Monthly Archives: May 2019

Of chickadees and endermen

My kid B is six and a half years old, and almost done with kindergarten, which means he’s been in public school for almost two whole years, which is buca di beppo (this is a fun new way of saying something is hard to believe or seems extraordinary, without having to use language like “crazy” or “insane”). Here are some things that my six-and-a-half year old kid is super into lately:

Googleplex: I’m not sure where he learned about googleplex, because I didn’t teach him, but he knows it’s a 1 followed by 100 zeros, and he knows it would take him a long time to count that high. (Not that he doesn’t try.) When I say “Five minutes till pajamas” he likes to say “Thank you googleplex minutes” and hope I don’t notice. He has taught the other kid, H (currently aged three and a half), about it and now they both use it as a general punch line for jokes.


  1. It’s googol not google
  2. A googol is 1 followed by 100 zeroes
  3. A googolplex is 1 followed by a googol of zeroes

Talk about buca di beppo! What a rollercoaster this was. Whew.

minecraftMinecraft: OMG he’s OBSESSED with Minecraft, and sometimes I think it’s adorable and he’s building skills and doing A LOT of reading (and writing his own signs) within the game…but sometimes when he’s starting every single sentence with “Mama, you know in Minecraft…” I just want to never see another cube again. He’s so into it though. He started, like, a month ago? And has gotten so good at it. It’s so weird to see kids and technology. Like the way H knows to swipe and how to zoom in and out…they just GET this stuff.

B came home from school the other day with the best book I’ve ever read, plagiarized mostly from the Minecraft Netflix show (it’s a choose your own adventure show!). But it was a full story with a plot arc, and nicely illustrated. I love it so much. It’s my new favorite book. (Was I clear that he wrote this book? I’m not sure that was clear. He wrote and illustrated it.)

(P.S. Endermen are like…some of the bad guys in Minecraft? They’re actually kind of terrifying, just black shadows with really long arms, glowing purple eyes, and they leap from one place to another.)

Chickadees: I have no idea where this one came from, but B and his bff from school have invented this elaborate thing where at recess they study chickadees, draw pictures of them, and come up with facts about them. Then they make up quests to send each other on, relating to chickadees. Here are some “facts” about chickadees:

  • They only come out when it’s really cold
  • They eat bumblebees
  • They are preyed upon by turkey vultures

It’s a very nice contrast to the Minecraft thing, the idea that these two little boys are wandering around making up stories about birds. (I guess they could be actually spotting real chickadees, but I’ve always just assumed they’re looking at a variety of smallish birds around their school.)

James and the Giant Peach: A while back I got The Fantastic Mr. Fox from our local bookstore, and read it to B. It’s a shortish book, with big pictures on every page, so it was a good intro to “older” books. He really liked it, and we read it over and over–we could generally read half of it one night, and finish the next night. Then I tried other Roald Dahl books of a similar length: The Magic Finger (not one I knew from my childhood but good because in the first five pages, a teacher gets turned into a cat) and Esio Trot, both good two-nighters, although if you’re feeling really snuggly you can do the entire thing in one go. Then I wanted to try something longer, so I got James and the Giant Peach.

James has multiple pages with no pictures on them, so you have to have a bit more patience. It also has maybe twice the amount of pages as the others. The first time I tried to read this to him, he didn’t really settle in for it, so we put it down for a few weeks…and then I tried again. And he got sucked right into it.

82C9B49B-2E1C-4C73-8E9C-54D026648CA1We would do 3-4 chapters a night, generally, and we were getting through it at a pretty good clip. But then around the same time, we started doing this thing where the kids go to bed around 7:30 (ha) and then we let them keep a lamp on and they’re supposed to read quietly (haha) until we get fed up with them not actually reading, and turn the lamp off.

B will actually sit in bed and read through books. It’s one of my favorite things about this age. So on multiple nights, we would read a few chapters, and then he would take the book and read ahead. And then, the next day (or sometimes that night when I turned off his light) he would tell me about what he read. So it’s like, he’s a) reading for fun and b) actually retaining what he’s reading! Incredible!

It got to the point that when we were maybe 15 pages from the end, he took the book to bed one night, and then finished it by himself. So I was like, “Oh great, wow, amazing, what a great reader you are,” but truly it was a little bit anticlimactic, because like, I thought we would cross that finish line together. So then one night I said, “I didn’t get to finish this with you, let’s read the end together,” and so we picked up where we had left off together, and we finished the book. And it was so cool because he already recognized the story, and so he was excited about me hearing it for the “first” time, something that he enjoyed.

I’ve been gathering this list of things I wanted to write down about B, because he’s changed a lot over the last year, and he’s been doing some pretty amazing things. This last six and a half years has sometimes felt like a lot longer than that, but I’m starting to see what kind of person he’s going to be, and I think it’s all going to be okay. (Parents–especially ones with little kids–will understand what I mean, I think.)


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