Tag Archives: fun activities

Mommy Files: The Apprentice

My son, a kindergartner, has to do homework four times a week. While that might sound excessive, the assignments currently consist only of a page or two of simple number recognition exercises in his math booklet. In addition, the teacher sent home about 20 optional activities designed to reinforce letter sounds, sight words and vocabulary.

Last week, KFP and I did one of the activities, creating silly sentences, where each word started with the same letter. We agreed that anything starting with “B” (balloon, boy, bus), should bounce, and that anything starting with “T” (train, tiger, truck) should travel or trip.

After we’d done a series of silly sentences, KFP suggested we sing some silly songs. No rules; just improv, the sort of thing we’d done before while taking a long drive. He started us off with a song called “The Elephant Drives a Truck.” We took turns singing lines, with no real rhyme scheme, telling a rambling story of an elephant who crashes into everything and then gets in trouble.

“Now let’s sing another one,” KFP said.

“Sure, I’ll start this one,” I said and began a song about leaves falling off a tree.

KFP interrupted me. “That’s not funny,” he said.

“It’s only the first line,” I told him. “You set up the joke, and then you have a punch line.”

“What’s a punch line?” he asked.

“The part that’s funny.”

“Ohhhh!” he said, and I could see enlightenment sweep across his face.

I realized at that moment that most of his humor is conceptual, about the ridiculousness of the premise. I explained that humor can also come from playing off expectations. The unexpected can be funny, I told him, and hammered the idea in later when one of his shoes fell off while he was walking.

We started again, creating a silly country-western song inspired by the upcoming Farmer Fun Fall day at KFP’s school. We even rhymed occasionally: “Come down to our jamboree, where we’ve got cows and pigs for free!” At the end, we both called out “Yee-haw!” in unison.

If we’d have been on the stage, that would have been a great blackout moment.

But since this was real life, and he is five, he kept trying to recreate the magic of that silly elephant truck song. In the coming days, we sang about a rabbit driving a tractor, about a mouse driving a bus, all essentially the same rambling saga of animal-wrought destruction and chaos.

Then, as we were sitting on the grass, waiting to pick his friend up from his bus stop, KFP asked if we could write another silly song.

“OK, but let’s make this one different,” I requested.

“I’ll start,” he offered, and began, “The elephant took off in his rocket…”

I chimed in, “And blasted into space.”

KFP continued, “And he crashed into the Milky Way…”

He had to stop singing then, because I laughed uncontrollably for minutes. My pupil.

Mommy Files: Resolutions (Sort Of)

Whether it’s from jealousy or just because they make me weary, I tend to look askance at moms who are too enthusiastic about their parenting goals. Lately, though, I’m beginning to understand them better. Now that my son — at 3 1/2 — has reached a stage where he seems to soak in knowledge like a sponge, I’ve found it’s easy to go overboard. Still, I don’t want to become one of those moms who shoves flash cards at their child the minute he wakes up, determined that he’ll be acing the PSAT’s by age 7.

I do, however, resolve to continue some of the practices that have worked for us so far:

1) Use a sticker reward chart to promote positive behaviors and eliminate undesired ones.

2) Use the “Kindergarten Here I Come” calendar to develop fun and educational activities for us to do together on a regular basis.

In addition, I’d like to work on something I’ve been avoiding, in part because, despite the social graces I’ve cultivated over the years, I’m really still an introvert. The beast I’d like to slay, the dreaded playdate.

3) Actively schedule playdates for KFP to interact with friends, both new and old.

In order to follow through on this last one, I believe I’ll have to continue to remind myself that a playdate doesn’t have to mean inviting someone over to our cramped rowhouse. It could, instead, mean scheduling a meet-up at a park, museum, or even the library. I’m going to start by contacting the mother of the preschool classmate my son calls his best friend. Not only do the boys get along extremely well, but I also enjoy talking to her. Bonus!

And that’s it. Simple, sweet and actionable. On top of that, I’m resolving to go easy on myself and on him: remembering that no one is perfect all the time, and having faith that small, persistent, nurturing actions will eventually pay off for us both.

Cheers! Happy New Year!
My little guy toasts the New Year… with his sippy cup.