Our children are becoming familiar with the epic that is Lord of the Rings. In addition to Jonathan’s current reading of the Hobbit, the three older children are enjoying segmented, slow screenings of Peter Jackson’s three LotR movies with their Daddy. One can witness their fascination with the story as they play together, though obviously one of them is still a bit mixed up over a few of the characters. This morning, they were all in the boys’ room, constructing bows and arrows from K’nex, and putting on their dress-up armor in preparation for a great battle.
“I am going to be the elf-princess, Arwen,” declared Abigail. Jonathan, ready to fight, said he wasn’t exactly sure which elf he wanted to be, but that he was certainly going to win the war. Nicolas however, confidently stated, “Well, I am going to be LipGloss*!”
* For those not as familiar with the LotR trilogy, we’re pretty sure he meant Legolas.
Today we had a time of praise during our family prayers. I asked the children what they could say about God to praise him. When we got to Nicolas…
“That He’s magical.”
While on our long weekend away, the kids all participated in a competitive game of Junior Trivial Pursuit. One question to Nicolas stood out.
The question: What folk hero was known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor?
Nicolas’ emphatic answer: Jesus.
This is a familiar sight at our house:
Two little rumply-haired boys in robes/jammies reading together on the couch early in the morning. It is one of their favorite things to do. It is also one of Mommy’s favorite things for them to do, because when engrossed like this, they are at peace with one another. No cross words, bickering over a toy, or whining to me about what evil the other has just done.
But there is also humor within this picture. Please note that both boys have a Magic TreeHouse book: this is a recently-discovered series in our family, and the children have been getting every book they can find out of both the city and school libraries. Which is understandable for Abigail and Jonathan, because, well, they can actually read. Words, that is. And Treehouse Books are definitely reader books. There are not a ton of pictures to help tell the story if you can’t figure out what the funny-looking symbols all over the page mean. Personally, I’d have a hard time enjoying these books if I was not a reader.
But Nicolas doesn’t agree with me. That precious boy of mine can’t read a single word, but he LOVES reading TreeHouse books. In fact, he tells me that he’s “read” eleven TreeHouse books now. Really. And he believes he has. Every time Jonathan picks up one, Nicolas chooses one for himself. Unless of course, as he tells me, he’s “already read that one”.
It’s so cute. He wants to be just like his big brother, and “read”. I, feeling sorry for him (thinking he cannot possibly be enjoying the process of patiently running his chubby finger underneath every. single. word. in. the. entire. book. – which is what he does in order to finish reading it, mind you) offer him countless picture books off our shelves, and he politely declines, saying he’d rather read his TreeHouse book.
Until this past weekend…when Jonathan began the first in another series of books which we own: the Hobbit. I wondered which TreeHouse book Nicolas might choose to read from while sitting next to his big brother. But the four-year-old calmly reached into the same grouping of books from which Jonathan had selected the Hobbit, and settled down comfortably with his own volume: none other than Fellowship of the Ring.
Mommy: Nicolas, tell me one privilege you get just because you are part of our family?
Nicolas: I get a spank?
It is never good when a child comes running to me yelling, “Someone’s bleeding! There’s lots of blood!” Since it was Jonathan doing the yelling, I quickly narrowed it down to four possibilities. As I ran toward the other side of the house, I heard the wail. It was Nicolas.
I found him in our bed bleeding from the mouth (thankfully our comforter has a fairly busy pattern with lots of red). Bleeding, as Jonathan had mentioned, a whole lot. As I grabbed him and headed for the bathroom I asked Abigail what had happened. Turns out Nicolas had decided to bounce on our bed (a huge no-no) and had a grand time up until the moment when his mouth met the footboard.
His lip continued oozing blood for a couple hours, and I ended up at the store buying yogurt, yogurt smoothies, and pudding. Tricia and I sought to offer him whatever comfort we could. Sometimes, children face consequences from their parents for bad behavior. Other times, the parents don’t have the chance to intervene, and the outcome is much worse.
three boys in a tub!
One of the features we love about our new house is the really great configuration of bedrooms/bathrooms, particularly well suited to our family, especially given the genders of our children. Two of the secondary bedrooms have what I believe is referred to as a “Hollywood Bath” between them (NOT Jack ‘n’ Jill, as I’d formerly called it – see, you learn something every day!). So, the room on one side houses our two bigger boys, and on the other side of the bathroom sits Josiah’s nursery. Now that he is big enough, all three of them love to take baths together in the “boy bathroom”, and play with lots of toys, and make lots of noise, and splash lots of water, and well, that is just what little boys do, as I’m learning. But after all the noise and water everywhere (including on Mommy and Daddy!) comes one of my favorite things as a parent – snuggling clean, sweet-smelling little boys in soft towels. Here is a shot of them having fun in their bathtub:
Tonight we enjoyed this Southern Living Recipe. It’s frugal, easy to prepare (though I added the step of browning the chicken thighs before placing them in the crockpot) and a perfect winter meal. What’s more, everyone at the table enjoyed it. Especially Nicolas. He told us all about how much he loved his food.
Before I record his comments, please note that the dish consists mainly of chicken, white potatoes and carrots. But Nicolas doesn’t like to be hemmed in by ingredients. He doles out his compliments creatively. Accordingly, as he finished his meal, he announced happily to us, “I just love these sweet potatoes..they are delicious. Oh, and this ham is great too. I love this ham and sweet potatoes.” While the rest of people at the table stared at him, a bit confused, he noticed a piece of the “meat” had fallen in his lap. “Oh look! Haha, there is ham in my lap…I didn’t see that I had dropped ham in my lap! That’s silly!!” Silly, indeed.
We are a family of readers. Jay’s family are all avid readers, and there is even a published writer among them. As a young child I was read to constantly, and encouraged to read on my own, which I did. Jay and I have continued to love reading as adults, and now that we are parents, we enjoy sharing this love for books with our own children. We began reading to each of our children shortly after they were born, and haven’t stopped. The kids have all enjoyed family reading, and in time, we took the step of teaching them phonics so they could enjoy books on their own as well. Our older two took to it quite naturally, and both learned to read at home with me before they entered kindergarden.
Part of the beauty of many children is many different personalities, character bents, talents, tastes, preferences, etc. Nicolas, our third, is not exactly quite as enamored with reading, or even being read to, for that matter. My attempts at helping him get through Teach Your Child to Read in One Hundred Easy Lessons (the book I used with my oldest two, and one which I heartily recommend) was short-lived. Like “we didn’t get more than two paragraphs into the first lesson” short-lived. As far as reading together, sure, we do it, but it’s not his first choice.
No, Nicolas has a new love, and it is not books. The question I get from him these days is not, “Will you read me a story?” but “When can I play my computer game?” Seriously. I have even taught him the word “addict”. Because he is one. At the tender age of just-turned-four. He would sit at the computer and play “games” (educational, learning games, mind you, but computer games all the same!) all day long, if I allowed it. I don’t even know if he would stop to eat, he is so entranced by the glow of the pretty screen and the colorful, moving objects!
Despite this ardent love for the beautiful computer, I have found in the past week that Nicolas does enjoy some books. A few choice titles. But they seem to all have a humorous bent to them. His current favorite is Click, Clack, Moo. He will actually request that I read him this funny book. So, while I certainly do not want to teach my child that all good books are hilariously funny, I figure that perhaps it would help him at least for now if I could choose stories which are written with a fun and entertaining theme.
Ok, dear readers, here is where you come in. I would love it if you would each take a moment to suggest some funny books that you read or have read to a special preschooler in your life. Or that you have heard about and think would be great to share with a preschooler. We have a fairly extensive collection of children’s books and I have access to a wonderful city library system, so I know I can get my hands on most titles you would suggest.
I appreciate any help you can give in the quest to broaden Nicolas’ love for the written word! I will look forward to hearing your wonderful suggestions. And I’ll be sure to keep you posted about his progress! Thank you all, in advance!