Monday, June 30, 2008

Hail no

Pete and I left dissertating Carolyn behind to go on Pete's first camping trip--and my first tent camping trip since college--last Friday, with a family of friends. Unfortunately, the weather killed off one of our two nights; we got caught in a nasty hailstorm on our bikes, and the forecast told us to head back to Iowa. The feeling of squishing the wet and icy bike helmet back onto my head to finish the ride (after we found shelter for the worst of it) is burned on my poor brain. In spite of the setbacks, though, it was a remarkably good time, and the kids held up beautifully. It made me think that there might be hope for us as a camping family yet, even though neither Carolyn and I grew up campy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Freedom isn't free

from Carolyn

I was getting dressed this morning while Erik was dressing Pete. I heard Pete suddenly scamper down the hall and down the stairs. My Motherhood Superpowers told me that this was the scampering of a not-fully-dressed child. Pete exuberantly hollered back, "I'm free, Papa! I'm free!"

(On the other hand, he's currently in bed, howling, "Mama, come back" over and over, so clearly his freedom has its limits.)

Pete becomes a character in a bad rodeo movie

Erik: Pete, let's get you in the tub so you can finish your bath and say goodbye to grumpy.

Pete: Hold on, Papa. I'm suckin' on my juice.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Boy writes name, receives feedback

A few months ago, my son (who turned three in January) wrote his name for the first time. As a teacher of writing, I thought it appropriate to give him some comments. Here follow the image and my response.

Assignment: Writing Your Name
Peter Simpson
Introduction to Reading and Writing
April 2008

Dear Pete,

Congratulations on writing your name for the first time! You have done an excellent job learning the three letters necessary for completing this assignment, and you wrote them in sequence with only minimal supervision and guidance from Mama. She and I are both proud of you, and we hope you look back on this as one of the highlights of your three-year-old year.

I also have some suggestions you might consider as you continue writing your name in the future—as I would encourage you to do, given this promising beginning. The first point involves spacing. As you know, you ran out of room on this sheet of paper after the first three letters, so you had to make the final “e” next to the initial “p.” It would be better to plan out the spacing of your words in advance to avoid confusing the reader. Also, most readers and editors will expect any capital “e” to have exactly three horizontal lines. Drawing many more horizontal lines on each “e” is fine if you are writing for Mama and me, but when composing for a wider audience, try to stick to three. Along the same lines, you seem at this point to be capitalizing the letters “p” and “e” but not “t”; I would suggest either capitalizing all your letters or only the initial “p,” to make either “PETE” or “Pete.” If you want to know which of those two forms is preferable for a given piece, consult your teacher or editor. Finally, though I certainly understand your desire to reduce your spending on school supplies, especially since you will not even get an allowance for some years yet, I do think you’ll find that readers prefer letterhead or plain white writing paper to hotel stationery. Mama or I can show you where to find such paper at home.

Do not let these details overwhelm my main point, Pete: you have done very well with this assignment, and I sincerely look forward to seeing what other words you will write soon. Nice work!


Professor Simpson (Papa)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

So that's what they do behind the cameras

from Carolyn

Pete asks for an adventure every night, and tonight we went over and had a picnic on campus, about half a block from the house. And then we went with Pete to hit balls with his new baseball bat on Mac Field. Pete was getting creative--stepping away to let "another batter" hit, etc. At one point he walked over to the left of the "plate" and said he was "going where the baseball players live" "behind the gate"--i.e., to the dugout. Erik and I played catch, waiting for him to decide it was his turn to hit again, and when I looked over a minute later, his pants and underwear were around his ankles and he was peeing on the grass.