7QT on Julianna, school, First Communion, and what’s been keeping me busy


J phoneWell, a day has come that I knew would arrive, but was trying not to think about. Julianna has fallen behind grade level in her reading. 😦 Yesterday we had our second home visit of her second grade year. (Her elementary school does these in place of parent-teacher conferences.) I’m not complaining about Julianna’s shift in academic status—I knew it was going to happen eventually—but there’s bound to be a pang, you know?


It is “decoding” that is holding her back, as always. In other words, reading comprehension. There is a disconnect in her brain between the words and their meaning—it’s the same cognitive leap that prevents her from “getting” that a number stands for a concrete reality. We can do addition and subtraction, but we have to have counters—number frames, pieces of candy, sticks drawn on a page—in order to do it. The instant you take away the tactile, her ability to do the math is gone. She just looks blank.


Rocking new-to-her polka dots
But how can you resist that smile?

This is the same cognitive reality that has me making phone calls to our pastor to talk about First Communion interviews. She has some basic concepts down, but she can’t expand upon them. She’s “got” the idea that the bread and wine is the Body and Blood, because for the last several years we’ve been whispering it to her every single week during the elevation. She can take pieces of paper with the parts of the Mass on them and put them in order, but if you ask her questions about the Mass? Blank. If you ask her what was the meal Jesus shared with his disciples the night before he died, or what Passover is? Blank. I’ve been trying to tell her the stories, but she can’t repeat them, and she certainly doesn’t connect them with reality. All that rich symbolic language? She can’t process that.


It’s been interesting, because Nicholas wants to be involved in Julianna’s first Communion prep, and it’s driving him crazy; he can spout all the answers I’m looking for. Last night I had to yell at him because he just wasn’t getting the fact that he couldn’t answer the questions FOR her, she needed to be able to process them herself. (We went through this with Alex a few years ago too.)


J mirror
At Central Dairy ice cream parlor, 2010. I couldn’t find the picture where she was at adaptive gymnastics and the whole wall was mirrors, but this’ll do.

One more Julianna story that I’ve been sitting on. She is in love with her own image. Her favorite thing is a mirror. When she gets off the bus, she simply can’t get past the big rear view, and the big side mirror sticking out, without admiring and giggling at her reflection. It’s become something of a running gag between me and the bus driver. One day, the driver said, “You know, if you hooked up a mirror on a stand and put it in front of her, she’d probably move faster, ‘cuz she’d follow it around.”


Changing subjects; perhaps after some Julianna stories you’ll be willing to humor me and read a little about writing? I’ve had an unbelievably productive few weeks. I finished revising/polishing my novel (although, inevitably, I have already begun to doubt my opening paragraphs) and entered it in a couple of contests. For the last week, though, I’ve been letting it sit and “mature” before I start gearing up for the querying phase. The truth is, no book is ever “finished” until it’s in print.


In the interim I’ve been pounding away at writing music. Lately I am feeling incredibly affirmed about music writing. I have sent, I don’t know…four or five liturgical submissions, and I am working on a commission for a local flutist. I talked to my music editor about edits on a collection of flute-piano pieces for Easter (to complement Come to the Manger). I wrote a new song altogether, and today I get to meet with another friend about another one. Yesterday I cleaned up my primary music folder on the desktop, and I discovered songs I’d forgotten I’d written. A few of them worth revisiting, most pretty much, um, not. Here’s the Facebook status I wrote on that:

Music status update

Lent is halfway done. How’s it going for you?

seven quick takes friday 2