* First kiss and more

Well, the smiley streak at school had to come to an end eventually, and Tuesday was it. Rio had a sub in the morning, and although he told me he was “just trying to help,” he finally admitted that maybe he was being a little too “wild.” She made him leave the classroom and go upstairs to the quiet spot. Otherwise, the rest of his day was all smiles, and he was in a happy, cooperative mood when I picked him up, so I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

What he really wanted to talk about was his first kiss. When I arrived at his school, he was in the gym with the other after-school kids and he came up to me and whispered in my ear, “Mama, go ask Sweetie.”

“Ask her what, Rio?”

“Just ask, Mama! She’ll tell you.”

So I found Sweetie (she’s the one who has birthday parties at her parents’ costume shop, she’ll never have trouble making friends) and although I didn’t really know what I was supposed to say, she was all smiles and happily announced, “Rio kissed me!”

I had to try really hard not to laugh, but I wasn’t at all surprised. Rio’s been talking about this little girl for weeks, I already knew he liked her. So I said “Aaaaawwww!” and “How sweet!” and tried to get Rio to get his things together so we could go home. I really was amused but I was also eager to get home and accomplish at least half the things on my must-do list.

When we told Pa about it, Rio feigned embarrassment and told us how it was different ‘cuz he had never kissed a girl like that before. Not a girl he really liked, not because he really wanted to. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He’s only six! Watch out, Sweetie!

At dinner I fed everyone one at a time, since it was eggs for dinner (need to get groceries!) and cold eggs are no good. So while I was cooking my dinner, Rio comes into the kitchen and starts begging for a snack. I told him he could wait a while longer, like until he was actually hungry. He insisted that he was hungry. I replied, “That’s not hunger, that’s gluttony. Don’t be a glutton, Rio.”

“What’s a glutton?”

“A glutton is someone who is full but they still want more.”

And he proudly declared, “Yep, that’s me! I’m a glutton!”

He still had to wait for his snack, though.

The other noteworthy event of the evening was when we sat down to do his homework. You see, at the beginning of the school year Rio brought a book home every night for me to read to him. Then we had a piece of paper for him to write the title and two of his favorite words from the story. Now we have reversed our roles, and he brings home a book that he’s supposed to read to me. Rio has always loved stories, and I’ve been reading to him nightly since he was a baby. We progressed to chapter books without illustrations long ago, and we’re currently about halfway through The Chronicles of Narnia. Despite his love for books, however, Rio has been slow to start reading himself. It’s been my policy not to pressure him, since that will generally just make him resistant. Now that this has become a regular assignment, I suppose it’s time to tackle this new challenge.

The problem is that Rio is very good at memorizing a story, so when he recites it back to you, page by page and word for word, it sounds like he’s reading. Until you show him a word out of context, even if it’s a word that occurs throughout the story. For instance, last night his book was called “Whose Forest Is It?” and on every page there was a picture of a different animal and they all say the same thing: “This is my forest.” However, when Rio heard the story, he remembered it as “IT’S my forest” and that’s how he read it to me. So on every page we stopped and I had him sound out the first word, which was always “this.” And every time he tried to make t-h-i-s sound like “it’s. The first time I helped him and we sounded it out together and he got it. But when we got to the next page and there it was again, we had to start all over again. Each page was a new struggle, and it really only took 3 or 4 pages before Rio was in tears.

The thing is, Rio is no dummy. He’s smart as a whip, but when he gets something stuck in his head he won’t let it go (inflexible-explosive indeed). And he had decided that t-h-i-s was “it’s” and whenever I tried to teach him otherwise, he became increasingly frustrated. Thankfully, my coping skills have progressed considerably and we circumvented a meltdown. I ended up repeating much of the same arguments I made when he was learning to ride his bike: “It’s OK to make mistakes, you’re supposed to make mistakes, you need to make mistakes if you want to read. Don’t give up!”

He cried but he wasn’t angry, and he told me that he really wants to learn to read, but whenever he got stuck he was utterly convinced that he couldn’t do it and he never would. Finally, he asked if he could have a break and I let him go. I knew he had had enough, I wasn’t going to force him to finish the book. But thanks to our recent success with learning to ride a bike, I feel confident that I can help Rio and we just have to get past the initial frustration. Once you get the first thing, the rest is easy. But first there will be tears and gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes. Just don’t give up, little Hercules!

Tonight, we will do his homework right after school. The longer we wait, the more tired he’ll be, and that’s never good for learning something new.

p.s. I've subscribed to a new commenting service courtesy of haloscan, because blogger's commenting configuration sucks. Unfortunately, this has resulted in all of my old comments being erased. But you can now leave comments without being tricked into registering with blogger, and you are always encouraged to do so:) Thanks!

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