Superlatives

Over the past month or so, Dante has adopted a new style of question, asking me to name the most something or the least something, for example:

* “What’s the simplest thing you know?”

* “What’s the scariest thing you know?”

* “What’s the shortest word you know?”

They’re often immediately followed by the opposite question — “What’s the longest word you know?” “What’s the least scary thing you know?”

There’s also a ranking variety. For instance — our bedtime reading for the past couple of weeks has been The Mouse And The Motorcycle. Recently when I finished a chapter, he started quizzing me: “What was the scariest thing in that chapter?” This answer may have been less than satisfactory, because it was followed immediately by, “What was the second scariest thing in that chapter? What was the third scariest thing?” Then we went through the same thing, but along the “least scary” axis. I’m pretty good at improvising answers, but I start running out of ideas after getting down to third rung in the ladder or so.

Sometimes he also tries to make fine distinctions: “What’s the weirdest thing you know?” will be followed by “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen?” He doesn’t like it when these answers are the same, even though, as I have explained to him, sometimes you’ve actually experienced the [weirdest/scariest/fastest/slowest/best] thing that you’ve ever heard of. Somehow I sense he’s not buying it.

He just finished his first full week at Stargate. I think it’s going pretty well. Even though I thought his preschool was very nurturing and helped him a lot, he often complained about going in the morning, and getting him to talk about it was like pulling teeth. So far at Stargate, he wakes up lacking dread, and when he gets home he’ll spontaneously offer information about what happened that day, and have us pretend to be teachers from the kindergarten team. We met for a full hour with the whole team before school started, just to talk about his strengths and challenges, and what approaches work best with him. We loved them, and felt so lucky to be at that school. I’m glad Dante’s finding it positive too. Of course, it’s still early. I’m sure the honeymoon will end at some point. The one point where I really saw him bog down was when we worked with him on the homework he got last week.

That’s your cue to gasp in horror. “Homework in Kindergarten?!?” exclaims every person to whom I’ve mentioned it. And truthfully, I’m not super-wild about it, but I don’t mind that it’s happening either. It’s not as if it’s hard — basically all he had to do last week was write a sentence, draw a picture, and answer a few oral questions while we took dictation. Heaven knows he could use the handwriting practice — it is one of his weak spots. I think he finds it challenging and therefore keeps wanting to bail. Sorry kid, no dice.

As expected, it has been an adjustment for him to transition to full-day school — his preschool was only 2.5 hours a day. Stargate does a good job of breaking up the day, but he still finds it long. In fact, when a friend asked him today what he thinks of his new school, he said, “It’s long and tiring… but fun!” Hey, my workday only achieves two out of those three, so Stargate must be doing something right.

ANSWER KEY
I always employ the caveat that my answers to superlative questions are always provisional, expire at the end of the day, and do not represent a full ranking but rather the first thing that popped into my head. Nevertheless, here are my attempts for the questions listed above.

1. Lying on my back and looking at the clouds
2. The idea that something bad might happen to someone I love
3. It’s a tie between “I” and “A”
4. The old favorite, “antidisestablishmentarianism.”
5. Safety
6. [I will not write my Mouse & Motorcycle answers, of course — too many spoilers!]
7. Dante language
8. See #7

P.S. I’m writing this from our new house!!!

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