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Run, Boo, Run!

We signed the Boo up for a series of kids’ have fun/be healthy races, and the first one was two weeks ago. Friends, that one race alone was worth the entire registration fee, because little kids running equals Super Hilarious Fun Times. 

It’s a very sweet organization, staffed by very sweet college students. Prior to the race, the kids are split into their age groups and go with a set of coaches for warm-ups. We walked the Boo over and he said goodbye to us happily — a positive side effect of having a month of kindergarten under his belt, perhaps. 

From afar, we could see him doing what he was told, or trying to — we haven’t taught him how to do jumping jacks, so that was giggle-inducing. Red light/green light was no problem, though.  He spent some time holding the hand of one of the female coaches, and soon it was time to line up for his age group’s race. 

A few younger groups ran before the Boo’s group, and again, super entertaining. If you’ve never seen three-year-olds running a race, you haven’t lived. Or laughed. 

The distance for the Boo’s age group is a quarter of a mile, which turns out to be once around the soccer field, plus a tiny bit more. He lined up with the other boys (girls run separately) and was looking off to the side somewhere when they said, “ready set go!” so he got a late start. We think he was expecting them to say “on your marks, get set, go” like we do at home, but it’s also possible he was just spacing out because a) late afternooon goofiness, and b) he’s kind of distractable. 

He smiled and waved at us going into the first turn. He seemed to be flagging about halfway through, but a coach running with the stragglers (of which he was one) encouraged him and he kept plugging along. 

He went off-course coming into the home stretch. 

He finished second from last. 

He was beaming after the race and said he had a lot of fun. 

Mission accomplished. 

You started kindergarten. 

You enjoyed the poem and magic sleep confetti the teacher sent home the day before school started, but asked if it would really help you sleep or it was “just silly.” (You put a few pieces under your pillow anyway.) Mama said we’d have to see in the morning, and then put some under her pillow too. She woke up at 3. You slept like a champ. 

You said you were nervous when Mama asked how you were feeling at breakfast. When she asked what you were nervous about, you expressed concern about how soon you would get to visit the playground. Mama told you to ask your teacher. 

You also said, a bit later, that you were worried you would miss Mama and would cry. Mama told you it’s fine to miss her, and fine to cry. Then she said she would miss you too, and even if it was a tough day, she knew you could do it. 

You were distressed that Daddy couldn’t walk in with us (he had to park the car super far away). But Mama convinced you to go in without him by promising that he would catch up with us. 

You put your lunch in your cubby, found your name tag on one of the tables, put it on, and sat down. 

You were so involved in chatting with a classmate that you didn’t notice daddy come in. 

You were happy to do the special kindergarten goodbye with Mama, (three hugs, three double high fives, “Let’s do this!” and “I love you! Bye!”) You did not get upset when she walked out. 

You said you had a “medium-ish good” day at pickup time. This was due to some kind of misunderstanding about washing your hands at lunchtime. Later you upgraded the day to “great.”

You said everyone was really nice, and that you made a best friend. 

You wanted to play on the big kids playground after school, so we did that, and then you ate voraciously in the car on the way home. 

You were pretty goofy between suppertime and bedtime, but nothing out of the ordinary. 

You started kindergarten, and we are very proud of you. 

Kindergarten. It’s coming. Less than two weeks from today in fact, in the middle of August, because that’s how they roll where we live. The start of school feels like an overlord, dictating much of what we do during the last few weeks of unstructured time. There are supplies to buy and preschool buddies to meet up with a few more times and fun stuff to do to distract my kid from the pain of what’s coming. Herewith, ten snapshots of living with the Start of School Overlord, because I tried and tried to come up with some clever metaphor for how these weeks are going and feeling, and it just didn’t work.

1. The Boo has been to his new school half a dozen times, and I’ve told him as much as I can about what to expect. But still, he is afraid. He keeps saying he doesn’t want to go because he wants to stay with me. Then the other day he put a twist on it, declaring tearfully that he wants me to stay with him at school all day.

2. I took him to pick out a new backpack because his preschool one is too small to fit a file folder — oh my God do kindergarteners do homework?! Anyway. He was interested in anything but the backpacks, unresponsive when I asked if he liked this one or that one. He’s in denial, I thought, and I patiently put a couple of reasonable choices right smack in front of him. He chose one with outer space stuff all over it. Inside, on the part that will rest on his back, it says “I am invincible.”

3. I keep thinking about the sand at the Boo’s preschool. Sand in a massive area on the playground, sand in small boxes on the play terrace off the classrooms. Sand that would not stop coming out of his shoes no matter how viciously I smacked them on the blacktop. It blanketed the carpet in my car on the many days I forgot to dump it out of his shoes before he got in. Even when I did dump it out, it would fall out of his socks and drop from between his toes as he gleefully cleaned them on the way home, giggling and tickling his own feet. It was everywhere, it drove me nuts, and midway through his final year at the school, I began to realize how soon I’d be free of The Sand. There is no sand at his kindergarten. And then I realized there will probably always be sand in the carpet of my car, so part of his preschool will be with us as long as we have this car. And then I started crying.

4. Ugh, my dreams, all variations on the theme of not being able to find or help my kid. Sometimes I can see him, sometimes not, but I’m trying to get to him, and failing. Once I dreamed that I took him to one of my college classes with me but didn’t bring anything for him to do or eat. Thanks, subconscious, for the subtle hint!

5. I asked the Boo about a month ago if he wanted to go shopping for a special outfit for the first day of school. He said, “Why would I want to do that?”

6. One day at a park the mother of a toddler asked me, “What’s it like getting ready for Kindergarten?” and I just started laughing.

7. The Boo has regressed a bit, mostly in terms of how he handles being upset and being told no. One day he screamed at me because I went up the basement steps too far in front of him. Yikes, I thought, is my kid possessed? Around that time a Facebook friend posted an article on ways redirect and defuse temper tantrums in three- and four-year-olds, and I’ve been using the techniques with some success. And sometimes I just have to let him spin out for a while. It’s exhausting.

8. We met one of the kindergarten teachers at the school during a play date event. Just after we introduced ourselves, the Boo was hit on the head by a water bottle being tossed around by a couple of older kids. The teacher calmly but firmly told them to cut it out. Later when I asked the Boo what he thought of the teacher he said, “She’s nice! She was even nice when she was telling those kids to stop throwing the bottle!”

9. The Boo knows about homeschooling and he’s pretty sure he wants to be an engineer. The other day he asked me, “Can I do homeschooling and still be an engineer or will I still have to go to college?”

10. Yesterday afternoon, after we ran through our Kindergarten goodbye ritual, the Boo asked me to pretend to be all his teachers in turn. He got the list of teachers we keep on the fridge and I went into the closet to transform into each one. I did a one-minute mock gym, art, music and Spanish class, then turned back into myself and said, “How was your day?” “Good!” he said. 

My Little Brony

There we were at an awesome birthday party with the World’s Best Balloon Twister, and the Boo was completely uninterested in the guy’s insane skills.  

Me: He can make anything for you! Anything! What would you like?

Boo: <Runs back to the bounce house.>

Ten minutes go by.

Me: Hey Boo, do you want a balloon animal? He really can make anything…

Boo: When are we having cake?

Ten more minutes go by. The World’s Best Balloon Twister announces last call and I laugh, thinking about what that used to mean to me. 

Me: Honey, seriously, if you want a balloon animal now is the time!

Boo: Is it time for cake yet?

Me: How about… um… something from My Little Pony? (His favorite show, despite the puzzled reactions he gets when he tells people that’s what he watches.)

Boo: Twilight Sparkle?

Me: Sounds good. Just go tell him what you want.

Boo: Can you do it?

People, I did it. I delivered my kid’s balloon animal order so he could continue obsessing over cake and running around like a lunatic. And the World’s Best Balloon Twister did an awesome job, and the Boo loved that thing. I mean, really loved it. Slept with it. Brought it down for breakfast. Watched My Little Pony with it. 

And then it began to deflate and look rather sad:


But still, he loved on it and insisted it be tucked in with him for rest time and bed time. He redid the thing’s cutie marks, as you can see in the photo above. 

And then it began to look so sad that I thought about getting him a replacement because his love for Twilight was strong and true even though she had become somewhat revolting to adult eyes. I scanned a few options online and then got distracted by dishes/laundry/cooking/childcare.

But then, as I was trolling the aisles of Target, I saw it. One lonely Twilight Sparkle among a herd of Rainbow Dashes. I googled “twilight sparkle cutie mark” to confirm I had the right one, and then nabbed it. 


I put it in the Boo’s booster seat just before summer camp pick-up time and told him I had a surprise for him in the car. Biggest. Smile. Ever. Followed by the sweetest, most sincere thank you. 

And now he has a buddy that will never deflate — plus he can put band-aids on her:

The only downside to this story: Now he wants me to get all the other ones for him. 

Painting Lessons

I’ve been painting a bedframe for the Boo — he’s at the age where he enjoys deciding what his stuff should look like, and I like painting. However. I’m a Virgo, and an introvert, and I really like to paint alone. And my son is five and likes to “help.” This is a trait I want to encourage, so I decided to suck up my control issues and paint with my kid.

And so there we were in the basement, bright yellow paint on our brushes (because he wants it to be “all the colors of the rainbow,” starting with YELLOW). I’d put down an old shower curtain liner, and we were both in painting clothes. He was painting low, and I was painting high, and everything was peachy. Until I spotted my kid’s bright yellow toes. “I have paint on my toes, Mama!”

“I see that, yes. Okay, just stay on the plastic until I wipe them off.”

Then, naturally, he started moving toward the carpet.

And that’s when my Virgo brain screamed “OH MY GOD THERE’S GOING TO BE PAINT ON THE CARPET” and exploded a little bit. Then I yelled at my kid. And I grabbed his arm. And of course he cried because his mother was going insane right in front of him.

I immediately felt like a big stupid turd. He wouldn’t paint with me after that, instead drifting away to play by himself.

I felt like an even bigger, stupider turd when I took a good look at where we were: a basement room we jokingly refer to as “the 1971 doctor’s office,” with cheap, nasty old carpet that we plan to replace. Who cares, you Virgo freak? Come on!

A few days later we were back at it, and I had made a promise to myself to be more chilled out about the whole painting with a kid thing. I had the headboard up against the wall. The Boo wanted to help with touch-ups. I gave him a tiny art paintbrush thinking he’d be fine with that.

Then he said something like “oops.” I turned to see a giant splatter of lovely purple paint on the wall. I can’t remember exactly what either of us said right afterwards because my brain excludes details like that when it’s working overtime to keep my Virgo issues at bay. I do recall that I took a deep breath, and that the Boo said he wanted to help clean it up.

I exhaled and said, “Oh honey, it’s not worth it. It’ll just smear everywhere, and anyway it looks much better than it did before.”

And you know? It really does. Because every time I look at it, I see better decisions and progress and love.

Summer Camp Blues


“I think it’s a preemptive strike for starting Kindergarten.”

My husband gave me a doubtful look. All three of us were snuggled on the bed, with the Boo nestled as close to me as he could get. He’d been tearily bemoaning this week’s summer camp experience: There are different teachers! Different kids! I really missed you Mama and then I was just really sad! He told me he was sad until they went out to the playground. That’s two solid hours of sadness. He told me he couldn’t stop crying and I cringed as I told him I still remember how scary that felt to me as a kid. 

His deluge of emotion took us by surprise because he’s going to summer camp at the preschool he’s attended for the past three years, and he has several close school buddies there with him. But then I thought, maybe he’s practicing for Kindergarten by going through all the same mechanisms he’ll need to cope with that sea change in a few months. Kind of like anticipatory grief, a recognized syndrome that I experienced when my dad died, slowly, following a massive stroke. 

The Boo is keenly aware that his school days are on the horizon — he enjoys looking at the calendar to see what’s already happened and what’s coming up, and his first day of school is already marked in red Sharpie. We’ve visited the school for his skills assessment (!) and we drive by to say hi to the building every now and then. 

When I told him they have a preview day so he can meet his teacher and find his classroom, he said, “Why would I want to do that?” When I asked if he wanted to shop for a first day of Kindergarten outfit, he shouted “No!” in an offended tone and then asked why I had suggested it. 

Thinking back, these are telling reactions, and classic kid strategy: If I hide my face, you can’t see me. If I refuse to acknowledge the idea of starting school, it won’t happen. I can’t hear you, LA LA LA! Kindergarten starts in roughly eight weeks, and there’s so much he doesn’t understand about it that it may as well be a trip to Mars. But summer camp is happening right now, providing a handy proving ground for What To Do When Things Change. 

My child’s strategies this week have consisted mostly of what I think of as the Velcro Goodbye. On Tuesday morning he begged to stay with me; I nearly had to drag him out of the car. In the classroom, he needed at least a dozen hugs and snuggles and kisses, asking for “one more” over and over through near-sobs. I wiped his tears away and then put a tissue in his pocket in case he needed it later. The whole process took about 15 minutes (whereas last week he turned to play 30 seconds after we walked in). I managed to hold it together while I was with him, but fell apart as soon as I walked out of the building and spent the rest of the day wandering around in a headachey daze.

Wednesday morning was better, but he was still teary and wanted me to stay in his classroom to cuddle with him and then give him umpteen hugs and then wipe his tears and then give him a tissue to put in his pocket. 

Thursday morning, I had to scurry back to the house for an appointment, so I prepared him for a shorter Velcro Goodbye. He wasn’t happy about it, but he did it. No tears, maybe five minutes of cuddling and five hugs (we counted them down together) and then he turned to play with another boy as I was leaving. 

All week, I’d been giving the Boo pep talks and telling him I know he can handle this challenge. I was honestly a little frustrated that my brainwashing wasn’t working. But now, because he did the grunt work of getting through it, he knows he can handle it.

State of the Boo: Five

You are a natural born maker; this is a recent creation.

You are five years old.

You make emphatic gestures with your hands when you talk about something that excites you.

You love watching This Old House with Daddy and have a hard time understanding why there isn’t always a new episode to watch.

You also love watching car repair videos posted by Chris Fix, and consequently you recently asked Mama if she had a closed system transmission, which made her laugh, which made you a little bit angry.

You enjoy saying “wonky.”

You adore visiting Menard’s and Home Depot to spend quality time with the grills, snow blowers and washing machines. Halfway home from our last such excursion, you got upset that you forgot to visit the giant saw they use to custom cut lumber.

You insist on Mama chanting “happy dreams” right before she leaves your room at bedtime.

You want to know about how family and friends have died. Consequently you know what a stroke is, and that cancer is largely a mystery.

You love going to the symphony, and tried playing cymbals the last time you went.

You recently told Mama to use her words instead of yelling. Mama replied that she tries very hard to do that every day, but when she’s been asking the Boo to get his socks and shoes on for ten minutes, well…

You are already sad about leaving your best friend behind when you go to kindergarten.

You once again requested cake, and family to share it with, for your birthday party.

You get mad if we don’t let you help do things around the house.

You know the names of our both our old and new presidents.

You needed new shoes the week before Christmas, and were delighted to be able to look for, choose, and order them online.

You like watching Design Squad Nation, where teams of teenagers compete to solve specific engineering challenges. You were shocked to learn that the teenagers are not grownups, and you are quick to notice which teenager has an attitude problem.

You enjoy cooking with Mama, and increasingly want to be completely in charge of the process.

You know what “mise en place” means.

You spend a lot of time at your work table, often pretending to run experiments you’ve seen on Bill Nye the Science Guy or mumbling things about how to fix an engine.

You still enjoy a largely beige diet, though you are now more willing to try new things.

You shocked the pants off Mama by insisting on bringing broccoli for the class snack. You were upset that one kid told you never to bring it again; you haven’t.

 

You are five years old, and your curiosity knows no bounds.

I'm over 40. I'm at home with a preschooler. Hear me roar.

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