Guess what Piper is reading today? This.
I’ve blogged before about Piper’s loathing of all things academic. She’s the daughter of two professors. One of us has been in graduate school most of her life. Of course she hates reading and writing. Makes total sense.
But last week Piper’s teacher presented me with her very first sentence. Ta da!
Now I know your kindergartener wrote her first novel last year, but Piper isn’t your kindergartner. Piper wrote about shopping. “I went to Macy’s.” Which is true, in her defense. Specifically, I took her to Claire’s. In the picture she drew headbands with sparkly bows and huge flowers. Those were her big purchase. She’s worn one of those headbands every day since. She loves a sparkly headband. She loves a sparkly anything. I praised her sentence, of course. I went ga ga over the thing. Piper glowed. Then she announced “Tomorrow I’m writing about my news boots!” Which are also pretty fabulous. Just like Piper.
Piper is reading a lot these days. She’ll tell you her lexicon is expanding. Lexicon is one of her favorite words from Word Girl.
But I’ve noticed that Piper’s lexicon is limited to only those words that she likes.
She can read the regulars: to, the, it, go, I, and, etc. The little words aren’t a problem.
It’s bigger words that she struggles to sound out: work, sleep, pick up, nap. No matter how many times we repeat them, Piper doesn’t add these words to her lexicon. She won’t even try to sound them out, and she’ll often substitute a “more fun” word for those.
There are words equally as challenging that she has no problem remembering, though: play, toys, fun, park. She can also read every dog name in the book: Mudge, Biscuit, Martha. Per Piper’s request, we read a lot of dog books.
Hmm. I’m sensing a pattern. Like most things, it appears Piper’s lexicon will entirely her own.
We have a reader, folks. A reluctant one, but the Piper is definitely reading. I’ve caught her a few times. She read the screen at the drive up ATM from the back seat. She read a sign out her car window today, too. And this afternoon she read me her favorite Dora the Explorer book from start to finish.
Every single word. I had to bribe Piper with a chocolate chip granola bar and a promise to reread the Junie B. Jones Halloween book out loud, but it was worth it. She was quite proud of herself. Smeared with chocolate and beaming. The plot is a total nail biter. Is the baby crab going to find his mami crab? Will he give her the shell necklace? How will we get over those snapping clams? The tension is almost too much.
Spoiler Alert: the baby crab makes it to Shell Island just fine and Dora is finally free of crabs. Whew.
There are a lot of things I can tolerate in a Piper. Trash collecting, hoarding, potty words, Lady Gaga. Just to name a few. But I don’t know how to parent a kid who doesn’t appreciate books. We’re a house of readers. We have no athletic ability. Most of us can’t see our hands in front of our faces without glasses. We’re nerds. We read. So when Piper was invited to her first book club for kids, I checked an emphatic “yes!” on the evite. I had no idea what you do at a book club for four-year-olds but they had me at the word “book.” I’m that easy.
I did notice a few differences between my usual grownup book club and this kid’s version. Here are the top 5:
1. Seats are assigned.
Piper’s friend, Rylie, and her mom were hosting the book club. This was waiting at Piper’s chair when we arrived:
Nothing makes a girl feel more welcome than a friend to your right and a name tag.
2. You get cool stuff.
There was also the cutest little mailbox you’ve ever seen:
And there was chocolate inside that mailbox. That’s my kind of book club! Now I know what you’re wondering. How about the “book” in “book club,” right? That came next.
3. You don’t have to read the book beforehand.
Rylie’s mom read the book while Piper mostly listened. I only had to dig the melted chocolates out of her grubby hands twice.
4. There’s more than just talk.
There were activities that corresponded to the book’s theme, which I suppose is similar to activities at my book club with grownups. Drinking mimosas is an activity, right?
Piper’s activities were response sheets that related to the theme of the book. I helped her write them…
5. You get to bring your mom.
The best part of a four-year-old book club was doing it together. I was basking in our mutual love of words when Piper and I were walking to the car. I buckled her in, leaned over for a hug, and said, “Wasn’t that fun? Your first book club!”
Piper played with the lid on her new mailbox, counted her chocolates again, and asked, “What book?”
“Hey, Mom. Guess what?”
“I love you.”
Piper is a spontaneous lover. She doles out “I love yous” like beads at Carnival. She interrupts me mid-sentence. Just as I’m ranting at everyone to grab their lunchbox don’t forget your coat did you wash your hands, I lean over to hurry up Piper who is sitting on the stairs pulling on her shoes and she whispers “I love you.” It slows me down. Just for a second. I kiss her cheek. I sniff her a little. It’s what mothers do.
This afternoon we stole an hour together and went to the library. We had overdue books to return and more errands to run, but a welcome cancellation left us with a whole unscheduled hour. A luxury indeed. Our public library is in the town center, an adorable cobble stoned space with shops, restaurants, and people. There is an outdoor ice skating rink and summer concerts. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to live here. Actual live people out enjoying their community. Who knew? The library is three stories with a glass bottomed spiral staircase. The first thing Piper likes to do when we visit is slowly climb the entire staircase. The she holds my hand and leads me through the reference area, shushing me with her finger to her lips. I assure you I’m being quiet, but Piper knows the rules. At the library she actually follows them. After our trek up and down the stairs, we visit the children’s area, which is tucked away in a glass rotunda. This afternoon we planted ourselves on bean bag chairs in a pool of sunlight. Piper fetched books and I read and read. She rewarded me with little “I love yous” between books.
Piper can be a hot mess most days. But she loves really hard and she tells me all the time.
Just as we were leaving the library, Piper asked again “Hey, Mom. Guess what?” I smiled and braced myself for another love reward.
“Let’s get donuts.”
Oh, well played, Piper.