Sunday, February 28, 2010

Elizabeth's first soccer game

Elizabeth had her first soccer game today. This is her second season playing in the under 6 league. I was all set to not sign her up this season in an effort to free up our weekend schedule, but no dice -- she loves it. Seeing as there are 4 and 5 year olds playing in this league, it's all about learning the game and having fun. They don't keep score. Although Elizabeth's team lost today, 13-2 in fact, which I know because JACOB was keeping score, and he kept getting more and more exasperated at the team's, um, developing skills. I kept telling him that nobody cares who wins, and he needed to cheer the team on and be encouraging. At which point he yelled, "Rollins! Don't just run, KICK the ball!!!" That was corrected immediately -- threats may or may not have been issued. Apparently if you are a competitive perfectionist, you don't need to be watching the U6 games.

Here are Elizabeth and Caroline at home before the game:

As an aside, Caroline seems to feel physically uncomfortable if there is not tulle somewhere on her person. She might be in a completely foul mood, but as soon as she puts on the bumblebee tutu, she's happy as a lark.

Here's the pack, walking back into position after the other team scored one of their 13 goals:

Elizabeth chasing the pack:

Since this is the U6 league, you will generally find the ball, and then eight kids all within 5 feet of the ball. Elizabeth, however, is generally happy to stay about 5.5 feet from the ball -- close enough to convince most spectators that she is really interested in getting the ball, but not close enough to convince her mother. Nope, Elizabeth really couldn't care less about the ball -- she just loves the pigtails and the pink shin guards and the Gatorade and running through the tunnel of parents after the game. Who can argue with her? All in all, this is a pretty fun way to spend an hour on a sunny almost-spring afternooon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thomas Edison is in the (Blue) House

Jacob recently finished his first serious school project. As part of his class's "Living Museum," Jacob had to research Thomas Edison, prepare a written report on him, prepare a speech (to be presented in the first person), and come up with a Thomas Edison costume to wear while giving the speech.

I remember doing lots of projects like this (although probably not in second grade!) so I was excited to watch Jacob tackle this one. He had a couple of weeks to do it, and his teacher provided a suggested timeline for working on it, because it would be too big to knock out at the last minute. I thought about all the fun we'd have reading about the Menlo Park years, pondering what life would be like had the kinetoscope never been invented, and thinking up the perfect Edisonesque costume. I couldn't wait (for him) to get started.

As it turned out, Jacob was not what one might call a "self-starter" on this project. Despite our attempts to convince him that "The Wizard of Menlo Park" was every bit as interesting as the wizards in Harry Potter (his current obsession), there was absolutely nothing about sitting down and knocking out a Thomas Edison report that appealed to Jacob in the slightest.

The Saturday before the report was due, Jacob finally sat down to write. The idea was that he would write the report out on paper, and then type it onto the computer. Every time he didn't like a sentence, though, he crumpled up the paper and started over. I told him that wasn't necessary, that he could cross out words or draw arrows or whatever, because he'd be retyping it. I assured him that NO writer gets it exactly the way he wants it the first time, and editing is an important part of writing. He told me that editing is not an important part of HIS writing, and that HE will get it right the first time. There was also the issue of him wanting to copy sentences out of the books, rather than synthesizing ideas and putting them into his own words. I think that is a pretty difficult concept for a seven year old, and really, there are only so many ways to say "Thomas Edison was born in Ohio on February 11, 1847." Still, I feel like one of my jobs as a parent is to prevent my second grader from being a rampant plagiarizer. But whenever I told him to rewrite a sentence or think about how to put an idea into his own words, he threw his head on the table and accused me of not liking his report. All I could think was that if this is how the school projects are going to go, it is going to be a long ten more years.

Eventually though, Jacob got in the Thomas Edison groove and even seemed to enjoy the process a little. I think the first paragraph of his report captures (in his own words!) the parts of Edison's early years that were most interesting to Jacob:

Thomas Alva Edison was a great and famous inventor. He was born in Ohio on February 11, 1847, near the shore of Lake Erie. When Thomas Edison was seven, he moved to Port Huron. At school, his teachers thought he was dumb. It is weird because he was a genius. It was probably because he could not hear well. If he accidentally kicked the chair leg or did not answer a question when a teacher asked him something, he would get in a lot of trouble. Just like many teachers back then, his teachers thought they could get knowledge into their students even if they had to be ugly. Then one day after school, Thomas Edison told his mother what his teachers were doing. His mother was mad because she had been a teacher too before she got married. She thought students learned better if they were happy, so she took him out of school and he had home school from then on.

We were very proud of Jacob's report, and of his class presentation. It got a little tense for a few minutes there when Edison said that he improved the telephone, and if it weren't for his improvements, people might not use the phone much today. The crowd gasped at that one, and Alexander Graham Bell nearly challenged him to a duel. But all in all, it was a great learning experience for Jacob, and for us, and we're proud of our little inventor.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hide and Go Don't Seek

Earlier tonight, I sat down on the sofa, put my feet up, grabbed a blanket, and got comfortable, thoroughly enjoying the few minutes I figured I'd have while the kids and David played hide and go seek. Unfortunately, it took only seconds to realize that this was going to be the lamest game of hide and go seek ever. Basically, the kids make David go hide. And then they (without making the first effort to look for him) ask me if I've seen him. Then they kind of stand in front of me and shift back and forth on their feet. Then they walk to the threshold of the next room, taking care not to actually cross said threshold, and kind of stick their heads in to see if they can see David. But they never actually go so far as to look for him. Why? Because in Elizabeth's words, they are afraid he is going to "lash out" at them. What she means is that they are afraid that he is going to pop out of his hiding place, yell "boo!," and scare them. Which has happened before, many times. Unfortunately, what this means is that the game basically turns into "hide and then hover timidly around mom," which is not fun for anybody. I finally told the kids that they can't make Daddy go hide and then not look for him -- that's, er, a breach of hide and go seek etiquette or something. They either need to look for him, or tell him to come out come out wherever he is. I tried to get some action shots of all this, but as you can imagine, there is really not a whole lot of action involved.