Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If You Give a Girl a Year End Party . . .

Yesterday was the social studies fair and "publishing party" at Sweet M's school. All the children in her class had made diaramas and notebooks about the ecology of the rainforest. (You remember the question the precipitated the Central Park zoo meltdown moment: What can you get from a rainforest? Answer: Chocolate!) And they'd each written and published a book modeled on Laura Nemeroff's If You Give a Pig a Party.

Sweet M's was called If You Give a Dog a Donut. It went like this: . . . . If you give a dog a donut . . . he will want a glass of milk. If you give a dog some milk . . .

Nearly all the parents came to class, eager to see their little one's accomplishments. (Sweet M's father had to stay home as he has been suffering from a dastardly case of shingles, which makes him contagious with the chicken pox virus, and in some serious, serious pain.) So it was just me, the mom, on site yesterday.

One by one each and every child went up to the front of the class, perched themselves on the table with their teacher, and read their stories aloud.

Each and every one, except, of course, Sweet M, who sat in a chair in the corner twisting a paper clip into a hundred permutations, and fiddling with a stack of Legos.

I asked her if she wanted to be the official publishing party photographer and use my camera — usually this appeals, and offers her an option to participate and yet remain at the edges of the social milieu — but she demurred, so focused was she on the possibilities for this particular paperclip.

On one hand, I don't really care that she didn't want to be center stage. At a birthday party we went to this weekend, I was literally breaking up fights among a whole posse of girls because all the girls in her class wanted to hold her hand. So she's not lacking for attention, friends, or social interaction — something that was not the case last year.

It's been an amazing year. She learned to read: from no reading to a first-grade level of comprehension after just 4 months of Swain Reading. She had multiple playdates and is beloved in her little posse. And she's doing double-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping.

And on the other hand, the sight of her perseverating on a paper clip can still break my heart. She'd written a great book, made incredible strides, and she didn't get to stand up and take a bow for all of her amazing work.

I hope she knows how amazing she is. And how incredibly she did this year, all year long, not just on the last day.

And to remember for next year: If you give this girl a moment in the spot light, chances are she'll want a quiet corner and a paper clip.

(With apologies to Laura Nemeroff.)



Mary said...

So much "good news/bad news" with these milestone moments, isn't there? I wish I'd read this before Bud's end-of-the-year events, because your idea for making Sweet M the designated photographer is FANTASTIC, and might have made Bud's week a little easier. Definitely an idea I'll file away for the future!

Lisa Cohen said...

I would love to read M's book. :)

I am sorry you were sad that she didn't have her moment in the spotlight, but maybe that wasn't what was important to her. As I travel this landscape, I am learning how to separate what *I* need from what my son needs. It is not always easy and I'm still learning.

Anyway, a congrats to M and all that she has accomplished this year.

Frogs' mom said...

Three cheers for M! What an amazing year. Maybe M can be persuaded to give a private reading for a special audience of two proud parents :0)

Congratulations to you all!

Zilari said...

Hehe, glad that Sweet M had such a successful year of learning. And I completely identify with the paper clip bit...that definitely would have been me as well. :) Have you ever tried seeing all the different ways in which the different segments will bend, and alternately twisting and straightening bits of the metal?

It can be quite challenging to get the metal into different permutations without breaking the metal, and in some cases it gets really interesting because the paper clip is painted with a shiny metallic coating that actually flakes off when you stress certain bends in the metal.

K.C.'sMommy said...

Congratulations to M!

Wade Rankin said...

Great post. (We're big fans of Ms. Nemeroff's books in our house too!)

kristina said...

Sorry it took me so long to read this! What a spectacular year for M, and for you (and hope Francois is feeling better on his day this Sunday). I just finished Send in the Idiots by Kamran Nazeen, who is autistic----he keeps an "alligator clip" in his pocket to fiddle with at work, in conversations, almost at all times.