Last night while I was reading to Charlotte before bed (we’re almost done with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and she has requested The Witches next!) I got to a part that said “35,000 feet in the air.” She stopped me to talk (which she does pretty much every 2 sentences or so) and asked me what that means. And I realized I didn’t really have the best explanation for her. As an educated, 31-year old woman, I realized I just know what 35,000 feet in the air means. I don’t even remember how I was taught this, so I just told her it’s a type of measurement and it meant that Willy Wonka was high in the sky. She then asked me whose feet I was walking about, so I had to find a way to explain that this type of feet isn’t the feet she is thinking of, and she got very confused and went back to asking me if Charlie likes Violet “Bubaguard” and I realized maybe I’m not so educated after all.
Explaining things to kids is hard. I feel like I have a pretty good vocabulary and I am trying to impart that on Charlotte by reading her longer books now, but I can’t find an adequate way to explain what certain words mean. For example, she asked me what strange meant the other day and I told her it meant weird or unusual. She said she knew what weird was but then asked me what unusual meant. And all I could think of was to say “it means not usual” and she looked at me like I had 45 heads. She has been using strange in the correct context though, so I guess I got the point across? I’m just finding it difficult to teach her things in a way she can understand and I’m realizing perhaps it’s a good thing I’m not an elementary school teacher because teaching kids who don’t know anything is HARD. Teachers don’t get enough credit, man. Her questions make me realize how easy it is to forget just how you’ve learned everything in school. And then it got me thinking about my favorite and most memorable teachers I ever had, specifically in elementary school, and how I’m not remembering the things they taught me to try and teach Charlotte. My two big ones that I will always, always remember are Mrs. Potter, my third grade teacher, and Mrs. Colbeck, my fifth grade teacher. Mrs. Potter is the sole reason I love Roald Dahl and bringing his books into Charlotte’s life takes me back to her classroom where instead of individual desks we were seated at tables named after Mr. Dahl’s most famous books. Mrs. Colbeck continued to help me discover my love of reading and then my love of writing. I remember her writing to me at the end of the year saying she hoped to read my book someday. No book yet, but never say never.
Anyway, I guess all I can do is keep trying my best. Keep reading, keep explaining, keep giving her literature we can share and love together. It’s bringing us closer and teaching us both so many new things. I love this part of motherhood.