Thursday, April 25, 2013

Draw A Person Test

Skipper is four!

Because Skipper is four, she has a "well-child" check-up  next week. Because Skipper is a bit eccentric AND not very compliant, I am anticipating that the appointment will not run as smoothly as Duchess's appointments always have. However, I realized something last week that may come up at the appointment, and that probably deserved some contemplation: Skipper, while producing massive quantities of "art" at preschool and home, never draws any representational pictures. At all. This is the kind of thing she produces:

And this is a drawing from 2008 by Duchess, at age 3.5, with pretty standard developmental milestones included. Notice that the person has body parts.

This is a drawing by Skipper, from this week, with pretty standard Skipper details. She likes to do a randomish line scribble, and then meticulously color it in.

Sometimes after the picture is complete, she'll SAY it's a picture of something, but it's very clear that she never actually sets out to represent something. I really like some of the stuff she produces, but I would also like to see her try to draw a person. Or ANYTHING specific.

I've been waffling over whether or not this is something I should worry about. I'm 99% confident that it's not a developmental issue. Nobody who can color that carefully has motor coordination issues, and Skipper is a keen observer; she knows what things look like. It seems like a straightforward case of Skipper refusing do something at which she is likely to fail to perform perfectly.* That's not going to make me cringe less next week when the doctor asks Skipper to draw a person.

But, you know, this is Skipper, and this is her life. There aren't any drawings of people in it, but that's okay. Just now I looked outside to check on her ("I'm going to go sit in the sun and read a book!" she announced before going out) and this is what I saw. She's sitting there "reading" the book out loud - "and then the paleontologists found a HUUUUUUUUGE fossil head!" - and she's totally happy.

* I completely understand that impulse. However, in Skipper, the impulse meets her really impressive power of refusal, and mutates into a massive Wall of No that I fear might get in the way of her emotional and intellectual growth...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Interlude for poetry

I recently unpacked a box of poetry, including this one, which I had copied out by hand at some point. We don't have a trampoline, but it otherwise feels true.

you can take it with you

2 little girls who live next door
to this house are on their trampoline.
the window is closed, so they are soundless.

the sun slants, it is going away;
but now it hits full on the trampoline
and the small figure on each end.

alternately they fly up to the sun,
fly, and rebound, fly, are shot
up, fly, are shot up up.

one comes down in the lotus
position. the other, outdone,
somersaults in air. their hair

flies too. nothing, nothing, noth
ing can keep keep them down. the air
sucks them up by the hair of their heads.

i know all about what is
happening in this city at just
this moment, every last

grain of dark, i conceive.
but what i see now is
the 2 little girls flung up

flung up, the sun snatch
ing them, their mouths rounded
in gasps. they are there, they fly up.

by Josephine Jacobsen, from In the Crevice of Time: New & Collected Poems © Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

My new occupation

No, I haven't gotten a job. Well, not one that pays. I have decided to hire myself as an unpaid housekeeper/childcare provider for the spring and summer, in the hopes that if I reject the job-hunting process, I won't feel so eroded by its ongoing rejection of me. I will start looking for jobs again in the fall,* but in the meantime, I'm going to do THIS job right.

I am assisted in this quest by technology, which I'm using to keep me on track while also deploying microrewards, because I don't do stuff unless there's a reward involved, even if it's vanishingly small. For example, today I have used a music app to play me motivational songs, a to-do list app to check off numerous small tasks as I plow through them, a workout app that generates random workouts, and a podcast app that allows me to learn all sorts of interesting things.  I find that, for me,** checking things off lists is a sufficient microreward to keep me going. Brains are weird.

I started things off by downloading a free trial of a housekeeping to-do list app. This taught me what sorts of housekeeping tasks I'm supposed to be doing, and when, and then when the trial expired I just added a bunch of those things to my regular to-do list app. I've been an adult for over 25 years, and I have never before done these tasks on a regular basis, if at all. In the new housekeeping paradigm, I do things on a schedule. I clean the kitchen sink every other day*** even if it doesn't look dirty. In the old housekeeping paradigm, I would clean things when I noticed they were looking/feeling grungy.**** I truly don't think there's anything wrong with that approach, and if I ever get another job or even an interesting hobby, I expect I'll shift to a hybrid of the new and old approaches. But right now, I find that housekeeping chores are working well - they keep me busy,***** make me feel productive, keep me from sitting at the computer melting my brain all day, and I get to reap the rewards of having a (relatively) clean house. That's all good.

On the other hand, the childcare provision part of my job hasn't yet seen any improvements. I haven't found an app that will make me more patient, more generous, and less profane in my parenting. Recently, I shooed the girls outside on a hectic morning to wait for me while I put on my shoes and locked the door so we could go drop Duchess off at school. When I came out, I had the privilege of hearing Skipper say "Jesus CHRIST, Duchess! What the HELL are you doing?!"

Coming up: updates on Skipper, who is four entire years old, as of this morning.

*Of course, if a great job comes up, I'm going to apply for it, housekeeping be damned.
** For NOW
*** One of my small rebellions from the tyrannical housekeeping app, which wanted me to clean the kitchen sink every day. Seriously, what are people DOING with their kitchen sink that they need to wash it that often? (Pro tip: Do not poop in your kitchen sink.) Has nobody heard about the dangers of excessive hygiene? Also, the housekeeping app wanted me to read the bible every day.
**** Unfortunately, my threshold for discomfort with grunge is much higher than Cook's. The poor man. 
***** Because they take freaking forever. Presumably real housekeeping folks use more toxic chemicals and are better at it, because if I did everything I'm supposed to, I would be working from dawn till dusk, and I'm really just not willing to do that. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

In which Duchess competes in a tournament, and photos are taken.

Today Duchess competed in her first martial arts tournament. She is getting over a stomach virus AND battling a cold, and woke me up at 6:30 this morning weeping about the tournament; she didn't want to do the fighting. She was signed up (she paid most of the tournament fee out of her own money) for both "forms" and "fighting" and she was having a crisis of confidence. She wailed "What if somebody hits me in the stomach?!"

Duchess has more confidence in her form, which is a memorized series of movements, than in fighting, of which she hasn't had a lot of experience. Her ability to focus has served her well with forms, and she was feeling pretty good about it.
She came in third out of four kids in her group, which was somewhat demoralizing for her, but she held up pretty well. 

For fighting, they wear some protective gear that has the weird effect of making Duchess hunch over like a turtle. "A ninja turtle!" she chortled when I told her that.
Duchess, unsurprisingly, specializes in defense. She's very good at paying attention to her opponent and fending off blows. But over the course of five fights, she got better and better, she maintained her focus throughout every fight, she started taking the offense more often, and in the end, she won her group. 
This is what she looked like when she realized she had won (by a very narrow margin), beating a kid who had beaten her once that day, and intimidated her in class for several weeks. She was pretty pleased. You know, for a ninja turtle.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Athletic injuries

Duchess did her Run for the Arts this week. I went along to tally laps and cheer, and it was great fun. Duchess ran 2.75 miles in half an hour,* and came home with shin splints.  She is making a very big deal about it. She also has little rug-burns on her feet from kung fu. My kid is getting injured in sports! I feel that this is both very exciting and possibly an indicator that she needs a more balanced training program. I suggested that she start running a few miles before school every day, and lifting weights...

*I thought this was impressive, but a handful of kids ran three miles, and one fourth-grader (from a family of serious runners) logged a whopping 4.5 miles. Kids, man. They're crazy.


Today I received in the mail a photo of a baby so succulent and gorgeous that it's a good thing she lives 1200 miles away, because I would have to nibble off her toes if I was closer.