty!) and built a lego (duplo) garage, originally intended for his matchbox cars, but which in the event was used for jumping frogs.  We also changed out the toilet seat upstairs, and he turned the old seat into a rocket for his frogs. I love the way he says "blast-es off".

He remains unhappy with school, especially after school, which is boring for him. His ideal world would involve staying home with me and playing with me and watching Wild Kratts, so. He's pretty much always been like this.  They have started doing a little bit of reading group with part of his class, and he likes to play Starfall on my computer, so maybe he will start reading and have that outlet at school.

Casper has been a little fragile emotionally of late, and I emailed the counselor again and she replied but I am not sure she's met with Casper yet; she said she's been incredibly busy.  When there are 3 children at the school who've had parents murdered in the last 6 weeks, and many children living in poverty, the counselor is probably right to make the neurotic and depressive tendencies of an upper-middle class girl with neurotic depressive parents a second-tier priority - if Casper has a crisis, we have at least some of the tools to deal with it ourselves.  We've tried.

Casper's gotten a space - apparently these are in much demand and she's been on a wait list for it - with a program called Fast ForWord, a computer-based program for helping struggling readers. I've read the Wikipedia page and some of the product's marketing materials, and am somewhat cynical.  (Well, what else is new.)  It says it focuses on phoneme awareness and is especially useful for students with auditory processing disorders.  Casper does have troubles with phonemes, but she certainly does not match up with the symptoms for auditory processing problems, which include slowness to talk and trouble with vocabulary and comprehension.  It seems like auditory processing is a fad diagnosis for reading troubles right now, lined up with the fads of ADHD, dyslexia, etc.  I hesitate to get Casper formally evaluated (independently; they have done some evaluation at school apparently, which got her recommended for Fast ForWord, but we have not heard the results) and diagnosed with something because I am so cynical about the faddiness of diagnoses; on the other hand, I do feel like the right help could get her over a hump and reading well.  mr. flea is wary of diagnoses because of stigma.

Casper hates Fast ForWord (yesterday was the first day) because she got pulled out of class and missed making shadow puppets; at least she isn't feeling stigmatized?  There was torrential weeping about this, though.  I tried to present the program as a positive - she's improved so much in her reading that she's ready for an intensive program to jump-start her and get her improving fast, so she can read hard long books all by herself.  She is improving; she notices words on signs and reads them out often now.  I do think about whether we would even be worrying about her reading if she were in 1st grade instead of second.  And I confess that although I don't know a great deal about the science, such as it is, of literacy acquisition, Casper is a little confounding.  She does write some letters backwards; her handwriting is horrible (though if she tries it is fine); her spelling is awful, even with words she has known for ages; she stumbles over very easy very common words when reading sometimes (was, there, could) and yet manages quite difficult words with ease; her reading ability fluctuates extremely based on mood.  If anything, I think she has visual processing issues with letters; she is a very visual (picture) focussed person, and I wonder if Chinese or another pictographic language would have come easily.

Any suggestions for quality readings about literacy acquisition would be appreciated.
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Or rather, my last day home alone with the kids - mr. flea is off tomorrow and Jan. 3 with me.

Due to various punishments, Casper is on no TV, and Dillo gets no treats, no scooter, and no iPod touch.  God damn, what am I supposed to do with them all day??  Kids, please a) be less sassy and b) cooperate with the damned toothbrushing!  So far we have used the melon baller on a cantaloupe with great glee, and I think we are going to make biscuits, and test the virtues of the TWO egg slicers I received for Christmas.  (At least it's not like the Christmas of the Silicone Pastry Brush - I got 3 of those.)


Dec. 29th, 2010 10:28 am
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"I hate myself
I don't like myself
I don't believe in myself
I'm not a genius."

This is Casper's negativity mantra.  Guess where it came from?  From the positive mantra the school counselor taught her, just turned around.  Greeeeeeeeaaaaaaat.

Casper is attempting to sew shorts for her barbie-sized doll out of a scrap of slippery silk satin left over from my wedding dress, a task I would be doomed to fail at.  Boy are we having fun here.

Also, what they hell kind of school counselor teaches a kid a positivity mantra whose last line is, "I'm a genius"?  No she's not, and it's not heal;thy to tell her she is.
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Both kids are having vastly different issues right now.

Read more... )
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(same day)

I highly recommend Sandy Creek Nature Center as a birthday venue. The turtle and snake and lizard were awesome, the kids and adults loved it, and the "make a reptile out of playdoh" project was a huge hit.

Then we packed up and drove to NC and found no room at the inn - at any campground anywhere, and not a free hotel room to be found in Asheville. And Casper pitched six kinds of fits and awfulized, and we finally got a room in Flat Rock, and then the kids were insanly bouncy and worked up and downright rude and I had to flee the room for fear of doing them violence. I am so tired, you little fuckers, shut UP and got to SLEEP and stop LAUGHING at my anger and pian.
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And now, Casper is having an extended Night Terror, her first in years. Screaming, tense, kicking the couch, inconsolable (though in contrast to what they say about Night Terrors, conscious enough to hold sensible conversation, when I can get her to speak.)

Yeah, this was what the week needed.

Edit: she didn't remember it in the morning. I wish I didn't!

Cast 2.0

Apr. 6th, 2010 09:20 pm
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Over the weekend I noticed that Casper could move her thumb in her cast - she could pull it in and poke it out like a turtle's head from a shell. Since the thumb is the broken part that the cast is supposed to be immobilizing, this seemed problematic. A call the the orthopedist yielded an appointment for today. They removed the old cast with a vibrating special cast saw, and x-rayed, and re-cast her, this time in purple, and a tighter wrap. (She was still quite swollen when they did the first cast, so I gather the looseness comes from that subsiding.) The bone is healing nicely and she should be finished with this cast in 2 weeks. She wants to take the old cast to school tomorrow so everyone can try it on. I am sure they will do so with glee, despite it being filthy. Michael made sure she thoroughly washed her hand while briefly between casts.
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This, verbatim, is what Casper said after S. and H. (our neighbors) were too snowbally with her. 10 minutes later, after she punched H. and twisted her arm, I made her go inside.

45 minutes later, she's still having a hissy fit about it.

The quote was still pretty damned funny, though.

Ooooh, we've now progressed to, "I hate you all!" And a flounce to the bedroom. Joy.
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[Casper]'s wish list

-Bunny [They went to the pet store to buy cat food while I grocery shopped.]
-Doll hous mansion.
-My baby first steps. [This is apparently a Wii game.]
-A flat Screen TV.

Yeah, not so much. Though I am starting to fantasize about a second TV, so I can veg and watch football while they veg and watch Spongebob. But that way lies cable and a TV in every room.

Casper is actually getting American Girl Doll Julie (1974, with looong blonde hair and brown eyes.)

I am off to work shortly and GLAD. The kids have been bickering like mad all weekend (including hitting each other), Casper cries when yelled at (for doing things like grabbing things out of her brother's hand) and Dillo seems to have been on a mission to poop or pee in every single pair of underpants he owns.


Aug. 24th, 2009 04:32 pm
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So, it's developmentally normal for 5-6 year old girls to be flirtatious, right? It's the classic age of the Electra complex, for one thing. Casper has long had an intense interest in older boys - possibly stemming from her earliest days in our nanny-share when she was 9 months old and Alexander was the 4 year old big brother of the other baby. And she's always been a pretty outgoing, not socially inhibited kid, the kind who would sit in the stroller and say hello to passing pedestrians, and will still walk up to adults and say, "Hello!" She loves to chase boys at school, and has certain boys that she thinks are especially interesting (River at after school).

I guess I am a little discomfited partly because of how my mother reacted to an anecdote I related to her while we were all at the beach. We were on a pretty empty beach near a couple of college-age guys who were quietly drinking beers and then went in the water to play frisbee. I had said hello to them when we sat down (it's a small beach and a small town). When they went in the water where the kids were playing Casper said hello and they were genial and good natured and played frisbee with her for a little while. We were sitting at the water's edge and watching. One of the guys was not in a swimsuit, just shorts, and his shorts got droopy and the waistband of his underwear was showing. Casper told him to pull up his pants.

I related this little story to my mother as a "funny things kids say" story, and she freaked out, yelled at me about Casper's safety, brought it up separately and later with mr. flea, and it was pretty much the root cause of our inability to get along while we were there visiting.

Recently while visiting good friend she was also a little flirty with the daddy in the family, and I think was just barely aware of the effect she was having (he was actually a little uncomfortable, possible because she was just out of the bath and shed her towel; we got her dressed pretty swiftly).

What's y'all's take on the normalcy of flirty little girls? Do you think I really need to be concerned about her safety when she is interacting with people in public under my watchful eye (people I have spoken to first, demonstrating it's okay?)


Aug. 24th, 2009 08:36 am
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We went to a potluck last night - someone told me the Evite showed 126 people attending, and we weren't on the Evite. It was a zoo. I'd say easily 50 children.

The family has 3 boys, aged 8, 6, and 4. The middle one is in Casper's class at school. They have a play set in the back yard and a scrum of boys in the 4-6 range were all over it through most of the party, while Dillo did some swinging and eventually some climbing and sliding. As you know, Bob, Dillo is the World's Most Cautious Child, but in this case his caution was appropriate - some of these kids were little hellions. General roughness in the course of games I can handle (though Dillo, not so much) but I saw pushing, tackling, and punches thrown. It was a serious male competitive atmosphere. It made me glad I have a sensitive new age kid. Not that Dillo was the only one who was behaving well - he stuck close to our neighbor Henry and his friend Tommy, who had their own elaborate game involving a frisbee, shield, and two horns off of a viking helmet.

I guess the part that disturbed me was that few parents were paying attention at all, and I had the sense that even if the parents of the wilder boys had been watching, they would not have considered the level of physicality and violence anything to be concerned about. Among our neighbors we have some wilder sorts - Owen is a natural Tasmanian Devil type, and Spencer has a temper and is big and can be physical. But both of their parents keep a close eye on them and call them out when they behave badly - Spencer's parents more effectively than Owen's, but Spencer also has a year on Owen, and Owen is seriously a force of nature. But I think some parents feel that boys are boys, and excessive roughness and pushing are par for the course, and they should work it out among themselves. Judging by what I saw last night, it's not a good strategy.

In other boy news, Casper recently informed us that she kissed a boy on the lips at after school. His name is Zachary and he's also a first grader I think, and actually he's quite a looker. Casper really likes boys.
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My god, does she know how to push my buttons. And the whining. And the drama.

Son is rambunctious and doesn't want to go to bed, but he is so much an easier person to deal with. And it's not just age; Casper was a terror at 3 - the lawyering, the defiance.

le weekend

Jul. 20th, 2009 08:35 am
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This weekend was notable for our progress in potty training with Dillo, and our efforts are temper management with Casper.

Dillo went from 8am-5pm Saturday with no diaper and no accidents. He spent the first part of the morning naked, and used the potty twice. Then we put on underpants and shorts and went roller-skating. He wouldn't use the bathroom there but also didn't have an accident. At home we were naked again until midafternoon, when he put on a swimsuit and we got out the slip and slide. He had an accident while riding his bike at the neighbors', and then fell asleep for the night at 6pm.

Sunday he was naked and even made a tiny poop on the little potty. Wore underpants and shorts to the grocery store successfully, then had an accident while playing in his room at home. mr. flea put him in a diaper at that point, I think, and he was in a diaper for the rest of the day and pooped in it. This morning I took his diaper off as soon as he was up and he almost made it to the potty when he needed to go, but waited to long and peed on the bathroom floor. Still, progress of a sort.

Casper was faced with a weekend punishment for behavior last week. We finally decided on no candy. Unfortunately as she was getting ready to go have dinner at Penny's house, she climbed on the counter and got at the gumdrops on top of the cabinets, and tried to sneak this past us. I was about to cancel the playdate but she begged to have no TV at all Sunday instead. I reminded her that the big Spongebob special was on Sunday, but she said she'd rather have no TV than miss seeing Penny.

In the event we had remarkably little begging for TV on Sunday. She was in a rather craptastic mood anyway at times, and she and I had a big fight over rearranging furniture. In her ongoing packrat trend, she wants to snag pieces of furniture from the public space of the house and make them hers. When I said no, she had a nice little freakout, and among other things told me she was going to break my arm (though did not actually offer any violence). Plus, lots and lots of whining all day over everything and nothing. Sigh.

We had a rather nice TV-free Sunday (after one watching of Cars at 7am) and I'm thinking of making it a family habit (though maybe ending the day with a family movie or Funny Videos). Casper and I got a smidge of painting in upstairs, and I did some gardening, and we seem to be winning the battle of the fleas, so in all the weekend went okay. I am really ready for back to school, even though the schedule will be almost identical to what we have now - how silly! I also think I subconsciously am expecting "Back to school" to mean "cool fall weather," but since back to school is August 6, that is deeply unlikely.


Jun. 27th, 2009 02:19 pm
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After yesterday's post, which she clearly has not read as she cannot read, Casper picked the purple Lands End Mary Janes - the ones she has not worn in several months and rejects every time I suggest them - to bring on our trip.

Maybe she can read and is fucking with me.

Also, Southern Cities? Why do you insist on scheduling your lovely outdoor festivals during the months of June, July, and August? Durham's Eno (which I attended once in 6 years) and AthFest (which we bailed on today, instead playing blacklighted minigolf at the mall), I am looking at you specifically.


Jun. 11th, 2009 09:07 am
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This morning with Casper was sort of reminiscent of the bad old two year old days of screaming fights over getting dressed. Or the bad old four year old days of the same (remember that time mr. flea had to drive Casper to school in her underpants?) She did not want to wear any of the choices she had (i.e. everything that was clean - I was not limiting her choices). She ended up going to camp in a YMCA t-shirt and plaid shorts that she likes but I agree are a little bit too small, and there were floods of tears and I had to basically leave her there crying, with no support from the stupid (male) counselors (and no help from Casper at pulling herself together).

We've had a lot of trouble with clothes this summer. Nothing is right. A couple of weeks ago I went through all her clothes with her and pulled out everything that didn't fit or she said she didn't like. (Including two brand new pairs of Gap Kids shorts that she picked out.) This left nearly nothing, with a special shortage on the bottom. This weekend she picked two new pairs of shorts at Old Navy and I told her that was it as far as me buying her new clothes this summer. But of course they are both in the laundry, and I refuse to do extra laundry simply because Casper can't frickin decide what she wants to wear.

I have no idea what the problem is, and while I'm somewhat sympathetic, I feel like we are offering her as much autonomy about clothing choices as is reasonable. She can wear anything she owns - even jeans even though it's 90 degrees - and at this point she has had input into the purchase of almost all the clothes she owns. I explained this morning about the laundry and the environment and the fact that doing laundry is work for me.

I think some of her social anxiety about the YMCA is getting focused onto the clothing issue. I just don't know what to do about it, beyond what we are already doing.
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Last night was a rough one for Casper - she freaked out ostensibly over the fact that her brother disturbed the hideaway she had built in the living room out of pillows and a comforter, but actually over the stress of the first week at YMCA camp, I think.

In practical terms she seems to be doing well - is drinking enough water I think, has enough food. She and Dillo both sported rashes starting Wednesday at bedtime; his was cleared up by Thursday morning and hers has persisted and gotten worse. I thought at first it was prickly heat - she was wearing black leggings on an 80 degree day the day it started - and then we thought about a reaction to the chlorine in the pool, or an allergy to the sunscreen. Neither hypothesis suits all the facts, but we bought a different brand of suncreen today.

But she's having a lot of social anxiety - reported being embarrassed because she can't swim and avoided the swim test (on inquiry, Coach said only 10 of the kids in her age group have passed the test so far, and the only purpose of the test is to make sure they're safe to swim in the outdoor pool, which lacks a shallow end where most 5 year olds could stand.) Today rejected most of her clothes because she worries about what people think of them. I had a long heart to heart with her last night (topics covered: evolution vs creationism, true friends know what's in your heart, etc.) and tried to explain about how change is hard and this is new.

Feeling like crap mom because NEXT week she'll go to a different new camp (our only "enriching" camp, for inventors - her friend S. & A. will be there too, so hopefully not so socially overwhelming.) Then back to YMCA for the rest of the summer.

In the course of our heart to heart she proposed that we put the bunkbeds together and she and Dillo could sleep and keep their dressers in the big bedroom, and the little bedroom would be "my playroom." I said we'd think about it (this was actually my original plan, except for the "my" part, and we'd put the futon in there and have a guest room). Then she told me about visiting our neighbor Duckie's house last week before our trip, when they went over to ask Duckie to watch our cat. (Duckie is 11 or 12, and that is not her real name.) According to Casper, Duckie's room is a "bedroom of luxury." The walls are pink and her bed is painted pink and she has a dresser with a big mirror over it and makeup! I asked mr. flea about the Bedroom of Luxury visit after Casper fell asleep, and he said that when she saw it, Casper said to Duckie's father, "I wish YOU were my dad!" Hee.

Anyway, if anyone is getting a Bedroom of Luxury in this house, I am first in line, dammit.
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1. Casper lately has a tendency to wind up in freakouts sometimes over fairly routine issues (i.e. when reprimanded for stealing life savers from the cabinet and stashing them under her bed). The freakouts consist of saying, "I know, I know, I'm the stupidest!" and placing herself in time out in her room. Sometimes there is also screaming. The reaction can go on for a long time; this weekend nearly two hours after the initial issue she was still incredibly touchy and just barely able to cooperate in us going out together.

Needless to say we have NEVER told her she is stupid; we do say things like, "that was a bad choice," "you're not listening," "it's not right to steal candy," etc. - we try to criticize an action, and not a person.

Ideas what this might be about? Often her reaction is strongest when we catch her doing things she knows are not allowed, and is probably feeling a little guilty about. We have a neighbor who is a school pyschologist and has 5 and 3 year olds and knows Casper. Do you think it's worth asking her for some input? mr. flea is worried we are too hard on her, while I worry we aren't hard enough - it's so hard to step outside and see objectively.

2. School is out for the summer a week from tomorrow! A neighborhood woman, a retired English professor, does some volunteer tutoring at Casper's school. Casper likes her a lot - she is the grandmother of Casper's old day care playmates from Durham - although we haven't seen as much of her this year as I'd meant to. She taught the twins (her granddaughters) to read the summer they turned 5. Casper has not yet had the reading switch come on as people say it does, and remains extremely reluctant to cooperate with any reading practice at home (we have not been pushing, just reading to her). Would it be appropriate to suggest to our neighbor that she and Casper meet once a week for a "reading playdate"? We could offer to pay her or offer to trade yard work, dog-sitting, or other minor domestic help. Am I being a ridiculously pushy yuppie mother to want Casper to continue reading practice over the 10-week break from school? My hope is that this would be a pleasurable thing for her, since she likes the neighbor and actively asks for playdates with her.
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We are watching a special on the King Tut exhibit in Atlanta. The special is PRE-EMPTING FUNNY VIDEOS OMG the horror (for me).

mr. flea: You know, your mom has been to Egypt. She's been there!
Casper, bursting into tears: I never get to go to Egypt! Why do I never get to go to Egypt?
me: Because you are five years old! I went a long time ago, before I even knew your dad! He's never been there!
mr. flea: Actually, you did get to go there with mom. You were an ovum in her ovary when she went.
Casper: But I didn't get to see ANYTHING!


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