I come bearing Ryley stories of various kinds. As with all kids, the older she gets, the less “cute” her stories become, of course. But she still has a way of putting things that consistently catches us off guard, and we cherish each little sliver of light that allows us some insight into her active, quirky, beautiful mind. :-)
The first week of school was a tough one. It’s hard to get back into the rhythm of school, you know. Between remembering to bring her red pen here and there (sound familiar, Riverviewians?), and working hard not to speak out in class, 3rd grade is just plain tough. As bright as she is, and as dedicated to being right as she is, our Ryley is only eight, and she struggles with being
a tad scatterbrained.
(Funny sidenote: I don’t know if I am forever scarred by my own six years of experience with Mrs. Wille, the responsibility Nazi of my youth, but I literally burst into tears one morning when I discovered Ryley’s red pen sitting on her seat in the van as I arrived at work. She had expressed to me her concern of the policy “No red pen, no grade” and had been so excited when she remembered to grab the pen on our way out the door that morning. But it never made it to her backpack. I ran crying into my office and immediately wrote her teachers an e-mail along the lines of “she tried so hard, and please have mercy on her this once!” They wrote back, “No big deal. It’s the first week of school, yada, yada, yada.” Mercy? Really? What a concept!!! Clearly I have my own issues to deal with. And now Ryley’s teachers quite possibly think I’m insanely Type A.)
So anyway, Ryley’s big problem (being of her dad’s blood, of course) is being a bit of a know-it-all. She shouts out the answers without raising her hand. When I addressed this with her, her response was, “But Mom, they never call on me when my hand is raised.” So obviously, if her teacher is to know she knows the answer, she must yell it out. Naturally. We discussed this at length and talked about why this is wrong on many levels.
A few days later, Ryley said that the teacher had told them that she would actually be calling on people who didn’t raise their hands and weren’t paying attention. Which gave Ryley an idea.
“I just look around and look at the wall and act like I’m not paying attention, but the whole time I have the answer in my head, ready to answer just in case they call on me.”
Yes. A win-win.
Ryley has been reading the Mandie Books, a series I adored when I was her age.
Tonight she asked me, “Why can’t Mandie learn to swim? In all these books, she doesn’t know how!”
“I don’t know,” I responded.
“Ohhh, I know why,” she said. “It’s because it makes the story more interesting every time she falls into water!”
The other night we were eating dinner, and, as I have for the last eight years, I cut up Ryley’s chicken breast for her. We were talking about some of her favorite foods that they serve at school, like chicken fried steak. It dawned on me suddenly that she eats chicken fried steak, yet hasn’t learned how to effectively cut meat yet….Hmmmm….
“So when you have meat at school, do the teachers cut it for you? Or do you do it yourself?”
“How do you eat it then?”
And Ryley proceeded to stab the uncut chicken breast with her fork and (quite awkwardly) lift the whole thing to her mouth to take a bite, gravy dripping down her chin.
Ryan and I both gasped in simultaneous horror and ashamed laughter.
“Tonight you’ll learn,” I told her. “What do your friends do?”
“The same as me,” she answered.
And breathing a small sigh of relief, I pictured tables and tables of 3rd graders with no table manners, struggling to eat their steak, and teachers trying hard to turn a blind eye. :-)
As we knew they would eventually, the questions about the Birds and the Bees have started flocking into our home. And they’re always at the most awkward times…like as we’re walking into swimming lessons, or at 8 p.m., the night before school starts. I don’t want her to think I’m ignoring/avoiding her questions or that they’re bad questions, but I also want to have time to sit down with her and prayerfully, wisely tell her what she needs to know. I want to protect her innocence as long as possible, but I don’t want her to hear things from the wrong people either. I was so much older than her before I even cared to know, so it’s caught me off guard.
I bought some books on the subject that we felt were a little too revealing, even though they are Christian books. Like Ryan has always said, after she knows, there’s no going back. And we want to make sure that even though she’s smart enough to ask, she’s also mature enough to handle the answer.
She has such an inquisitive, scientific mind, and I try to approach all my answers from that perspective. But it won’t be long before the vagueness isn’t enough anymore. The questions just keep coming and are more and more detailed.
God’s given me a lot of wisdom so far, and I’ve felt like each conversation has been extremely informative and has effectively answered the questions asked. After our Labor and Delivery 101 lecture this morning, however, I’m thinking it’s a matter of days rather than weeks. :-) Jesus, help us.
The other day Ryan and I were having a disagreement about something. When Ryley and I were alone for a minute, she said, “In movies, when two people disagree, they always kiss and make up. You always kiss and make up too, but I’m never there, so that’s good.”
And last but not least, randomly:
“I hope someone marries me for love and not for my fortune!”