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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

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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This is the story of two Facebook posts, one of which contained a challenge: post a thank-you to someone who did something, however small, that affected your life in a positive way.

The other one was posted a year ago, maybe more. A friend’s kid whom I’ve known since she was Baboo’s age posted a Zen motto. At least I think it was Zen — it’s hard to recall what with the time and my sievelike brain. Anyhow, the motto was illustrated with an elephant and a mouse. Let go or be dragged, it said.

I laughed, and then I started thinking about it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed it. I got out a pen and drew this:

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It’s been on my fridge for over a year. Some days, I just laugh at the mouse hanging on for dear life. But most days, it prompts me to drop things that don’t matter so I can move forward with a lighter step. Mostly, it’s little things: Baby isn’t napping? Let go, take him out where you know he’ll be happy. Or stay home and wrestle with him and stew.

But practicing letting go of little things primes you to let go of bigger things. Very recently, my husband proposed repeating an experience that, last time around, was difficult at best. (No, not another baby!) At first my brain went straight to resistance, clinging to it and turning on itself. Old anger woke up and began to claw at me. I was surprised by that. I thought I’d let it go. I looked at the elephant and the mouse and understood the weight being generated by holding on to year-old negativity and resentment. I started working on a strategy to really let it go.

When he first brought it up, I asked for time to think before we talked. When we talked, I asked a few simple questions and listened. I heard longing and love in his words, and recognition of the follies of the past. As I sat there, I realized what an opportunity this would be, even as it presented difficulties. We would get a do-over, a chance to make it what we wanted it to be the first time but just weren’t able to. We would be free. Light. Leading the way instead of being dragged.

What a gift, the idea of fixing the past by simply moving into the future. And for this, I owe thanks to my friend’s kid, who I now count as a friend. Marlowe, honey, thank you. Your post helped me so, so much.

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You are 16 months old.

Your favorite food is anything with peanut butter on it.

Your favorite toy (see photo above) is Mama’s least favorite because all it does is squawk out one of two songs when the button is pushed. Fortunately, Elmo gets tired and needs naps rather frequently.

You will eat banana from a spoon, but if we offer you chunks of it, you either squish it or ask for the peel so you can put it back.

You offer your bottle to Ned (your bedtime buddy) after every meal.

You make an “ah” noise after you take a drink of water. Almost every time.

You think Mama’s farts come from her shoes.

You have begun to say “hi” to other kids. When a shy, overtired preschooler ignored your greeting you followed him, hopefully saying “hi” over and over.

You like to scribble on paper, and you like to turn the paper over to scribble on the other side.

You like Mama to sing the songs on your music table. You indicate this by starting a song and turning to stare at her.

You are enraptured by ants and will throw yourself flat on the floor to watch and follow them.

You think running away when Mama says, “Please come here” is a very funny thing to do.

You squawk when refused something you want, such as for the dishwasher to be opened.

You fling your arms skyward and grab your head when asked, “How big is Baboo?”

You can reach the water dispenser on the fridge. And so we are thankful that we can lock it.

You’ve had another bad round of teething lately, waking up at night and skipping naps. You seem to be working on your upper canines now that your lower ones are in.

You have begun to ask for the same book to be read to you over and over. Lately you’ve been doing this with “The Snowy Day.”

You have begun to refuse certain books, most recently “Clap Your Hands,” which was your chosen “repeat” book a few days ago.

You now give Mama leg hugs.

You gave Daddy a kiss on Father’s Day when he asked for one.

You’ve had your first few trips to a playground and seem amazed and delighted by all the space. The first time, you spent about 10 minutes holding Mama’s finger and eating Cheerios, then you followed her when she got up to throw something away. And then you spotted the water fountain and headed straight for it.

You love to entertain us with silly sounds. There’s one thing you do with your lower lip that we didn’t teach you — and can’t figure out how to duplicate.

You are 16 months old, and you’re more fun every day.

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Many parents have said to me that the baby beginning to walk is a game changer. I see what they mean, but yesterday the baby expressed an intense interest in this:

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I would argue that this is much more of a game changer, if only in terms of the mental space I’ll need to dedicate to making sure the bathroom door is always closed and making sure the lid lock is on after every use. There’s already so much stuff taking up space in my head that cramming one more thing in there is a daunting thought.

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You are 15 months old.

You decided to start walking a few weeks ago, and now you cruise the length of the house like you’ve always done it. You’re slowly giving up your adorable crabby-gorilla crawl which makes us a bit sad — but also happy we captured it for posterity.

You have been through your first ear infection, and your first experience with antibiotics. This was not a happy time, but you remained sweet through all of it.

You throw yourself down flat on your belly or back when we come to pick you up after a nap. You laugh your fool head off when you do this.

You love to gnaw on hunks of apple, though Cheerios are still your favorite food.

You cannot resist the impulse to take things out of the recycling bin.

You prefer the Spanish setting on your musical table. This is why Mama knows the ABC song en EspaƱol. Sometimes she sings it to you, and you look at her like, “How do you know that?”

You recently spent a significant amount of time putting a toy into an empty baby biscuit box and taking it out and putting it back in and taking it out… (See photo above) You were very happy while you did this unless the toy got stuck, in which case you made unhappy noises and asked Mama for help.

You have a pair of shoes that you like to have Mama put on and take off over and over. We hope you’ll be okay with leaving them on when you start to walk outside.

You have had three haircuts. For the latest one, Mama let you watch the “Mnah Mnah” video while Grammie did the snipping. You were slack-jawed the first few times, and then you got really excited about it.

You form kisses with great concentration, making a puckery fish mouth first and then popping it open with a loud smack.

You have used the sign for “please” a few times.

You use the sign for “more” to say “help” and “want.” And “more.”

You have begun to make like a wet noodle when you don’t want to be picked up.

You want to touch all the trees, bushes and flowers we pass on our walks. You even want to touch the pine tree in our yard even though you know it’s pokey and you make an “ick” face when it pricks your fingers.

You like to help Mama put your bath toys away.

You enjoy brushing your teeth so much that Mama has to remind you to wait your turn because she needs to go first.

Your current nicknames are Baboo, Boots, Boo, Chickoo, and Little Mister.

You have discovered the joy that is “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

You understand that you can put things in pockets.

You can work a zipper.

You laugh uproariously at the “comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush” page in “Goodnight Moon,” but only when Daddy reads it to you.

You are 15 months old and we’re pretty sure you’ll start running someday soon.

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