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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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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. 

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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.

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Image courtesy of MoWillemsDoodles.blogspot.com

It’s rare that I find a book I have no quibbles with, but this one is damn near perfect. I had no idea it existed until it called to me, loudly, from the Staff Picks shelf of my favorite library branch. 

You may know Mo Willems as the author of the super funny “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and associatled children’s books. Turns out he’s been publishing small runs of sketchbooks every year for over 20 years. This coffee table book contains 20 of them, with cartoons ranging from hilarious to heartbreaking. There are also essays from his famous friends, but those don’t hold a candle to the simple genius of the man’s work. 

If you are an artist or writer, this book is for you. If you are a doodler or noodler, this book is for you. If you love cartoons, like to laugh or prefer your comedy smart, this is definitely the book for you. 

You get the idea. For more info, go here: http://mowillemsdoodles.blogspot.in/2013/05/dont-pigeonhole-me.html?m=1

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Last week I went to the Boo’s school open house, a lovely event where parents talk to teachers and learn more about what their kids have been up to. One of my favorite things about the evening is seeing the kids’ art, so I eagerly scanned the walls. This year, they’re doing self portraits. Here is the Boo’s:

As I saw it next to depictions of fully articulated hairdos and facial features, disappointment washed over me. We all stood around saying nice things about the drawings, and about the Boo’s, someone said, “Oh! Those are nostrils! That’s great!” So kind, really. I muttered something about my kid not being interested in drawing. Then one of the teachers said he’d been very willing to try. It was awkward, at least for me.

The morning after the open house, I asked the Boo a few open-ended questions about his self-portrait, and he answered them in a matter-of-fact way. Turns out that parent was right, those are nostrils. I sat there thinking about how nice it is that he’s cool with his drawing skills, and my mind wandered to the things he does well.

He can explain how an electric circuit works. He tells me (often) when I’ve skipped a word in a story he last heard a month ago. He is proficient with a screwdriver. He knows the French words for head, nose, eye and bottom, and most of the words to a Japanese children’s song.

And here’s the deal – I know that my child is mainly interested in drawing as it pertains to practical applications, like watching me sketch a diagram of a three-point turn:


Oh look, my little apple fell right next to the tree.

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A few nights ago we had a hellacious storm roll through at 3 a.m., a grand finale to three days of pouring rain that brought cooler temperatures and skyrocketing mold levels. It is exceedingly rare that the Boo wakes up during a storm, but this time the thunder shook the house and he emerged from his room, agitated and wide awake. 
I crawled into his bed with him and once the thunder subsided, kissed him and left. All was well until the next line of storms came through about half an hour later. He did try to go back to sleep on his own, but the continuing light show and his anticipation of more thunder was too much. Also, he suddenly became pregnant with two small bears, and who can sleep in that last trimester, right? And then he got hungry – a syndrome I understand, having eaten more than a few bowls of 4 a.m. cereal during my own sleepless nights. 

And so down we went, Cheerios for him, Honey Nut Cheerios for me, nearly silent, bathed in the glow of the dimmest light in the kitchen as the rain beat on the windows. It was peaceful and simple, and as much as I wanted to be sleeping, I looked over at my boy, planted a kiss on his head and thought, “Remember this. This is a Moment.” Days later, I realized why: the light, feeding him, the wee hours all took me back to his newborn days. Four-ish years ago, and four nights ago, the simple acts of cuddling him and feeding him brought deep contentment and satisfaction. 

We finished our cereal and the Boo fell asleep about an hour later, shortly after declaring, “I can’t rest because there’s nothing for me to do.” We were both a mess the next day, but that sweet kitchen moment kept swimming up to soften the rough edges.

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So there we were. We had sailed through the Boo’s follow-up eye appointment, which he was anxious about because they had surprised us with dilation drops last time. But he was on my lap, pleased about getting an eye chart with letters like I get instead of pictures that little kids get. Meanwhile, I was pleased that the technician had much a better kidside manner this time. 

And then she leaned over and whispered, “How old was he when you got him?”

I was confused, and I must have looked it, because she repeated her question. But what she was asking didn’t register until she pointed to his chart. There it was, in all caps: ADOPTED

I stammered, trying to find something to say that would set her straight without getting on my kid’s radar. He’s four, he has amazing antennae, and this was not the time to answer the 8,000 questions I knew he would have: what’s adopted, am I adopted, are you adopted, why do people adopt kids, why can’t I have ice cream for breakfast (he’s smart, but he is Very Four.)

“Um, that’s not accurate. My husband is from India.”

Now it was the technician’s turn to look confused. She said something about not knowing how the word got in there, then asked whether glaucoma runs in our families, crossed the word out and led us to a waiting area, saying the doctor would be with us soon.

I had a few minutes to collect myself and think back on our first visit, three months ago. I asked myself questions like, “Did anyone ask if my son was adopted?” and “Did I talk to anyone about how awesome adoption is?” and “Could I possibly have misunderstood a question about my kid being adopted, maybe when they were asking about family medical history?” No, nope, and almost certainly not. 

It’s not as if this is the first time someone has assumed my child is adopted because his skin tone is different than mine. And admittedly, it always hits a raw nerve because I fought like hell to have a baby. But this time it hit a new nerve, because it was in writing. That made it feel more official, and threw other people’s perceptions of my family into harsh focus. I started thinking about how many people make that assumption on a daily basis, and whether I should make a T-shirt made that says, “HE CAME OUT OF ME!” Maybe one for every day of the week for August, when we will be attached at the hip during the hiatus between Summer Camp and school? 

Okay, maybe not. Maybe I’ll just write the practice a polite letter explaining why we won’t be back: If they got that wrong, how many other mistakes are they making?

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