I've yet to meet a Mother who has a perfect child.* The little buggers are full of faults. From the moment they arrive, it becomes apparent that they aren't going to
a. eat on the schedule you got from the pediatrician's office
b. poop the right color
c. sleep according to when the moon comes out OR
d. let you get a shower before 5pm during the first nine months of their life.
As a Mom, you are reduced to a quivering bowl of nerves, afraid that you are going to say/eat/do the wrong thing JUST ONCE and the result will catapult your child into a mass-murderer. Basically, you lose your former "cool" self to this new person who looks suspiciously like a parent strung out on crack. With OCD tendencies.
Sadly, this doesn't get much better as your kids age. In fact, in many ways, it gets worse. Is Johnny at grade level in PE? Will his friends in the first grade pick their noses, too? Does he have the talent to join the badminton league? And on it goes.
So, the current worry around the Nowell house is phonics. Do our kids know what a diphthong is? Can they correctly pronounce "qu"? If we don't give them the training, will they pronounce BRAZIER, as in the burger at Dairy Queen, BRASSIERE?** ARGH.
In our quest to get this as right as possible, we have decided to err on the side of overexposure and take on an in-depth phonics course. With a neuropsychologist. In Houston. Can you say O-V-E-R-K-I-L-L?
Upon arrival at said wonderful locale, I am handed a book, scratch that, a BIBLE, of sorts. A phonics bible about three inches thick. And I'm expected to read and ingest chapter one whilst the phonics-starved one is testing***.
Said chapter is entitled "Getting Ready". I imagine it will be a stroll through choosing "phonics-appropriate" books, loading up on pencils and paper, and practicing the phrase, "You are doing SUCH a good job."
Try again, sweetness. How about the FOXP2 gene which runs in families with severe language deficits****, the fusiform gyrus, and Logan's instantiation hypothesis?
I can just imagine the doctor getting offended when I say, "Honey, this horse is barely out of the gate and I think I just broke my leg."
Thankfully, it gets better before I leave for lunch. I'm handed a stack of pretty, colored cards, with letters on them. G, Z, H, T, S...you get my drift. My only task is to figure out the sounds these letters make before we return from break. SO much easier than that reading stuff.
Or, so I thought. Upon checking my answers, I realize I've missed more than HALF the sounds. How the hell did I make it this far in life? I should really just get in the car and drive as far away from my kids as possible because it has just become blatantly obvious that I know NOTHING. And I have a secondary degree to teach ENGLISH.
Day one ends. I'm moving to Stupidville. Young stud is learning TONS from our doctor friend but Mom obviously donated a considerable chunk of her brain cells to science without even knowing*****. I vow to get a better sleep, lest I get sucker-punched again on day two.
Day two's lessons are intense but interesting and my guy is GETTING IT! Praise be! Me? I learn that the "bossy E" controls the vowel in front of it, forcing it to say it's name. I KNEW this but I certainly couldn't have taught it. But, I'm told, I'll get my chance, because tomorrow it's MY TURN TO TEACH!
Much to our delight, at the hotel we've been joined by another Mom/student combo, who are a little ahead of us in the program. The other Mom seems to have developed a slight compulsion to rub her eyes, drag her fingers through her hair, and say "MY gosh." Since the best defense is a good offense, we dine on wine and brownies for dinner. Hey, if I die teaching this stuff, at least I'll die a happy woman.
The next morning, after two cups of piping hot coffee, we arrive and I am summoned to do my teaching gig. We run through everything I'm supposed to do and I feel pretty confident. Sounds? Check. Spelling exercises? Check. Empty bladder? Check.
Then my baby sits down in front of me. The doctor perches to my right, like the angel of death sitting on my doorstep, waiting to pounce on my next mistake and drag me to a place where all they do, day in and day out, is phonics. I'm shaking and my mind keeps singing "My blood runs cold and my memory has just been sold"******. I think I'm losing my mind!
And then it happens: we work together, I make tons of mistakes and get corrected a bazillion times, and I realize I CAN DO THIS! Without losing my sanity or turning my baby into a psychopath. I'm not that stupid after all.
Look out world! Up in the sky! It's a bird. A plane. NO, it's phonics Momma, here to save the day!
I know, \ˌō-vər-ˈkil\
*Though I have met a few mothers who THINK they have perfect children. BIG difference.
**True story. Cracked everyone in the car up, except the person reading the sign because he was too young to know what a bra was.
***OOPS. Didn't envision this when I drove from Dallas the night before then stayed up in the hotel room until 2:30am watching TV.
****Yet something ELSE to fret about.
*****Or, was it the donation to the fairy who visits each time you deliver a child?
******Hearts and hugs to the J. Geils band. Sorry to use your lyric this way.....