I am so enjoying this new daughter I have, you know, the one who reads. I know that it is not a huge thing because most everyone learns to read. I know that tons of children learned to read when they were younger than Jessa. I am sure that there are tons of kids who can read with more fluency than Jessa. I know that she is not inventing the wheel here. But you see, she is MINE. My first baby to go to school. My first baby to be able to crawl up in my lap with a book and read it to me. It just blows my mind. This big girl who is so long these days that her legs barely fit into my lap anymore started out as my sweet, tiny baby only, well, yesterday. How did it happen so fast? I mean, she was a baby, and now she is reading her baby book to me. My head hurts. My heart hurts.
So the reading thing is still so incredible to me. But lately, she has been cracking me up. See, her teacher, you know, the smartest most wonderful Queen of everything? You should never ever question Jessa's teacher, OK? Got it? Well, her teacher is helping them figure out punctuation and how to read with feeling, or expression, as Jessa calls it. And y'all, she is so funny! When she sees an exclamation point, she hollers that last word to make sure she gives that punctuation appropriate attention. Oh, and the way she makes her voice go up at the end of sentence with a question mark is priceless. Intonation is important - even when you are reading Dr. Seuss or The Grumpy Easter Bunny.
Oh and there is the "effect" thing. She does things all the time now for effect. Like in the middle of a book, she will make random gestures to make her point, and she explains that she did it, you know, for effect. Oh and she always points out that she is reading with "expression." In case you do not notice that she is using expression, she will tell you, darn it. She is so focused on all these newly learned reading rules that listening to her read a story is just, oh so much fun! And she has started wanting to read things twice. Like the first time is a dress rehearsal, and the second time, she is on it! The punctuation, the expression, the effect. She is ready for her close-up.
If there was an Oscar for best expression, effect, and use of punctuation in a Kindergarten reader, she would be a SHOE IN.
I also must share with you one last small note on these newly expanded abilities. She is an expert and darn big for her britches.
Apparently, the Kindergartners are having some trouble with punctuation. According to her teacher, you know, the smartest woman alive, they were saying the punctuation when they were reading. So Mrs. K has been really drilling it home that punctuation is not to be read aloud. You see the period, you pause. You see the exclamation point, you shout the last word and pause. You see a question mark, your voice gets really high. Get it?
Well, Jessa sure did.
The other day I had just about had it. My sweet babies were at each other's throats and tattling on each other and basically driving me absolutely nuts. I was in the kitchen trying to get something done. I had been fussing at them here and there, hoping to avoid really getting upset. I finally realized that being really upset was unavoidable. So I stormed into the den where they were on the verge of a knock down drag out fight.
OK. Mommy time. I raised my voice and recounted all of their transgressions. I told them they needed to get along. I said I was frustrated. They were driving me crazy. We are a family, dang it! We love each other! And that I did not want to have to come in there again. You know, the usual Mommy speech with lots of gestures for effect and oh so much expression, let me tell you. I ended my performance with, "I have had it! Y'all need to get along and stop fighting. PERIOD. I MEAN IT!"
I was pretty pleased with my little lecture. And it looked like it worked. They were quiet and appeared to be listening. And at that moment, they were not pulling each other's hair out . I was about to turn to exit the den, triumphantly. Then my sweet Jessa raised her hand, alerting me that she had something to say. Would it be an apology? Had my words moved her to see where she went wrong? I was so prepared to listen to the wise tidbit that my daughter was about to share with me. I was sure that she was about to admit the error of her ways and of course, praise me for all the great points I made that led her to this self-analysis. She loves me and she loves her brother and I am the best. Wow, I am a great mom, and she is about to prove it.
And then she said it.
Jessa: Um, Mommy?
Me: Yes, my Jessa.
Jessa: Yeah, Mrs. K says that you are not supposed to actually say the word period.
Just pause and keep going, OK.
Me: I realize that, honey, but sometimes grown-ups need to say the word.
You know, for effect.