Thursday, April 5, 2007

Pursuing Passion

Kenzie's dad dropped her off this morning because last night was a 'daddy night.' She was fresh and clean from the bath he had given her and she told me she wasn't hungry because daddy made her waffles with a good jelly from Nana Sandi (dad's mom).
We went down the hall to the playroom, which is also my "office" where I write and think (quiet thoughts) when Kenz is not here. In the large closet filled with somewhat neatly arranged toys, books, puzzles and games, I pulled out a preschool workbook. "We haven't done workbook for awhile," I said to my granddaughter who was at my side and who had just found a pink marker, a square one I had left on a low shelf. She was so impressed with the shape of it and the way it fit in her hand that I told her we could share it, which also thoroughly impressed her.
We got on our little wood chairs and sat at the Sponge Bob table to 'work'. I sometimes wonder if she will be bored stiff by first grade when she will for sure be asked to work in workbooks, but today and over the last year she puts workbooks on the level of being a treat. It is a treat for me to watch her think and today was especially good, as I was able to see her mind working new problems, counting, circling, drawing and going through the mazes.
I love to not rush in and help her if she can figure out something on her own. She is a bright girl. When I was writing PLAY WIT ME NANA, I found an essay in a college book about bright children which I describe in the Chapter called "Let's Play It Again." Bright children want to solve problems themselves and I have learned to keep quiet as her brain engages with the subject at hand.
Workbook time lasted about two hours then magically transformed into joke time. What a clever workbook! The subtle reward for finishing the fun pages is to learn a joke, one a four year old can repeat, making an adult laugh and secretly strengthening verbal skills. Here's a couple Mackenzie cut from the bottom of the pages she finished. WHAT DO YOU CALL A CRATE OF DUCKS? A box of crackers WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE PLAYGROUND? To get to the other slide WHAT KIND OF VEGETABLE GOES DING-DONG? A bell pepper. And WHAT ANIMAL ALWAYS GOES TO BED WITH IT'S SHOES ON? A horse.
Over the course of the day, as Daba, Mike and (lastly) Mom came and went, she turned it into a competition between the three of them keeping track of who got the most jokes right! In the early afternoon when Daba came home he had brought with him a big chocolate cake from a client of his that remembered his birthday coming up this weekend. It was already after lunch, a lunch we did not have yet, but we celebrated with him anyway and had a hunk of the cake.
Before this, I was enjoying a quiet puppet show with somewhat of a plot... but after our dose of sugar the puppet show got a little wild, so we turned it into a game of chase around the orange tree, after--- I shoveled up our dog's poop. Sweaty and thirsty from the Chase game, in the ninety degree heat (yep), we headed back to the playroom and took turns being the waitress pouring out cups of water.
Playing with the plastic food and pretending with her dollies, including paying with a credit card is a game Mackenzie would play for hours if I would comply. I stayed with it until Daba called us for a real lunch--- tenderloin and peas fried up in olive oil.
Then back again to the other restaurant, which I sideline watched, as Kenzie continued stuffing and packing up her doll stroller and purses and moving things around, all the while talking to her babies. She got so busy and distracted enough, that I was able to pick up a magazine "Natural Health" and read an article called Hobby Force by Karen Kelly. "Research shows that pursing your passion helps you cope more easily with work and family demands. "

Kenzie's mommy came to pick her up when the clock struck five, a little earlier than usual and they were both out the door within five minutes leaving me once again in my other life, the one where food is not plastic, puppets don't talk and for sure I wouldn't be running around the orange tree laughing and playing chase.
I would say that being a day care Nana is a job, but it's sort of like a hobby, too--- one that can be pursued with passion!

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