Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Fishing for Details

I was having a really awful dream when the princess tapped me on the forehead. I opened my eyes, and there she was waving and smiling a big snaggletooth grin. I was very relieved to see her happy face.

“Good morning, Mommy.”

“Good morning, baby.”

“Would you like to play a game with me?”

I struggled to steady myself as I rose and reached to the left to feel around for my glasses.

“Is it morning already?” I questioned groggily aloud as I leveled my glasses on my nose.

“I think so. The sun is shining.” It’s rare that the kids beat me out of bed in the morning. Even rarer is it that M. is so totally ready for the day when she wakes up.

“Where’s D.?”

“Still sleeping. I came in here because I didn’t want to wake her up.” She reserved that honor for me.

“Okay, baby. Let’s get washed up first. Would you like to work on your reading for a little while?” I was quite prepared for this lesson today. Last night, as I was cleaning out the front hall closet to make some much-needed room for the winter clothes and blizzard gear that were making finding my summer blouses too hard, I found some sight words flash cards I had picked up over a year ago from the dollar store. After bagging up to donate to the needy the leather coats my husband and I have been holding on to because “we’ll get back in them one day,” I sat down and pulled twenty cards for our reading practice, trying my best to avoid the words with the long vowel sounds or silent e’s, ensuring that there was a variety of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and articles for sentence formation, and generating a list of questions I could ask to elicit deeper understandings.

“Sure, Mommy, that sounds fun. I think that’s a great idea.” She sounded so affected that I had to look at her a few moments to see if this was something she really wanted to do at six in the morning. I took her lack of groaning and outstretched hand to lead me to the bathroom as a sign that all systems were go.

We sat back down on the bed, and I laid the following “sentence” in front of her.

get in the car

Sounding out each letter before attempting the blended sounds to form the word, my baby eventually read the sentence. We high-fived in celebration of her accomplishment, and I added “big” before car.

After a few more sentences to build up her confidence, I laid this in front of her.

the big pig leg was red

When she had successfully read the sentence, after struggling with the words “the” and “was,” I said, “What is different about this pig?”

“It’s red.”

“How do you know?”

“His leg was red.”

“Get away from me, you evil witch!” (image from

“Why do you think the pig was red?”

“Maybe, uh, maybe,” she was hesitating.

“Go on, tell me what you think.”

“Well, maybe the very evil witch turned him red.”

“Why do you think she would do that?”

“She wanted to turn him into an apple.”


“She was really hungry, but when she bit his leg, she choked.”

I laughed, and so did she.

“Mommy, can we read that story?”

“I don’t think that’s a real story, but maybe we can write it together and make it a real story. Would you like that?”

“Yes, Mommy. That would be a really, really great idea.”

Note to self: Infuse reading and writing for tomorrow’s lesson.

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2 thoughts on “Fishing for Details

  1. the earlier they begin spontaneously is the better! Stays forever

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