What My Kid Really Hears When I Read To Him

July 17, 2012 at 11:16 pm , by 

20 months.

My son Jack has been learning to read for several months now. At first, “reading” consisted of him going through his books,  pointing at and saying the animals he knew the name of.

These days, he has added some filler:

“Sah-soo joop mah loo kit. So so so top. Elmo. Guhpo took toe. Bird. Fah lom moosey…”.

In other words, he confidently speaks Gibberish (or maybe it’s Thai?) until he recognizes something on the page he recognizes.

For those familiar items, he speaks them slowly and clearly. Then back to kellee goo soss jot.

What this shows me is how he hears my wife and I when we read books to him.

It’s like Charlie Brown’s teachers and their “wahmp-wahmp-wahmp…” until we say a word he knows.

One of Jack’s new favorite books is Arlo Needs Glasses. It’s one of those 3-D pop-up books, which obviously Jack can appreciate, as well as, depreciate; when he accidently tears an item off the page in all his excitement.

He likes to try on the 4 sets of glasses that come with the book, which are intended for Arlo, the protagonist of the book.

And despite Arlo not being the household name that Elmo is, Jack definitely knows who Arlo the dog is:

“Fop dit yoof bog. Arlo. Dog. Whee! Siwween vox boey. Arlo…”.

Yes, I am simply Charlie Brown’s teacher at this point.

 

dad from day one: Lumber Jack and the Great Christmas Tree Farm

Week 4.

I never had a real Christmas tree growing up-  my family always had a nice plastic one. But my wife always had a real tree; so this year, we decided to started a new tradition in our Shell household: Go to the Christmas tree farm and get a real tree, Charlie Brown.  So we drove 13 miles (two cities away) to a place called Shiloh and pulled into the gravel parking lot of “Down on the Farm”.

Right away we were met by the owner who welcomed us then said, “Just those few trees you see right there is all we’ve got left.”  I explained to him that we were just there to get a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” for our new son.  The man gave me a handsaw and told me to drive my Element down the dirt road behind his farm and cut down the tree we wanted.  Before beginning our brief journey to find the perfect Christmas tree for a baby, I asked the man how much the tree would cost us.  He replied, “If it’s for that little baby boy you got there, it won’t cost you a thing.”

So thanks to Baby Jack and the friendly man at the Christmas tree farm, the new tradition has begun for Jack’s first Christmas: Not a tradition of having a full size tree each tree, but instead we decided to always have a small tree.  It’s just more fun.  We’ll leave the full size Christmas tree up the rest of the family.  It’s a great Christmas, Baby Jack.

Most of Life is Just Simply Showing Up

There is an art to “being there” when it comes to discovering The Quality of Life. From gaining educational degrees, to getting a job interview, to meeting one’s future spouse, showing up is the most important part. The rest is just details.

Showing Up: 75%
Getting a person to show up for anything is a task in of itself. Because I am a first-born child and because my wife was born of both first-born parents, she and I have both been wired to be planners. There is a schedule and a calendar. When at all possible, we live by them.

It’s easy to get us to show up if we have been told two weeks in advance. But we’re bound to be no-shows when we’re told about an event the day of, via text message. Because chances are, we already have plans.

Anyone who has been married in the last several years surely has a fresh-on-the-brain story or two about RSVP’s gone wrong. Like guests who say they will be there, RSVP for guests of their own (which were not invited), then don’t know up at all. Even at just $35 a head, it still stings when the bill comes after the wedding.

Human presence at a specific event at a specific time is a flighty thing. More fickle and unpredictable than any other aspect of The Quality of Life. A person has to be there before anything else can happen. But once they’re there, things tend to work themselves out.

You show up to class, you’re likely to learn at least a little something.

Experience: 5%
How can one person qualify to relate to another without the minimal proper experience? Whether it’s enough work experience, educational experience, or just simply life experience, without a history and understanding that is similar, it’s difficult for people to be on the same page.

Appearance: 5%
Not a matter of physical beauty, but instead what a person wears when they do show up. In other words, I’m referring to the importance of “wearing the right costume.” Despite what our bodies look like underneath our clothing, what we use to cover our bodies up with is worth more than the money we spend to buy it. Just like a nice Frank Sinatra-style hat can make any slob look a little bit classier, so can a person’s well-presented wardrobe make anyone look at least a bit more attractive.

Not necessarily a matter of expensive clothing. Just simply the right “costume”. A good presentation goes a long way. Or at least 5%, according to my calculations.

A few weeks ago on the “makeover episode” of The Biggest Loser, I laughed when I saw Allen. He already was a clean-shaven, clean-cut man to begin with. They just stuck him in a nice suit and tie. That was his makeover.

Personality: 5%
People like people who remind themselves of themselves. A person is much more likely to positively respond to another person who uses the same speech patterns, who positions their body in a similar stance, who laughs and shows sympathy at the right cues, who uses the other person’s name sporadically in conversation, and who maintains good eye contact. Dale Carnegie 101.

Performance: 5%
I have a philosophy I live by at work. “Do your best constantly. That way it’s easier to have your boss never say anything negative about you during a performance meeting or mass e-mail, especially when the boss is having a bad day.” With so many slackers in the world, when a person proves that they are competent, creative, and dedicated, they automatically stick out from the crowd. Just like we are quite aware of the inflation of money in our economy, it seems the same thing is happening with work ethics.

To acknowledge I can do something better is to say that I’m not already doing my best. And sometimes, for a person to do their best means that they are meeting their co-workers’ and superiors’ reasonable expectations. Which includes not pushing the dress code, taking constant personal calls, and leaving regularly for outside appointments. And that goes back to simply showing up.

Random Chance: 5%
Right place, right time. I showed up to a random filming of the CMT show “Crossroads”. I had the life experience of a 25 year-old American guy and could relate to a 25 year-old American girl. I was dressed neatly (not wearing Bachelor Pants). I was friendly and confident, not obnoxious or desperate. I successfully entertained the beautiful girl who I noticed as soon as I walked into the room, while we waited in an hour long line.

Without random chance (divinely guided or not) I wouldn’t have met the girl I would eventually marry. On October 5th, 2006 a stranger would walk into my life who would forever change it.

But of course the “random choice” of her being there too that night only reflects the importance of the most important element of the Quality of Life: being there. She showed up.

People are the meaning of life. And most of life is just simply showing up. To work parties. Service projects. Family reunions. School plays. Church activities.  People tend to notice, remember, and appreciate the ones that are there in person, not just in spirit.

This post is based on a concept presented to me by Shawn Garbett, a guy I met at my wife’s Christmas work party. We both showed up. Our initial conversion produced this as the result.