Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And So It Begins....

Girls like paper. We like little Post-It notes, lists, stickers, stationery,  and all sorts of pretty paper.  We also like to write notes.  Elementary school girls like to fold these notes into cute little packages, too. It's no surprise that my girl would like the same things I did when I was her age.  I admit, however, her recent and sudden appreciation for these things took me by surprise.

It all started last week when she was supposed to be doing homework.  I came out of the kitchen and instead found her busily folding a well creased and tired square of paper.  When our eyes met, she looked incredibly guilty; she most certainly wasn't preparing for a spelling test like she should have been. 

"My teacher taught some groups to fold paper so it fits on your fingers, but I can't figure it out!", she said.  Ah Ha.  I immediately knew what she was talking about. She explained it as a "Phonics Fun Flap" that some of her classmates were using, but I knew it as something else. Since I once was an elementary school girl, memories of folding paper came rushing back.  I knew it was inevitable that we would bond that evening over the fine art of the cootie catcher, but I steered her back to her spelling words as I quietly picked up a clean sheet of paper and began to cut and fold. 

When she heard the flap-flap of the paper as I operated my newly folded cootie catcher, her entire face lit up. First, it was a look of sheer joy.  Then, a moment of confusion swept across her face.  I could read her thoughts:  How in the WORLD could her ancient mother be cool enough to know how to make such a thing??  The look of confusion became an expression of awe, and I realized that I had done the nearly impossible:  I had impressed a six year old girl.  I realize that, when she's 15, she will be even more difficult to impress.  But even now, those times are few and far between. 

"Can you show me, Mama? Right now?  Can you show me?"   Dinner and spelling came first, and I'm sure I heard the words, "NOW can you show me?" at least fifty times before we finally had a chance to sit down and fold paper together.  Her giggles were infectious, and I almost couldn't resist the urge to write silly things under the flaps of my own cootie catcher.  Almost.  She wore hers out on the bus the next day, and it came home with a hole on the creases.  I'm waiting on the call from the teacher to inform me that the paper folding has gotten AK into trouble, but we're safe so far. 

Along with the paper folding, the note writing has begun as well.  She has a little notebook in her backpack, and she and her bus friends make lists of the "nice" and "annoying" kids on the bus each day.  In her mind, those fourth grade boys really want to be on the "nice" List. I don't have the heart to tell her that  those boys will work very hard to stay on the " annoying" list for at least the  next twelve years.  Or more. 

The note writing made its way home tonight.  I was sorting some papers when a page appeared under my nose as a pink pencil was pressed into my hand.

It reads:

Dear Mom
I am soooo
sorry I
Broke your
Please resbond
I responded:

Dear Anna Kate,
It's all fixed now.  I (heart) you!
Love, Mom
PS. No more ball throwing in the house, OK?
She wrote back:

as she said, "and I really did mean that...what I wrote, you know."

I alluded to the broken door incident in my last post, and here's the rest of the story.  Last month, I took AK to a birthday party at a great little indoor mini golf place.  In her goody bag, she found a golf ball.  On Sunday afternoon, I was fixing lunch when two kids with very looong faces appeared in the kitchen. 

"I need to tell you something,"  She said.   Her brother's lip was poked out, and he didn't look happy. 
"We were playing, and your closet door broke."  Sigh.  Now, we've been working on this external locust of control issue with her for quite a while, and it was abundantly clear at this moment, none of it was sinking in.  I'm fairly confident that closet doors don't just break. Not even glass ones, which we happen to have in the master bedroom.  Sure enough, the door was broken.

It was broken so well that I taped it up as soon as I was done taking pictures.  The last thing I needed was even more glass on the floor (a few small pieces were already there) when B2 was out of town. 

As the story emerged, it became obvious that my normally rule following six year old had thrown her new golf ball and broken the door.  She was quick to point out, however, that she hadn't been in my room; instead, she threw it with enough force that it bounced down the hall several times before hitting the door. Even better. 

As frustrated as I was with her poor decision making and lack of perceived responsibility, I had to stifle a laugh when she ended the story with, "and when it happened, I just said, 'uh oh!' but HE (eyes rolling and thumb pointing at her little brother, whose lip was still poked out) said, "let's go tell Mommy right now!" 

Maybe, just maybe, I'll have a responsible one after all. 

Fast forward a month, the door is repaired ($200 replacement), and I didn't dock her allowance for two years to pay for it. The note shows that perhaps she's taking responsibility after all.  And the golf ball?  Let's just say it's safe to say it won't be hitting anymore doors anytime soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Where am I?

Nearly every day, I find myself asking myself a question. Well, I find myself asking lots of questions. For instance, one of last week's questions was "Did you really think that the glass closet door wouldn't break when you threw a golf ball at it??"

But that's a different story.

I see or hear something almost daily that makes me wonder where in the world I am.

Recently, it was the song "Cotton Fields" playing in the grocery store. Sure, we hear all if the recent popular songs, but that one is sort of our of left field (and the sixties). When I was in Indonesia 18 years ago, a Filipino cover band was singing it in a restaurant, and it took me a moment to figure it out. They didn't speak English, so the were mostly just approximating the lyrics. Once they noticed me singing along, they tried to pass me a microphone. Didn't happen. Definitely a "where am I?" Moment - both times with a very random song.

Then, there's the variety of cultures here in Singapore that make me stop and think about where in the world I am.  For instance, I see this place when I take the bus to the grocery store:

Madeleine's Original Portuguese Egg Tarts.  Right under the Buddhist Center. 

Now, given the crazy mix of nationalities here, it's not especially odd to see something Portuguese or food from anywhere else for that matter.  We have an American barbecue restaurant (that tries too hard and isn't very good), Brazilian steakhouses, Ethiopian restaurants, and everything in between.  In fact, we celebrated Mexican Independence Day by eating some decent Mexican food; if I closed my eyes, I could imagine I was at the Orizaba Holiday Inn again (and that's not a bad thing.  At all!). 

Most days, we have nearly all of the comforts of home, and it's easy to forget where we are.  And then, there are times when our shopping list has mundane items that send us on a scavenger hunt all over the island.  This week, it was Ivory soap and cumin. The Ivory soap was found in the third grocery store we looked in, but the search is still on for cumin.  I'm sure it's here; I just haven't been in the right place yet....
It's always an adventure, and it's never dull.  At least we have Madeleine's egg tarts to keep us going.