Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sounding It Out

Have you ever been in a bookstore and nudged your friend with you to take note of the strange person next to you in the aisle. The one who is lovingly caressing book after book, smiling at one title like she has just ran into an old friend, and wrinkling up her nose at another like it just told her that her favorite pink skirt makes her look fat? The person who is oblivious to a ringing phone or to a crying kid (perhaps even if the kid looks like her and continues to call her Mommy) or even to the funny look teenagers are giving her as she makes her way through the YA aisle. If so, go ahead and say hello because I'm sure I will be glad to meet long as you have a good book recommendation or you can help me with my valid dilemma of choosing between my current top twenty have-to-have-right-now books.

I can't remember not loving books, although I do remember not being able to read as I went to worship services as a little girl and longed to read the words to the songs on the page that mom helped me find....knowing that once those words made sense, I would have access to worlds and worlds of possibility. Recently, Ryder has been wanting me to find the pages in our songbooks for him, and although I remember that feeling of longing to know how to read, I still wonder what is it that keeps his interest in this pattern of letters that have yet to make words for him. I wonder why he cares if he's on the correct page since all the pages only hold random arrangements of letters for him right now (other than if he is looking through the pages to find Ws, of course :)

But tonight after services, I go home, and I bring down our dry erase boards, and we draw people and letters. We scribble and erase and draw again, and then I write c-a-t on the board and tell him to make the sounds, as we've worked on some before with the usual result being that he determines the letters c-a-t probably means pancake or some other unlikely answer, but this time....he pushes the sounds together to make a word, to make the right word...the one that other people who know the English language would agree that these letters actually spell...and he realizes what he's done....realizes that he has just read a word. So I write s-a-t on the board...and he again turns the sounds into a word. And so, of course, I write more combinations of letters on the board, changing beginning sounds and ending sounds and middle sounds over and over again, and he works to make the sounds and feel those sounds turn into words....and he just. gets. it. Not every time, of course. And there is some silliness and some guessing without thinking about it. (And by the way, C-A-R is tricky, because the A doesn't say "a" in this situation. Ryder sounded out the letters and came up with care...which is pretty good, although wrong...and so I helped with the A-R sounds) And I asked him several times if he was tired of playing because at this point, all I want is for this learning time to be fun for him-for him to love books and letters and reading. (Because he is only 3, and he hasn't figured out that learning is supposedly not fun). But he was astonished by the question. Why would he want to stop reading, when he's just learned he could do it??? Because there is some actual letters-turning-into-words, reading taking place. And there have been many mommy moments that I have been unprepared for, but to suddenly realize that Ryder can read? I had no idea just how powerful that moment would be. And I am amazed. And proud. And excited. I have been waitingforRyder to meet some of these old friends since he was born. He's already great friends with Sam-I-Am, and tonight I think I will introduce him to Amelia Bedelia :)

(Pictures: 1) Ryder "reading" in his playroom. 2) Ryder at Deer Park. This pictures is rather unrelated to this post, but I wanted a recent one here, too :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Being Brave is Easier if you have Short Hair

Ryder has faced and overcome many fears in the past couple of years. He is no longer afraid of sand, cats, or swimming pools. He is not afraid of all little dogs (although it took him a while to decide not to be afraid of Lyndsay and Jenna's poodle who was staying at Kyle and Kellee's house the other day). And, as far as I know, he isn't afraid of bunnies anymore, either. And not only is he no longer afraid of Santa, he looks forward to seeing him all year long.

All of these fears have been alleviated just by Ryder growing up (and lots of encouragement from Mommy, Daddy, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends about courage and bravery :) But Ryder has developed some new fears that were quite unexpected.

I was getting him ready to go get his hair cut (which Ryder is now okay with, but Mommy is a little afraid of since our wonderful hair stylist has moved far, far away), and I was talking to him while he was picking out his clothes. I like to ask him questions just to hear his answers, and there are many times the answer I expect is not the answer I get. This was most definitely one of those times. "Ryder, do you want short hair or long hair," I asked. He looked at me in horror and said, "I want short hair. If I have long hair it will get stuck in a tree and then I would die." Hmmm. I had never considered that point before. I wonder if Mothers and Fathers across the nation have ever considered using the story of Absalom from II Samuel 18 to convince their sons that having long hair is not just a fashion preference, but a real and deadly danger! I knew that Ryder's Wednesday night Bible class had been studying about David, but I was quite surprised to hear the application that Ryder put to the story of Absalom. So we went and got Ryder's hair cut. Short. No dangers of it getting stuck in a tree and less likely to stick up all over the place after sleeping on it.

But his fears regarding long hair apparently weren't over then.

I have been taking English style riding lessons at Bayview Farm for several weeks now with my friend April. And then Cody's mom started taking lessons, too. We love it, and it so much more fun that we are taking the lessons together. For Mother's Day, Cody ordered me a pink riding helmet (All on his own, as a surprise, and it was very sweet and perfect!). The helmet was delayed in shipping, but showed up the day of my next lesson. Cody had to go to work, so Gigi was going to keep Ryder with her after her lesson at the farm and watch as April and I rode. Ryder has never been scared of horses, and he was fine with his Gigi and his mom riding a horse. He is okay with the fact that they are bigger than we are, stronger than we are, and weigh more than we do (which is a good thing :) However, as we were leaving, he had a very serious concern regarding his mother riding a horse: "But Mommy, your hair is long and it could get stuck in a tree!" Now, I had been concerned about falling off or having my foot stepped on, but I had never stopped to think about the dangers of long hair. Luckily, I had just gotten my very own pink helmet, and I put it on and showed Ryder that my helmet would protect me from getting my hair stuck in a tree (which is what riding helmets are for after all, right?) . He is a big fan of helmets anyway, so the helmet solved all fears of Mommy riding a horse. And after my lesson, he even let my instructor put my helmet on him, and he rode from the arena to the barn.

I haven't heard anymore about the dangers of long hair lately, but it seems that I may have to step up my reasoning skills when Ryder is afraid of something. We were walking to our car the other night and it was dark (and Ryder had no headlamp, flashlight or even shiny shoes to help us see...although there were plenty of streetlamps, but apparently that doesn't count). Ryder told me he was scared of the dark. I started to tell him that he wasn't scared of the dark, but instead, I just asked him if he wanted his Daddy to carry him. He gave me a funny look, and said, "But it will still be dark." And he was right. His daddy carrying him would not solve the problem of it being dark. I am definitely going to need to work on my Mommy's solutions to scary situations.

The first time Ryder watched Monsters, Inc. he sat in Cody's lap, and if Cody would move his arm from around him, he would pull it back down. And he loved to watch Rudolph, but he would crawl into my lap every time the snow monster appeared. Now, he wields his foam sword, and says, "Mommy, I'm protecting you." He thinks he's protecting me from dragons, and monsters, and General Grieve-e-us and all sorts of scary creatures. He has no idea that waitingforRyder's next new fear or his next show of bravery, either one displayed in such sweet childish innocence, is protection against so much that is wrong with the world.....Like boys with long hair, of course :)

(Pictures: 1)Ryder no like sand from our vacation in Destin. 2)Ryder getting his hair cut. This was from the time before when he went with Brody and Kyle and Kellee took pictures. 3) Ryder watching Gigi's riding lesson at BayView. 4) Ryder on Auditor with my new pink helmet that keeps my hair from getting tangled in trees :)