Saturday, May 8, 2010

Week 28

And the week is over. We actually did school every single day this week, though I wasn't expecting to on Monday and Tuesday. Instead, I was planning to help Ari edit Ashes of Our Joy, which he sent off to the printer on Wednesday, but it turned out he had a bit of work to do on it that I couldn't help with which gave me time to do school with the kids.

On Monday morning, P and E decided that they did not want to do school, and they would use as much creativity and strategy as they could muster to avoid it. When I got out of the shower and announced that it was time for school, the two of them were nowhere to be seen. However, the trundle bed was pulled out. I called their names, and there was silence. I looked behind the trundle bed, and there they were, hiding under a blanket. P was upset that I had found them, and neither of them came out. So instead of wrestling with them or turning it into a battle of wills, I simply asked them to review the memory verse. E was completely caught out by this, and repeated it after me. P, not to be outdone, answered the catechism question. Then it was time to update our calendar, so I announced that since P and E didn't want to do school, I would put up the day and date and I would go, all by myself, to look at the weather and water their corn plants (a highlight of the day). My strategy worked! They were unwilling to let me have that much fun all by myself. The rest of the school day went fairly smoothly.

Monday afternoon, P had a dentist appointment. Poor kid, she seems to be cavity-prone, and at the kids' checkup last week the dentist decided she needed another filling, as well as getting sealant on her 6-year-old molars. While I was driving the kids to the dentist, my phone rang. It was the dentist's office, telling me that E had won the monthly drawing for a stuffed animal and asking me to bring him in. When we arrived at the dentist's office, E was handed a huge, light blue stuffed bunny and photographed for the dentist's bulletin board, and P just got a filling and sealant. Needless to say, P felt ill-used. The following morning, she wrote on a Post-It note, sticky side up, "Plees giv me a pris." (Please give me a prize). She asked me to take her to the dentist's office so she could put the Post-It on the window of the door and make the dentist have pity on her. I said no as gently and diplomatically as I could manage, with a discussion of probability and her likely odds of winning the next prize. I didn't think either child understood the odds that well, so I made a mental note to include it in our math lesson. On Wednesday, we played a game with dominoes: players take turns drawing dominoes from a pile, looking at the numbers, and stating the numbers and their sums. This was enjoyed by both kids, as E was able to do the addition problems by counting all the dots. P has grasped the strategy of starting with the larger addend and counting on the number in the smaller addend. Once we were done playing the game, we discussed the "Dentist's Office Problem". I asked them to estimate the number of children the dentist sees in a day. After discussing how many children they had seen in the waiting room during the time we were there, P estimated that he sees about 17 children per day. This seemed a reasonable estimate to me. We counted work days on the calendar and came up with 20 per month. I did the multiplication for them, and informed them that this meant that he probably sees about 340 kids per month. I suggested that maybe half of the kids leave without putting their names in the stuffed animal lottery, leaving us with roughly 150 names. So I wrote the numbers from 1 to 150 on a piece of paper, cut them all out, and had each child choose and mark one. P coloured hers pink, E coloured his blue. Ari came up, having submitted his book to the printer and wanting a break, and asked if he could play too, so he chose a number and coloured it green, and I coloured one purple. We now had 4 marked numbers out of a pool of 150. I put them all in a Ziploc and shook them around, drawing one at random. Not surprisingly, it was an unmarked number. After a few iterations, the kids started to lose interest and played quietly nearby until, on the 57th drawing, I retrieved Ari's marked number. Several other numbers had been drawn twice by this time, and one had been drawn 3 times. I discussed how, if each of those drawings represented 1 month, and each child visits the dentist 2 times a year, it would have taken 28 years for one of the 4 of us to win, by which time any child who started out at the pediatric dentist would have moved to another dentist. So it is unlikely that any given child will ever win the prize. This demonstration fortunately communicated to P that she ought to give up her hopes of winning this month's drawing immediately.

To continue the theme of dental-related unfairness: on Friday, I went to FedEx to obtain a prepaid envelope. I was filling out a second form (because the first person to help me had not accurately answered my questions and had me fill out the wrong form) with the baby strapped to me and the children at my feet. P started asking me questions about a piece of trash she'd found on the floor, put in the trash can, and the pulled out of the trash can to show me. I lectured her harshly on the subject of keeping her hands out of trash cans, and she and E started scuffling somewhere below my field of view. P then placed on the counter what looked like another piece of trash, a small white piece of what could have been plastic but wasn't quite. I was about to lose my temper when she said, "It's my tooth!" This tooth had been hanging by a thread for over a week, but had come out suddenly when E kicked her in the mouth. She was very brave and didn't wail, although her mouth filled with blood (he'd busted her lip at the same time). She moaned quietly all the way from FedEx to the grocery store, while E plugged his ears. I unplugged one of his ears to hold his hand across the parking lot, to his chagrin. When you've got a baby strapped to your front, a moaning child on your left, and a screaming child who you are holding by the elbow on your right, people tend to make "You have your hands full" type comments. You bet I do - which one would you like to borrow for a moment while I bang my head against the wall? Fortunately, the opportunity to weigh our bananas on the produce scale distracted both P and E from their distress. And it turns out that our local tooth mouse has a sense for what will soothe emotional wounds - he left a larger remuneration than usual along with a note expressing sympathy for the manner in which the tooth was lost. And with her newly-gained wealth, P was able to buy a tiny, soft baby doll, which somewhat makes up for E winning a large rabbit.

Other school-related activities: Titmouse Club covered frogs, and the kids were able to see tadpoles which had been caught in the pond. We checked out two library books on frogs, and pored over the photographs of strawberry poison dart frogs carrying their tadpoles to bromeliads, of tadpoles with legs, and of a frog's tongue grabbing a caterpillar. On Thursday I introduced Psalm 119:105 and another catechism question, and the kids started learning the hymn "To God Be the Glory". We read the story of the Ascension in their Bible storybook. On Friday, we studied Thailand. We read The Gods Must be Angry and had a great discussion about people who have not heard about Jesus. I talked about friends of ours who recently moved to Thailand to do Bible translation, and why that is such a necessary job. We looked at pictures in a library book about Thailand, and I was able to add some details that our friends told us about in a recent letter. For example, during Thai New Year, the entire country has a 3-day-long water fight. Our friends rounded a corner and the neighbour kids set upon them with buckets of water and water pistols, completely drenching them. Apparently, it's hot enough already that no-one minds getting wet. P made a book containing a flag, a map, and pictures of people riding an elephant, a tropical butterfly, people with umbrellas during the rainy season, a flooded rice field, and a Siamese cat. For dinner, I made Thai curry, which turned out delicious. With coconut milk and pineapple juice, how can you go wrong?

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