Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mark it Down!

Andrew and I  just finished our first chapter book.

The Chocolate Touch
It was slow going. He'd lose interest and we'd step away for weeks at a time. The way he poured over the minimal chapter head art was cute and funny. But he understood the story and it has been fun arguing whether someone could ever get sick of eating chocolate. Plus he was riveted with horror when (SPOILER) the mom gets turned into chocolate- so that made me feel good.

Monday, December 11, 2017

If you’re 29 Days early then you’re late

It is happening. I’m losing my mind. This has been slowly and insidiously working on me since the moment my precious son was born. In August.

Apparently, being born in August as a boy, especially one of smaller stature, is an unimaginable tragedy when it comes to school.

Ever since he was a tiny pup I always got strange flip comments about how “you can keep him home an extra year” when the topic of school would come up.  I always found this an annoyance and pretty ridiculous. By my math with the school entrance cut off as August 31st that put him well within the cutoff and, barring any developmental issues, it made no sense to plan on such a move before the child even had the chance to grow and learn anything.

Well, he’s grown and learned. And he is pretty great. He is sharp, a critical thinker and incredibly imaginative. His speech is clear and he has a diverse vocabulary. He has shown with his dinosaur phase that he can have focus but doesn’t get too intense. He makes friends, he is rude sometimes to some of them. He reveres his teachers and sometimes doesn’t give them the time of day. In other words…he seems right on target to me. He certainly has things to work on before September but that’s kind of the point of preschool, not to mention, the kid has parents who care. Oh and he continues to be quite small for age.

In September he started stand-alone preschool. Inexplicably, the school is divided into a 3-5 year old class and a “pre-k” with end of January as the cut-off for the division between 3-5 and pre-k. Andrew is in the 3-5 and we have noticed that his class skews more to the three year olds. This seemed to be setting expectations closer to the 3’s and the bigger issue to me was that his future elementary classmates were all in the other class. We called a meeting to discuss moving him into pre-k.
You can all imagine my face when the teacher (PT) starts the conversation by saying that they really think he should do an extra year of pre-k. When I asked her to elaborate her main points were that he is young and small and everyone else is doing it. After I recovered from my annoyance stroke I think I did a good job of not only debunking her but also of giving myself the reassurance that, despite the hesitation to initiate yet another childcare change, it needs to happen.
But as with everything parenting there is a ton of doubt so I will lay out for you/myself why red-shirting is a major issue and why I shouldn’t fall into it with my kid.
1.       It further widens the age and ability range for kindergarten which requires teachers to further expand their already strained focus. People are sending their kids to kindergarten at nearly 6.5 (this was a point that PT used to argue for red-shirting.) other people are sending their freshly turned 5 year olds to school as indicated by the cutoff. And if we all keep doing that doesn’t it just push the date up further and further? Until a kid born in July, then June and so on, are bullied into red-shirting? Someone has to be the youngest in school, it just is. If I got to pick the cut off would be June 1st, that way it gives people a few months to wrestle with the idea of their 5 year olds starting school and parental emotion can be taken out of the equation a bit.
2.       It is an option disproportionately unavailable to poor and working parents. Red shirting requires an extra year of child care and in a climate where that is unaffordable I think it is wrong to incentivize it. If anything we should get all kids into school sooner and let curriculum reflect that.   
3.       It is gaming the system. The talk used to be more about size….let your kid get bigger and better at things like sports. Now the conversation avoids that and pretends to focus on “maturity” because size makes it sound more explicitly like what it is, a way to game the system. But for public schools to thrive we need less of this than more. For my kid he will likely always be the smallest, treating that like it is a disability is not ok. If he was having motor skills issues and an OT thought a year would be helpful that’s one thing. A year for him to grow taller? Maybe we can just help our kids not be assholes to short kids? And I have a sinking suspicion that it starts with us parents (this mom at preschool drop-off, who I’d never spoken a single work to said, “He’s starting K next year? HE’S SO TINY” in front of the whole class.)
4.       That spread in ages? It perpetuates through school until you have high schoolers ranging from 13-19 years old.
5.       He is a normal, developing and thriving kid. Why would we make this kind of decision without there being a true developmental reason? He absolutely has things to work on to be ready and I guess this is where I get a bug in my shorts. That’s what I want from preschool. I want them to have the expectation of him that in the next 6-9 months he is making progress in the areas he needs to for school. I feel like these kids considered “young” are being written off. This idea that they have this luxury of an additional year so there’s no need to help them progress now. It is wrong and it is unfair. I want my kid to be asked to rise to the occasion and then evaluate where he struggles to do that.
The points that are bringing me down:
1.       Everyone is doing it. When PT said this to me my response was, “you have to be what you want to see.” But if we have a de facto cutoff date based on everyone red-shirting (except the poor and blissfully clueless) then isn’t that just the new cutoff date?
2.       I am finding as the start of real school is on the horizon that I am desperately wishing to pump the brakes. That parental emotion I spoke of above…turns out I’m swimming in it. I am so excited for him to continue to learn and grow but what about the parks we haven’t gotten to yet? Or the library trips or vacations or anything that being in real school conflicts with. It is a lot for me. BUT THAT IS ME NOT HIM. My mom is good at gently reminding me of this and I have to continue reminding myself.
3.       What if he really does need more time to get ready for school? Well, no brainer, if he genuinely needs that then we would make that decision. But to me he deserves the chance to get there before deciding he won’t get there in time.
One thing in all of this is that my confidence in Andrew in particular has never wavered. I don’t think I have blinders on to his flaws and weaknesses. But now to go find a preschool environment who shares our commitment to helping him grow. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Puffy heart

I’m having a head over heels for my kid kinda day.

Andrew is just growing up and it is cool and crazy.

We went on a preschool field trip together. It was to a “farm” (emphasis on the quotes) and I decided that M would go to daycare and it would be the two of us.

Well, this morning I set off the smoke detectors while trying to make us popcorn to take as a snack. They both did amazing and then I noticed that he put away the broom and pole I had to use to turn it off when the noise and chaos was over.

Then we had a great time at the field trip. I loved watching him with his little friends and it made me so happy that he is still little enough to enjoy me being a part of his posse.

We then went to lunch with my mom and he sat and colored while she and I chatted about boring stuff.

Then he and I attempted to go shopping for out adopt a family for USVI relief. And he sorta got it. He suggested getting them pumice stones but....

After dinner we went to the elementary school and he scaled the big play structure like it was nothing.

Finally while I was getting M into bed he colored. But I loved watching him trying to copy the colors to match the sheet to a sticker he had.

He’s cool. He’s big. He has his moments- even today we didn’t get to make the crafts he wanted because he got himself into trouble. But man, I was having a day of such deep appreciation for the kid he is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 13, 2017

Things I've learned this year

It's my birthday on Monday.
Here's what I've learned this year:
1) I am a stupid idiot.
This time last year I was so hopeful and excited. Like a big stupid idiot. The events of the past year have shown me how idiotically blind I've been to the depth and depravity of the ills of this country and the world. I am humbled and cowed by my idiocy.

2) How to fry a dippy egg.

So, I guess this year has been a mixed bag.

Pictures of a few of the people who've been the highlights of my year.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

I wish I didn't hate religion

Because I’d LOVE to belong to a church.

Last weekend the whole family volunteered at our neighborhood elementary day for a big city-wide school clean-up day. It was open to the public but was organized by a religious group.
We had a great time. It was fun being in an elementary school- for me and Michael out of nostalgia and interested in the ways things have changed and for the kids because they’d never been in big kid school before.
We were as helpful as we could be. Andrew and Michael sharpened pencils, Miranda and I wiped desks and fetched some supplies. Michael and I helped a bewildering collating project and the kids played in the gym/picked up trash.

I LOVE a volunteer group. People are generally in such good moods and willing to do things they aren’t great at or don’t take the most specialized skills. I get to see how different organizations run and how the slack is picked up by a helping hand. Everyone is usually really friendly and there are typically donuts.

I wish religion wasn’t so demonstrably terrible and based on worshipping an incredibly cruel or at least indifferent being who is all knowing enough not to care about miniscule things like you.

The opposite of the terrible things people do in the name of religion are the wonderful things people do in name of religion. Building orphanages, opening shelters, manning soup kitchens. I adore this about humanity. The snag is that I hate that people need God as the motivator and justification. Or worse, that recipients are pressured to believe to receive. That grosses me out in so many ways.
In my humble opinion, if there is a just and caring god then we should all be able to sit back and enjoy. It is because we are all humans and subject to the hardships and opportunities that come with this physical world that we should be helping one another out.

I know what I’ll do. I’ll start a secular organization dedicated to volunteerism alone. Since it’ll take a lot of my time I might ask people to give money to help. And to keep us on the same page, ideologically, I’ll probably give a talk once a month or once a week or so. And since it might be hard for people to keep that message in their heads I’ll write a pamphlet or book of some sort that can be used as reference.

PS we were ready to head after the break for a group picture. Miranda refused to be in the group shot and stood grumpily out of frame 😂😂😂 I think she was hoping for a solo shoot.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

It goes to Intent

Alternative titles:
Are you fucking serious right now?
I'm raising a thug
Why we can't have nice things
Kids are the Worst
Serenity now

I don't even know what to say about this.

Let's set the scene.
Andrew was coming off a phenomenal weekend.

There is a reason they are so cute.

On Saturday morning we had a birthday party for a friend's daughter who turned three. That party was the first time I clearly saw how some of the HARD work that had been three was starting to come together for Andrew. For whatever reason stealing was rampant at this party. Swift and at every corner. And kids (younger) kept stealing stuff (food, balls, coloring supplies) from Andrew. Adults dealt with it but his reaction was exactly what we've been trying to work on. He was rightfully pissed but held it together so beautifully and he never retaliated and as far as I could tell was never the thief. He had a lot of fun despite the injustices.
Three has been rough. He is such a mix of know it all/bossypants and desperately seeking closeness to us as he realizes how confusing the world is. Both of those are cute and charming in their own way but together it is dizzying and frustrating for us.

But this weekend it was clicking! We had a sleepover Saturday/Sunday and he was a fun and gracious host. He was excited to have her and shared his stuff and us so well.

So this morning.
I had a pretty bad headache but otherwise our morning was clicking along. When I drive them to daycare I get Andrew out first and then we walk to Miranda's side to get her out. He keeps a hand on the car while I unbuckle Miranda and then we hold hands through the parking lot. EVERY DAY.

Today I look down and there is a circle drawn with a rock on our car*. I was SEETHING with rage. My kid somehow managed to key my car in the five seconds it takes to extract his sister. Seriously.

Immediately the two voices in my head were a competition between LIVID and a reasonable jerk who kept reminding me that to him the infraction does not involve a monetary or long term issue. I saw him seeing how upset I was, apologizing for "not listening" and being genuinely contrite. But I was losing my mind inside.

Drop off was curt. And likely the blood pressure spike shifted my headache into a full blown, nausea and everything migraine.

When I picked him up we had a talk about things that an apology can't fix. I'm sure we all had this conversation around something glass and precious of our parents that we broke. Mine was when I cut up one of my mom's favorite photos for a collage. She was so mad and I didn't get it- I was making something for her.

In that respect I guess I should be glad that this was not something irreplaceable. I attempted a scratch buffing treatment that possibly helped.

My other unreasonable reaction was/is something like shame. Like, WTF, is my kid a vandal? Is this where his life of crime begins? Where did we go wrong. Which is dumb because he doesn't have any context for body damage and BBV.

Eventually my migraine subsided and I got to pick the kids up early for a dr appointment for Miranda. After that we went to the park. Andrew has spent the evening being his usual self with what seems like a few extra random kisses and snuggles.

I'm proud of myself for my outward reaction and disappointed with myself for my inner one (all of the alternative titles above). I sort of feel like we've leveled up in parenting and I have not found any cheat codes.

Sorry child #2. I'm onto the "kill em with cuteness" plan. But good effort.

*the O was about 6" long. it was not our brand new car and it is a surface scratch which can probably be dealt with pretty easily. BUT STILL
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Monday, May 8, 2017


Things are improving (at a snails pace) in the getting Andrew to not be afraid of his room front.
The process has involved more of his sleeping in our room then his entire life to this point combined.

He comes in and sleeps in a little cot near our bed.

If I'm playing the glad game I'd call out this:

The night Andrew was born (wee morning I should say) when we all finally were alone and turned out the lights, hours old Andrew was in a newborn sleepy fog, Michael was in an exhaustion coma and I was wide awake on adrenaline and hormones.

The two of them on either side of me.

I just sat there looking at them. My family. By choice, by luck, by miracle. It was pretty amazing.

And tonight and a few times in the past weeks I've found myself in the same position. And it is still pretty amazing.

Oh- and now flanked with this silly girl in the next room. So bizarre and amazing.

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