State of The Nation

Part IV: Delphine

Delphine has a good day every day. At least, that's what Blake tells me. Every night he has a little chat with her after I read her bedtime chapter to her. Every night, he asks her if she had a good day, and apparently every day is good. I'm glad to hear this, because it's sometimes hard to tell, while you're going through the day with her, that it's a good day. Sometimes she cries, sometimes she seems very unhappy or angry or disappointed, but apparently in retrospect, every day is pretty good. I don't know if this means she is resilient, or just that she has a very bad short-term memory.

Delphine is in the second half of Senior Kindergarten, and she's very happy at school. In fact, she would like more school; two and a half hours a day isn't enough for her. Lately her teacher has been away sick, and her substitute teacher isn't as brilliant as her regular teacher - it took her four weeks to figure out Delphine can read. But then she has a million little kids to look after, and Delphine's pretty quiet. Delphine wasn't very happy to have a new teacher, but she's adjusted. Maybe next year she can go through an entire year with the same teacher.

Right now we're slogging through the seemingly-endless Magic Tree House series. She hasn't had the nerve to try reading a chapter book on her own, so I am stuck reading them but I might put my foot down and insist on something a little more complicated. There's no point in me reading her something written at a grade, like, two level (or whatever) when we could be reading Anne of Green Gables or something more sophisticated. Plus it will be incentive for her to practice reading more.

Delphine loves to play video games. She loves to watch TV too. I have some qualms about this - I know that sitting in front of a screen isn't the best thing for a little kid. On the other hand, it's not the worst thing she could be doing. She enjoys herself, and most kids' TV and video games try very hard to be "educational". For now she's limited to 30 minutes a day on the computer and two shows a day on weekdays, 4 on weekend days.

She and Cordelia watch Dora, Blue's Clues, Yo Gabba Gabba, Pingu, Peep and the Big Wide World. And a show called Heads Up, which is about astronomy and science, with Bob McDonald, who she calls "Bob". How one tiny brain can harbour love for both Heads Up and Dora the Explorer, I will never know.

Delphine's big obsession right now is space. She's fascinated by the origin of the universe, and she especially loves planets. Her favourite is Saturn, but she is a fan of gas giants in general. We read a lot of books about space. (I really like "11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System" by David Aguilar.) She's also interested in weather, and science in general.

She has a million and one questions about everything, and I've learned to talk things through ("Well, what do you think?") rather than just answering them. Often she has the answer, she just needs to think it through. Or she comes up with something I would never think of. For example, apparently Santa isn't real, but his work is done by elves. Elves who sneak into your house through little holes. I can't make this stuff up.

What else does she do? She teaches Cordelia stuff. She fights with Cordelia (I'm convinced this is somehow entertaining for them.) She rides her bike and skips, now that it's a little warmer out. She spends a lot of time drawing and writing and otherwise creating things with paper and tape and stickers and stuff. Yesterday she wanted to do science. She figured out what paper is made of (paper is made of little dots!) and then she asked me to give her a question. I finally wanted to know, how hot and how cold is the water that comes out of the tap? I set her up with a thermometer and a mug and let her at it. It wasn't the most rigorous science ever, but it was fun.