Day 104: Pilot and Copilot

Today was the last full day of Nana and Uncle J’s visit, and the last day of Papa’s leave.

This morning first thing we bustled around cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, tidying up. I did the food order, talked to my brother Uncle B on the phone. Papa and Uncle J took the dog to the big field to run, and then Papa made biscuits and sausage later in the morning for everyone.

After baths, Girl sat down to play games on PBSkids.org and Boy went into my room to show Minecraft to Uncle J. Papa lay down to take a nap, and even Nana closed her eyes on the couch. It was a bright, bright sunny day, and in the winter the sun comes in through the big front windows making big warm slanted squares of sunshine on the carpet. The dog fell asleep in one of them. By this time Boy had come out and was talking to Girl about what she was doing on my laptop.

They started collaborating, doing things on PBSkids.org that Girl can’t do on her own because she can’t read. So Boy read things for them, showed Girl where to click sometimes. I thought again Boy is such a good teacher. How can he be so hard on himself, yet so patient with everyone else?

I curled up in the big chair and closed my eyes, too, listening to the kids working and talking things through. My eyelids glowed a little red from the brightness of the sun in the room, and it was completely quiet other than the sounds of the kids’ voices.

They went through an interactive story activity on Arthur about bullying, which sounded really well done. The kids could decide what the characters should do, and they could get to hear their private thoughts at different junctures. At the end, they could decide what Arthur should do (stop teasing his friend, stop teasing and apologize, or keep teasing). Boy wanted to try every different ending, presumably because he wanted to know what happened in every case. I was pleased at that indication of his high level of emotional involvement with the story.

And I thought about a video Girl and I watched once as part of code.org, on collaborative coding. Two girls explained how when they work together there is a pilot, and a co-pilot, and they switch roles frequently. The pilot sits at the keyboard, and operates the mouse and types, making all specific decisions. The co-pilot thinks about goals and makes suggestions. The co-pilot never reaches over and touches the mouse or the keyboard. And I thought, that’s what they are: pilot and co-pilot.

After the bullying story, they were doing something where they filled in dialogue bubbles in a some kind of scene, and naming the characters. They asked me how to spell words they didn’t know, like yippee, hmm, yay. Boy had to do the typing, but when I explained that some words like that you can add extra letters at the end (e.g., yippeeeeee!), Girl asked if she could type some extra e’s, after they discussed and agreed how many they wanted (= three extra).

After that everyone got a walk. Nana took Boy (they were gone for an hour), I took the Dog, and then returned and took Girl. Girl and I walked down to the field, too, and I blew bubbles for her to chase. Some blew high, and fast, and towards the basketball court where some guys were playing. Girl would run after them right up to the edge of the court, and then stand for a minute, watching, before she ran back to me.

On our way back we bumped into Girl’s friend, with her Dad and sister, and the two girls were wearing their Girl Scout vests. They’d been selling cookies. A couple of weeks ago, Girl opted out of Daisy Scouts and selling cookies, telling me she didn’t want to talk to people that she didn’t know, and she was too tired by the time of the Daisy Scout meetings. She also said she wanted to make a cookie booth in the spring and sell her own cookies. But this was the first time she’d seen her friends actually selling Girl Scout cookies. She was quiet, and when they said goodbye and crossed the street, she said I wanted to tell them something. So we crossed, and she told her friend about the cookie stand, and asked if she’d help. Her friend said Sure! and her sister said she’d help too. Girl brightened, hugged her friend, and said goodbye.

Now I have two sisters, she told me, holding my hand as we crossed the street. She knows that all Girl scouts are her sisters–it’s in the Girl Scout Law. But maybe what she’s learning is that collaboration makes our sisters and brothers our friends, and makes our friends our brothers and sisters.

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