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Archive for the ‘Milestones’ Category

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. 

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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. 

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You are four and a half years old. 

You asked, very casually, about the box below, “Why does it say ‘go’ on there?” 

You are in heaven when your Daddy takes apart something electronic for you. Usually this happens on weekends. 

You enjoyed summer camp, though you declined to go in the sprinkler even on super-hot days. 

You inherited a floaty from a good friend, and now you are plunging into the pool, intentionally dunking yourself, asking Mama to dunk you, and opening your eyes underwater. These are new developments in your swimming career.

You have recently discovered U2 (Daddy), Green Day (Mama), Blondie (Mama again), and Fleetwood Mac (the car USB on shuffle).

You started having bad dreams, or at least started talking about them (but only a bit because you believe talking about them will make them come back). The most recent one involved a bad car, a house alarm, and the inability to run or talk.

You are newly afraid of the dark, and require your chair to be draped and your closet closed at bedtime. 

You sleep through fireworks and thunderstorms. 

You clipped your own toenails last week — and did a very decent job, without drawing blood. 

You still wear a diaper at night, and have told Mama that you pee in it as soon as you wake up. 

You have expanded your diet a tiny bit and are now willing to eat cantaloupe, green beans and nutritional yeast, which Mama plans to use as a gateway to cheese. The big shocker was your request to try a fish stick, which you didn’t like, but agreed to try another day with lemon. 

You have lost your zest for scrubbing toilets, but you still enjoy helping Mama vacuum and view working with cleanser as a privilege. 

You are continuing your love affair with My Little Pony, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Peg + Cat. Justin Time and Ready Jet Go are new discoveries, and you’ve circled back to Word World and Octonauts. Most days, you still watch less than two hours of TV.

You traded your long-neglected easel for a “science table” which tends to be heaped with whatever you’re fiddling with. Right now, it’s egg cartons, scissors, a screwdriver, two rolls of blue painter’s tape, empty water bottles completely wrapped in painter’s tape, paint stir sticks intermittently wrapped in painter’s tape, and bits of string and drinking straws you decided to cut into very short pieces. Mama’s just happy you’re using the space and enjoying yourself. 

You are trying out stronger ways of asking for what you want, e.g., “Mama you have to get me a snack NOW!” Mama never tires of finding new ways to say, “Would you like to rephrase that?” Her hands-down favorite is the raised eyebrow. 

You recently visited a farm, where your favorite thing was turning the electric water pump on so you could test all the sprinklers. Your second favorite thing was the robotic vacuum cleaner, or maybe the waffles the lady of the house made.

You are four and a half years old, and you are still very snuggly, just with pointier elbows. 

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  We are lucky to have a world-class symphony orchestra in town, and they are smart enough to have a kid’s series. Last Sunday, we took the Boo to see an hour-long Dr. Seuss-themed program, preceded by an “instrument playground” with lots of very patient people helping kids try whatever instrument they wanted to. Herewith, the highlights.

– You went to the Symphony for the first time, with Mama and Daddy and Grammie. You had been excited about it for weeks, and got upset one day when you thought we had forgotten about going.

– You were lukewarm about trying out instruments, but made a beeline for a flute — and made a sound on it pretty quickly. We all thought you’d be really into the percussion options. You were not.

– You were enthralled by the size and beauty of the hall itself, and spent a lot of time going in and out of it through different doors, then down hallways and back into it. It seemed like you were trying to get a handle on how it all fit together. You said “ooh!” every time you went in.

– You sat in Mama’s lap for a good hunk of the show, but also sat in your seat, and stood, and stood on the seat. To be fair, you had had an early nap and the show took place on the first day of the time change. 

– You listened intently and clapped when you were supposed to. We explained that the different colors of shirts the players were wearing represented different sections — strings, brass, etc. — and you thought that was pretty cool.

– You needed to get up to pee once, and then to poop once, two minutes before the end of the show. 

– You said, “They said join us next time, can we go join them, Mama?” This was the day after the concert, during a quiet play time.

– You went to the symphony for the first time, and you will be going back. Mama bought the tickets yesterday. 

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 You are four years old.

You recently started painting at home on a regular basis after you asked for, and got, a set of tempera paints. The first thing you did was pour them into a plate to see how they mixed. Following a conversation about the definition of “wasting,” you are painting on paper plates, repurposed paper products, and yes, paper. 

You can write your name. You talk yourself through each pencil stroke and start over if you don’t get the result you want. It’s clearly a big effort that you enjoy and are proud of. Two days before your birthday, you wrote your name on your cousin’s birthday card — without talking yourself through it. 

Your favorite toy is Snap Circuits, and has been since Christmas. It is the first thing that has held your interest for longer than a week, and the first thing since take-apart cars that you both seek out and spend significant amount of time playing with. 

You know how to (safely!) plug in and unplug electrical cords. With supervision, to be clear.

You grew an inch, gained a pound and went up a shoe size between September and December. Then you gained half a pound in the first three weeks of 2016. Mama predicts you will need new shoes again well before summer. 

You are increasingly interested in letters, words and reading. You especially like to put magnetic letters into long, silly lines for Mama to pronounce. 

You no longer take a nap, but you do have a daily, diaper-free rest time during which you listen to the Sound of Music soundtrack. Occasionally you fall asleep, and then Mama wakes you up so that you don’t stay awake until 10 p.m.

You began calling Mama “Ma” about a month ago, which cracks her up. You don’t understand why, and sometimes you get upset when she laughs about it.

You gagged after trying a half teaspoon of pasta sauce. As in, Mama thought you were going to hurl. 

You can dress and undress yourself, though you sometimes plea for help, as when a sleeve refuses to cooperate and “hurts” you. You struggle with your jacket and mittens — unless there is fresh snow waiting for you, in which case you have yourself ready in thirty seconds flat. 

You (mostly) clear your place after meals and (mostly) ask to be excused (thank you, preschool!). You are exceedingly fidgety at suppertime, but the adult-size chair is at least partly to blame.

You are fascinated by Grammie’s sewing machine, the dishwasher, the portable heater, and anything else that has buttons, moving parts, switches, and/or allows you a peek inside.

You went through a phase of asking for stories about flex wire at bedtime. As in, a roll of electrical wire that waits in the garage for someone to come get it to fix something (a baby monitor, a ceiling fan, etc.).

You beg to go to the Science Center on a regular basis.

You can easily be motivated by the promise of marshmallows, chocolate biscuits, or chocolate chips.

You love dense, complex books with detailed illustrations, like Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House and Katy and the Big Snow, and How Things Work. 

You remain fascinated by plants and seeds, and have taken on the job of watering a few plants in the house. Mama explained that the “plants” on the deck don’t need watering because they’re dead, and now you’re excited about planting seeds next month.

You said “I want to eat cake” when Mama asked what you wanted to do for your birthday. When pressed, you said you wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and coconut on top.

You helped Mama make your birthday cake and frosting. When it came time to put coconut on top, we had a chat about a party guest who doesn’t like coconut, and decided to offer it on the side instead.

You had a small family party at home. You carefully selected the piece of cake you wanted, and then Mama dropped it on the table right in front of you, prompting you to clap your hands to your face, Home Alone style. Once Mama was able to stop laughing long enough to get the cake on your plate, you dug in face first. 

You received a second set of Snap Circuits for your birthday, and your reaction was to say, “Oh my! oh my!” over and over. 

You are four years old, and you still slide down the stairs on your bottom. 

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The Boo has always been reluctant to tell us about school. If we ask him directly, “What happened at school?” he will make a game of saying “I don’t know” or “It’s a secret.” Even when I try to be sly about it and ask open-ended questions like “Who brought snack?” or “Who was class leader?” he will often dodge or shrug. Ah, the joys of being four. You have so little power that you get very creative about wielding what little you have.

But last week, something changed. We were having lunch at home and I had been talking about something that was sad (I think). Then he looked at me with the Face of Seriousness and said, “I cried at school today Mama. For real.”

A miracle occurred and I kept a straight face (the Face of Seriousness is somehow very funny to me). Then I said, “Really? Tell me more about that.” (Yes I really did speak like a therapist — it was the first prompt that came to me and I was desperate to keep the conversation going.)

“Tinkerbell (not her real name) told me to stay in the house.”

“Huh. Why did she say that?”

“She had to go shopping. I wanted to go with her but she said to stay in the house and that hurt my feelings.”

Here I should explain that Tinkerbell is his best buddy at school, and the first kid he has had a deep connection with. They are so close that people make jokes about them getting married. For real.

We talked a bit more about the House Incident, finished our lunch, cleared our places and had time to play before rest time. Then he piped up again, with another Serious Face.

“Mama, I’m worried about kindergarten.”

“Why are you worried, sweetheart?”

“I don’t want to be away from you for a long time. And I won’t be able to be
with Tinkerbell.”

Yikes. A year and a half of radio silence and now two big emotional bombs in the space of an hour. I guess this is what They refer to as growth happening in fits and starts.

“Well honey, you won’t go to kindergarten for a long time. And it’s true you probably won’t be with Tinkerbell, but you can still play with her sometimes and be her friend. The other thing is, you’ll meet new kids, and some of those kids will become your friends. ”

He thought about that for a bit and asked, “Will my teachers be there?”

Lordy. He really is taking after me in the emotional attachment department. “No, you will have different teachers. But I bet they will be really nice just like your teachers are now.”

We continued in this vein for a while, with him worrying and me reassuring. I guess he’s making up for lost time — and on the whole, I’d rather have a kid who talks to me than one who clams up.

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Mama, I’m peeing in my diaper!

Are you? That’s very interesting, thanks for sharing that with me. 
Mama, I’m scared. 

I promise you won’t fall in. 

Don’t look at the poop! It’s a private poop. 

Okay, I won’t look at it. 

Mama, I peed on the potty and now I want a gummy bear. 

Wash your hands first. 

I want to poop in a diaper! I want to poop in a diaper! I want to poop in a diaper!

No, honey, you’re a big boy now. 

Are you so proud of me, Mama?

I’m so proud of my big boy!

I don’t want pants! I don’t need pants!

We put on pants when company is coming, honey. 

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To say that the Boo has grown tremendously throughout his first school year is like saying chocolate is good. Massive understatement. 

In the beginning, he would not only cry when I left but wander around like a lost, weepy lamb. This, despite a goodbye ritual that included a reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and a series of kisses and hugs and a lovey to comfort him in my absence. At one point, there was discussion of whether we should pull him out of school for a while. Instead, we decided to try adding a few more tricks to the bag — a photo of me to look at, a favorite CD. It was early November. 

Shortly after we expanded the comfort program, right after Thanksgiving, something clicked for the kiddo. He didn’t cry as I left. He started blowing me kisses goodbye. He began to find his place among his friends. We kept up with reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though, partly because I enjoyed it so much — his classmates would cluster around us, chiming in on their favorite parts and beaming like only little kids can beam. 

A few weeks ago we dropped the book reading from the routine. Then we started doing our kisses and hugs in the hallway so the Boo can walk into his classroom like the big boy he’s become. Every time, we stop a bit further away, backing slowly toward more independence. 

One day about a month ago, the Boo came home with a bright orange flyer pinned to his backpack. Photo Day was coming, it said. Here are the 88 choices of print packages. Once I settled on a reasonable option and wrote a check, my thoughts turned to The Outfit. Surely something with a collar for Baby’s First School Photo. Shirt and tie? Polo shirt? 

I decided to involve the Boo by presenting a few possibilities the morning of Photo Day. I explained what a big deal the photo was, that both grandmas would have a copy, that it would be a good idea to wear something fancy. He considered the choices I held up and rejected them all, insisting instead that he wanted to wear the pajama shirt he had on:

 

I didn’t fight him. Why bother, when he picked the perfect reminder of how far he’s come since September?

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You are three years old.

You chose standard birthday candles over a giant number three. You requested chocolate cake with yellow frosting (at first you wanted blue, and we were glad you changed your mind). You held the frosting tube as Mama wrote “Happy Birthday” (you didn’t want your name on it), put gummy bears on it, and stuck the candles deep into it in a nice little cluster.

You wave goodbye to Mama and blow her kisses when she leaves you at school.

You sometimes push your classmates and then grin at the teacher.

You recently declined an offer of honey to soothe your cough, saying, “No, I’d like a chocolate biscuit for my cough.”

You have lost the baby fat from your feet.

You had your first hearing and vision tests at your three-year checkup — the nurse was amazed at how well you followed directions.

You told the doctor (when he asked) that Mama was a boy. This was also part of your checkup. Other than that, you passed with flying colors. And to be fair, you could have been confused — Mama always calls herself a lady or a woman, not a girl.

You got a basketball hoop, a science book, and a marble track for your birthday. You love all three.

You sometimes declare “I don’t like you Mama, I want Daddy to put me to bed” when Mama is putting you to bed.

You sometimes declare “I don’t like you Daddy, I want Mama to put me to bed” when Daddy is putting you to bed.

You were reluctant to come downstairs to join the crowd (of five people) at your birthday party. Half an hour later, you were chatting happily with everyone.

You count to three like so: “One, two, tree!” This leaves no doubt of your Polish heritage.

You get royally pissed off when Mama says she can’t understand you when you whine.

You were able to sing snippets of “All the Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)” after hearing Mama sing it twice. This leaves no doubt that you are Mama’s offspring.

You recently learned how to propel yourself around the pool on a water noodle. You were concerned when Mama showed you she wasn’t holding the noodle anymore, but then your face lit up when you realized you had independence in the water.

You are flirting with the idea of potty training but have thus far only condescended to practice sitting on the toilet.

You continue to be a picky eater — so much so that you refused to eat the pancakes at your school’s Pajama Day and only ate a few bites of frosting from your birthday cake. Well, that and all the gummy bears on your piece. And the gummy bears from Mama’s piece.

You are three years old, and your new favorite phrase is, “I can do it myself!”

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It’s been over a week since Toyfest ’14, a/k/a Christmas, and already the memories are fading. Herewith I hope to capture at least a few.

– You asked if Santa was coming/if it was Christmas every few days for the entire month of December. You also asked where Santa was. A lot. Whenever Mama asked if you wanted to meet Santa, you said no, then you asked to go see him day after Christmas.

– You enjoyed decorating the tree, which in your world means telling Mama where to put the ornaments, and then occasionally pulling them off and leaving them somewhere after trying and failing to put them back on.

– You didn’t notice the gradual increase of gifts under the tree, but the appearance of a stuffed stocking on Christmas morning made an impression. (See cookies for Santa entry below.)

– You enjoyed making cookies with Mama, and became proficient at sifting and dumping and stirring. Rolling cookie dough balls in sugar, not so much — though you were very good at eating spoonfuls of sugar. You also loved playing with the stand mixer — it spent about a month on the floor so you could look at it, ask questions about it, attach and detach the beaters, and turn it on and off (with supervision).

– You went with Mama and Daddy to deliver plates of cookies to the neighbors. You only wanted to climb the stairs to ring the bell at one house, where twin girls live. At another house, the Chinese granny treated you to her rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — on the harmonica.

– You enjoyed the Polish Christmas Eve tradition of oplatki — basically a giant communion wafer stamped with Christmas scenes that you break and eat with family while wishing them well in the coming year.

– You seemed skeptical about leaving a note and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, but you gamely went along with it. We left your empty stocking next to the plate so Santa could fill it for you, and he did — with Gummi Bears, jelly beans, a tiny motorcycle, and a Caillou doll.

– You really got into opening presents this year, but we still didn’t get through all of them on Christmas. However, you also enjoyed opening the stragglers for days afterward. And still, everyone was so generous that we held a few of our gifts back for your birthday.

– You liked all your presents, but particularly enjoyed playing with your take-apart engine (from Daddy) and watching Totoro (from Grammie) on Christmas Day. As the days have gone by, you’ve been playing with everything in rotation.

– You were okay with putting away the ornaments and lights, but balked at parting with your Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD and negotiated to keep it for an extra day. Mama was not thrilled with this arrangement, but agree to it in the spirit of Christmas.

– You occasionally ask where the ornaments are, and if it’s Christmas again. Mama does her best to explain that Christmas only happens once a year.

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