just sound it out

We encourage The Kidling to ask good, thoughtful questions and we do our best to answer them with age-appropriate candor. As a pre-reader, we also encourage her to sound out words.

I somehow neglected to see the potential for those two things combined to bite us in our asses.


The Kidling and I were at the local school’s playground one evening in early spring. We ran into a delightful third grade neighbor boy–a bona fide big kid–who invited her to join in a game with a classmate and him. My heart swelled at her joy at being included as well as with my own admiration of those fantastic boys’ parents who taught them to be so gracious to a pre-schooler.

Once my heart settled (seriously, Christine. Get it under control), I started chatting with the other parents. They were all lovely and amazing and I want to be their best friends forever. Like all playground conversations, the topic eventually turned to the question of how to talk to children about the more delicate parts of human reproduction.

What? That isn’t what your playground small talk typically covers?


As I was saying… one of the older, wiser moms suggested a great book, “It’s So Amazing.” The authors cover all aspects of human reproduction in a frank, non-threatening way. I knew I would forget if I didn’t act soon, so I picked it up the next time we were at the library. Even though we have covered a fair amount of the subject matter here at The House, The Kidling was fascinated by the book. She asked for a different chapter every night until the book was due. And yes, we did skip come chapters. She is only five.

Fast forward.

We were on our way to one of Our Town’s far-too-many-per-capita frozen yogurt shops Saturday. The Kidling, being a good kidling, began to sound out words to figure out how they are spelled, when suddenly we heard:

“Sss. Buh. Urr. Mmm.  Sss. Buh. Urr. Mmm.  Sss. Buh. Urr. Mmm. Sssssssss. Buh. Buh. Buh. Buh. Urrrrrr. Urrrrrr. Mmmmmmm. Sperm. Ssssspeeeeerrrrrrmmm. Sperm. Sss. Sperm. Sss. Sss. Buh. Buh. Buh. Sperm. Ssssssssperm. Sss. Buh. Buh. Buh. Buh. Buh. Urm…”*

Yes, this went on and on (and on). No, no amount of telling her that the second letter is “P” did any good. And yes, she had moved on to another word by the time we got to the yogurt store.

It’s so amazing.


* I am religious about quote accuracy, so let me say that I cannot guarantee whether this is, in fact, the precise order in which The Kidling focused on the five sounds in the word “sperm.” But you get the idea.

that damn red ball

The Kidling had a nasty fever yesterday, so I got to stay home with her. Those days are always part selfish joy (snuggle time!) part heart-wrenching empathy (poor, fire-headed kidling). I may be a snuggle opportunist, but even the most selfish mama knows to feel bad for her miserable, aching offspring. Nevertheless, I cannot help but enjoy an unexpected day with my girl.

After an afternoon of minimal complaining, I was starting to think she was feeling better.

Damn optimist.

She mentioned that her head felt “strange,” but that it neither hurt nor was she dizzy. All good signs, right?  (See note above regarding damning the optimist)

At bedtime, the fever, cough, and headache were back with a vengeance. As I gave Alice her final hug and kiss (and smooch, mooch, nooch, crooch, and clooch. Don’t ask.), she started telling me about how she thinks about her headaches:

Alice: It is like a red ball–

The Mama: (interrupts) Your head is a red ball?

Alice: No, the headaches are a red ball that is in my head. Like a bouncy ball–

The Mama: (interrupts) Ohhhhh!

Alice: (reassuringly) –but it isn’t bouncing. It’s. Red on the outside. With tons of headaches inside.

I think there might be another snuggle day Wednesday.


way back when…

The Kidling has taken a keen dislike for blueberries. Once her favorite fruit, she now specifically requests her yogurt sans those tasty little morsels of berry goodness. The Dada commented on the transformation, telling Alice, “You used to gobble blueberries down like candy!” Without missing a beat, The Kidling replied, “Now I don’t! Now I gobble candy down!”

And she’s right. Sigh.

and on the seventh day

We were out running errands one recent weekend when I loaded the trunk with The Family’s exciting new acquisitions (Toilet paper and kale. Jealous yet?), closed the trunk, and hopped in the car. As we were preparing to drive away, The Kidling noticed that the trunk was cracked open. You see, the back seat of our new-to-us car has a nifty fold down arm rest with even niftier storage hidden inside. This means

  1. Alice can always have sh*t to do in the car without it looking like a pit; and
  2. The armrest is always down. Seriously. Always.

The result of item two is that Alice has a view into the trunk. This can be funny, such as the time she told me she really wanted to climb into the trunk NOW before her bottom gets too big to fit.

Let’s pretend she didn’t get that from watching me try to squeeze under the couch, okay?

It can also, apparently, be useful. Such was the case on this day, when The Kidling yelled to notify me of the deficiency in my trunk closing abilities. I thanked her, and she responded,

“Sometimes I can be a big helper. Like now! I helped you that time. And it was good.” 

And on the seventh day, The Kidling rested.

no more fun


The Kidling is a lucky little munchkin in more ways than I can count. Most importantly, she is safe, her basic needs are all tended to, and she is loved.

By safe, I mean followed around and hovered over. A bit.

By basic needs, I really mean “and then some.” A little bit because we work hard, but mostly because we are fortunate and the world has been kind. Don’t go getting any crazy ideas. She doesn’t have her own iPad or anything, but when she needs new shoes, she gets them. And they’ll probably be cute.

And by loved, I mean worshipped (hence this blog’s name).

You know what puts the lucky-Kidling-o-meter over the top? Alice adores horses, and Grandma and Grandpa have three. Notice I didn’t say we have horses. That would require an acreage we cannot afford, tack we have nowhere to store, farriers I know nothing about (as evidenced by the fact that I spelled it with an “e” before autocorrect saved me), and far more time than we have to ensure they have adequate care and attention.

No, having horses at Grandma and Grandpa’s is the best case scenario for The Kidling. Not unlike a niece or nephew, we get to have all the fun and hand them back when the diaper gets dirty…

But with much messier accidents.

So dear darling child had a fantastically good time yesterday with Grandma and Grandpa’s equine friends. Too much fun, it turns out, because at bedtime she declared, “I will only go to sleep if I can ride a horse right now!”

That settles it: no fun for you.

the verdict

The Mama: How do you like New York?

Alice: I never want to go back to my house!

long-range planning

Saturday afternoon we walked to the subway station, hopped the train to lower Manhattan, took the ferry to Staten Island (and back), hopped back on the train but this time to Brooklyn, went for a lovely little stroll through DUMBO, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, trekked to the subway station, and hopped one final train back to midtown.

Is it no wonder that at one point The Kidling asked, “Why are we taking so many things to get there?”

It is on our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge that today’s story took place. The Kidling was amazed, if exhausted, by the bridge. As we walked, we talked about how bridges are built and who is responsible for their construction.  When we stopped for one of our (28) rest breaks, Alice told us a lengthy story about her career goals. It began with a telling us that, when she is an adult, she will be a bridge engineer and live in New York City. Being a fan of the city myself, I asked whether we could come visit and stay with her. Alice was ever-so-gracious:

“Of course! Because you’re my parents! Just so you know, I have lots of jobs planned, so call me, and if I don’t answer, then I’m at another job.”

Call first. Got it. And I’m glad you plan to work so hard. New York City is a pricy place to live.

a morning at the museum

The Kidling loves animals. I know all kids love animals, but she seems to love them even more intensely than other kids. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, dinosaurs, dragons, unicorns (no one said they had to be real animals)… she adores them all. As such, we knew our trip to New York must include a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. Some things are nonnegotiable.

The museum did not disappoint. Alice ran from diorama to diorama, peering inside and providing thoughtful commentary and asking difficult questions:

“Why is the owl in there (pointing to a display with a brightly painted background)? They are nocturnal and it is day time.”

“It’s a raven!”

“Why are that antelope’s horns curved backward? How does he protect himself, then?”

This went on for hours.

And hours…

Later, we approached a diorama with a buffalo and several birds. Alice asked how the birds would escape the buffalo. I told her that the birds would fly away (neglecting to point out that a buffalo, being herbivorous, would have no interest in catching a bird. You win some, you lose some). The Kidling remained unconvinced of the feasibility of that plan and predicted that, to catch the birds, “Buffalo stand on their tippy hooves!”