Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#150 - Library as a Barometer

Tonight was Library Night for Wonderwood Academy. We do this for a couple of reasons. It's a service that we utilize heavily as homeschoolers. It's an invaluable resource when you have limited budget for materials. Tonight, for instance, I found a couple of videos that support Mrs. Woody's current lesson plan. One dollar for the DVD, and the tapes were free. Can't beat that.

The other reason we love the library is that it gives us a quick barometer of how the girls are growing. They have their homeschool group that they see roughly once a week, and of course they have church. Social situations are not a problem - they have many in the course of life. But the girls are both painfully shy. This, unfortunately, they have inherited from both parents. You've read my posts in the past about such things as getting them to participate in their annual Primary Program at church (painful), or even getting them to read a scripture in Primary (inaudible).

But things have changed this year. Both girls, while still shy, have grown more confident in public situations. Doodle, our baby, still doesn't like the idea of doing anything in front of people, but she's likelier to at least try it. Jelly, on the other hand, simply feels so self-conscious in front of people that she'll freeze up, even though she agrees to try. However, a few weeks ago Daddy was asked to help the dads in the ward sing with their young women-aged daughters in Sacrament meeting for a special number. (These brethren really needed Daddy's help!) The lady who put it together mentioned that Jelly could sing with us if she wanted; a proposal I was nearly certain would be met with instant rejection by said Jelly. To my surprise she not only agreed, but stood with the young women (not with Daddy) and sang her part. A monumental thing for our little family, and one we made a huge fuss over later.

This year the girls both have speaking parts in the Primary Program, and Mrs. Woody has been having them recite them every morning as part of their school opening exercises. Doodle at first was fairly insistent that she wanted nothing to do with this nonsense, but has since relented and is now agreeing to at least give it a try. Jelly seems to be gaining more confidence with every project she undertakes, and I'm hopeful that she'll enjoy this.

So where does the library fit in all of this? Simply that the girls both enjoy the Family Storytime that they have there every Tuesday night.

We started this tradition not long after we moved here. The girls at first were even too shy sometimes to sit on their little square of rug and listen to one of the librarians tell stories and sing songs. Everything is participative, of course, and while the other kids were jumping up and down and doing all the hand motions, my two girls would sit there, hoping desperately not to be noticed.

Over time this, too, has changed. Both girls are much more actively involved in the stories, although Jelly still doesn't do the hand motions; I think these are probably beneath her nine-year old dignity now. But Doodle dutifully does the motions, and both girls will sit right up front, even in a crowd.

So the barometer is rising for both girls. Given their natal ham-bones, I have little doubt that either or both of them could very well wind up on stage like their amateur actor Dad. They certainly keep us in stitches here at home. In fact, many's the time I wish I could close a curtain on some of their wilder performances, just so we could get a little peace and quiet.

I wouldn't change a thing, though. On one of Jelly's very first visits to her pediatrician as a baby, the doctor told (first-time) Mommy that her brand new baby girl was "thriving." Mommy cherished that word perhaps more than any other the doctor could have used. He could have said that the baby was "well," or "happy," or "doing fine." Instead, he used the word "thriving," and Mrs. Woody has forever wanted that to be the best descriptor of how her girls are doing.

They are thriving. Under Mrs. Woody's constant care and tutelage, the girls have become miniature copies of their Mommy. They're both bright, loving, happy little girls who undoubtedly surpass their parents' collective intelligence even as they struggle to learn everything their educator Mommy is teaching them. "Thriving" is really the only word that fits these girls.

So as I watched them tonight, and helped them find good books to hold their active imaginations over the next few weeks, I realized that the library is a good bellwether for our little family. As long as the library is something to be enjoyed, the girls will continue to grow.

Daddy thinks it's a pretty good litmus test.

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