Friday, September 30, 2011

in which kickball isn't just kickball

The Peanut's 2nd grade teacher is the same terrific person the Bean had that year. We love this teacher. One of the wonderful things she does is to have the children keep a composition notebook in which they write a letter to their parents, and the parents write back on the next page, back and forth throughout the year. I loved my letters from the Bean. They captured her personality and school day moods differently than any other way we communicated, and gave me an avenue to be playful with her, when so much school day life is sucked up by just telling kids to do things/having grown-ups tell you to do things. I've tried to continue her notebook through 3rd grade (she refused) and 4th (I get an occasional note). Maybe we'll do it in pulses, but it's a line of communication I want to keep open. Sometimes a letter does what conversation cannot.

Anyway, this is today's letter from the Peanut, for those who know her and/or would be amused:
Dear Mommy,

I dissected my paere today and it had 5 seeds inside.

We are going to the book fair next Tusday at nine therty. Thank you! Finaly! Choclit cupcakes! I love you Mommy! OK. Bad news. I got another blister on the monkey bars.
I love you!


They have been spending the week studying "seeds and how they travel"... hence the pear dissection. Walking to school, the Peanut has held a plastic bag at the ready, gathering whatever seed-related items she could find. Garden string bean, pine cone, seed pod from the iris, all went in the bag. She was so focused on seed hunting that she almost stepped in dog shit. I wish the dog owner had been carrying a plastic bag.

Y'know... occasionally, there will be some discussion on the town level about where/when dogs are allowed to be on various town-owned properties. I always feel for the many responsible dog owners who take care that nobody will likely step in their dog's poop. But all it takes is one pile of dog shit on the freakin' sidewalk to harden my heart and ensure my vote against allowing dogs anywhere. Too bad really. If we could trust people not to be assholes, what a better world this would be.

But I digress. Monkey bars! That Peanut has been a monkey bar fiend for a couple of years now. She spends every possible recess period practicing swinging from end to end and back, and frequently comes home with serious blisters on her palms. The kid won't stop until she bleeds. Then she cries, not just because it hurts, but because she has to take some days off. She has got it in her head that recess is boring, and that the only part of the playground that's any good is the monkey bars, and other than that there's just the dumb ol' field, where some kids play kickball. Why don't you play kickball, too? I asked her. She said that no girls play kickball, but she wants to, and on Monday she is going to do it!

This is brave, because earlier this week a boy asked her why she was playing a baseball-like game with the boys in gym instead of hula hooping with the girls, and she came home pretty upset. It had never even occurred to her that she was the only girl in the game, let alone that there was anything peculiar about it. I couldn't help but remember my first day of middle school, when I sat with the boys at lunchtime because that's who my friends were, and I didn't realize until it was too late what a social gaffe I'd made. Painful, painful stuff. I'm trying to remember that she is not me, now is not then, etc., etc., but I can see how she feels different, and hurts, and I understand completely. It is how I know, too, that no matter how awkward it feels not to, she will never pick up a hula hoop and join the girls just because they are girls and she is one too. She'll pick up a hula hoop when and if she feels like freakin' hula hooping and not before, and if what the boys are doing looks more fun then that's where she'll want to be.

Today, while her sister was at soccer, we took a ball of our own and practiced kickball so she will feel ready. She made me pretend all the other players were on the field with us, and shouted out what they were doing and where we had to run, and whose turn it was to kick, and whether we were tagged out or not. Needless to say I was exhausted before the first inning was up, and when older boys in baseball uniforms showed up to use the field for their practice, I was secretly relieved. (One boy threw a ball to another, overshot him by a fair bit, and my Peanut ran and got the ball. She fired it back to the nearer boy, and her throw was perfect. I couldn't believe it. Made a nice smack into the kid's glove when he caught it, too.)

I really hope her entrance onto the 2nd grade kickball scene goes well. In the meantime, I know what to write about in our letter journal this weekend.


  1. You really could have saved the Dog Poop commentary for its own column--just saying. I a dog owner and poop picker upper abhor the malodorous leavings that accompany the passage of some owners and their friends.
    Now you've really stepped in it.

  2. Quite right. That paragraph sticks out in this piece like... well, like dog poop on a sidewalk, actually.

  3. I remember when my daughter finally decided that she preferred to play soccer with the boys than stand around talking with the girls. Soon the other girls were playing, too. Hope it goes well!