One Day At a Time (#611)
The Translator (#613)

Time Off (#612)

I have been feeling guilty-----because Charlie hasn't practised the piano since Monday. He has been spending his days with my parents (aquarium yesterday, train into New York today) while having the week off from school, and I have been spending extra time at work doing several small but suddenly urgent tasks that have piled up on both my desk and in the inbox of my email.

Of course, Charlie has had a break off from other things as well such as bike-riding (it's all snow melting into slush and then freezing into ice overnight out there)---but he only has to hoist himself up on his bike and, as I watch, he seems instantly to remember how to balance himself and pedal. I think I can trust that his fingers will not forget how to play Ode to Joy and the spinning song.

When Charlie was younger---and doing intensive ABA---I used to worry about him having "time off" during holidays and late in August when everyone seemed to be on vacation. Would he still remember the skills---the numbers, the receptive language programs, building with blocks---that we had taught him so painstakingly, session by session? And indeed, sometimes it did seem that he did forget things and we were often in a pattern of teach-learn-break-forget, teach-learn-break-forget, teach-learn-break...... It was the same fear that used to drive me to do "some Latin and Greek" everyday when I was in high school, lest I forget.

I don't remember when I stopped that every day study; I do know that I have had long periods of not looking at any Greek or Latin (such as, when Charlie was 4 until he was almost 8) and if you asked to me to teach a Latin class right now, I would be quite ready.

And I suspect that is how easily Charlie will resume playing the piano, and riding his bike (and, come June, swimming in the ocean waves).

Time off is time well spent, too.



Yes, the forgetting of acquired skills... maddening, mystifying, terrifying. It's like you are rolling a snowball from just a few flakes. For the longest time, nothing sticks together and you have this little lump that barely keeps its core. And then... it grows... and as your snowball continues to grow upon itself, you can hardly believe that it wasn't always this beautiful white sphere.

Kristina Chew

Steve, that's an amazing, and beautiful, metaphor, for how our kids learn. Thank you.


The value of time-off is all too often forgotten these days. Glad you all had a chance to enjoy it.

chris d

Getting him back to practice shouldn't be hard if he LIKES it.

We've had a horrible time w/piano practice--I cannot begin to describe it.

Just when I thought, "That's it. Not one more fight," he goes and performs in the talent show at school. Unbelievable is not a strong enough word.

Glad he had some time off, though. You're blessed to have family close.

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