Wednesday, May 15, 2013
In the name of all that is good and holy...... I have a newfound respect and admiration for preschool teachers, especially those honored to have my son in their class. That must be the longest 2.5 hours of their day. Don't get me wrong. He loves preschool. He runs out the door when it is time to saddle up and buckle up. But, a whole classroom of 4-5 year olds at once? First, they scatter like cockroaches. It's like trying to herd cats. They arrive like they are storming the beaches of Normandy. They descend on the smiling teachers en masse. They are bursting with all sorts of random news to share - anything from pooping on the potty to fighting with older sister. We know there are no secrets from the teachers. I can tell by their sympathetic smiles (smirks) when I am brave enough to enter the classroom. I have no idea how they corral those kids into submission but they do. The kids take off and hang up their coats. They pot their backpacks on the assigned hooks and pull out their folders. I am happy of my kid takes off his shoes and does NOT throw them at his sister. Then they congregate on the "circle". Putting international diplomacy to shame, the teacher referees between Cole and Christian about who gets to sit on the "C". They play games, sing songs, play outside, have snack, do crafts and actual work. Somehow my kid has learned how to spell his name, learn his phone number and do simple math. I am happy I got him to start flushing the potty. Maybe I need to "aim" higher. The kids take turns having "jobs". These are powerful positions that come with great responsibility - calendar, snack helper, line leader, and caboose. These kids become drunk with power and wield their lofty titles with the smugness of Napoleon. Visiting the classroom is not for the feint of heart. When you enter, you are besieged by small people grabbing at you and climbing on you. They will not all be related to you. They will treat you like a visiting royal dignitary. You are offered a chair, a coveted spot on the circle, a snack, etc. They try to bribe you with books and puzzles. You are the blood in the water and they are hungry sharks. The teachers need the diplomacy skills and patience of the Pope and Mother Theresa. These kids have no boundaries. They share anything and everything. They tell you the most intimate details of their home life. I sit there paralyzed with fear because my son loves to over-share our dirty laundry. His friends know more about me than my own husband, probably. Their teachers have to referee every argument, sooth hurt feelings, heal real and imaginary boo-boos. They do it with joy and an amazing amount of patience and grace. After a visit, I come home and thank God Almighty that I survived. They take a brief lunch break and do it all again with a new batch of eager beavers.
It seemed like a good idea to sign Christian up for T-Ball. Now he is running around swinging an aluminum bat like a cave man. He was so excited for his first practice when we headed out to the field. Here is out it went: "Grab your mitt, Buddy. Why? So you can catch the ball. Wait, they are going to throw it AT me? Yes, just like Sara's games. I'll just tell them to throw it at someone else." His coach has his work cut out for him. First, we had to corral 12 4-5 year old boys into a line. Fundamentals came next. We started with a breakdown of first, second, third base and home plate. They scattered like feathers in the wind. Loud ones. Catching and throwing will take a while to master, I am guessing. Batting involved much spinning and falling down. Some kids ran from first to third base. Cutting out the middle man, I guess. One kid ran to first and back to home plate. My kid ran to first and kept going in a straight line. We are going to need a giant STOP sign like Forrest Gump. I have enormous sympathy for the coaches. They have their work cut out for them. They have to get the kids to sit still, listen , wait their turn and follow multiple commands. The kids are learning how (when and where) to throw the ball. They are practicing how (when and where) to swing the bat. They are learning when and where to run. And stop. They don't even try to catch the ball. It is way more fun to chase after it with everyone else on your team. They swarm that little ball like locusts. It takes 2-3 throws to get it to it's destination. Or anywhere near it. All vital parts of baseball but Herculean skills to master for 4 and 5 year olds hyped up on adrenaline. His favorite things about baseball are the following: Peeing on a grassy hill. Waving to his friend, Owen from first base. Or the outfield. Or anywhere, really. His "creepy" jersey - (very nice Radiology practice is sponsoring the team so the shirts have skulls with baseball eyes). Snack time, depending on the snack. He has a picky palete, I guess. His way of keeping score is......unique. All the kids bat and run to each base every time another player hits. So, in Christian's brain this means everyone gets a home run. And, there is a LOT of crying in baseball. Sorry, Tom Hanks. They cry when it is not their turn to bat, miss the ball or get told to stop picking flowers in the outfield. Why is there an outfield in T-ball??? It's going to be a long and entertaining summer. Play ball!!!
Thursday, May 2, 2013
We are attending a family wedding in North Carolina. This is a very big deal for everyone. We get to fly on a "real" airplane. And, most importantly, we get to see family we have not seen in a long time. In fact, it will be the first time the whole family on Paul's side will be together in 13 years. The packing and preparation for the whole trek is making me think it would be easier and more efficient to just MOVE to North Carolina. Christian and Sara are in the wedding party. This is a dream come true for Sara. She has been begging all our friends and family to get married so she can be in a wedding, wear a fancy dress, dance and eat fancy cake. Christian's role is to "supervise" the ring bearer down the aisle. I can already picture the America's Funniest Home Videos clip now. First, we went dress shopping. Then came dress alterations. Then came suit shopping for a 4 year old. We decided to leave him out of the whole selection process and treated him like a mannequin. His suit had to be altered. This was quite a confusing process for him. "Why I wear a daddy suit? Am I going to Daddy work? Am I getting married? Is she going to give my pants back to me?" Now comes packing. It would be easier to list what I am NOT bringing. Packing for 1 woman and 2 kids is daunting. Too many shoes, shorts, socks, jammies, shirts, medicine, underwear, plane activities, snacks, etc. We could be gone for a month or a weekend. Luckily, Paul is driving to the wedding with his mom so we can load up the family truckster. I am flying with the kids because he suffered through a drive to Disney with me riding shotgun and vowed to never drive more than 3.5 hours with me again. Smart man. Sara has her own backpack full of supplies for the 2 hour plane ride - homework, books, drawing tools, and her Ipod. She keeps packing, unpacking and repacking. She assures me there is a method to her madness. Christian and I are sharing a backpack. He keeps putting "important" things in it. I keep taking them out. I am amazed at the number of toys, games, etc. that he "cannot" live without. Airport security is going to have a good chuckle over the contents of my backpack. Christian wanted his baseball bat, glove and helmet, snow pants (really? It's May in North Carolina). His other essential items include but are not limited to - a deck of playing cards, 2 plastic dinosaurs, 1 plastic superheroes, 3 crayons, no paper, toddler scissors, dried out play dough, whack-a-mole, just to name a few. My packing essentials? Earplugs. I have been reassuring Christian that, yes, the pilot knows how to get to North Carolina. NO, we won't crash into any clouds. Yes, he can wave to God if he seems him in the sky. If God is watching, please help me out. I will outnumbered. I am afraid the kids will stage a coup and end up flying the plane.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Sara is turning 9. She is counting down the days, hours and minutes. She is growing up. She is spreading her wings. She is developing her own social life. She lives for sleepovers where they stay up way too late and giggle all night. When she asks questions, I find I can explain in more detail. Her questions are more perceptive and thoughtful. I can also explain that some things are just too grown up and none of her business. Over the last 9 years, I have methodically charted and recorded each milestone. I know the dates of her first smile, tooth, doctor visit, even her first haircut. I know when she rolled over, sat up, said a word, walked and slept through the night. I have meticulously recorded each stage of her young life. But, it is impossible to pinpoint the bigger milestones. How do we mark when she first learned how to make a friend? How to soothe herself? How to keep trying when faced with something new? She is smart, funny, perceptive, thoughtful and independent. She is still my little girl. She loves to snuggle and cuddle. Most of the time, she acts like a little teenager. She is obsessed with music, dancing and fashion. But when she snuggles up next to me, I think back over the last 9 years. My arms still hold her. My eyes still watch over her. My ears still listen for her laughter and tears. She has survived bullying and come out stronger and more compassionate. She has survived moving away from her friends and family. She is learning to think and do more for herself. She is learning to listen better. She is learning that responsibility and independence are earned over and over. She is discovering that trust and respect are vital to the person she wants to become. She needs to earn and give respect in equal parts to everyone around her. I have changed over the last 9 years of being a mother. I have survived illness, shots, temper tantrums, bad dreams, potty training, first days of school and 2 very frightening trips to the E.R. I worry about different things. I don't worry less. Somethings are bigger. Some not so big. I am learning to be flexible on some matters. I still worry about what kind of people they will become. I have learned that they see and hear way more than I do. I learned I am a stronger mother than I ever thought. I might even be a pretty good one. She is becoming a whole, separate person with needs and wants. She is coming to us less and less about the little things. She is learning what is important and what can be ignored. She is figuring out more and more on her own. She is becoming a person figuring out her place in the world. I am enjoying conversations with her on a whole new level. She is interested in everything. She has an amazing perspective on the world. She eagerly embraces new challenges. She is always up for an adventure. She is willing to try, fail and learn. She is not afraid of what people think. She knows who she is. She always wants to learn and do more. With each milestone, she is growing into an amazing young lady. But, she will always be my baby.
I am always unhappy with my hair, makeup, skin, my overall body. I wish I had prettier hair that did what I wanted it to do. I wish my skin was even and flawless. I wish I was thinner. I wish..... I want..... I know that who I am on the inside is what really matters. But, wouldn't it be great if my exterior was as fabulous as my interior? And if my posterior was (a lot) smaller? I am careful not to put myself down in front of my kids, though. I want to raise self-confident, happy children. My self criticism is (mostly) internal. But it is always there, a running negative commentary about how I don't measure up to the lady next to me. I am jealous of people who are thinner. I would love to have long, flowing hair, or even short, sassy hair. I wish I looked fabulous without makeup. I wish I had more stylish clothes. I wish I could wear fabulous boots all day without hobbling or tripping. Well, apparently not everyone finds me to be lacking in the same self-deprecating way I do. Yesterday, Sara and I were washing our hands in a public restroom and she told me my hair looked really pretty. I stopped in my tracks. Really? I hadn't even washed it, much less styled it. I looked in the mirror again. I saw a frumpy, overweight mom in a faded T-shirt and baggy jeans. But my daughter saw a beautiful woman. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. To my husband and kids, I am beautiful. I felt beautiful all day. Sara sees the best in everyone she meets. She always sees the positive in people. I need to look at myself more through my daughter's eyes. Beauty comes in all sizes, forms and shapes. Beauty is all around us. If we choose to look for it.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I am all for raising independent and self-sufficient children. I am giving our 4 year old more responsibilities. I figure, if he has jobs at school, then he can earn his keep at home. He has chores and jobs. He has to set and clear the table. He has to clean up his toys, put his dirty clothes in the laundry and put his clean ones in the proper drawers. He even helps make his own lunch sometimes. He can get things out of the cupboard and fridge to help make lunch and dinner. He likes to make his own sandwich. He makes a mean ham and cheese sandwich. Here is the recipe - 2 hams, 2 breads, and 1 cheese. Lay them out, pile them up and smoosh them together then eat. I did not realize how bound and determined he was to make lunch today. I walked into the kitchen to find the refrigerator door open. Not unusual. I thought he was getting the bread, ham and cheese. But, I noticed I did not see his little feet under the door. He was IN the fridge digging in the back to find all the ingredients for his lunch. Guess he was really, really hungry. I pulled him out of the fridge and explained that maybe I should help get the hard to reach stuff. He proudly suggested he use a chair next time. What can I say? The kid is a real problem solver. So, we have 2 new rules in our house. One, no climbing in the fridge. Two, if you cannot reach it with your feet firmly on the floor, ask a grownup for help. Each day brings new challenges. And new rules.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Here is Sara's list of approved activities for a sleepover. A girl must be prepared at all times. 1. Make pizzas. 2. Chocolate fudge cake 3. Alvin and the Chipmunks Squeakuel with popcorn 4. Dance party! 5. Fun time 6. Talent show 7. Stargaze outside (with iPhone). 8. Bed 9. Girl party (at midnight) 10. Wake up (at 8:00) 11. Breakfast (pancakes) 12. Paint nails To all interested and potential parties - she can be packed and ready to invade your home in less than 10 minutes. Her luggage will include a sleeping bag, a pillow, assorted stuffed animals, multiple costume changes (enough to last a week), books, toys, and games. Her costume and wardrobe changes will take into consideration any all climate changes, any possible events and a few backups for emergencies. But, you must provide all the food and activities. She is just the cruise director. Activities and food can be added but not subtracted. She is willing to negotiate (within reason). Pretty ambitious for a girl who falls asleep at 7:30 p.m.