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Math Work

Charlie wants to be big. Big people doing big things tower over him and he wants to join in. He sees the girls climb on the swing and pump themselves skyward. The swing is too high for him to reach and he doesn’t know how to pump. “Lift me! Push me! Swing me!” he cries. Sometimes we do and sometimes we’re busy. When we push, he cries if we stop and when we don’t push he cries out of sheer frustration. He knows too much about how the world works because the big kids show him. But often he can’t join in just because he’s three. It’s not easy to be three when everyone else is six and seven and higher numbers than he has fingers to count.

We’ve bent a lot of rules to accommodate this youngest child. All of the other kids had to be as tall as Stuart’s waist before they could chew gum but how do you pass out six sticks of gum and say, “No, Charlie not until you’re as tall as Papa’s belt.”?

He gets to stay up late, too, because the sounds of game playing and story reading would make him cry into his pillow if six of us visited around the fire in the evening after we shipped him off to bed. So he goes to bed and gets up with the rest of us. Sometimes he sleeps in a little in the morning because running with the older crowd is tiring. But he never sleeps in on Saturdays. On Saturdays he gets up extra early, sometimes before the sun comes up, to make sure he gets a good amount of time with Link. He and Link have to conquer the world before Mama and Papa get out of bed and make him turn off the Game Cube until the next Saturday.

But we do have limits:

“No Charlie. You can’t answer the telephone until you’re four. None of us could answer it until we were four. Mama has to teach you what buttons to push and what to say.”

“No Charlie. I’m not going to cut your tooth out so you can have an ice cream date. You have to wait until it falls out.”

“No Charlie. You can’t have my credit card to buy some candy.”

Still he pushes to conquer the territory the other kids have mapped out before him. He has decided it’s time for school. “Do my maff liv me! Do my hard maff!” Charlie beats on the shower door trying to coax me out to help him with the pages of an unused third grade math book he discovered mixed among the kids' school books.

“Charlie, I can’t! I’m in the shower. We’ll do some pages after breakfast.” And we do but by page four he’s supposed to know how to count to twenty and he can only count, “…seven, eight, eleven.” It’s just too hard. We plug on though, passing the days until the next trip to Wal Mart where I plunk three preschool workbooks in the cart.

“Do my maff liv me!” He demands from his car seat, the three books spread over his lap.

“I can’t, Charlie. I’m driving! When we get home I will.”

We lay a book open on the kitchen table and talk about what comes first and second and third. We trace A for apple and circle 3 cows and Charlie feels just a little bit bigger than he did this morning.

A few days ago, I received a link to this You Tube video in my e-mail. It’s not Charlie but it sure could be. Take a look and laugh with me.


Jennifer said…
Oh, Kate, that is so cute! I love the video - can't wait to show it to John.

Our Jack sounds a lot like your Charlie. A friend of mine once told me, "those last ones are just worldly." Of course, she was laughing, but they DO get to do everything earlier. Like Jack who gets to watch Star Wars even though I only let the girls watch it (finally) - maybe last year? :)
And yes, they all go to bed at relatively the same time. Not fair, I know. But you do what you have to do. :)

Thanks for the laugh tonight!
Alana said…
That video is HILARIOUS!!!

I was the youngest of my family, so I know how Charlie feels ;-)
Faith said…
Those youngest kids are so spoiled. ;) (I'm the third of four ...)
The video is hilarious!! Thanks for posting.
ValleyGirl said…
Beautiful story and what a great video!! I have visions of that happening with my SIX-yr old!
Heather C said…
LOL... I remember hearing that 911 call on the news. Too funny!

My son struggles with youngest child syndrome too. He is often heard saying, "You need to give me a little brother or sister so I'LL have someone to boss around!"

Charlie sounds delightful! :)

Janelle said…
So true. So true.

Our youngest started to chew gum at 2. I just couldn't say no to her when she would cry those alligator tears. She only swallowed 2 or 100 pieces before she got the hang of it.

Love the new look!
My heart is with Charlie... our A. is the same way. I often think about the bedtimes and rules S. and C. had at his age and laugh. My, how the times have changed! A. often asks me to give him schoolwork, too. And he loves Game Cube. (Though he's into Spider-Man ... Link is a fave with the oldest 2, though...)

Love the video! That definitely had to be a "baby" of the family!
40winkzzz said…
My youngest is the only one of my 4 kids who got a kindergarten math book-- because she absolutely demanded one. And not just a little workbook from WalMart either; it had to be a REAL math book like the big kids used. The day after we got it, she did 20 pages and made me sit by her the whole time. This same child would leave for her regular bi-weekly playdates admonishing, "Don't do histowy widout me!" and by golly, if we did, were we ever in trouble!

She's 9 now and still wants to copy her 17-y/o sister, but I'm trying hard to keep her little for a while yet!

I found your blog a while back indirectly thru another. I come here every so often but haven't commented before. I do have a blogger account but can never remember my password. :-)

Elise said…
Poor Charlie. The difference between being the oldest and being every subsequent child that comes after: awareness. Everyone else is doing it! Poor Charlie. ;)
Treasure Seeker said…
how cute!
I love how you see things from your child's perspective!

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