” I like this radio for tv thing,” Emma Bryan, 9, about VH1, which she had never seen before today.
“I am not a person that likes to be patient,” Tess Bryan, 7-years old.
"Sometimes watching my mommy is like watching tv," Tess, age 6.
I volunteer once a week to work with the children in Tess’s class. I am at one of the "rotation" stations. The children are divided into groups and rotate between activities. It’s very different than when I did the same thing for Kindergarten, where I was just doing a craft or reading a story, while the "real" instructing was going on in the other groups. This year I am really helping the kids work on important skills. Last week, I was working with them on a writing project. One little boy and I had a meeting of the minds. He grinned ear-to-ear because I showed interest in his story and asked him questions. This week, the activity was writing a Thanksgiving menu. When his group came to me, he pulled on my sleeve and said, "Remember me? I am the good writer." (My heart burst!) This week, I paid special attention to him and praised his menu. "Of course it is good. You are such a good writer," I said. He looked up at me and said,"Yes, I know, but does it make you hungry?"
Great. Just what the world needs. Another food writer.
"My tummy would feel better if I had chocolate every day," Tess Bryan, six-years-old.
My daughter Emma is a sweetie. Really. A very sensitive little girl who is trying to find her way in the harsh world of public school. Last year, on the playground a boy tried to take her ball from her, she grabbed it back off of him—and he pushed her down hard. The school kind pissed me off because they talked to her about how SHE could have handled the situation better. She was sticking up for herself—the boy took her ball. I told the assistant principal that we are teaching her to stand up for herself—whether they like it or not. Mostly, her feelings were because she thought the boy was her friend. I am still getting my feelings hurt over people who call themselves my friend and then prove that they are not. So I find I am at a loss to explain the complexities of friendship to my child.
Then last week, in the midst of my younger daughter being sick with the stomach flu, Emma came home sick from school she never even made it to her class. They called at 8:10. At first, I didn’t think much of it because Tess was sick. But as the day wore on, I could tell Emma had gotten "better" very quickly. Turns out, there was an incident on the bus that upset her.
This is the kind of girl Emma is: she decided to make little drawings/posters for everybody on the bus. And one night she poured her heart out into these posters, working very hard on them. She just decided she wanted to do something nice for the kids she rides the bus with. Unfortunately, a group of them laughed at her and tore up the pictures.
It would have made me sick, too. Now, Emma is riding in the front of the bus and has been told that she doesn’t have to be nice to those boys. She seemed confused, "But I have to be nice to everybody." But you don’t have to be, do you? Especially if somebody treats you with disrespect, they don’t deserve your attention, let alone your friendship or heart. It’s a lesson I am still learning—it has been a difficult and painful one throughout my life—but to see my daughter dealing with this at the age of eight, it feels like a kick in the gut.
"Wouldn’t it be great if life was a musical?" Emma Bryan, 8 years old.
My daughter, Emma, has been attending the Saturday Enrichment Program at the University of Va. (We tease that our 8-year-old is going to college, but it’s been a great experience.) This year, she was selected for “Exploring the World of Writing.” We just received her evaluation, which consists of some pretty detailed observations about Emma.
I had to share this. (Remember, I have just written a cookbook and am working on another cookbook proposal, and these folks have no idea about any of that.)
“Some of Emma’s favorite activities included writing to music, observing and writing about fruits and vegetables…During our discussion of the fruit and vegetable observation, Emma made the imaginative comment that her vegetable “smelled like watercolors.”
That’s my kid.
Last night, my husband took our 8-year-old Emma to a presentation about global warming. This morning at the breakfast table, I asked her what she learned. She looked up at me and said, “China is going to take over the United States in eight years. Eight years!” He hazel eyes were big and looked a little worried. My husband chimed in. “No, they are not taking over the United States. Their emissions will overtake the United States’ emissions in eight years.”
Today, while we were waiting for the bus, Tess looked up at me and said, “Winter is mean.”