Posted by: thirdculturemom | May 30, 2008

Asterix Explains Second Grade

The question was something along the lines of “What did you like/dislike about second grade/?”

What I feel about 2nd grade (Hmm, I forgot to remind him to capitalize the title….)

What I feel about second grade is that it is fun and you learn new things. One thing I really like is science because it is fun and it helps you learn too. Things that I don’t like about 2nd grade is the cheating, like someone is looking at your work and copying you. Also, I hate when people lie in second grade, like you have a silk worm and someone steals it and exchanges it for a smaller silk worm, and when your back, you want your silk worm and they lie that they didn’t steal it. That’s what I feel about second grade.

So now you know what second grade is like.

Posted by: thirdculturemom | May 26, 2008

Degrees of Yuckiness

(‘ve decided to do some recycling. If you haven’t seen this somewhere else:

Conversation overheard on the playground:


Asterix (eigh-year-old boy)

Asterix’s Friend (seven-year-old boy)

Asterix’s’s Friend: [upset about something] You know what you are? You’re … you’re a person who eats bugs! And cooks them!

Asterix: Oh yeah? Well, you’re a person who eats … [looking around] wood chips! And plastic! And … and … broccoli!!!

Posted by: thirdculturemom | February 2, 2008

Education–I think

Kalessin is doing The Canterbury Tales in “core class”. He wrote a required five paragraph essay about his favorite tale, the Pardoner’s Tale. I noticed the following paragraph in it:

The second reason I like this story is because it is funny. While it may seem sad that the friends died because of their greed, since this is fictional, I find it humorous. Another thing that makes me laugh is that they try to “find” death, but in turn death finds them. These things all seem to be funny to me. I’m sorry if my humor is a bit dark.

I am just reading Stephen King’s On Writing, in which he mentions having to explain to readers who accuse him of cruelty to animals because of something that a character in a book does to a dog that the character wasn’t real, and the dog never existed. In other word’s, it’s fiction. Kalessin seems to get this.

So maybe kids are learning something in school these days….

Not as much as they would want to, though–the kid complained that even though there are twenty-something Canterbury tales, they only let them read (in modern adaptation, of course) four, because the others are not appropriate for children. “Dude, that sucks. I want to read the others,” he says. “And like we already know all that bad stuff anyway. You should hear what people are talking about at lunch.”

Posted by: thirdculturemom | January 2, 2008

Generation [Whatever They’ll be Called]

So Kalessin finally got his glasses, after complaining for a few months about not seeing the board at school. It started pretty quickly–I don’t recall him ever saying anything about this last school year, nor does he–and first I thought he was just complaining as usual about the teachers. In fact, his main complaint was about Spanish class, and on “Back To School Night” I noted the board was light green, and the teacher wrote on it in light blue chalk. Heck, I could barely see what she had there, and my sight is still pretty good, though not as sharp as back when I was known as “Hawkeye” at a certain bus stop in Budapest, because I could tell which bus was coming before anyone else had any idea. (All right, so I was called “Hawkeye” only once, but still.) The teacher said she was getting white boards soon, and I thought that would take care of the problem, but it didn’t. In fact, it soon became clear that he was having problems in other classes too, most noticeably, algebra, where “I’ll assume that’s an 8, but it could be a 3” is not a good strategy. Then during our trip to New York, when he wanted to read what all the signs on all the statues and monuments said and was having problems–even though I could see them all very clearly–it became obvious that he indeed needed glasses.

I took him to his regular doctor first (a group practice) because they had told me that they could deal with it right there. The doctor that saw him had a different idea though, so we took care of the well visit that had been due for six years (yes, I know, I know), and then made an appointment with the ophthalmologist she recommended.

The result: refractive myopia, requiring -1.5 lenses. (I thought it would be more. I mean, less. Okay, stronger.) So he got the glasses last week, and, even though he was told he didn’t need to wear them all the time, only for the board at school, he puts them on to watch TV now. He seems quite happy with how he looks in them, which is years older and more serious. On Sunday he wore them for the first time outside, and his comment was:

“Wow. The world is like–in high resolution!”

So that’s the computer generation for you, or whatever it is they’re going to be called.

Posted by: thirdculturemom | December 6, 2007

Happy St. Nick’s Day!

Today, December 6th, is the day of St. Nicholas in the Catholic calendar. St. Nick, of course, is (one of the) origin(s) of the American Santa Claus (the other is a pre-Christian Old Man Winter figure who shakes snow out of his long white beard), and in many countries in continental Europe, the old guy still delivers his gifts to children the night before the 6th. (Children get gifts for Christmas too–but these are attributed to Baby Jesus or little angels).

The Hungarian version is called Mikulás (a Slavic form of Nicholas, clearly indicating the line of transmission), or Télapó (Father Winter). They both refer to the same guy in the red suit, and can be used alternatively. Children are supposed to clean their winter boots and put them in the window, and Mikulás flies by (it is not traditionally stated how, but I suspect most children today, having seen plenty of American movies, would name reindeers), and deposits small gifts inside them. (Hey, you’ve been told to clean them.)

In the not-so-distant past, these gifts used to be things like apples and nuts–oranges and tangerines in a good case. I’ll give you three guesses as to what constitutes the bulk now (tiny token apples and a few peanuts or walnuts are still usually added out of tradition). He may also bring small toys and books–which will have to go next to the boots. He’s also a bit of a meanie–bad children receive not a lump of coal, which can even be useful if they’re cold, but a hickory switch with which they are to be corrected. (Before you call Children’s Services, I should clarify that the modern version, added to all Mikulás packages just in case, looks more like gilded dried flowers than instruments of corporal punishment. You can see them on the picture, sticking out of the packages.)

Our kids’ boots are not in use except when we specifically go and look for snow up in the Sierra, so no cleaning was actually needed. On the other hand, it appears that St. Nick has miscalculated their size, and he couldn’t actually fit the even the basic packages inside. In such a case, he usually just puts everything next to the boots. He is also fairly flexible on the window requirement–we don’t have windowsills, so it’s fine with him if the boots are somewhere in the general proximity of the window.

The picture in the link is a reenactment: St. Nick didn’t think it wise to use flash photography in a room with sleeping children.


Posted by: thirdculturemom | November 28, 2007

Passed, with Oddness

A few weeks ago they did hearing tests at BratA’s school (who, I’ve decided, shall henceforth be known as Asterix), and it turned out that he was not hearing well at certain frequencies. His teacher told us this much; other than that, we had to wait for the official letter that would make it officially official that there was a problem.

This didn’t come as a complete surprise–Asterix sometimes has difficulty understanding what is said. He’s had this problem ever since he was supposed to understand things, and he’s had it in both of his languages. It did, however, appear earlier that the problem had to do more with language processing than with hearing. His receptive language has always been on more or less on target for his age (even if he occasionally asked “what?”), but when he was younger, his expressive language was behind by more than a year compared to his peers, and he mangled syntax and morphology in ways that his older brother (who shall henceforth be referred to as Kalessin) never did. His phonetic output, on the other hand, was normal–better than some of the kids he went to preschool with. Based on all of that, he seemed to be heading for a “Specific Language Impairment” diagnosis. (Specific meaning that the delay is only in the area of language, not in overall development.)

When he started kindergarten, the teacher did note that there was a problem, and we agreed that he should be evaluated by the speech therapist. The speech therapist did speak to me, noticed that I was not unfamiliar with linguistic terminology, and apparently put him on the “not urgent” list. She then got sick (serious stuff) and in the end the kid was not evaluated or diagnosed with anything.

By the end of the kindergarten year, the whole thing was off the agenda, because he was not only speaking better and sounding pretty much like his peers (with a bit of occasional quirky syntax here and there), but he was reading and writing above grade level. This was a surprise, because children with SLI (which is how I thought of his problem, even though he never received that official stamp) usually have problems with reading and writing. It is also obvious that his auditory processing problem didn’t just disappear–he still has a lot of difficulty repeating nonsense poetry, for example, or any stretch of text he doesn’t properly understand (such as longer Hungarian words with multiple suffixes) . What happens, apparently, is that he is very visual. He learned to read pretty quickly using that skill, and then actually transferred his now visually processed language to spoken language as well. Or that’s my best theory.

Anyway, after receiving the officially official notification from the school district indicating in red the frequency and decibel levels that had been found problematic, I took Asterix to the doctor. They noted (as had the person who administered the school test) that he was congested due to allergies (old non-news in our family) and that this could be playing a part in his hearing problems. We were told to give him Claritin (which hadn’t worked before) and we also got a steroid nasal spray to try (which was new). And they repeated the hearing test–the beepy test, as we called it.

Asterix listened to the instructions that he should lift his left hand when he heard a sound in his left ear and his right hand when he heard it in the right. He confirmed that he understood these instructions, and left and right hands were correctly identified. The test was then started and it seemed to proceed well, with Asterix lifting his hands frequently and enthusiastically. The nurse, however, looked confused. She stopped the test, quizzed the poor child again on the question of left and right, then put on the earphones herself to see if they might not be functioning correctly. She said they were, and the test was completed.

The nurse then reported to the doctor, and to me, that Asterix seemed to be hearing the beeps just fine, but he lifted the opposite hand.

“You mean consistently?” the doctor and I asked in chorus.

“Yes, every single time,” the nurse said.

“So then,” the doctor concluded, “he passed–with oddness.”

So that’s our diagnosis so far. She did say she’s referring us to the audiologist, but we haven’t been given an appointment yet. (She wants to see if we can clear up the congestion a little.)

But I’d really like to see what exactly is written on the referral.

Posted by: thirdculturemom | November 23, 2007

Hello world!

Hello world? Okay, I’ll leave that, though I think I might have met at least some incarnations of this world character before.

This is a blog, and I suppose ranting is encouraged, so here is my beginning rant: my brats and myself used to fight over this computer, officially known as “Mommy’s Computer” (as it was a Mother’s Day purchase once), but more commonly referred to as “the Good Computer”. It’s a laptop, but up to recently it was the most up-to-date machine in the house, and thus the one all the games ran on, but also the one that didn’t take forever to load pages and didn’t shut down randomly when you were about to finish a 5-page as yet unsaved document.

This sharing situation naturally gave rise to some conflicts, both between the brats themselves, and well, me? Since it was supposed to be My Computer? So I had high hopes when BratK finally got the New Computer for his birthday last week–the one we had been talking about for over a year. Officially, of course, it’s The Two Brats’ Computer, and they’re supposed to be sharing it. (Yes, BratK got a bunch of other stuff for his birthday.)

But instead of my situation being solved, it has actually gotten worse! BratK is now constantly on the New Computer, BratA is  on My Computer,  the Old Computer (downsized years ago from DH’s company) has been disconnected to make place for the New, and the Broken Computer shuts down immediately after starting. In other words, I don’t even have where to be exiled to anymore.

Does anything think I need to implement some changes here?