connecting four




The girls and I were settling in at home after school one day last week. As Brooke headed off to the big table in the den to color and Katie foraged in the fridge for a snack, I went through their folders. I scanned the notices and found the notes from Brooke’s aide. I read about writer’s workshop and recess and who she had engaged to play with throughout the day. She’d had her Social Pragmatics class with three other kids, which sounded like a success. Brooke’s two Social Prags classes are arguably the most important parts of her week. The curriculum sheet said they were currently working on sharing, cooperative play, and complimenting friends.

Behind all the official stuff, I found an adorable sheet of paper. It was shaped like a star and had cartoon eyes, hands on ‘hips’ and a big, silly, red-tongued grin. On it, in clear print, were the words, “Brooke, you did a great job playing Connect Four,” signed (with a smiley face) by Ms B, the Social Prags teacher.

It’s my understanding that they were using a modified version of Connect Four as an exercise in turn taking, sharing, and cooperative play. They also used the process as an opportunity to practice their interactions and to talk about ‘expected’ vs. ‘unexpected’ behaviors. (i.e. Licking the checker while you wait – unexpected. Asking a friend to hand you a checker – EXPECTED! Yeah!)

Of course I made a big fuss over the note. I brought it into the den where Brooke was now surrounded by magic markers and we read it together. I was beaming. My kid’s playing Connect Four! Ok, so it’s modified, but so what?  She’s playing a game WITH OTHER KIDS – something that seemed outright impossible two years ago. The fact that there are three other kids did not escape me. Connecting four.

Katie wandered in from the kitchen and read over over my shoulder. “They’re playing Connect Four?” she asked. By now we’d lost Brooke into her art. She was intently drawing the full cast of JoJo’s Circus (in Halloween costumes).

Katie, however, was now fully engaged. She started in, a mile a minute.

“Mama, you should see Connect Four in my classroom. Holy Moly. The kids ALL gather around whoever’s playing and they yell and scream and root for them and it gets reeeeeeeeally loud and crazy and you can’t concentrate at all anymore and everyone crowds in on you and Ick! Mama, I played it once but I’d NEVER want to do it again. It was awful.”

I looked at Brooke, concentrating every fiber of her being on coloring in Skeebo (dressed up as a bear). How could she ever  … ? How would she ever … ?

Katie blissfully stopped talking for a second as she followed my gaze to her sister. She scrunched her nose and nonchalantly added, “Brooke would HATE playing Connect Four in second grade.”

Yeah, I got that, Kate. But thanks.

Have you ever heard Sesame Street’s Baby Bear sing his own version of The bear went over the mountain? In his wittle baby voice, he sings:


“The bear went over the mountain

The bear went over the mountain.

The bear went over the mountain,

To see what he could see.

The bear went over the mountain

The bear went over the mountain.

The bear went over the mountain,

And what do you think he saw?

He saw another mountain.

He saw another mountain.

He saw another mountain,

So what do you think he did?

The bear went over the mountain

The bear went over the mountain.

The bear went over the mountain,

To see what he could see.”

And so it is. Sometimes, the top of one mountain just means you can see the others more clearly. But that’s all right. We’ve got our climbing gear in order.

10 thoughts on “connecting four

  1. Brooke’s second grade experience will not be Katie’s second grade experience. But you are right. Mountain, after mountain, after mountain, waiting with baited breath in between.

    She’s doing great RIGHT NOW sweets. On this mountain. Put that in your mouth and savor it. Let me know when you see the next REAL mountain.

    If you need, I’ll make you a mock newspaper. Brooke Rocks Connect Four.


  2. Yes, what the others said. Enjoy today’s victories (as I know you do) and trust that Brooke will be connecting even more than four in time.

    I had to laugh at the checker licking. Rhema loves Connect Four… well, she loves stuffing the checkers in her pants. When she comes home, I take her to the bathroom and we always find checkers in her underwear.

  3. Yes – the “Connect” Four pun was not lost on me.

    This is the thing: She MAY play it. She may not. Who knows?

    She may hate Connect Four by that time. I’m not sure that Connect Four is the be-all end-all to all developmental milestones. The connection, however? You can be sure that Brooke will make up her own games – or simply adapt them to her own unique style.

    Hell. She already is.

    She does feel, after all, “like Brooke”, and that, my dear, is what makes her absolutely perfect.

  4. This story speaks so clearly to me. With every success, it’s easy to see the future struggles. I guess awareness and appreciation of both are important to the progress.

    Your writing continues to inspire me!

  5. Yes, what Carrie said…she’s CONNECTING! One mountain at a time, mama. One mountain at a time. Even Edmund Hillary only climbed one at a time, you know?

  6. Aren’t those moments where they do the things you could never, ever imagine just the richest! We’re the lucky ones who get to experience those moments…

    Keep climbing…

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