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backwards

September 23, 2011

I am a conflicted individual. I love to tell people it’s dumb to care what others think and yet I find it nearly impossible to stop caring what other people think.

Take yesterday for example…Maya and I were spending quality time at the park (read: I was reading Heart of the Matter while she played with all the germ-infested kids) when Maya picked up a piece of chalk and started drawing hopscotch tiles.

Do you see them? The backward numbers?

My thoughts after seeing this scary sight:

  1. My God is Maya dyslexic?
  2. Holy sh#$ we need to go home and STUDY.
  3. Half of Maya’s school is at the park and if other moms see this they might wonder why a first grader is still writing her numbers backward.

I thought about whisking Maya away before anybody realized she was the culprit. But then I realized it was only 3:15 pm and the thought of having to single-handedly entertain Maya for the next 5 hours seemed more difficult than doing damage control.

So then I decided to try to erase the numbers with the toe of my shoe. 5 minutes later I had bright blue chalk all over the pretty Repetto shoes I bought in Paris and the offensive numbers were still crystal clear. 

I was standing there like an idiot, brainstorming alternatives, when I heard a mom scream: “If you throw sand at your sister one more time I’m going to make you sorry you were born.”

My kid might not be able to remember which way her numbers go but at least she’s not dangerous. And I haven’t had to threaten Maya’s life yet. So maybe we’re in better shape than I thought?

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116 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2011 12:34 am

    I had a time as a child when I wrote everything backwards and on its head. It was a mental game because regular writing was too boring already. So perhaps Maya is going through something similar, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of?

    Could you get the chalk off your shoes again?

    • September 23, 2011 12:55 pm

      My poor shoes…they are now a lovely shade of blue. 😦

  2. September 23, 2011 1:20 am

    When are you going to get your book published! It is going to be smashing, Ameena. I heart your posts. I see my future ( I have mentioned this a zillion times already) in your interactions with Maya.
    Children write, do stuff the way they please. It doesn’t mean, they do not know the ‘correct’ way of doing so. I remember being good at drawing but kind of gave up the day I got slapped for coloring my cat in parrot green. That was such a long time ago but I remember it clearly.
    Maya is smart, beautiful and intelligent. She sure knows what she is doing.

    • September 23, 2011 12:56 pm

      Thank you Anita! You are so very kind. I know that Maya can writer her numbers correctly because she does so at school so I wonder if she does it wrong on purpose? There is no other explanation!

  3. September 23, 2011 1:26 am

    🙂 She will be fine , My parents throuhgt i was Dumb i didnot speak much and now you can see on the posts I speak a LOTTTTTTTTTt 🙂

    so relax she will be fine.. moreover if she was like that the teachers in school or the care centre would have picked it up .. 🙂

    hope the shoes are fine now

    • September 23, 2011 12:56 pm

      You make a good point about the teacher noticing Bikram! Thanks for the reassurance.

  4. September 23, 2011 2:10 am

    Oh the thoughts we need to juggle in the head…and then to hear someone yell like that! YIKES Ameena… I can’t believe ‘she’ yelled that at a kid, and my kids call me a ‘witch’ for ‘mild’ thoughts as yours! Little do they know!
    Blue shoes? Sigh ….

    • September 23, 2011 12:59 pm

      I was really shocked that the mom would scream something like that across the park. I mean, we all think it in our minds…right? But to vocalize it at the top of our lungs? That takes guts.

  5. September 23, 2011 3:46 am

    Love those shoes, not such a flats person but I would wear those. Nothing like a mother saying something horrific to her child to make you feel better, right? Don’t sweat the numbers, not worth ruining your shoes over.

    • September 23, 2011 12:59 pm

      It absolutely makes me feel better to know there are moms out there who are crazier than me.

  6. September 23, 2011 3:52 am

    I see the drawn hopscotch on the sidewalks in my neighborhood all the time. First off, I think, “wow, I’m so glad kids still play that!” And then I see the numbers- rarely are they done correctly. It must be a rule we’re unaware of… :p

    • September 23, 2011 1:00 pm

      Maybe a little less hopscotch and a little more math is in order? Across the country?

  7. September 23, 2011 5:13 am

    Maya’s just a creative type. Graffiti is always done a little differently-it would be boring to chalk out the numbers the way they really are! Just my two cents. I hope the chalk came off because those are some nice shoes!

  8. September 23, 2011 5:16 am

    I am curious to hear what you think of heart of the matter?! If you like light chick-flick you should try reading- The Cinderella deal by Jennifer Crusie.

    • September 23, 2011 1:01 pm

      I’m only a few chapters into it and so far I think it’s entertaining…nothing special. More of a beach read?

      • bakebooks permalink
        September 25, 2011 3:57 pm

        I’ve heard a lot about that book but I found Giffin’s last book wasn’t as good as the Something Borrowed/Blue books.

        I love your observations about Maya – lol – but don’t worry! She’s a super smart girl. Look at her parents – take credit! She’ll be witty and tech-savvy when she grows up 🙂

  9. September 23, 2011 6:03 am

    Ameena! I almost cried I was laughing so hard over this one. My first concern was for the fact that there were only three squares and they weren’t spatially aligned correctly.

    I can’t wait until Maya is old enough to appreciate some of this stuff. When I look at some of the art “projects” that I did in school, it’s enough to send me to the floor in stitches.

    • September 23, 2011 1:01 pm

      I love that you use big words like “spatially aligned.” You are my vocabulary hero Kat.

  10. September 23, 2011 6:14 am

    Love the shoes. Having my kiddo with special needs has quickly gotten me over worrying what people think because not much he does is age appropriate. Not to say I don’t still have my moments where I feel hostile and want to punch anyone who looks at him funny.

    • September 23, 2011 1:02 pm

      Yes, only I am allowed to criticize and look at Maya funny…anyone else doing it is totally unacceptable.

  11. September 23, 2011 6:21 am

    I think the real lesson here is never use beautiful footwear to cover up potential embarrassing situations.

    Shoes > Judgment

    • September 23, 2011 1:02 pm

      Absolutely Jessica. I learned my lesson. The hard way.

  12. September 23, 2011 6:50 am

    I just want to say that I read your tags for this post, and they made me laugh out loud. Hilarious. 🙂

  13. September 23, 2011 7:38 am

    Ameena, if it makes you feel any better, I was born backwards and have been doing things that way ever since!! Maya will be fine. You are just TOO funny!

    • September 23, 2011 1:03 pm

      Really? You were born backwards? How is that possible?

  14. Erica B. permalink
    September 23, 2011 7:48 am

    OMG! Just found your blog – am ashamed to say where. Okay I will say it anyway – that mean and nasty site – getoffmyinternets.net. BUT your blog was under the forum post “Stay on my internets”. LOVE how honest you are. You are totally hilarious and I will continue to follow your blog.

    A side note – my 5 1/2 year old daughter refuses to write her name the correct way. She’s known how to write it since she was 3 but continues to write HAEL on all of her school papers instead of LEAH. I mean how much more effort does it take to write your name backwards!?! I’m not sure I could even write mine backwards without really having to think about it. She does it just to piss me off, I’m sure of this. 🙂

    • September 23, 2011 1:06 pm

      Thank you for the compliment Erica and for reading! I tried to visit getoffmyinternets.net but it gave me some weird error. I will definitely check it out again later…why have I never heard of this before? And I absolutely believe Maya messes up things on purpose just to piss me off. It’s the only way she can get me back for pissing her off I guess?

  15. September 23, 2011 8:01 am

    Dude, didn’t Da Vinci write backwards in his notebooks? Now go with that.

    You are winning if you have not threatened your child with their life. Or with I will whoop you a new one and then feigned innocence when the child asked you “A new one what?”

    • September 23, 2011 1:06 pm

      I haven’t threatened Maya with her life yet but I fear it’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of time…

  16. September 23, 2011 8:27 am

    A mother said that?!?! Wow, that’s just wrong- if she was in Sweden, they’d probably take her kids into welfare services
    On another note, I hate what chalk does to clothes- once I sat on a park bench that apparently had chalk residue and next thing I knew my Hudsons-clad butt was covered in pink and green powder. Ugh.

    • September 23, 2011 1:07 pm

      I’ve heard worse if you can believe it. Sit at the park one afternoon and you will too!

  17. September 23, 2011 8:51 am

    Maybe she did it for attention…and now she has a whole blog post of it! You are hilarious and I’m sure Maya is just fine. 🙂

    • September 23, 2011 1:08 pm

      Hmmmm…so when Maya realizes I blog about the things she does she might do things on purpose to be blogged about? I never thought of that….

  18. Tandra permalink
    September 23, 2011 9:05 am

    Keeping aside all the “serious stuff” discusses in this link, I loved the post. Don’t know for sure what I found more funny, Ameena trying to wipe off “those letters with that shoe” or Maya writing the alphabets backwards …Just FYI, my son is almost same age as Maya and he does write a bunch of stuff backwards at times too !!!!!!

    • September 23, 2011 1:09 pm

      Okay so it’s not just Maya? But why does she only do it sometimes? It just works my last nerve!! And thank you Tandra for the compliment. 🙂

  19. September 23, 2011 10:05 am

    my 5 yr old writes backwards too, even tho’ she is doing subtractions in her head. and she knows she does, for when she is trying to write she will write something in the air and ask me if she is doing it right:) so do not worry! Maya is one smart child already.

    Did u get the chalk off your shoes?

    • September 23, 2011 1:12 pm

      Not yet. The chalk is still there unfortunately. I’m thinking my shoes are going to require professional help?

  20. September 23, 2011 10:10 am

    girl, just by that 1 comment on my blog, you have me coming back to your blog. i’m hooked! i spent like 1 hour scoping out every single heading on your blog. yes, i’m into techie gadgets too.. i’m always on the internet doing something. i really question having kids, i think some people, such as myself, although i am maternal with friends and my nieces, i don’t wanna take care of another person. i love your writing style, your humor, your sense of self, your independence, and you aren’t scared to bare it all.
    seriously, if you are ever in the NYC area, i would love to meet up!!!

    • September 23, 2011 1:13 pm

      Thank you my friend for the very nice compliment! I think I’ll be in NYC for Thanksgiving again – I’d love to meet up with you!

  21. Cindy permalink
    September 23, 2011 10:40 am

    Right now JJ insists on wearing his shoes backwards.
    it drives his dad nuts.

    haha

    maybe she likes getting a rise out of you.
    maybe she’s more left brained or more right brained and her other brain sees the numbers better the other way

    maybe she is jut trying to gain some higher level thinking perspective.

    you are cracking me up. Enjoy your book and the fresh air !!!
    Happy Friday

    • September 23, 2011 1:14 pm

      How are backwards shoes even physically possible? And yes, Maya loves getting a rise out of me…I do believe it’s her daily goal to do so.

      • Cindy permalink
        September 24, 2011 9:07 pm

        We don’t understand the backwards shoe thing ourselves…but he likes it better than the normal way.

        He’s my son. That’s my only possible explanation!

        xoxoxoxo

  22. September 23, 2011 10:58 am

    As usual I giggled. I’m sure if we hung out I would spend a lot of time giggling. I just hope there would be no snorting because that would not be very fancy.

    My five year old brother taught me to read when I was 4. My daughter is 7 and never willingly picks up a book.

    • September 23, 2011 1:15 pm

      I hope we can meet up because a. that would be awesome, and b. that means I’d be in Paris again! Maybe next year?

  23. September 23, 2011 11:00 am

    How cute! But, I think what that mom yelled was a bit extreme. I mean, I’d think it but never say it out loud. Ha!

    • September 23, 2011 1:15 pm

      Oh yes…I think it all the time but it takes guts to vocalize such a thought!

  24. September 23, 2011 11:13 am

    such good shape! maya can totally learn to fix those numbers. at least she’s not throwing sand!!

    • September 24, 2011 9:13 am

      Good shape? Really? You are going to be a great mom!!

  25. September 23, 2011 11:20 am

    I know it takes more effort but next time you can try to erase the chalk with your sleeve. And then pray that it either comes out in the wash or the dry cleaner can take care of it.

  26. September 23, 2011 1:17 pm

    Basically I think kids sometimes just don’t care. They see the world in a million different colors than we do and it’s wonderful.

    They’re going to get so boxed in as they grow up, let’s let them live without thinking, color outside the lines, dance without music, and write backwards or sideways if they choose.

    Think about how many times she will write her numbers in the future, it will surely be ingrained eventually.

    • September 24, 2011 9:16 am

      I’m totally on board with her exploring her creativity but I just hope that Maya isn’t writing her numbers backwards when she’s 15!

  27. September 23, 2011 2:27 pm

    Everytime there are hopscotch squares on the sidewalk when Im running, I stop and hop through them. 🙂
    I wouldnt worry about Maya’s backwards numbers too much. For one, youre right, at least shes not dangerous. Second, Im 26 and I still write my 4’s wrong, and I turned out ok.

    • September 24, 2011 9:18 am

      So she might still write her numbers backward when she’s 26? 🙂 What does your mom think about that?

  28. September 23, 2011 3:43 pm

    LOL! I’d take a nice kid over a dangerous kid anyday. And what she doesn’t know wont hurt her, right?
    You need a glass of wine tonight!

    • September 24, 2011 9:18 am

      I just hope someone doesn’t make fun of her for it. Hopefully she’ll figure it out before other kids notice!

  29. September 23, 2011 4:50 pm

    Neh – she’s still learning. Plus, I rather have a sweet daughter then a menace!

  30. September 23, 2011 5:38 pm

    —Ameena,

    I love your posts & authentic voice. xx

    Omg, ” I’m going to make you sorry you were born.” I find this utterly appalling.

  31. September 23, 2011 6:52 pm

    There is nothing wrong with Maya, I am sure she did that on purpose …. If you feel ashamed, then I have to dig a hole to crawl in, I still get confuse with left and right when I give direction to places to my Quay Lo. He thinks I am dyslexic. Sorry about the blue shade on your shoe from Paris, good excuse to ask Ali to buy you a new one. LOL!

    • September 24, 2011 9:20 am

      I am terrible at directions! If someone tells me to go north I look around without the faintest idea which way north is…so I’m not pointing fingers on this one!

  32. September 24, 2011 12:19 am

    You know what I liked to do when I was Maya’s age? I had those dolls that you could feed and then they’d pee (like in a diaper). I found it too annoying to feed them with the bottle cause it took a long time, so i’d pull the heads off and pour the drink down their neck holes LOL
    And hey, I turned out OK… kind of 😀
    *kisses* HH

    • September 24, 2011 9:21 am

      I always wanted one of those dolls! But now that I have a real child I’m glad I didn’t have to clean up after a kid when I was a kid. 🙂

  33. September 24, 2011 3:55 am

    My mom still wonders “what are the neighboors going to think?” about some of my actions. But I do care what others think. It’s part of me about being a woman, being connected and wanting to “be good”….but really what is difficult to discern is whether I CARE more than THEY DO. and trust me.

    Fashionista! Super cool shoes at the park? Now, that’s a statement!

    • September 24, 2011 9:21 am

      My mom still wonders too. I guess a mom never quite gets past that?

  34. September 24, 2011 4:44 am

    In all seriousness, Karlie is also in first grade and writes somethings backwards too.

    Yikes @ the mom yelling that. It takes balls of steel to yell that in public, save that for your house lady 😉

    • September 24, 2011 9:22 am

      Exactly! Although I’m not sure even I could yell that at home. I can definitely think it though!

  35. September 24, 2011 6:30 am

    If it makes you feel better, I wrote my P’s backwards until second grade : )

    • September 24, 2011 6:30 am

      Oh, and yes, Rumi is amazing!

    • September 24, 2011 9:23 am

      Maya gets her “p’s” and “b’s” backward too. So maybe in a couple of years she’ll have figured it out?

  36. September 24, 2011 6:35 am

    You know, I think I wrote some of my letters and numbers backwards when I was that age too…and I turned out okay 🙂

  37. September 24, 2011 6:35 am

    Also: I am terrified of being that other mom. Yikes.

    • September 24, 2011 9:23 am

      Rest assured, you will NEVER be that other mom.

  38. caloricandcrazy permalink
    September 24, 2011 7:22 am

    Your poor shoes! ;(

    Maybe Maya was writing the numbers backwards on purpose? Maybe it is a way in which she is showing a passive stroke of her intelligence?

    • September 24, 2011 9:25 am

      I wish I could say with certainty she was writing them backward on purpose but I can only hope that’s the case!

  39. September 24, 2011 12:36 pm

    Bahahahah! My sister is left handed, and after 18 years my parents finally gave up trying to change her. LOL I am sure the backwards letter will go away soon ( i hope)

    • September 26, 2011 8:07 pm

      I remember my brother showing a tendency to be left handed and my parents put a stop to that. Stat!

  40. September 24, 2011 6:18 pm

    1) I used to write my name in stick figures. Each letter looked like a deformed stick figure. I tell you this to ease your worries. Maya’s backwards letters have nothing in me 🙂 and I turned out just fine!

    2) Seeing as you clearly have excellent taste in shoes (this I knew.) I say the next time you need an afternoon activity for Maya you show her all about online window shopping. I am in need of a navy blue heel. Wedding shoes! I am thinking peep-toe slingback… but I’m open to anything 🙂

    • September 26, 2011 8:07 pm

      I will keep my eye our Kristen…navy blue heels shouldn’t be hard to find!

  41. September 24, 2011 7:20 pm

    I’m sure Maya was just teasing you, to see if you’re paying attention 🙂
    She’s way too smart, she’s going to write a book someday you know. In the meantime I’m still waiting for yours to be published.

    Love the shoes, too bad now they’re in the different shade of colors.. hey.. this could be another reason to go back to Paris for another vacay & get another pair. Yay!

    • September 26, 2011 8:08 pm

      I’m still waiting for my book to get published too Lydia.:) You are the best.

  42. September 24, 2011 9:15 pm

    Maya simply wanted to show you mirrored imaging with the chalk. I’d consider her more intelligent if that’s the case. I understand her so well, obviously.

    • September 26, 2011 8:08 pm

      Well she has been obsessed with mirrors lately…

  43. September 25, 2011 7:04 am

    they say…don’t sweat the small stuff 🙂

    • September 26, 2011 8:09 pm

      I was born with a worrying gene…I panic about everything, including backwards letters.

  44. September 25, 2011 11:34 pm

    You are too cute and so is Maya!!! Your life and stories are always so real and fabulous, I love them…and you!!

    xxoo

  45. September 26, 2011 12:10 am

    This is so weird b/c K was drawing hopscotch tiles on our driveway yesterday and when she wrote some numbers backwards, dyslexia and more practicing immediately came into my mind as well. Then I remembered that everybody learns at their own rate and not to stress myself out too much. But maybe I should be a bit worried that not only does she write backwards, but she also writes upside down. Hmm…maybe I’ve passed on those teacher genes to her ;).

    • September 26, 2011 8:10 pm

      Being able to write backwards and upside down sort of makes me think she’s a genius! Who else can do something like that?

  46. September 26, 2011 9:08 am

    I think Maya’s just pushing your buttons. She’s so smart she’s already figured out that a public display of backwards numbers is a trigger for you. 🙂

  47. September 26, 2011 10:25 am

    What’s wrong with you? You think a 5 is backwards? Who says she was trying to make a #2?

    • September 26, 2011 8:12 pm

      A #5 is totally okay but then why does she think 5 comes after 1!?

  48. September 26, 2011 12:40 pm

    ahhhh she’ll get it – my little girl (she’s in 1st as well) still writes some of hers backwards too – maybe it’s something they just go through?? (I hope) I was worried too, but I think it will pass.

    • September 26, 2011 8:13 pm

      So this is common? Even in first grade? Thank you for sharing, I feel a bit better now!

  49. September 26, 2011 3:44 pm

    Whoa wait..you wrecked your shoes? I would have blamed it on the sand thrower.

    • September 26, 2011 8:13 pm

      My shoes have been saved! It took a shoe brush and some elbow grease but I’m happy to say they are nearly perfect again.

  50. September 26, 2011 5:59 pm

    I’m thinking your girl is pretty freaking talented. How many people can write backwards perfectly? I’d be proud. Lol….
    Very amusing post, had me giggling, and it was terribly hard to explain the story without sounding mean.

  51. September 26, 2011 6:56 pm

    Maya has an ability to mirror images. You both are too cute 😉

  52. September 26, 2011 8:14 pm

    Thank you Kiran!

  53. September 27, 2011 6:07 am

    That is a terrible thing to say to a child, terrible!! My esthetician always threatens to call the police on her children when they are misbehaving. I’ve said some questionable things – like when I’m trying to get Deaglan to eat dinner, I casually mention how I think Naveen might get bigger than him anyday because he’s eating his dinner. This can’t be good. I’m certain it will land one or both of them on a therapist’s couch. But threatening their lives? TERRIBLE!

    And I have a feeling Maya is brilliant!

    • September 27, 2011 8:45 am

      Oh I’m certain that Maya will be on a therapist’s couch at some point. It’s just inevitable so don’t feel bad Kim!

  54. September 30, 2011 5:33 am

    As a teacher I am going to say… it is completely normal for a a first grader to still reverse numbers and letters… some do it in the second grade (but less often). As long as she can correct it if it pointed out… NO WORRIES.

    • September 30, 2011 9:28 pm

      She can definitely correct it – so thank you for making me feel a million times better Vicky!

  55. October 7, 2011 9:01 pm

    I was going to comment the same as Vicky – I teach kindergarten and I always reassure parents at conferences that it is developmentally appropriate for kids to be writing letters backwards until 2nd grade. When kids look at things, like letters or numbers, they more often see the shape, not the direction. So officially don’t worry 🙂 Also, on the sidewalk chalk note – sometimes I’m fairly certain my co-worker brings her students to draw with sidewalk chalk on the edge of the playground so that the rest of us don’t sit on the edge of the sidewalk while the kids play… no one wants a chalky butt…

    • October 8, 2011 9:11 am

      Thank you Laura for making me feel so much better about this! I just reviewed Maya’s homework and she reversed a “3.” So frustrating!!

  56. May 18, 2012 2:39 pm

    Just read the comments & your replies along with the post.
    I don’t have a kid yet, may be that’s why I find it too funny & too cute that some kids want to do things backwards (Maya’s numbers, and the shoe comment, haha).
    And the link to Repetto shoes shows a 3-digit price, oh boy – you wore those to the park!

    • May 18, 2012 5:00 pm

      oops.

      … want to do things backwards *to annoy their parents* (Maya’s…..

    • May 20, 2012 8:19 am

      Yeah… I should never wear nice shoes to the park! I learned my lesson. 🙂

  57. May 31, 2012 10:47 pm

    I recommend Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for coaeodsrntiin as the next One Read book. It is a wonderfully written book about a part of our history that should not be forgotten.

    • June 1, 2012 8:42 am

      Thanks for the suggestion! I have heard great things about this book and I am definitely putting it on my list. 🙂

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