Read-In Week 2012

As Read-In Week 2012 wraps up, I was delighted to have visited my daughter’s elementary school as a guest reader. It was something I did last year when she was in Kindergarten, and I wanted to do it again, this time with her Grade One class. As it turned out, the school wanted me to read to a couple of other classes as well. Soon one class turned into five classes and, long story short, I was in for an extended storytime. Just as well, as I was having the hardest time trying to narrow down my selections. Working in the Children’s Library has its advantages. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to read to each class, but I knew that it wouldn’t be until I got started that I would know for sure which books I would pull from the sack. I was a little worried going in, but I had my coffee, I had a sack full of books, and I was ready to have some fun! Here, then, is what turned out to be my “set list” for Read-In Week.

My itinerary for the morning

Special Needs Class (Grades One, Two, and Three)

Opening rhyme: “One Is a Giant”

One is a giant who stomps his feet,

Two is a fairy, nice and sweet,

Three is a mouse who crouches small,

Four is a great big bouncing ball,

Five is a king who wears a crown,

Six are the children who all sit down

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

Mortimer by Robert Munsch

Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash

Grade One (part one)

Opening rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

We’re going to the moon!

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

We’re going to the moon!

If you want to take a trip,

Climb aboard my rocket ship.

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

We’re going to the moon!

In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,

Blast Off!

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown

Grade Two (part one)

Opening rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom”

Nothing by Jon Agee

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

Grade Two (part two)

Opening rhyme, “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

Beware of the Frog by William Bee

Nothing by Jon Agee

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Grade One (part two)

Opening rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt

Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown

Where the Wild Things Are (recited) by Maurice Sendak

My wonderfully indecisive sack of stories

By the end I was spent, but I was so glad I went. It was fun to read to the students, and they did a great job interacting with the stories. One of the highlights of my visit was having my daughter help me read 13 Words. I read the story while she was responsible for the thirteen feature words. I was so proud to have my daughter stand beside me in front of her Grade One class reading words like despondent, haberdashery, and mezzo-soprano.

I wish to thank the students and staff of Lorelei Elementary School for inviting me and making me feel so welcomed. I thoroughly enjoyed the morning and I hope I can come again.


Good morning, Mr. Chinery. This is your 2 AM wake-up call.

Kids are funny. Sometimes they’re ha-ha funny, like when they laugh uncontrollably, or when they delightfully skew a request for Corn Pops so that it becomes “Porn Cops.” Sometimes they’re ha-ha funny. Sometimes they’re not ha-ha funny. Sometimes they’re why-are-you-doing-this-to-me funny; they’re what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you-and-why-can’t-I-figure-you-out funny; you know, that kind of funny.

I had already had problems getting my son to bed; well, more like problems getting him to stay in bed. He actually went to bed fine, round 7:00 PM. However, by 11:00 PM he was awake and unhappy, and the game of 20 thousand questions began:

“Do you want to sleep in Mommy’s bed?”


Do you want to sleep on the couch?”


“Would you like something to drink?”


“Do you want some milk?”


“Do you want some water?”


“Okay. Here’s your water. Now it’s time for bed.”


“Do you want to sleep on the couch?”


“Do you want to sleep in Mommy’s bed?”


“Do you want to sleep in your bed?”


“Do you want to sleep in Mommy’s bed?”


[Sometimes you have to offer something once, have him refuse it, offer something that is less desirable, have him refuse it, and then go back to the previous selection to have him accept it.]

Graeme’s now sleeping in our [Mommy’s] bed while I’m on the couch finishing up the Carrie/Carrie 2 double bill. It’s now 12:00 AM and it should be safe to move Graeme back into his bed without him waking up and putting us through this production again. Time for Daddy to get to bed.

2:00 AM. Graeme’s awake and crying. Shit.

I open his door and find him standing in the middle of his room, crying. I do a quick check of his diaper and find it to be on the verge of bursting, as usual. This presents a further problem as changing out of a wet diaper is high on Graeme’s least favourite things to do.

“Can we change you?”


“I think we should change you.”


“Do you want to go on the couch?”


“Do you want to sleep in Mommy’s bed?”


“Do you want a drink?” I ask with a marked tone of self-defeat as this is exactly how we came about to the 20 pound diaper which I have yet to resolve.


Of course. We move into the kitchen and I get a small drink of water whilst planning my next move.

“Here, Graeme. Let’s just change you like this,” as I move to perform the diapering-of-a-standing-child maneuver; it never really works.


Too late, my boy, I’ve already got your bottoms down; let’s just get this over with. Graeme suddenly seems resigned to his fate, if such a term can be used to describe the exchange of a soppingly soiled diaper for a fresh, clean one. Alright, clean diaper: check. Something to drink: check. Something to drink for Daddy: negative, but tempting.

“Time for bed, Graeme?”


“Do you want to sleep on the couch?”

“No. A bowl?”

“You want something to eat?”



I get a little bit of Cheerios in a bowl for Graeme with him chanting all the while, “A-molk, a-molk, a-molk.”

“Yes, Graeme. I’ll put some milk in it.”

We move into the living room, “Would you like to sit on the couch?”


“Okay, I’ll just put the bowl here,” as I set down on the coffee table, right before I drop onto the couch myself, massaging my temples as a massive headache is forming. Graeme in response just stands there.

“Go ahead; eat.”


“Are you done?” (This sometimes works to prompt him to either start or continue eating)

“No,” he responds, and yet makes no move to eat. What the hell?

“Look, Graeme. Just eat your cereal so we can get back to bed.”


“Fine! Whatever! I’m going to sleep!” I lie down on the couch as my head continues to throb.

Predictably, this sets him off and he starts to cry. Perfect. All I need is for him to wake his sister and my early morning will be complete. My head is killing me, I’m tired, and I’ve reached a seeming impasse with a two-and-half-year-old who is keeping me hostage in the wee hours of the morning. This isn’t working, obviously. I sit down on the floor and bring Graeme into my lap. Not only does he allow this, he snuggles into me. This is different; my son does not snuggle. I take the moment for all it is and rock back and forth as Graeme settles down. My head is still hurting, but I don’t dare give in, not when I’m so close.

It only takes a couple of minutes for Graeme to settle right down, and so I carry him off to his bed. As soon as I lay him down, he starts rolling his head from side to side; this is his signature move to signal that he’s ready to fall asleep. At 3:00 AM, after and hour of lunacy, I finally take some Tylenol and climb back into bed. At least I can salvage some sleep time before I have to get up to take the kids to their day home.  At 4:15 AM, the dog is scratching at the bedroom door to be let out.

Fuck you, Regal; you’re not funny.

[Note: I was planning to post this yesterday evening, but was, predictably, interrupted by my son waking up]

Come again?

I had my shower interrupted this morning by my two-and-a-half-year-old son. I was hoping to get my shower in before he got up, but a repeated knocking at his door alerted me to Graeme’s wakened state. I opened his door and asked if he would like to wait in our bed whilst I showered. He responded, “Mommy? Mommy sweeping? Mommy? Mommy bed?” I explained that “Mommy’s not here” as she is currently visiting her uncle and aunt in Arizona. Well, this didn’t sit all that well with Graeme as he ran out of our room whining. I asked if he would, perhaps, like to sit on the couch instead. Graeme countered with, “Dee? Dee? Yabba?” I, of course, knew this to mean, “I will gladly sit on the couch if you would be so kind as to queue up an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, featuring my all-time favourite personality, DJ Lance Rock. Please.” I obliged.

With Graeme seemingly appeased, I went about the business of my shower. I was just about to put shampoo in my hair when I heard Graeme calling out something. I couldn’t make out what it was over the shower so I called out to him, “Graeme! I’m in here!” A few seconds later Graeme came into the bathroom and pulled back the shower curtain, “Hone! Hone!”

“I don’t know where the phone is.”


“Look, I don’t know where your phone is. Can I finish my shower?”

“No! Hone!”

This carried on for some time with me trying desperately to keep the shower curtain closed while Graeme kept pulling it open. Suddenly, I heard the faint tones of a synthetic guitar strumming the same chords over and over. My mobile! I’ve been using my iPhone as my alarm clock in the mornings and although I thought I had shut it off this morning, I clearly had not. I had figured that Graeme was going on about my wife’s old mobile that the kids use as a toy, or the house phone that Graeme loves to monkey around with. Instead, my son had been trying to tell me that my mobile had been ringing incessantly, making it quite impossible for him to enjoy his programme. So I quickly grabbed a towel and turned off the alarm.

“There. Is that better?”


It was at this moment that I wondered if, at some point in the past when Graeme had been badgering me about something-or-other, maybe I should have asked if someone had fallen down a well. I also realized that, together, we did some pretty good problem solving for first thing in the morning.

Good boy, Graeme!

Talk about a deadline, in which I make a lame attempt to cram in a New Year’s post

Well here it is; the thirty-first of December, two-thousand and eleven and I’m scrambling to get a blog post together. If nothing else, it’s indicative of the year that has passed; kind of scrambly.

This past year has had some major events come to pass. We took out first family trip to Disneyland and experienced the joy of our four-year-old daughter spending the day as a princess, and the horror of our two-year-old son on on a plane, on a bus, and in the queue. We also experienced the love of a good friend who came with us to give us a hand.

This autumn, our daughter started Kindergarten. It has been amazing to see her transformation in the past few months. Something has definitely been awakened within her, and I feel most confident for her future. Subsequently, we have reached a few parental milestones such as first progress report, first parent-teacher conference, and first Christmas concert.

As well, our son has seen a certain blooming as of late. The words are coming along, and he is more able to express himself with the increased vocabulary, even though a simple request for cereal in the morning translates into, “A-bowl-a-bowl-a-bowl-a-bowl!…” He was quick to change to his “big boy bed” this year, and had shown himself very early on to be quite reliable not to tumble out of it. However, we did find it necessary to restrict access out of his room as this year he had also mastered the doorknob.

This September also saw myself changing positions within the library; from relatively isolated Cataloguer on the Fourth Floor to very public Library Assistant in the Children’s Library on the Main Floor. This is a change that I am still adjusting to, but I am getting more and more comfortable with each programme I deliver.

As the New Year quickly approaches, I find myself somewhat indifferent; not about the future, but about New Year’s in general, hence this hasty, last minute post. More and more I find it to be a arbitrary date, which of course it is; anyone living in Canada can attest to the fact that one month into winter is a ridiculous time to celebrate a new year. Why not in the spring when life for this particular corner of the globe actually begins anew? Even though I’m not particularly big on New Year’s I did have a great Christmas, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything big. Maybe when the kids get a little older I’ll rediscover the excitement of New Year’s, but until then I see it as a day off, and in the case of this year’s, an additional day off in lieu. Hooray!

Where does that leave me come New Year’s day? Same place I’ve been the past four years, running 5 Km in the annual Resolution Run. Not particularly exciting I know, but it’s my little attempt at a personal renewal this time of year; the dinners are finished, the cookies and treats have whittled down, it’s time to get my overstuffed arse back on track…

… just like last year.

My daughter’s first day of school, in which I discuss my philosophy of education and mention feathered dinosaurs

My daughter starts kindergarten this September! How did I get here? I don’t ask this question out of despair or regret; quite the opposite. I am filled with joy and excitement, and, let’s be honest, more than a little wonderment. I guess the last few years since my daughter was born have been leading up to this point, but it still seems to have taken me by surprise. I remember being in kindergarten myself! How is it that my own daughter is now starting school? Seriously, I don’t mean to be overly dramatic about this, but I really am quite amazed.

I already have confidence that she will do fine in school. Just the other night we were watching a science programme and I couldn’t bring myself to send her to bed because she kept asking, “What do you know about planets? What do you know about the sun? What do know about volcanoes?” et cetera. It was exciting to share what little knowledge I had with her. She would occasionally come back with, “I know a little about volcanoes, just a little.” Just thinking about how much more she has yet to discover makes me feel all giddy inside!

I have yet to figure out how I will deal with certain situations, such as reluctance to do school work, potential problems with other students, potential clashes between us parents and the teachers, and so forth. These things I will deal with when or if they come up. I do know that I don’t want to be one of those parents who’s overbearing when it comes to my child’s education; it would be arrogant for me to assume such a role. I’m not some genius or polymath. There are educators out there who are much more skilled and qualified to teach my daughter about the world around us. While I try to remain current, I know that I am not up to date on many subjects, while others (math) I was never sharp at to begin with. If I were to reserve a role for myself, it would be to teach her, as best as I could, about critical thinking. Not that she has any trouble at present asking questions, and I’ll admit to sometimes showing annoyance at some of them, but I nevertheless wish for her to continue. At the same time, I want her to have the courage to say, “I don’t know,” and understand the importance of doing so. These three words are crucial in expanding knowledge and coming up with new ideas and ways of solving problems. In a world were people are expected to have all the answers, where children are quizzed and evaluated on remembering this or that data to fill in the multiple choice exam, we seem to have forgotten the humbling, and at the same time, empowering experience of honestly responding to a question with, “I don’t know.” Please don’t misunderstand, I am not lauding ignorance by any means. No, I reserve my admiration for honesty and a rational approach to knowledge. However, when seeking knowledge we must admit not only what it is we do not know, but also constantly reexamine what we do know and determine if it still holds up to the evidence. If I were to sum up my philosophy of education it would be with these three phrases: “I don’t know.” “Let’s find out.” “Show your work.” Admit that there are things beyond your current understanding, commit yourself to finding the answers, demonstrate that the answers you have arrived at are rational and can be shared with others.

I found myself thinking back to one of my favourite books when I was in early elementary. It was Dinosaurs and More Dinosaurs by M. Jean Craig. Not long ago I was at my parents’ home looking through it again. Wow! Quite a lot has come to light since it was written. (I found a blog post spotlighting the art from this very book) I can only guess at what my daughter will be learning in school that varies greatly from when I was her age. I am still a bit in awe of the fact that many dinosaur species, more than 20 genera, had feathers, even though this has been proven through fossil evidence over the past 10 years; I have a childhood of naked theropod images to overcome. I am intrigued by the prospect that she will come home with ideas that will challenge me to reexamine my understanding of things; I am looking forward to continuing to learn from my daughter, as she has already taught me so much.

I know, I know! We’re still dealing with kindergarten; let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. There are certain steps that have to be taken. First, we’ll have to make sure the camera is ready for the obligatory First Day of School picture. (mine featured a powder blue leisure suit) Then I’ll get all teary thinking about how my little girl had grown up so quickly. Next comes work, where I’ll most likely spend the whole day thinking about her. Finally, I’ll get to come home and learn all about her first day of school!

My daughter will learn much in the coming years, but I still expect I have many questions asked of me and I will do my best to answer them; but if I can’t, then I will honestly tell her, “I don’t know,” and I will try my best to help her by saying, “Let’s find out.”

Dinosaurs were cool in my day…

… now they’re freakin’ awesome!