When one enrols children into a range of extra-curricular activities, one commits to a level of involvement.
This involvement will vary from family to family, and may range from sitting on the couch and uttering “Hey, don’t you have ballet/drumming/football/drawing/something class tonight?” to acting as a taxi/uber driver/chauffeur to being full-hands on, volunteering, being heavily involved, or doing the stuff for them.
With my three, it varies up a lot, too. With the older two, now being somewhat capable, and depending on the activity, at times it is “Don’t you have thingy tonight? Like five minutes ago?”
Other times it is, “Hey, where’s Monkey Boy/Godzilla?” only to remember that they had some activity and made their own way to it and we’d completely forgotten.
Such is the way things are.
With Chippie, what with him being still single-digited of age, much of it involves a good twenty minutes of discussing the merits of whatever activity it is he has at that time (to varying degrees, depending on which activity), culminating in “FFS, you’re going, you know you’re going, you know you’ll have fun, can we just skip the shit, please?” before we head off to the activity, he has a great time, and Grumpy Pants and I spend a lot of time shaking our heads in incredulity and frustration … incredtration? Frustulity?
Except when it comes to Cubs. In this case, I like him to do little projects throughout the terms and/or school holidays, to earn his badges. We have his little yellow book, and the list of all the badges and what is required to earn each of them. We sit down together and choose which badge to go for next, taking into consideration his age, skill level, and abilities. And likes and dislikes. Et cetera.
By which I mean, for all of it, I like to take on really, really difficult projects (like trying to get a nine-year-old to do something … anything; also it helps me to do the thing with the brain something something) because I like challenges (especially when he has discovered bey blades, which bore the life out of me), and I make attempts to connect and work with him on selecting a badge but end up reading through a few things, taking into consideration his age, skill level, abilities, and all the things I might be vaguely interested in.
So far, we have – erm, I mean he has earned eight badges.
All of which I have sewn on myself … and, yet, I still don’t have the badge sewing on badge … hmmm
Anyhoo, the most recent badge obtained was the Codes badge. This involves a choice, selecting form things like Morse Code, Australian Sign Language, Phonetic/Military Alphabet, making up your own code, and secret messaging.
- Invisible Ink
- Australian Sign Language (AusLan)
- Phonetic / Military Alphabet
The first a no-brainer and holding some interest for him. The other two, also things I learnt many years ago and had a reasonable recollection of, and was interested in revisiting.
So I googled some things and printed off a one-pager for each, to help us with the learning of the things. There was Giving It A Go every night.
All he had to do was know the alphabet and how to spell his name in each of these languages.
Which is why I found myself reciting the Phonetic Alphabet whilst signing the alphabet and making dinner, all at the same time.
But that’s not the intelligent bit.
After a few weeks of daily practice, Chippie was able to sign the alphabet, spell his name, and add “Hi, my name is …” to the start of it. Spelling out each word, letter by letter.
It made me smile to see his progress.
I wasn’t yet up for the challenge of having him write up the little project sheet I’d created for him, based on a Level 1 Achievement Badges for Cubs template I’d created because shut up!
Not until Monkey Boy, the sixteen-year-old had some friends over, Chippie disappeared into the room with them, not wanting to miss out on who knows what, and I eventually hear the inevitable “Mu-um!” making it’s way up the stairs.
(I really must get a stair gate put in that keeps these things from upping or downing the stairs.)
“Wha-a-at?” I say, in that exasperated tone that clearly indicates I don’t want to even acknowledge that they called what they call me.
“Chippie is swearing at me! In sign language!” Monkey Boy informs me.
Hmmm. I think. Impressive.
(And possibly laughed. A lot.)
I ran downstairs, to find Chippie grinning like an idiot, Monkey Boy telling me to tell him off, and one of Monkey Boy’s friends telling me she knows sign language and was able to interpret what he was signing, although he did call her a “Bick”, so we may need to work on his spelling.
Apparently, he’d been doing this for a few weeks. If only I’d know how well he was picking it up. His vocabulary of swear words, from what I was able to determine from the seven teenagers talking at me about it, was somewhat rounded.
He was letting his brother know where he could go, spelling out each word, letter by letter, with his hands.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him there are signs for communicating the exact same thing, without having to, quite literally, spell it out.
It’s a milestone he’ll reach himself.
Just like his two older brothers did when they reached the average age for whence this developmental milestone comes about.