Mason County News
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Pre-K Overloads…
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 • Posted October 29, 2008

Grandparents’ master plans for their kids’ kids, to be effective, must be “tweaked” regularly, often multiple times between sunrises.

Sometimes, it is ours to shield grandchildren from information overload—stuff that falls squarely into the “master unplanned” bin. Usually, it is material grandparents expect to deal with a few years up the road. Often, the best we can do is “hand it off” to their parents.

That’s my current situation. I’m sore afraid that more adroitness than I possess may be required to protect 4-year-old Brittin from, of all things, Roman numerals. When driving past the post office, for example, I try to distract her by pointing to stores across the street. Otherwise, she’s sure to spot that list of X’s, V’s and I’s above the main entrance that proclaim the building’s founding date….

  • * * * *

So far, she’s “so-so” on encounters with Arabic numerals. That is, she’s scoring A’s in two-digit counting and simple arithmetic. Another plus is that Brittin counts effortlessly up to 20 in Spanish.

She may be a train wreck in the making, though. Her curiosity was piqued recently when she heard references to “20th and 21st centuries.” She understands that a century is the name for 100 years.

But she finds the “th” and “st” tough to comprehend. What keeps it from being transposed, she wonders, like “20st and 21th” centuries?...

  • * * * *

I felt pain creeping into my hair. It seemed so lame to answer that this just “wouldn’t sound right.”

My thoughts clicked into “fast forward” mode. What will we do when she encounters “rd’s” as well, or are asked to decipher the Roman numerals denoting dates of Olympic games?

If the latter should happen within the next few months, “Pre-K meltdown” looms….

  • * * * *

On her ride home, she was still grappling with lesson #1, the one about “th.”

She attempted to make a practical application of this new truth with a question to her mother. “I never can remember, Mom, “she confessed. “Were you born on July ONE(th) or TWO(th)?

So far, logic has been elusive for Brittin. A few days back, a nose piece broke off of her eyeglasses. As if determined to keep things even, she chewed off the other one….

  • * * * *

She will “fit right in” when kindergarten beckons next fall.

One kindergarten teacher at her school introduced sympathy cards to her youngsters. She explained that sending cards to relatives and friends who’ve lost loved ones is a kind and appreciated gesture. Garyn, one of her students, had a whole different take that he happily shared with the class.

“It’s okay, because everybody has to die. It happens to everybody. Pretty soon the only one left will be Santa Claus!”…

  • * * * *

Still another kindergarten class was discussing names.

The teacher mentioned that some children have middle names, and some don’t. One wondered about middle names.

Another piped up, “We have middle names so when our parents use all three, we know we’re REALLY in trouble.”…

  • * * * *

Candace Fulton, a veteran newspaper reporter, has but one grandchild. She enjoys “unvarnished” conversations with 7-year-old Kristena, as well as other children who gather for “story time” every week at Sunday school. At work, Candace is accustomed to long, convoluted interviews and serious digging for nuggets of truth. Not so with the kids; they hit “bottom line pay dirt” in warp speed. A while back, she broke her leg during a “walk in the park”—literally. Eventually, she was up and about on a walker, slowly resuming normal duties—including “story time.” Felicity, 8, posed this “cut-to-the-chase” question: “Why don’t you have tennis balls on your walker like other old people?”

Actually, indignities for the then 55-year-old began soon after her leg bone snapped. Her colleagues at the newspaper office are still laughing about what they heard on the police scanner. The ambulance driver was instructed to “pick up an elderly woman who fell at the park.”…

  • * * * *

Finally, how about the youngster who learned that voters legalized both horse racing and dog racing in the community?

He thought it was really stupid.

“The horses will win every time,” he predicted. “Their legs are longer.”…

  • * * * *

One sage observation is provided by one who reeks of geezer status.

He says, “One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.”

Whenever I wish to return to my youth, I chill the thought with one word: “Algebra.”…

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: Phone: 817-447-3872. Website:

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