Saturday, 28 June 2014

Could I Make It In Kindergarten?

Most schools have, by now, let out for the summer break. My almost Two year-old nephew's care...early (I really gotta brush up on this for future reference) is no exception. I got wind of his report card and the little fellow mastered all areas. Cool.

The areas under evaluation, however, got me thinking. Koko, so affectionately called, is almost Two. He has mastered the motor skill of scribbling spontaneously. Uh-huh! Question is, have I mastered the skill of scribbling spontaneously? Intrigued as to where this evaluation of my motor, cognitive and social/language skills would lead, I decided to take the plunge and consider a few areas in each category. Could I make it in kindergarten? Hey, don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Try it.

Motor Skills

Can feed self with spoon: For the most part, yes. I have a pretty good idea how wide I've opened my mouth to receive self-fed food.

Able to drink from a cup with lid/without lid: Well, which is it?! And, have they never heard of straws?

Walks up/down stairs with help: Did I mention that I fell up the stairs the other day? No? I fell up the stairs the other day.

Begins to run: Happy to say, yes. But, what is a respectable, face-saving distance at which to stop?

Scribbles spontaneously: Ace this! Catch me in a meeting. Any meeting.

Cognitive Skills

Begins to participate in make believe play: Around here I call it dreaming. So, yes. It is integral to writing.

Enjoys taking things apart: Have we met?

Wants to explore surroundings: That I do. A.k.a., travel more of the world.

Can/will follow directions: Can't promise outright. It depends.

Points to 3 or 4 body parts when asked: Can't promise outright. It depends.

Enjoys looking at the same books: Yes. And, occasionally, reads them!

Social Skills/Language

Exhibits mature jabbering: But a wha dis Faada? What the heck?

Responds to yes/no questions regarding wants and needs: Yes. Sometimes. Okay, for the most part.

Refers to self by name: Get out!! I used to do that?

Gets angry and has mastered temper tantrums: This one's a trap! A classic "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

Acts shy around strangers: Define "shy".

Engages in parallel play (alongside other children): Never! Okay. Kidding. I've been known to play.

Your turn.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Loyalty Schmoyalty: Which Team's Winning?

My sis, Durie, called to find out how Kiki, our 5yo niece, was coping with the fact that Greece was losing the match last Saturday. See, they had both decided to root for Greece. (I don't know why. Let's move on.) Colombia, though, was leading by two goals on that third day of World Cup 2014. Her mother - our sis - kindly informed her that Kiki had switched over to root for Colombia. She said Kiki had asked her, "Mommy? Where are all the blue people? I'm only seeing yellow!"

When Durie got her on the phone, Kiki quickly explained, "Well, I did start out cheering for Greece, but then Colombia was winning, so I started cheering for Colombia."

I cracked up when I heard that. What made it funnier was the thought that Durie, nestled in her neck of the woods, was thinking she had company in the misery of Greece's predicament. Only to find out after that fateful call that she was "compwetely and utterly awone." (Moulin Rouge)

But, it also got me thinking. The child was innocent and direct in her decision to go with the winning team! After all, who wants to be on the losing side? And, at what age or phase, or under what circumstance, does a sense of loyalty kick in? Sure she could stick with the losing team but...whyyy? In a later conversation with Durie, she said she imagined Kiki thinking, "What's in it for me?" Lol!!! The child had no ties whatsoever - and no qualms about going with the winner.

It was, undeniably, a fascinating thing to behold - a sense of duty and obligation (even if it meant enduring the misery of losing) vs. I'm-switching-to-the-winning-team. And for what? As sis asked, why do we feel so duty bound to stick? Perhaps it is to answer that call to belong; perhaps it is to be regarded as someone who can be relied upon.

In growing up, you definitely win and lose. For, how many of us, truth be told, would like to simply ditch a choice we made - not necessarily re World Cup - and go with a (more) winning option? But, we're all grown up now. Ours is not the luxury to change choices at the drop of a hat because, well, we understand that there may be ripple effects or consequences. There are people's feelings to consider; the job you want to keep; the mortgage to be paid; relationships you want to hold on to; the peace with which you want to go to bed, and so on. People are drawn to - and hold in higher regard - those who can be relied on; those who are there for you not only in the good times. These loyal folks are the ones, who, when you've given your best and haven't quite made the mark, are with you to support you and tell you all is not lost; better days are ahead; the light at the end of the tunnel is not the train coming - and whatever other cliché they can think of. I do see that coming out in my niece. She already has a well-developed kind and supportive way about her.

Our loyalty journey may very well start in our affection for our loved ones. We start with family - our first social group - and show our support as an expression of love. We want those we love to do well. If our little sister enters a 100m race, even if she places second, we don't suddenly start supporting the neighbour's child who placed first, do we? I said, "Do we?" I'm cracking up here because when I suggested that our niece might've continued her support if she'd had had a relative on the team, Durie said she wasn't so sure!

Where the football was concerned, however, Kiki hadn't budged an inch by the Argentina vs Bosnia-Herzegovina match the following day. I sat next to her as the teams played on and casually asked, "Which team are you rooting for?" Without missing a beat, "Which team's winning?" Lol!!!

Can hardly blame her. The lesson on loyalty can wait until after the World Cup. After all, she doesn't have a mortgage.



Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Frame of Reference

As I sat surrounded by members of my immediate family, aunts, uncles, and cousins, I couldn't help but think how things have changed over the years. Much has changed. And yet, so little has.

There's a line in the "Sunscreen Song" as it's popularly called, that says, "The older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young." I've loved that "song" (speech set to music, really) since it was released in the late nineties. That line, as so many others in it, rings wise.

Amidst the older folk, I thought back to my early years. Who would've thunk it? A little girl growing up in the hills of upper Clarendon in Jamaica; life taking the curves and turns it has; situations and circumstances playing out as they have, would be where she is today! The Lord has ordered my - our - steps to the present moment. So far, what a ride!

Life now is far different from those early years. But, the principles and legacy of values from those who've gone before, still stand. Whenever we get together, there are bound to be comparisons between generations as to features that bear a striking likeness - whether they be physical features or mannerisms or the way we walk or the inflections in talk. It's usually fun. They make it entertaining.

I realize I'm being vague. It's on purpose. I don't want to make this post about a series of family events. That'd be TMI. :-) Simply wanted to share that it's nice to stop and think, now and then, about where we're coming from and appreciate how far we have come. Sometimes we beat ourselves up because we haven't yet achieved this or done that. The truth is, every day is a struggle. And we're all - well, most of us, I'm wont to think - trying to make the best of it. Pretty sure we'd nod in agreement that we've come a long way and we're doing well. The late Professor Rex Nettleford once said, "We must have a frame of reference upon which to plot the new things that are upon us." How true. Those moments when we pause to reflect on our early years will help give us perspective.

The past few weeks have also given me an opportunity to serve. It's a blessing to be called upon to perform in a care-giving role; to be needed in that way and to carry out that function well. God has given me that strength and ability and it is an honour to be used in that way. As one aunt said today, "I get the feeling she enjoys doing it, you know!" I nodded in agreement, "Yes, I do, actually!" Someone once prayed for me that every thing I put my hands to will be blessed. His prayer continues to be answered in the affirmative.

What's that Bob Marley quote? "If my life a fi mi alone, mi nuh want it."