It’s an Eight-Year-Old’s World


(and I live in it).

We’ve recently become custodians of an eight year old girl, my wife and I. It’s unusual to have one at such an advanced age (I’m 52, she’s ageless of course), but that’s the situation.

We make the best of it. The care and feeding of a young being require much attention to detail, and one must pay especial attention to consistency, since one is going to be called on it constantly.

“A deal’s a deal,” I was informed one afternoon when that worthy was being told she could go to the pool after all. I daved this situation in my memory bank, knowing it would come in handy.

Sure enough, the next day, she wanted to avoid sweeping the living room, under the birdcage, as she had done before, and announced that “this is what I do”, while performing said deed.

Making mention of this omission severely dented my momentary rapport with the child. I was favored with a pout.

She likes to pout; she’s a bad sport. Correcting both behaviors and keeping them corrected will take time. I just do a little course correction from time to time. That’s my job-I’m the designated driver.

I am the dreaded lecture dispenser in our household.

I refuse to babytalk and “I don’t know” is not an acceptable excuse. So there are lots of little standoffs. I do believe that the child thinks these are contests of will. To me it’s Pavlovian. I just don’t use a bell.

She loves attention-it comes with the territory. But lectures swiftly turn out to be unwanted attention. Especially when they contain the dreaded unanswerable question. Each lecture has one, it’s in the contract.

Today it was why should we let you keep a bunny and have it for your very own when you don’t actually care for it?

The desired answer was “I”ll care for it. I will water it and feed it promptly and properly, and the other rabbits, too.”

She does, when asked. She volunteers at other idiosyncratic times. She is always going to ” check on them” but doesn’t always address the food, drink, and litter situation. Heavens know what she is actually doing.

This was addressed. “If you go in to ‘check on the bunnies’, you should see if their water bottles are full, if their dishes are empty. You can let them out far enough to pet them, but don’t pick them up. They are fragile.”

My wife maintains that I am nitpicky. I don’t necessarily deny this accusation.

It’s about the welfare of the child. I feel that she’ll fare much better if she has her wits about her. Developing a sense of humor can come later.

I’ve devised math homework for the first time in years, a couple of tables of figures that show the relationship between “added numbers” and “multipliers”, to use two of the terms from the assignment.

The child cannot do her multiplication tables, but says math is easy.

It does come easy to her, seemingly, but she still has to learn it. Her peers will, and she knows that now, and that’s a righteous tool.

Monday we are doing more. I’ve come up with another couple of pages of notebook paper, in which we discuss the previous, and work with fives and tens before seguing into simple subtraction by introducing story problems.

That’ll allow me to branch into book-reading later.

I have a final two days left to relax and recuperate from my recent (successful) surgery. Today I didn’t feel so well and so was uncommunicative to the world at large. I watched baseball, and am heartened by my Cubs, who bear every earmark of the .500 record except the actual numbers (yet). They have some good young players.

The child hates the baseball. She likes cartoons and the things that the Disney and Nick channels offer only, and her attention wanders when anything else is presented.

This is often when she indulges in cleaning and sweeping and the like, a practice which I am loath to discourage, though it’d be best to follow after her with a little broom and collect the remnants. Attention to detail is not her specialty. Oh, wait, was that nitpicking?

Until now, I had for years enjoyed children most when they were going to go away. This is different. I have to change, but I don’t have to surrender.

More stuff about kids and pets and other oddities tomorrow.

 

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