The Kidling on summer reading program bribes

“. . . and if you fill in all of the bubbles first, you get a Kindle of Fire!”

-The Kidling
July 16, 2014

greetings from Nanaland (or Papaville, as the case may be)

First of all, apologies. My lack of kidling-isms this week is due to my lack of The Kidling. She has spent the past few days in Nanaland, a place with sunshine, flowers, dessert, extra bedtime stories, field trips, constant attention, and puppies.

Fine, there’s really only one puppy. Whatever.

Alas, just when I was starting to seriously lament the lack of silliness in my life, I chatted with The Nana on the phone. She relayed a few stories that are classic Alice. The first was at dinner time. Alice was starving and cleared her plate of tilapia, fresh green beans, cottage cheese, and who knows what else. Apparently we don’t feed her enough at home. The Nana commented on her appetite, assuming that The Kidling must have just been delighted with the offerings. Nope.

Regarding those fresh green beans, Alice told The Nana, “I thought they were yucky, but sometimes I eat yucky things because I know they’re good for me.” 

That’s my girl.

Now, The Papa and The Nana have had The Kidling for several nights, so you can bet there is another story where that one came from. As you know, dear readers, The Kidling is working on becoming a reader herself. She sounds out everything (yes, everything) and loves to talk about letters and sounds. As they all discussed phonics, Alice told her grandparents, “I say ‘sink,’ but I don’t mean like in water. I mean I use my brain. … It’s hard to make that sound without my front tooth!”

Indeed it is. And guess what? We get my toothless, sinking, health food eater back tonight. Whew!

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.

sometimes smart just isn’t enough

We were walking around midtown Saturday early evening in search of ice cream (confidential to The Dada: I swear that Tasty Treat was so much closer than that. It must have been moved during dinner). After 20ish minutes of wandering, we gave up when we spied a McDonald’s.

Don’t judge: a promise is a promise, and McDonald’s soft serve is still technically ice cream. Besides, I didn’t promise ice cream of any particular quality.

We must have looked less lost than we felt (or perhaps upon spotting an ice cream source, we looked more confident of our destination), because someone stopped us on the street to ask us for directions.

To Toys ‘R’ Us.

The Dada and I apologized for our ignorance. We were prepared to move on, when Alice told the inquirers, “I’m smart, and I don’t even know!” As we walked across the street, I thanked her for wanting to help, to which she replied, “I was looking at the signs, but I just can’t read!” *

Now that’s self-awareness.


* Post edited to reflect the fact that The Dada told me I got the quote wrong. I am so glad there are two of us…

how do you spell _____?

After a year-long hiatus, The Kidling has suddenly taken a renewed interest in her letters. This is good. Her interest typically manifests itself in the labeling of her scribbles artwork. Upon declaring that a crayon drawing depicts a rattlesnake, she asks, “How do you spell rattlesnake?” She then proceeds to with the speed of a comatose snail laboriously craft the letters, one at a time.

On a recent drive home from daycare, Alice seemed pretty pooped. This is typical. The Kidling tries her darndest, but simply cannot nap at school. I geared up for a quiet trip home when I heard a voice wearily pipe up from the back seat, “How do you spell, ‘I have a headache?'”

Sad, no? Well, it gets worse. Once we had talked our way through the final letter, she got quiet again. Thinking nothing of it, we arrived home. When Alice climbed out of her car seat she showed me her picture. What, dare you ask, did she draw to illustrate her pain? A brain. A tiny, aching brain on the top of her little stick-figure body. And when we got inside, she asked for help drawing (and, of course, spelling) a couch.

Poor girl.