So, recently, Frances and her class went to an art gallery. Pictures of the field trip were promptly posted online, and one, in particular, caught my attention.
Among her classmates, Frances is sitting opposite the presenter or guide for the tour. Quite clearly, Frances is speaking, and the guide is listening.
Out of curiosity, I asked Frances if she could remember what she had been saying. I mean, the photo suggests that it is an interesting conversation, and I love that someone had captured the precise point at which she was speaking, too.
Frances: The lady said that she was used to dealing with much younger children, and that we should tell her if she speaks to us as if we’re kindergarteners.
Me: Yes…But you were speaking. What did you say?
Her: I said, ‘Um, just to let you know — you’re speaking to us as if we are kindergarteners.’
(Her honesty, though legendary, is spoken in neither malice nor rudeness; she simply took the guide’s instruction at face value.)
Give Frances paint, paper, and lots of space, and she’s happy.
Frances needs structure — lots of it. In the past, summers have been very difficult for her for this reason.
So, school has ended for the summer break, and we have encountered a little difficulty in this regard: we had signed Frances up for a summer filled with day camp through her school; unfortunately, the school has cancelled the camp!
We’re down to four weeks of day camp from 10 weeks, and the deadlines for other camps have long since passed.
If I can get her interested, I thought reading Anne of Green Gables to her might help with her need for structure. There are many kinds of crafts or art that can be done with that theme in mind.
I’m definitely open to suggestions for helping to keep her time structured!
One day, when Frances was about 18 months old, she took hundreds of children’s books off a set of shelves in the living room and stood on top of the haphazard pile to get more.
She sometimes lined the entire house with a path of books that encompassed the dining room table and led back to the front room.
From the time that she was seven months old, she perused books with an unusual intensity and focus.
As a toddler, she would push a book into my abdomen or my neck or my hands and say, “Read!”
By the time she was 2.5 years old, I was reading stacks and stacks of books to her daily (usually 20 but as many as 30 or 40 at times).
At the library, where most parents might be encouraging their children to choose books, I was popping throat lozenges and encouraging her to go play just so that I could give my voice a rest.
She cried if books got damaged in the tiniest way. She protested loudly if anyone had written their name inside a book. If she became angry with me, she would threaten that we would no longer be able to visit my favourite bookstore.
She always had a book in her hand (for comfort, I assume).
The local bookstore knew us so well that Frances was allowed to take a book and read under a table where she wouldn’t be disturbed.
When Frances is reading is pretty much the only time (besides sleeping) that it is quiet in our house — the ONLY TIME.
She’s a nonstop talker with a more-than-average amount of energy and bounce in her running steps.
The other day, after school, there was a prolonged period of quiet (say, five minutes). It was very noticeable which could only mean that she was reading. Then, I heard her say to herself:
“This book is not very instructive on drawing horses.”
I knew that, within a minute or so, the house would be virtually alive again with the sound of her chatter and laughter and objects banging around again as she searched for something that she absolutely needed.
Frances discovered Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting this morning on Netflix.
She found his mellow voice and unquestionably effectual techniques quite soothing, and asked, “Would this count as a documentary?”
While technically not a documentary, I agreed to her watching it at bedtime because it has such an hypnotic effect on her. Bob Ross is good for anxiety!
I had never considered this show as a possible means of helping her get to sleep. But, yes — Bob!
(For a reminder or to learn about this laidback painter and his show (1983-1994) go here.)