Where Did This Girl Come From?

A big entry on Miss Iz; turn away now if you've a sensitive stomach. Those who see me in daily life have heard much of this already since I am a one-note player piano.

Saturday afternoon was spent celebrating the marriage of our friends Lewis and Darling. They irked everyone by eloping six months ago, so this party was meant to placate the masses, and provide a general excuse for a hootenanny. (They eloped because they're both in their 70s, and have so many friends and (in Darling's case) relatives that they didn't see how they could have an uncomplicated wedding.)

It was great to see and chat with friends we don't get to see all that often. Lewis's perplexing son Spot and lovely daughter-in-law Roon were there, as was, in a surprise visit from Oahu, our friend Twister. All boisterous, gleeful 6'4" of him.

I assumed Twister was here for Pride weekend, but that was a happy coincidence--his official mission was coaching a student at a Stanfford diving competition. He says he comes this way often with his students, so I'm hoping we'll get to see more of him in the future.

One of the hootenanny highlights was an honest-to-gosh group of folkies--these boys used to play with the Smothers Brothers, etc. Sure, go ahead and mutter A Mighty Wind under your breath; you're not the one who experienced their sublime rendition of Scotch and Soda.

They wrapped up with a crowd pleaser, "This Land Is Your Land." Iz loves this song, and sang along at the top of her lungs. The crowd was mostly sixty-somethings, so her voice stood out. The band, tickled to see such a wee girl grooving to their old time tunes, pointed to her, and said "take it away, honey!" And she did! In front of fifty strangers, she stood up and sang a whole solo verse--clearly, in tune, and totally unabashed.

I'm telling you, I don't know where this girl came from. At her age, I would have picked death first. Seymour, outgoing as he is, also lacks that particular nerve.

Afterwards, the band came up to Seymour and Iz, and demanded that we put our girl in some sort of music lesson posthaste. They also complimented her on her big blues, and asked her where she got them since Seymour and I don't have them. "Well," she said, "My parents are blue-eyed carriers." Guffaws all 'round.

It is incidents like these that make me worry less about shoving her up with the slightly older kids next year. That, and, having gone to the bookstore looking for bribe material for tomorrow's trip, and finding the loathsome Summer Learning series. I looked over the huge, thick, boring book bridging the summer between first and second grades, and found perhaps two items Iz would need help with: upper level addition, and upper level telling time. The rest of it was, for her, basic.

Of course, this is the same girl, who, when presented with a book and told that it explains the difference between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, gets so excited that you'd think we'd offered her a pony.

Her book hunger edges into karmic retribution territory (I was infamous as a child for playing with visiting friends for five minutes but then retreating to my room to read). Last week I made the mistake of taking her to a mommy/daughter lunch directly after she'd picked up a big stack of books from the library, and so had a quiet lunch by myself while Iz pored over Fabulous Poisonous Animals and occasionally treated me to tidbits such as how black widow spiders like to spin their webs over outhouse seats. (As if worrying about Flukie lurking in the outhouse wasn't enough.)

I've decided to see if we can use her book-love to help her learn other skills as well. Outgoing five year old girls like Iz are, in my experience, generally quite rude. Mostly because they're so excited about what they're excited about, and can't wait for their turn to speak or to summon up the polite way to make a request. So, I've come up with a politeness scheme to help her become less of a verbal battering ram.

Every time she makes a polite spontaneous, non-premeditated request, she gets a point. If she interrupts or is otherwise blatantly rude (we are not being draconian), she gets a point taken away. When she gets a set number of points, she gets a book. The number of points increases each time. We are not using a chart; I'm having her do all the addition, subtraction, and tracking in her head.

So far, this is working beautifully! With us. She's having a rough time remembering to be polite in more general social situations, but it's only been a few days.

There are only two downsides. One is that she finishes her books instantly (so much for my break). She does retain the information, though ("Okay, so what city was Teddy Roosevelt police commissioner of?" "New York City." "Who were the White House Gang?" "His Kids.")

The second is that she's been turned onto, and is constantly requesting, these horrible, horrible, horrible Junnie Bee Jones books, in which the kids are smarmy, smart alecky, and have no concept of proper English. As Ep said, this is the literary equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. GAAAAAH!

Still, she's enjoying having goals during this otherwise formless part of the summer. And we're enjoying the torrent of questions that comes out when she's not reading, even though, again, we sometimes wonder where this girl came from that she can even conceive of such things.

A few evenings ago, she and Seymour were having some daddy/daughter time. Out of the blue, she initiated the following conversation:

"Daddy, is Leelo always going to be autistic?"

"Well, he's going to get a lot better, but yes, probably."

"What causes autism? How did he get it?"

"Well, sweetie, we don't know yet, but we're pretty sure it's genetic."

"So is the new baby going to be autistic then?" (?!?!)

"It's possible, but chances are that it won't. It's really unlikely."

And there you go. Recording for my journal, and wondering what the upcoming years with this girl, and her brother, are going to be like. Maybe this new baby will be easy? I will cross my fingers.

Off to panic and pack for tomorrow's trip.

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