Teary today. Not bad. Knowing that this will come and must be gone through. Not wallowing but experiencing front and center.
It is grey, drizzily. Julia and I have stayed inside most of the day. Doing her work. Found another way to teach “more and less” on line. Exercises that are labeled a pre-K. For a moment, I am defeated. Julia still needs to work on skills that are considered pre-K. We work with the number board, with a exercise on a web site, with cubes that can stick together, and with our white board. Less = little = few = small. More = big = many = large. We work slowly and I post a new motto:
I will tell you what I think. I will tell you why.
Julia does a very good job at finding answers in the eyes and comments of her teachers. It is hard not to say yes or no when she asks, is this right? But she is guessing in some sense and will change the simplest answer with the slightest move or murmur of disapproval.
And so we work slowly, finding answers and reasons. She still can’t tell me reasons for answers. Why is seven more than four? And she needs to know. For a typically developing kid, I would take the right answer and expect that she understood the concept enough to just move on. And if that kid didn’t really understand, she would grow to understand it as she moved on to more advanced topics. No such learning with Julia.
Every summer, I have mapped out what Julia would learn and been disappointed by how far back I had to go to get her close to the simplest of goals. This summer is different. I need to reach back, and doing pre-K exercises can be depressing, but we chip away at what is hard.
I explained how her brain works, drawing a brain and labeling parts “number” and “words”. I told her that there needed to be a path -- a synapse -- between those two and that with each day we worked on connecting more and less to numbers we made the path stronger and wider. I told her that the path needed to be a superhighway and told her that the path between seeing words and understanding the words was like the superhighway, and just a summer or so ago, the path was grassy with little stones to mark it.
We are reading Flat Stanley. It is a bit simpler than she needs but it is a good book for questions about inference. That or I am getting better finding ways to ask those questions. We worked for a few hours, and now she is doing her “enormous” dot-to-dot book which in truth is nothing but counting practice.
Oh, the work that this child needs to do.
And I appreciate so much our quiet companionship.
I dreamed last night about a house. I think David was there, but it was no a dream about seeing him, it was about being in a house that was new to us. It was a series of unconnected room with paths between doors and a neglected garden. At one point, I noted to myself that it was time to start working on the garden -- pulling out old shrubs and making it my own. There were children living nearby, maybe in some of the adjoining rooms. I was comfortable with them and they were not mine. I felt ready to start the process of making it mine.
So, teary. At church, there was a condensed version of Doubt today and the music was Satie’s Gymnopedies. Theater and Satie music! Too many reminders of too much of our life. Afterwards there was no one to be brutally honest with and offer real opinions. And at some point it struck me that David’s Pieces in the Form of Satie -- a lovely piece of theater that was roundly panned when it was done in NYC -- should have been done by one person. An actor who could play the music. Suddenly excited, I wanted to mount that production. I know, knew in that moment, that I could make it marvelous.
I have had days of such strength over the past weeks. I am grateful. I am feeling myself come back to myself. Today, a grey day, with theater and music, I slipped back to the sadness. Today it was not debilitating sadness. Such a much more normal sadness.