Friday, January 10, 2014

The Mini Pinball Prize

Katie's teacher has her students keep track of the amount of pages they read at home. Something to do with the local Price Chopper grocery store providing them with a pizza party when the class hits 100,000 pages or something like that.  I can't remember exactly why they're doing it.  I've never been a big fan of keeping track of how much Katie reads.  To me, that's like asking someone to keep track of how many breaths they take each day.  Why bother making a big ta-do over such an everyday thing?

Turns out, Katie likes making a big ta-do over such things.

Here's a snapshot of Katie reading Oh the Pets You Can Get to her dino Donnie.  In her left hand she's holding the mini pinball game she won for reading a shit-ton of pages last month.  

Those were not the exact words Katie's teacher said as I picked Katie up from school yesterday.  I'm paraphrasing.  As I walked up toward them, Ms. B's face was beaming so brightly it distracted me from what she was actually saying.

"--more than the whole class put together!" Ms. B exclaimed.

"She does love to read," I said, hoping my response made sense since I hadn't quite caught the first part of what Ms. B had said to me.

Katie and I waved goodbye to Ms. B and started walking home.  

"Look Mom!" Katie held up the mini pinball game, the kind you'd buy in bulk for a birthday party goodie bag or get at the skating rink arcade in exchange for ten tickets.

"Oh cool.  I used to love those little pinball games when I was a kid," I said.

"Me too!" Katie exclaimed.  

"Who gave it to you?" I asked.

"Ms. B let me pick it out of the treasure chest for my prize for reading the most pages last month," Katie explained.

"Oh cool!" I said.

"Mom, can you hold on to it for a sec so I can take off my gloves?"

"Won't your fingers be too cold?" I asked.

"I want to play pinball!" she said.

I held her game while she removed her gloves and shoved them into her coat pocket.  When I handed her back the pinball game, she said, "thanks" and within seconds she shouted, "Wow, I've already scored ten points!"

I don't get that about kids.  They love points.  They love gold stars and stickers and smiley face stamps.  When Katie was having trouble remembering to go potty on the toilet, her doctor recommended we try a sticker chart.  The idea seemed ludicrous to me.  Why can't the prize for urinating in a toilet be getting to walk around in dry pants?  But apparently my three year old didn't give nearly as much of a crap about dry pants as I do, because the silly stickers motivated her to keep her pants dry more than anything else we had tried.

Katie played her pinball game until she asked me to hold it again for her so she could put her gloves back on.  "It's cold," she explained.

"How are you going to play the game with your gloves on?" I asked, holding the pinball game out in the palm of my glove.

"I'm not.  I'm gonna wait til I get home to play it some more," Katie explained.  "Mom, can you put it in your pocket?" she asked.

"Why can't you put it in your pocket," I asked.

"Because my pocket doesn't have zippers and I plan on doing a lot of jumping.  I don't want it to fall into the snow and get wet," she explained.

It's important to take care of your treasure.

Katie proceeded to chase her friend Jordan through the steep bank of snow that had been shoveled off the sidewalk.  Jordan gave Katie a big hug when she got to her house.  Katie stopped on the sidewalk and waited for me to catch up.

"Do you still have my pinball game?" Katie asked.

I pulled it out of my pocket and held it out for her.

"No thanks.  I just wanted to make sure you still have it," she said.  

I put the pinball game back into my pocket.  We held gloved hands the rest of the way home.

"So you won the pinball game for reading the most books?" I asked.

"The most pages," Katie clarified.  "In the whole class.  Put together."

"What do you mean, 'the whole class put together?'" I asked.

"Well, Ms. B colors in a book on our reading chart to see how close we're getting to 100,000 pages.  Today she counted up all the reading logs and she said class I'm going to fill in the book for the number of pages read by everyone in the class but one person.  Then she filled in one book.  Then she said, now class I'm going to fill in the book for the number of pages read by just one person in our class.  And she filled in three more books on the chart!  And then," Katie paused to look up at me with a big smile, "she looked at me in my eyes and she walked right up to my desk and she said now class do you know who the person is who read these pages all by herself last month?  It's Katie!"  Katie skipped the next few steps, her winter boots leaving a trail of happy footprints.

"Wow, Punk!  How did that make you feel?" I asked.  I remember when I was Katie's age I'd break down into tears if the teacher singled me out in such a way.  I felt embarrassed so easily, even for things I'd done well.  

Katie is growing confident at a faster pace than I did.  She has her moments of shyness.  Don't we all.  But lately she's agreed to join the church choir, which surprised me since she claims to be too shy to sing in front of an audience.  And now she seems to revel in the public announcement of her academic achievements too.

"I felt great!" she said, waving our arms up high like our gloved hands were cradled on a swing.

"That's awesome!" I said.

"Yeah, I was excited," she said.  "It kinda felt like my heart stopped beating.  But it felt good," she explained. 

This from the girl who hid in her bedroom crying because she was too shy to come and blow the candles out on her third birthday cake in front of the crowd of people--all family and friends.  I'm surprised in four years how much more accepting of the limelight she is.

What does not shock me is that Katie loves to read.  She comes from a family of readers.  I met her father when we both worked at the public library.  One of her uncles works at the same public library.  All of her aunts and uncles love to read, as do most of her cousins.  One of her cousins got into trouble in second grade for reading too much.  The teacher had to call my brother and his wife in for a chat to tell them that my niece was reading during class instead of paying attention to the lesson.  

Katie's maternal grandparents got married because they both liked to smoke Pall Mall cigarettes and read Perry Mason mysteries.  Her maternal great-grandparents spent much of their free time reading.  Her maternal great-grandmother was named Jean Valjean after the (male) protagonist of Les Miserables, her father's favorite novel.  I was named after Daphne Du Maurier's novel Rebecca.  With all these bookworms on her family crest, it would be difficult for this kid to kick her literary inheritance.    

Here's a video of Katie "reading" the book Goodnight Moon when she was two-and-a-half years old.  We read the book together so many times she memorized it.

So it doesn't shock me that at age seven Katie loves to read, but I am surprised by how much she likes to keep score.  Which, in case you are not Facebook friends with me and have not already seen the three other posts in which I've bragged about these stats, is 42 books totaling 2514 pages in December 2013.

"Gettin a High Score at Pinball" by RandomNumberGuy
image source

I guess I shouldn't be so surprised the kid likes to keep score.