Jak Kirman: Hayley's diary

Hayley's diary 1997

November 1997

Kids software is pretty good these days. This morning Hayley made a book. She chose 12 background images, and on each image she dragged animals, people, things, etc. The program lets you change the size, orientation and so on. Then she decided she wanted to add captions. (we were late going to school, but I gave in and let her dictate them to me...) e.g., "Son, now it's time to go to school. Do you love your teacher?" "Yes!" on a picture of the "father" whale and the "child" fish :-) we haven't quite got species figured out yet :-) She was actually bouncing up and down, giggling excitedly, saying "This is *so* much fun!"

October 1997

Wednesday 23 October 1997

I picked Hayley up from school yesterday; I love picking her up. Usually I get to watch her playing for a very short time before one of her friends tells her I am there. She always seems to be having a good time. I am really pleased with the school (the Child Daycare Center in Providence, RI, for those of you who live near here). It is very progressive --- kids who hit seem to be practically ostracized, there are very few children per teacher (Hayley's groups have always been between three and six of the same age to one teacher), and they are glad to give children different things to do if they get bored.

Yesterday Hayley asked if we could go to Toys 'R Us; as she pointed out, we hadn't been there for a while (ten days). Since I have stopped bringing her a present back from every trip in favour of going to the store with her, this seemed pretty reasonable. On the way in she expressed interest in a game, but her attention was also caught by a mermaid Barbie-clone whose tail changes colour in the bath.

I told her she would have to pick one or the other, and she dithered for a while and then chose a game. We went over to the game section and looked for a while at the games. She pointed out some that were age 3 and up, but they looked too simple; one of the games she has (Hercules) says 5 and up, and she had no trouble with that. So we looked around some more and she suggested the "Pretty Pretty Princess". I explained that it was a game in which you played to put on jewelry, but that was about all I could figure out from the box. We chose that one, and she had been so good that I told her she could have the Barbie too. Sigh. I can't resist seeing that little face light up. In the checkout line we were looking at videos. I haven't bought myself or her a video in ages, so we got Batman and Robin. I was afraid it might be a bit violent, but it turned out ok.

We got home and played the Pretty Pretty Princess while dinner was cooking (as I was pointing out to her, we are lucky that ready-made meals are so much better now than they were when I was a kid :-) We sort of figured out the game as we went along; there is a round track with spaces marked with "necklace", "ear-ring", "bracelet", "ring", "pick any one", "put one back", "black ring", "crown". Each person chooses a colour (Hayley complicated things from the start by wanting us each to play two people, so we had to keep track of which of our players we were moving), and a set of jewelry (necklace, two ear-rings, bracelet and ring) of each colour is put into a pot in the middle. Each player in turn spins a spinner that chooses from 1 to 4 with equal probability, and moves that many spaces clockwise. When a player lands on a necklace, ear-ring, bracelet or ring space, they pick up and put on a piece of jewelry. The rules specify that you *have* to pick up a piece of your own colour, but I didn't see that at first, and when Hayley chose a piece of a colour of mine, I decided to let her see what the problem was. I explained that the first person to get all the pieces of the same colour won. She thought about that for a second and then realized that she had made a mistake with her first pick. I thought she was going to ask to remake it, but instead she showed me that she just needed three more pink pieces to win. We carried on playing for a while, and eventually I noticed the rule about only picking your own colour. Hayley exchanged her wrong-coloured bracelet for an item of the right colour. She was generally pretty good about following the rules; when she had a choice, she was making the choice before figuring out the consequences (whether this is "good" or "bad" is not entirely clear :-) At one point she took off the crown and a piece of purple jewelry (she had almost all the pink, and just a necklace of purple, so purple wasn't helping her) and said "I'm getting tired of wearing these --- you can wear them". I pointed out that she needed the crown to win, and she said "Oh, oh! Then I will keep the crown." I had also by this time explained about the black ring, which you cannot win with; you can only get rid of it if someone else lands on the black ring, or you land on the "put a piece back" square. What I found most interesting was that I only explained some of the rules to Hayley, and she figured out the rest. Basically the rules are designed to force you to play non-competitively (you can't starve another player out by taking one of their pieces), and optimally (you *have* to put the black ring back if you land on the put back space when you have the black ring). But she figured those two things out on her own, which I thought was quite surprising. She seems to have very good verbal and logical skills, but she is still not very good with comparing numbers, her sense of magnitude is only slowly developing, and she doesn't grok time yet. I should ask my parents if they remember what order I learned to read and do arithmetic.

I was also astounded to see her playing a game on her Land Before Time CD that involved designing a story. She showed me how it worked; she had figured it out by trial and error. You get a screen with

19 October 1997

I was playing with Hayley in the bath the other day when we started talking about seasons. I told her that soon winter would be here, and we could go skiing, maybe with my friend Ken.
D: Do you remember Ken?  He's a big guy with red hair.
H: [surprised] Red?  That's a funny colour.
D: [laughs] Well, it's not really red, it's more like [looks around for
something the right colour] orange. [I couldn't think of anything else]
H: [thinks a bit] Orange is a funny color, too.
I was too busy laughing to give her a good idea of Ken's hair colour; I'll have to show her a picture. She must be picturing him with bright orange hair :-)

D: My friend Mark is coming over later.
D: Not the Mark with long hair, the Mark with short hair.
H: The one that played with me?
D: Umm, I'm not sure.  I think so.
H: You don't know which Mark is coming over?
That was an interesting (as well as hysterical) exchange --- I think that because she knew which of the Marks had played with her, she assumed that I did, and therefore attributed my hesitation to the question of which of the two Marks was coming. I think understanding what other people know and reasoning about it is pretty hard.

Hayley is at an age now where she can talk well enough to convey interesting ideas, but she hasn't had enough experience to dampen her imagination. It is really entertaining to listen to her stories.

One day I was talking with her about brattiness (we still play the Bratty girl game all the time), and I asked her (rhetorically) if she was ever bratty.

H: No, umm, yes, sometimes.
D: Ah.  Why do you think that is?
H: [immediately] Not because that's just the way I am.
D: [mishearing] Ah, because that's just the way you are?
H: No, NOT because of that.
D: [interested] Oh?
H: [thinks a bit] It's my ghost that gives me those tells.
D: Ah, your ghost puts ideas into your head?
H: Yeah, of kicking and pushing and biting and being bratty.
I'll have to talk to her more about that one, it is interesting. "It's just the way he/she is" is one of my standard explanations for things like violence.

[This next exchange is not verbatim, but reconstructed from memory]

H: Dad, does fruit...  if I eat lots and lots of fruit, would I have bad
D: Umm, no, too much fruit won't usually do that.  It might give you
   runny poops.
H: What kind of food gives you bad dreams?
D: Hmm.  Heavier kinds of food, I would say, like meat or cheese.
H: If I ate 15 hamburgers I would have bad dreams.  Certainly.
   Certainly a lot.   

She has really good manners; she usually says please and thank-you, but it isn't forced at all, and I rarely ask her to if she doesn't. The other day we were in bed watching Asterix and she said she was hungry. I offered her some milk and cookies, and went to get them for her. When I brought them she said:

H: Thanks for the cookies!
D: You're welcome, little hon.
H: Thank-you for loving me!
D: [melt]
I haven't been keeping track of her vocabulary at all, which is a pity... I'll see if I can catch up.

3 October 1997

Hayley seems very close to reading now; she has no trouble with individual letters, and is learning the sounds they make. I was also surprised at how easily she understood the game of checkers (one of her computer games), though the interface is so well designed it is pretty clear how to play. She sort of understood the rules, but, like Alice, would focus on the characters represented by the pieces rather than their function in the game.

There is an interesting maze game in her Land Before Time CD. There are two pictures presented to you; one is a first-person view of the inside of a maze, the other is a map of the maze with you represented as an orange square, the goodies you have to find as white squares, and different colours for different weird parts of the maze (like a blue part where you are underwater). The difficulty is in reconciling the two views, using the map to plan, and the first-person view to move. I would watch the map, and be saying things like "Ok, now keep going straight here for a while. There will be an opening coming up on your left, woah, you passed it, back up a bit. Ok, now turn left. Yes, that's your left. A bit more, ok, that's good. Now go down that hallway." and so on. But the maze is well-designed so that often the passages are concealed, and there are lots of three-dimensional objects floating around in the first-person view that don't show up on the map, which confuses things because the driver (Hayley in this case) keeps wanting to focus on those, while the planner has completely different objectives.

Another good game on the Land Before Time CD teaches her a little about physics by modeling a catapult. You have to shoot the animals across the river by putting them in the catapult and launching it. You can move the catapult forward or back, and can tighten or loosen the spring. If you throw too short, the animal lands in the river, and if you throw too far they fly out of the picture, but if you get it just right, they land in a bed of flowers and you get a treestar (it has this system of points you build up to "buy" the right to watch little video clips from the movie, very interesting idea in itself). The higher levels have added obstacles. These games are very clever because they offer enough flexibility to make them non-trivial, but not too much, so that it is fairly clear where to go next.

This evening I played the Bratty Girl game with Hayley quite a bit, and was noticing how much more advanced her language was than her arithmetic; I guess it is just because no-one has taught her any arithmetic. It seems like she is quite ready for simple arithmetic, and some of her computer games are fairly good at teaching it.

September 1997

28 September 1997

This evening, I got a phone call from a poll company about ads for petrol (gas). Although polls are sometimes frustratingly slow, I like to answer them on the grounds that every little bit helps -- in this case my hope was that my views on advertising were sufficiently extreme that I could just answer honestly and that it would tend to influence the poll (in whatever tiny way) in the direction I wanted. It's also often interesting to talk to these people. Anyway, this evening I had Hayley, and we had been reading a story; we were between stories, actually. So I started to answer this long slew of questions with numbers or yes or nos, which made Hayley very curious as to what was going on. I tried to get the speakerphone to work, but the poll person couldn't hear me, then, so I would try to tell Hayley what I was doing. After asking her to hold on periodically to do this, I realized that the woman on the other end didn't mind at all listening to me talking to Hayley; it was probably just as interesting as asking someone else these questions, so I took occasional time-outs to talk to Hayley. One of the things she was looking at was the picture of someone after an operation, in the book The Story of Farts. The page says that when you start to fart again after an operation, it is good because it means that your intestines are starting to work again. Hayley asked me how people got cut open in operations, and I explained about scalpels and stitching up and anaesthetics, local and general, and so forth, but fairly briefly (When I get too detailed, she says "Can you please read now?", or "Can we go on?", very nicely. She really has wonderful manners.). The woman taking the poll said she was pleased to hear someone spending time with their daughter (it came out during the poll that I was divorced, and she could hear Hayley in the background, so we had talked about her a bit, and she asked me about the weather in RI; she was in Denver). Apparently she is a single mother of three, and their father (or fathers, wasn't clear) hardly spends any time with them. That seemed pretty sad. She was also astonished that I don't watch sports (the poll was aimed at men between 18 and 60, I think, and apparently they all watch sports); I have always disliked spectator sports, and one of the reasons is that when I was little, I was often bored while all the adults who could have entertained me :-) were watching sports. My dislike was pretty irrational for a long time --- and still, the sound of a sports game on TV makes my stomach knot up --- but on thinking about it a good deal, it really seems to me that spectator sports address a primitive drive that has some pretty unpleasant faces. I like diversity, whereas many people prefer the comfort and safety of conformity, which tends to stifle diversity. And I value reason and logic above emotion, and knowledge above ignorance, so activities that make people feel good but don't teach them much useful information make me very uncomfortable. That's why I don't much like dancing, or lying on the beach, or vegging in front of mind-candy TV (though I have no objection to doing some of this mindless stuff, and certainly don't object to *other* people doing it), but I just find that I prefer to be doing other things. Anyway, it was very interesting talking to this woman, and Hayley was quite happy reading on her own with occasional questions to me. One disturbing comment of hers came when she was asking questions about degrees. I have a PhD, and she made some self-deprecating comment about how I must be smart, and she had only gone to 9th grade. I told her that you might need to be smart to stay in school, but just because you dropped out doesn't mean you aren't smart; people drop out for lots of other reasons, like economic or social problems. She was clearly reasonably smart, because unlike most of these poll people, when I asked her to repeat a question, she paraphrased it rather than repeating it verbatim. Also, when I explained that I basically see no TV, and therefore no TV advertising, she answered a bunch of questions on her own. There were a whole bunch of questions of the form: for brand A, do you find it makes your car run better? for brand A, do you think it keeps your engine clean? for brand A, [five or six more questions]. After the first one, I realized that the best I could do was pick a number from 1 to 10 representing my vague impressions of that company, and answer the same for all of them. For Amoco, for example, where I don't remember ever going, I answered 5 for all. After explaining this, we went through ten questions at a time, with her giving me the company name, me giving her a number from one to ten, and her answering that to all the questions. Now, I have encountered this kind of situation before several times, where I try to explain how I am answering and have her (they are almost always female) do it for me. The vast majority of the time, they just refuse, and ask each question. It was nice to talk to someone with a bit of initiative.

The Bratty Girl Game

Hayley and I have elaborated on the "Bratty girl game"; now there are a number of pretty stable characters from one play to the next. There is the bratty girl herself, of course, who spends her time doing various "bratty" things like kicking people for no reason, pushing them of the edge of the bathtub into the bath, giggling maniacally, and generally being gratuitously unpleasant. She is modeled after Angelica in rugrats, but isn't nearly so subtle, since I have to do her on the fly :-) What is interesting is that when we discovered that the real bratty girl doll was at Kathy's house, she was quite willing to pick something else (a stegosaurus, in the event), and pretend it was the bratty girl. To do this, I would think she would have to have the character represented in her mind somehow in a way that was fairly well divorced from her notion of the physical plastic doll. In any case, there is also a horse who is the judge (modeled on the judge from Perfect the Pig, which we had just read).

The storyline of Perfect the Pig is this: We start with the birth of a pig who is so small that even his mother doesn't notice him. His siblings are all greedy and dirty, but he likes to keep clean, and dreams about flying. One day he helps out a big sow, who turns out to have magical powers. Interestingly, the word "magic" is never mentioned, nor anything similar. The sow just says "wish for anything, anything you like"; Perfect wishes for wings, the sow nods and goes on her way, and the wings sprout.) He flies around for a while, and ends up, exhausted, on a fire-escape in a town. A young (vegetarian) artist finds him, and is so delighted with him she calls him "Perfect". Things go well for a while, then Perfect gets lost, and is caught by a man who forces him to perform tricks in the park for money. Eventually the artist finds him again, and she and the man argue about whose pig it is. "Let a judge decide!" someone cries, and so they go to a judge (ha!). The judge listens to both sides, thinks carefully for a while and then says "Let the pig decide!". The pig, of course, chooses the woman, and the judge awards them half the man's earnings, which he says are rightfully Perfect's. Perfect and the woman live happily ever after.

Today Hayley asked for a snack to eat on the way to school, so I gave her a little packet of fruit gums. When we got to daycare, as I was helping her out of the car, I asked if I could have one. But the packet was empty, and Hayley had the last two in her hands. She instinctively put them both to her mouth, but then hesitated, and offered me one:

H: Here, Dad, you can have this one.
D: [delighted] Oh, thank you, but you can have them; I just wanted to
   help finish them up.
H: It's ok, you can have this one.
D: [taking it and giving her a big hug] Thank-you, little hon!
It was really nice to see her think like that.

We came to the end of a chapter in Hayley's game last night; we played with the Bratty Girl (still represented by the stegosaurus here :-), and her absent-minded parents (horses), and Hayley being Steel (a husky) and his nine siblings. The horses told the Bratty Girl she had to stay in her room, while they guarded the door. Then the Bratty Girl would sneak out while the parents were looking the other way. Steel would see her and call to the parents, who were supposed to go and find their daughter. I amused myself by having the parents accuse Steel of lying about where the Bratty Girl was (Steel would say "She's there!", and I would move the Bratty Girl as the parents came to look.) Although she (or Steel) was indignant at being accused of lying, she always gave sensible explanations rather than complaining.

Towards the end of the game, when I had told her we just had a few minutes left, she decided that the parents were going to change, and become less absent-minded. The Bratty Girl was out of the picture, though I am sure she will return. Steel and the parents moved to a new place because their town was getting worn down and there was going to be a fire (goodness knows where that came from).

I was really disappointed to hear how Disney had butchered Hercules to make it politically correct. In the original story, Hercules is the bastard son of Zeus by a mortal, which is why is only a half-god. At the time Zeus' partner was Hera (though greek gods never seemed very interested in monogamy :-)

Disney has Hercules be Zeus and Hera's son, who is a half-god because he is brought up by humans. Gag.

25 September 1997

I have noticed that Hayley uses her Ghost as a great prop for her to try out ideas. For example, after she saw Balto, a film about Huskies, it transpired that her Ghost had a lot of Huskies. Today she was explaining to me how fast they ran. We were on the highway, and she asked how fast I drove. I explained that in different places I drove different speeds; in France often 100mph, but here usually no more than 80mph. She said that Ghost's huskies ran much faster than that, and pointed out various cars, asking how fast they went, then telling me that the huskies were even faster. Finally we ascertained that they were even faster than planes :-) She also told me today that Ghost uses clouds like we use roads, and she pointed out a big cloud, saying "In fact, that is where he lives, right up on top of that big cloud there." A little later:
H: Do huskies run faster than people.
D: Yes, they can run faster than people.
H: Why?
D: Well, people don't run that fast.
H: Why not?
D: We only have two legs --- animals with more legs can usually run faster.
H: Why?
D: You use your legs to push, so the more legs you have pushing, the
   faster you can go.
H: [Thinks for a bit]  My Ghost's huskies have *five* legs!  And his
   horses have *six* legs --- they go really fast!
When my father was here he spent some time to Hayley, and they got on very well. Only at one point did she get a bit upset; it was interesting. He was asking her when her next birthday was --- what month it would be in. Eventually she guessed at April. When my father explained this to me, Hayley muttered "I said I didn't know." Shortly afterwards she overheard my father telling the story to Kathy, who laughed. Hayley snapped "I said I didn't *know*!" Kathy assured her that she wasn't laughing *at* her, and I explained that her next birthday would be in September.

I have realized that what bothers me about the way my father behaves with young children is really just that he plays word games with them to see how they think. For example, he tells of one little boy who was discovering ages. He would go around asking everyone how old they were. My father told him "109". "Wow!", said the boy, "that's a big number!" The next day the boy came back and asked my father how old his mother was. "89," said my father. "You're older than your mother??" asked the boy. "That's right," said my father. I don't know whether they have spoken since.

I talked with my father about this, and as he pointed out, it is not clear that it is good to completely shield children from people who aren't honest --- they have to learn to reason about and be prepared to dispute what they are told. In retrospect,this seems pretty reasonable.

?? September 1997

Hayley and I made a little sled out of cardboard; she drew the outline on paper, I cut the paper out, we used that as an outline to draw on the cardboard, then I cut out the cardboard shapes, and then we taped it all together. [Cardboard dogsled (the
horses get to ride in it :-)]

18 September 1997

Some mail from Kathy:
Well tonight is the night Lid Miss and I get on the plane for Baltimore. She is so excited. She asked me this mornig if another plane would crash into us. Good grief!! I told her no. :^)

She did very well at Dr. Ohnmacht's yesterday. She had another booster for polio (oral) and then a shot. She didn't even know she got the shot. Dr. Ohnmacht told her to put her arms around my neck and turn her head. Then he said he was wiping her arm and then he was going to pinch her. She didn't even cry. She was excellent for him. She let him look in her mouth and everything. Afterwards she said "I was excellent, he didn't even need the stick" (the last time we went in for strep she wouldn't open her mouth so he needed to use the stick. She remembered that!). She is 3'5" (41 inches) and 34 pounds. She is in the 75th percentile for height and the 40th percentile for weight.

13 September 1997

For Hayley's birthday (actually on the 15th) we had a party at Discovery Zone; here are some pictures:

She seemed to have an excellent time. She had a bunch of friends there; Greer, Marguerite, Michael and Alex and Brandon, who came with Renee and Anthony, John Bazik and Tova and Zoe and Max; who else?

August 1997

?? Summer 1997

Not sure when exactly these pictures date from; I am surprised that information is not stored in the pictures. Or perhaps it is, and I just don't know how to read it. Anyway, here are some bagel faces we made from Pretend Soup. I'm still not very good with the digital camera :-)

My bagel face Hayley's bagel face

20 August 1997

Lately Hayley has been wanting me to play this game with her a lot. There is a "bratty little girl" (played by me, of course -- I always get the bad guys :-), and her mother, who are trying to take over a house owned by two dogs: Steel (from Hercules, I think), and his mother (played by Hayley). The bratty girl and her mother are particular interested in the contents of the fridge (a wonderful scale model; they make really neat kids toys these days). Each time they get near, Steel's mother sees them and comes running (on all fours, of course), barking, and the bratty girl and her mother shriek and run off. There are lots of variations, but the main "plot" always remains the same. If I play out of character she calls me on it --- I am not allowed to make the bratty girl be nice, at all, for example :-)

Here is a picture of a salad bar we made the other day, partly from Pretend Soup:

Salad bar

We take a bunch of paper cups (I know, it's wasteful, but it saves washing up :-) and put different things in them. Here are, I think, mandarin slices, beans, corn, olives, a mayonnaise-apple-juice-vinegar dressing (we didn't make that one up!), baked beans and some unidentified things. I think those are frozen grapes in the background --- very delicious; just pull them off the stems, wash them well, drain them well, put them in a plastic bag and freeze them for a few days. They taste like popsicles. I am trying some frozen blueberries and blackberries as I write.

Here is a picture of Hayley juicing an orange. This must be some time this spring or early summer. Click on the image for a bigger version.

Juicing an orange

Here is one of Hayley's dinosaur games; she sets a bunch of them up and acts out little scenes. She likes having several of the same kind, as they make families. Click on the image for a larger version. I believe this is a couple of months old.

Dinosaur scene

Here is a picture of us together, me holding the camera to take the picture. I think this is also around two months old.

Jak and Hayley

19 August 1997

Hayley likes to write now; she will ask me to dictate letters to her for shopping lists, for example. Here is one of her shopping lists. Unfortunately it was in pencil, and I couldn't make it come out terribly well, but it gives a rough idea of where her calligraphy is. She can make individual letters pretty well, only occasionally making standard mistakes like reversing an S or confusing d and b. However, because she does each letter more or less independently of the others, the order is not always right, sometimes the letters are upside-down, and sometimes they change directions. So it is a little tricky to decipher her lists, but getting more and more feasible :-)

Hayley's shopping list. The first two words are cucumber and tomato, and apart from a few extraneous characters, they are fine. Then is something I am not sure about -- carrots, I think. Then there is a "crouton" down at the bottom, but it seems to have got a bit mixed up with some other things.

A few days ago Hayley colored these dinosaur pictures. I really like the way she makes several patches of color in each area. I was reading a little while ago a criticism of coloring books that said it taught children to follow along and not to develop their imagination; I think is a good example of how that is not true, as long as the child does not feel constrained by the medium.

I was talking about my sister Sarah, and saying that it would be nice if she could come over and visit. Hayley decided she wanted to draw a picture for Sarah. First she drew a flower with a bug on it, at which I ooh-ed and aah-ed, though it looked a bit lost on the big piece of paper. I was trying to figure out how to explain this to her when she ran off and started to draw again. A little later she came back and showed us the new picture, now with a dinosaur, the sky and the sun. I love the simplicity of her drawings.

This picture was really hard to scan in; unfortunately I couldn't fix it up that well. I cranked the gamma correction all the way down (I was expecting to have to crank it up), and that seemed to be the only thing that really helped. Saturation and brightness didn't.

17 August 1997

A young woman came by the other day, selling childrens' books for a company called Southwestern. We sat on the steps for ten or twenty minutes; she showed me a bunch of books that looked pretty good on the whole. The total for about twenty large hardcover books was about $300, which I thought was a bit high at the time, but since looking at them I am quite sure they were worth-while.

Hayley calls the woman "the girl who sounds like Lauren [who lives downstairs from her]". Curious; I understand exactly what she means, but I couldn't explain it for the life of me. Something to do with timbre, perhaps? I would be interested to know what the latest developments are in the field of speech generation.

When I was little, I learned a vast amount of natural history from the Willard Price Adventure books. It is disappointing that Willard Price books seem so hard to find today --- I would have thought this generation of children was at least as interested in natural history as mine.

I am constantly reminded of the odd behaviours of animals I first saw in the Adventure books when I read these new books, but the context is quite absent. Hal and Roger were as real as good friends to me, but there is nothing like that in these books, litanies of oddities like Why do stegosaurus have plates on their backs? I think there is a lot lost in this presentation. Price managed to put a lot of elementary social training in his books, which is clearly lost here. For example, the behaviours of the two boys in their numerous adventures were very strong influences in my life. I did a search for Price on the web, and came up with nothing much, except consistent pointers to the Wallace Boys, by Duncan Watt, which I shall have to check out.

16 August 1997

It is 6am, I have been up all night working. Hayley just woke up and called out to me. I went in to see her, and she said:
H: Dad, you need someone to look after you.
D: I do?
H: Mommy has Ricardo to look after her.
D: Yes, that's true.
H: You need someone to look after you.
She really is adorable.

14 August 1997

We were tying some ganymedes (I think that is what they are called --- they are the sandals with long straps that wind up the calf to the knee. Hayley asked me what they were called when she got a Meg doll a while ago. I hadn't the faintest idea, so we looked in Descriptionary, and ganymede seemed pretty likely). They are quite difficult to tie on, because small errors in positioning result in really glaring faults. As I was about to start tying them, Hayley told me they were different lengths (heights, as she put it --- I was holding them up). I started to disagree, thinking they were the same, when she said:
H: Are those the same height?
H: Can I see if those are the same heightness?
D: You're right, one is longer!
H: See, Dad, this one is longer!
It is interesting both how easily she coins words and how easily she will switch from one term to another.

11 August 1997

Here is a bit of transcription from a tape while we were reading Little Critter "Me and My Dad".
D: Yes, but usually ?? that aren't owned by people, you don't want to go
   petting them unless you are pretty sure about them.  So if you see a
   snake, you shouldn't go up and pet it.
H: But if it's your pet, and you see it playing with your toys...
D: Oh, if it's your pet, that's a completely different thing.
H: If it's your pet and you see it playing with your toys, you want to
   go and pet it!
D: Of course, yeah.  My friend Bernard used to have a boa constrictor,
   which is like a really big snake, and he had that as a pet.  That was
   pretty cool.
H: Did he play on the ??? and stuff?
D: Play on the what stuff?
H: With the dishes and stuff?
D: With the dishes?  No...  he stayed in an aquarium.  Kind of like a
   fish-tank but without any water.
H: Why?
D: Well, 'cos you can't really let a snake go around the house.
H: Why?
D: For one thing, snakes live in places where it is much warmer than
   this.  So they want somewhere that is really hot.  And our houses are
   too cold for them; they might die...  And for another thing...  It's
   difficult to stop where a snake goes.
H: Umm, umm, what if we closed all the doors and closed all the
   windows, it will be really hot.
D: I see...  Some people do that, yeah.  Some people keep snakes in
   apartments, and they are just very careful about keeping the doors
   closed and not opening windows.
H: And keeping the windows closed.
D: Well, if you have screens on the windows, that would work.  See, if I
   had a snake here it wouldn't be able to get out because of the
H: What... why do snakes be able to get out?
D: [confused] I thought that was what you were asking about...
H: Why?  Why do they have to get out?
D: I think snakes would be quite happy inside.
H: But why why why why is the snake is outside and it is happy there?
D: Well, I don't know if it is really happy there...  It is outside and
   chasing Little Critter away.
H: Did he want to pick the campsite right here?
D: Yes, LC decided this would make a good campsite.  But then he
   discovered that there was this thing coming out... it looks like a
   badger or something, something pretty vicious.  And a snake was living
   there too, and a spider... 
H: No, no the spider wasn't living there.
D: What was the spider doing?
H: No, no, cos the spider is going away... 
H: Now I'm being this one.
D: [??]
D: That's Ruffy.  You are henceforth Ruffy.
H: Is he Ruffy?
D: I think so, yeah.
H: Why not, instead of this one, I want to be this one.
D: Two Tone?  Ok, you're Two Tone.
H: Ruff.
D: Are we reading this book here?
H: Ruff.
D: I'll [???].
H: [Picks up a cup of water]
D: Pretty smart dog, picking cups up with his paws, huh?
H: Ruff.
D: You all set now?
D: We found another campsite nearby.  My Dad was tired, so I pitched the
   tent.  I heard that you pitched a tent at the campsite, is that right?
H: Yeah, with Ricardo.  Ricardo helped.
D: Yes, it sounds like you did a great job, doing it almost all on your
   own.  That's very cool, little hon.
H: Ricardo helped.
D: Well, yes, that's to be expected, you know.
H: Why, why why did Little Critter not have his Dad helping?
D: Well, it sounds like he decided he could do it on his own.
   Sometimes people take on jobs that are, that are more than they can
   handle, and if if they don't really realize that, if they're not
   willing to accept that, then they end up like this (Little Critter's
   tent collapsed).  But you're much more smart.  When you get in
   trouble, you just ask for help, right?
H: But...  Little Critter didn't.
D: Right, well, Little Critter is kind of...  Little Critter is not very
   smart, I think.
H: I'm very smart.  
D: Yes.
H: How many is he?
D: Umm, I don't want to quantify people on smartness...
H: How many is he?
D: Oh, how old is he, do you mean?
H: Yes.
D: I don't know, he is probably... 3?

3 August 1997

The first thing Hayley said to me this morning was "Happy Birthday!"; I am amazed she remembered. She gave me Chasing Cezanne.

1 August 1997

Hayley is starting to swim --- she wears her "bubble", a triple layer of styrofoam attached to her back, and doggy-paddles like crazy, her mouth barely above the water. She has become pretty good about cutting off her lungs when she gets a mouthful of water (something I find quite hard to do), and only occasionally swallows some the wrong way. We bought a bunch of noodles, which help enormously; they are something to grab onto but they don't really get in the way. I will try to take some pictures (or have Kathy take them) of her in the pool; she is really adorable.

Incidentally, one of the plants seems to have snuffed it; the poor thing did quite well under my ministrations (I think it is a desert plant :-), but I think Hayley drowned it :-)

July-August 1997

These are things I have been accumulating and procrastinating about scanning in... They are all in this last month (say 19Jul-19Aug).

July 1997

26 July 1997

She is now reviving my plants.. I suggested that she water them, and she is trogging back and forth between the bathroom and the plants: "Lots and lots, 'cos that one is very thirsty!"
H: I'm putting this [drink] in the clown cup.
   You know why I'm putting this in a clown cup?
D: No, why?
H: Because I'm happy.
D: Oh?  Why are you happy?
H: Because you are here!
She tripped and hit her knee today, hard enough to bring up a good bruise. She seemed on the verge of making a big deal out of it, so I tried to commiserate: "Ouch, I be that hurt, huh? Was it your knee or your ankle?" She was distracted enough by trying to explain what exactly hurt that she got over the pain. Just before her bath she explained to me that the other knee hurt because she had scratched it, and her left one from the fall in the store. I tried to tell her that I was glad she had not made a fuss over her knee, but wasn't sure quite how to. She was quiet for a bit just now, so I snuck up to look at what she was doing. She saw me, and said: "Daddy, can I use this water [from the saucer]?" I said "Sure", and she continued to transfer the water from the saucer to her paper cup. She did this for several minutes, patiently trying different ways of getting the water from the saucer to the cup, and is doing so as I type this...

"Then, lickety-split, out to Toys R Us" sings Hayley. "Mommy always picks me up in the afternoon."

Today she's not picking me up cuz I spend the whole night and the whole day, right?

While you do that [web surf] can I please eat the rest of my lunch?.

I just moved her easel into the room for her; she had to draw something; she is still at it... I showed her Michael Littman's home web page, but he looks a bit scary on it, and she didn't seem to like it that much...

I am trying to get pictures from the camera... but adobe photoshop is not cooperating... Kathy just called to say hi, and we chatted for a bit; I never cease to marvel at how good she has been in not trying to keep Hayley from me, etc.

20 July 1997

Today Hayley asked me to read her a book: a sound-button version of the Lion King.

Getting set up for the story must have taken 30 minutes; first we had a discussion about where to read the story. I wanted to read it in my bed, so I could lie down (hers only holds 70lb). She wanted to read it in her bed. She suggested that she make me a place to lie down next to her bed, which I agreed to, and she carefully laid down pillows and comforters so I would have somewhere to lie.

H: Oh no! I don't have any pillow any more.
D: Oh! You gave them all to me!  Do you want to take one back?
H: No, it's ok --- I'll use Barney for a pillow.
One of the things I like about Hayley is that she is usually quite accommodating; I hope that is an indication that she is not getting too spoiled...

At first I read, and paused at each icon; Hayley would press the appropriate button. She was often slightly uncertain about which button to press, but always got it right in the end.

After reading half the book, Hayley decided that she wanted to eat something; we had decided earlier to have some tortillas and salsa. She wanted to eat this in bed while reading the story, but I decided there would be too much mess, so we moved into the kitchen. There she decided that she wanted to read the book to me. I picked one of the sound words, which are bold and stand out easily for her, and asked her to spell it:

D: Ok, can you spell this word?
H: [without hesitation] G R O W L E D
D: Wow!  That's very good.  Now see what sounds they make.
H: Gggggg....  Rrrrrr....  Growl!  Does it say growl?
D: Yes!  Well, it says "growled", but that's great.
We did this with most of the words corresponding to buttons, and with a little prompting she managed very well. I think she will be able to read "Dick and Jane" type books very soon.

She wasn't satisfied (as I would have been) to ignore the endings of the words, so I tried to show her how you can look at the end:

D: [pointing to "growled"] What are the last letters?
H: B...
D: No, that's a D; they are very similar.
[A little d looks even more like a b when you are reading backwards!]
H: D... E... L... W...
D: Ummm, yes, right, so the last letters are E D.
H: Ddddd!
D: Right, so the word is growlED.
H: Growled!

At one point she pressed the button for an icon that was further down the page; I protested that we hadn't got there yet, and she giggled mischievously and pressed it again (this went on for much longer than I found entertaining [smile]).

When we came to the bit "We didn't see you at Simba's presentation.", she asked what a presentation was. I explained that it was parents going round to people showing everyone their wonderful new baby, like our friends John and Margot did.

I love the way she licks her lips and says "Zazu is beginning to look pretty tasty!"

18 July 1997

Here is the first image scanned in on my Optic pro scanner. Hayley drew this in crayon (just one color). I am not yet very adept at cleaning up images.

[Picture of dinosaurs drawn by Hayley]

Another one: Hayley drew this in crayon (three colors).

[Another picture of dinosaurs drawn by

15 July 1997

From Kathy:
I forgot to tell you that we brought Hayley to see Hercules. She loved
it! She was so good! She sat through the whole thing. There were parts
that were a little violent but she did okay with them. She was so cute,
and very well behaved.  She also has the most excellent manners---she
always says "please" and "thank you" and even "you're welcome!"

June 1997

30 Jun 1997

She has been talking a lot about her "ghost", whom she sometimes describes as a "pretend person". Her ghost teaches her lots of things, like how to say "Right on!".

I asked her to write a thank-you note to Nanna, and she readily agreed. I asked her to go get the book we were thanking her for, from her bedroom, as I didn't think she really remembered it.

H: Why? D: Because I'd like you to look at it. H: [thinks] why? D: Because I asked you to? H: [thinks] ok.

[hesitantly] Do you not mind if I get your rug dirty with feet tracks?

She went to get her recipe book, pretend soup.

but now i am a meat-eater at mom's and a vegetarian at your house.

Saturday 07 June 97

Hayley drew some pictures with Moi today on her new easel:
H: First this child is supposed to be crying,
   then his mother is supposed to be happy.
   Then out comes you, me, Moi, Mommy, Ricardo in your house, 
   they are all visiting at your hou... hou... house here.  Three
   people are: Mommy, you are in your bed, Ricardo and me and Moi in my
   bed...  No, Mommy and me and Ricardo are in Mommy's bed and you and
   Moi are in your bed.

While we were making her little rocking chair (also from that Little Tikes plastic she helped me screw in some screws. I was astounded at the dexterity and patience she has --- without knowing all the tricks one learns with age, like steadying the tip of the screwdriver with her other hand, and despite the fact that the screwdriver was enormous for her, she eventually managed to guide the tip into the screw, and screwed it in.

You can wear socks on either foot.

H: My mommy is a bummer.
D: Why?
H: She always wants me to wear socks.
Getting dressed to go out...
H: Daddy, I got underwear on.
D: Good.
H: Why in stores we need underwear?
D: Pretty much, whenever you go outside, you have to wear underwear.
H: Oh.
H: Can I hold the GPS? D: Not when the roof is up -- it can't see the satellites. H: [thinks for a second] Satellites are a long way away. Even higher than planes. So high we can't see them.

Saturday 07 June 97

I made some bread this morning; Hayley decided that she wanted to cook something too. She put into a big saucepan: orange juice, crackers, salt, butter, macaroni and cheese, dough, grape juice, and mixed it all up, "reading the recipe" from a book on the game of squash :-) Occasionally she would ask me to turn the pages, and she announced each addition with "Now the book says to add this".

We went to Billy Taylor playground, where Hayley met a boy called Donny, with whom she played for a bit. When she was having a hard time on the jungle gym, I asked her if she wanted some help. "No,", she assured me, "I'm managing fine."

Sun 15 Jun 1997

H: Daddy, I want to get naked.
D: Sure.
H: Daddy, can you help me with my clothes?
H: I'm having a very hard time getting my undies off...
We went to the store today to get some milk. First we had a half-hour discussion about whether I could go alone or whether she would come with me. She kept saying yes to staying alone and then chickening out at the last moment, so finally she got dressed and came with me.

She wanted a pair of sunglasses, and we picked one out. Then she also wanted some paper cups with clowns on them. I told her she could have one or the other. She chose the cups, and explained that she had lots of sunglasses, though none were at my house. After we had checked out, she wanted a soft squishy kind of ball. I said no, she had already got two things, and she had quite a fit, crying and refusing to come with me, kicking when I carried her. She calmed down quickly in the car, though; it was quite an uncharacteristic outburst, and I think she was mainly just tired.

Fri 27 Jun 1997

The other day I bought a cookbook for Hayley: Pretend Soup. We made the salad bar (three times since yesterday evening!): I cut up the vegetables and she pours them into little paper cups. Then she serves each of us (and usually Mommy as well), with great concentration. She usually ends up eating as much during the "cooking" as after, but it is lots of fun.

She is very much into drawing these days --- she loves to use her easel.

Saturday 14 June 97

Hayley is growing up so quickly it is almost horrifying. Today she was drawing out her bedtime --- when the timer went off she was on the letter I of the alphabet in one of her games, so I let her finish the alphabet. Then I suggested printing it, and started to, but she had a fit at that, and it emerged that she wanted to rearrange the animals before printing. She did that, and then I futzed around with the printer for a good long while, but finally got her picture printed. What really struck me as "old" behaviour was when I stood behind her after agreeing she could finish the alphabet:
D: You can finish the alphabet if you speed it up a bit.  [watches]
H: [getting flustered] Daaaaady!  You are making me...  making me...
D: [laughs] Am I making you nervous, standing over you like that?
H: Yes, you were making my mouse go all over [continues to demonstrate
She has made a couple of "recipes" which make me shudder to remember. The latest was, let's see: Put some macaroni (uncooked), several varieties, in a baking pan. Transfer to a large pot and discard the baking pan. Add a couple of large cups of hot water, a small container of cinnamon-flavored apple-sauce, a somewhat larger container of a very strongly banana-flavored pseudo-pudding (non-dairy), one cherry, pitted by Dad --- I suspect the "recipe" called for more than one, but I drew the line at one --- several handfuls of green grapes, a splash of espresso (I had just made a pot), and this all stirred together until it boiled, then simmered for ten minutes. From the smell I could tell it was going to be pretty bad, but I tried to put a good face on it, and apparently succeeded, since Hayley decided that it was for both of us at the last minute (originally *I* was supposed to eat it all). Hayley took one taste and made a most definite negative judgement on it. She was very quiet for a moment after tasting it, and it really seemed she felt bad for not making something good, but I told her that it took quite a lot of practice to become a good cook, and that simpler recipes might work out better. That idea didn't go over too well.

Saturday 31 May 1997

Hayley slept until nearly 9am today, which was a real pleasure... We had breakfast (she wanted macaroni and cheese, and she laughed at the idea of eating "evening food" for breakfast).

After playing inside a bit, we went to the zoo. She went a little while ago with Kathy and Ricardo, and they saw the dinosaur exhibit. On the way in she suddenly said with dismay:

H - Oh no!  The dinosaurs won't be there any more!
D - [I wasn't sure, so I mumbled something non-committal]
H - Oh well, I don't mind!
It always surprises me when she is reasonable like that -- I don't expect it from a 3-year old.

As it happens, the dinosaur exhibit was still there, and she loved it. We went through twice, in fact, and the second time she spent some time digging in a sandpit for dinosaur bones. It was interesting to watch the kids interacting there. For example, one little girl was adamant about digging on her own, and any time another child tried to help, she would send them away. Hayley tried too, and kept looking at me for cues, but I just watched. She sort of inched her way up to the little girl, and when shooed away just sat back on her heels and looked upset. Despite the girl's mother's admonitions, she refused to let Hayley help, and so I called Hayley over to explain that there were plenty of other spots she could dig in, while the girl's mother called her over to explain that these weren't her bones, and she should share them .

We had lunch at one of the little restaurants in the zoo. We sat on some benches outside, and on a number of occasions when Hayley or I wanted something from inside (napkins, plastic knives, etc), she insisted on going alone, though she was clearly pretty nervous about this. She managed fine, except that the knives were too high up for her to see. So she asked me to come and show her where they were (I was not allowed to actually take one), and then she sent me back to the table so she could bring it to me.

When she wanted to go to the bathroom, she also insisted on doing it alone. I asked her whether she knew where it was, and she said yes, pointing to a door in the back of the restaurant that did look like it might be it. I assumed she had asked someone, and let her make her way nervously towards it. When she got to the door she looked very confused, so I came over to help. It turns out it was the kitchen, so I asked someone where the bathrooms were. Around the back. I took Hayley around to the back of the building, and she kept telling me to stop here, while she went on; she would get lost and then let me come to where she was and point her in the right direction. Finally we made it, and she went into the ladies' room. She managed fine on her own; while I was waiting I was thinking that it must be quite scary to be in a big smelly, dirty, echoing room with all these strange adults.

It is sometimes amusing to watch her with other kids. For example, while we were eating lunch, a boy, perhaps 5, came by our place a couple of times on his way to use the coin-operated telescope. Once, after he and his brother had looked through it for a bit, and then left, Hayley went up and took a look through it. The boy apparently saw this, and the next time he walked by Hayley he jostled her a bit. She turned to me, a bit peeved, and said:

H -- That boy pushed me!
D -- Yes, he did, didn't he?
H -- Why?
D -- Well, some people just like to annoy other people.
H -- Oh.

April 1997

At some point very late last winter we had an amazing storm. Here are some pictures, but I don't remember the dates. Kathy? Snowed-in car Digging snow Snow on branches

March 1997

20 March 1997

From Kathy:
Did I tell you that I had her laughing so hard the other night that
she pee'd her pants a little? I had gumby driving the remote control
car with buzz lightyear in the passenger seat. Naturally gumby couldn't
see above the wheel so he kept hitting things. She was just roaring,
then all of a sudden "oops, I pee'd a little!". It was hysterical!!
She then had a stomach ache from laughing so hard.
We had fun. :^)

9 March 1997

I can't believe it has been nearly three months since I wrote anything here... What with teaching almost every week and tring to get my new computer set up I have been spinning my wheels madly since the beginning of the year. But I am enjoying life a lot now.

Hayley has been really excellent with me, and Kathy says she has been pretty good with her too. This first week of March 97 I was sleeping at Ivy St and working at ODI with Moi, so I was able to see her several evenings. We only worked Monday to Thursday, and on Friday some friends from Ventabren, Cathy Mauget and Ludo, came from Waltham, where Cathy is au-pairing for a year.

Hayley was surprisingly unshy of them, considering that Ludo barely speaks English. She even invited them to join in her games a few times, which is quite an accolade indeed :-)

The URL for this document is ~jak/hayley/diary.html
Created: 21 Aug 1997