Friday, October 17, 2014

First Time Kindergarten Mom

What I Wish I'd Known:

Call Ahead:
When signing your child up for Kindergarten, you'll need about a hundred different papers and the website won't tell you what to bring beforehand. They'll assume everyone knows what's going on. But you won't so you'll have to drag your kids back and forth from school to home and back again trying to get everything in order. And you still won't have all the paperwork you need because you forgot where you stashed her last medical check up paperwork and she won't have had all her immunizations yet because she turns five over the summer. And everyone else you see will appear to know what they're doing and have no problems whatsoever.

Buy More:
On the huge list of school supplies, they will request that you buy approximately 16 thousand glue sticks. Buy a couple thousand more because Kindergarten homework will need glue sticks. And you'll be really frustrated that you didn't buy more and when you go to Target you won't be able to find glue sticks because all the back to school stuff is gone. You'll be able to buy Christmas ornaments in October, but it will take you ten minutes to find a glue stick among all the office supply stuff.

Don't Throw It Out:
You will finally throw out all those old magazines. And then your child will come home with an assignment to make a collage. So you'll dig the magazines out of the recycling bin and you'll cut out pictures of things that start with the letter "T." But you won't think about the fact that there are 25 more letters in the alphabet and you'll probably be making collages for each one, so when you're done with "T," you'll put the magazines back in the recycling and it will be taken to the recycling center before the next collage assignment. Just keep them. Don't throw anything out. Even toilet paper rolls because those will be needed to build a house for Hansel and Gretel at some point.

Don't Blink:
Your five-year-old will suddenly seem all grown up and responsible and will be spending so much of her day away from you. But she'll also look impossibly small as she skips into the school with her sparkly blue backpack, lunch box and pony tail swinging, and you'll want to run after her and hug her and never let her go. But you can't do that; you have to let her go. She'll come back at the end of the day with math homework that they manage to make confusing for you because of new terminology they use this year but will probably be changed by the time your next child is in Kindergarten.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Things I Never Thought I'd Say...

...In Just One Day

"Stop licking your brother!"

"Don't step in your poop!"

"Stop tracking pasta into the family room."

"Spit out that sticker."

"Your trains have to find a new home."

Having a two-year-old is hilarious and makes you say the strangest things, because they do things you could have never imagined.

***

"No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal." -Bill Cosby

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

STEM vs. The Arts

We have an annual pass to our local science center. The kids love it, it's much cheaper than a theme park, and it's something to do on days that are too hot to be outside (of which Florida has far too many). They especially love the travelling exhibits. Curious George just left and my two-year-old was very upset and wanted to know where he went. She figured it out though--he went into the TV.

The Orange County Science Center sent me a survey asking about how often we visit, how often we go to other museums, etc. Their last batch of questions was about how important STEM is versus the Arts and Humanities. (STEM, for those who draw a blank as my mind often does lately, stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. We hear a lot about pregnancy brain, but I think breastfeeding brain is a thing. Or maybe it's just mom with a baby brain.)

I hear more and more about STEM. Those fields of study are not my strong suit. Okay, I hated most of them. But I enjoyed Geology in college. I know that they are terribly important in today's world. Can you even get a job anymore without a good STEM foundation? But I fear that they could crowd out the Arts and Humanities, which are important for another reason entirely.

This all comes from a former English major who took Art History and Political Science classes for fun. But I believe that the Arts and Humanities teach us, well, how to be human. How to communicate, how to interact, how to reconcile our place in the world. They teach about beauty and tragedy and empathy. What use is a good job if you don't know how to be a decent human being?

Why does it have to be either or? (I just read an article about how there is less time for PE in school but physical activity helps you think better which would help you in school...) Well, balance is always the question. And that balancing act was on my mind.

Sorry for two philosophical posts in a row. I promise my next one will be about something trivial, like the fact that my laundry yesterday included pooped on clothes from all three of my children. (And today's included chunks of puke. The joys of sharing a stomach bug.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thoughts on Censorship

I recently reread one of my favorite books of all time for book club. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Beautiful language, lovely sense of place. You really should read it. Everyone should.




While trying to learn more about the book and the author for the book club meeting, I came across this quote from an interview in the Paris Review:

"When I’m teaching, sometimes issues come up. I might read a scene in a student’s story that seems—by my standards—pornographic. I don’t believe in exploiting or treating with disrespect even an imagined person. But at the same time, I realize that I can’t universalize my standards. In instances like that, I feel I have to hold my religious reaction at bay. It is important to let people live out their experience of the world without censorious interference, except in very extreme cases." - Marilynne Robinson

As a religious person there are many things that are deemed acceptable in the world that I do not agree with. But as someone educated in the liberal arts, I don't believe in censorship either. I believe in each individual being able to choose what they write and what they read. (Of course, parents help make that choice for their children until they're old enough to make their own choices.)

Trying to ban or censor something only gives it more publicity and makes it more interesting. Mark Twain expressed excitement when a book of his was banned from a library because he knew that the children would want to read it and they'd have to go out and buy their own copies.

We should stand up for our standards and share them, but never try to force them on others--I don't want someone else's forced on me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pretending Autumn

My two-year-old is starting to make an important distinction between what's real and what's "just pretend."

What used to be my favorite season has become a time of seasonal-envy depression. (I made up the term and am self-diagnosed, but it's a thing.) We've cooled down about two degrees and are still hot and sweaty all the time. So this isn't autumn, but we did our best to pretend.

Yesterday we baked pumpkin bread in the oven; apple cider warmed on the stove. We ate soup and grilled cheese for dinner. A late rainstorm helped the illusion. But my kids wouldn't be running around barefoot in a real autumn rainstorm. (And an attempt at being grateful in the circumstances: what kid doesn't want to run barefoot in a rainstorm?--mine get to.)



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

September 13 is Roald Dahl's birthday and we went to the celebration at our local library. They read some vile verses, played some games, and made fantastic fox masks. Then we came home and watched James and the Giant Peach.

Fantastic Foxes

I loved Roald Dahl as a child, His stories are about children overcoming the mean adults in their lives. And some silliness.

One of my favorite books as a child was Matilda. In my mind I was Matilda. Minus the sleazy father, neglectful mother, tyrannical principal, and magic powers. But I loved books. So I was Matilda. (Nerdy, book-loving kids love books about other nerdy, book-loving kids.)

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Silly Things the Doctor Has to Ask You

Even though I read a million books and obsessed about many things with my first baby, there are some things I've never worried about that the doctor apparently does. Even more so now that I mother my baby from my experience and trusting my gut, some of the things that they want to measure seem ridiculous to me.

How often does he eat?
When he's hungry.
Well, would you say every hour and a half? every two hours? every three hours?

At this point I usually go with their middle number, because that's hopefully what they expect to hear. But really, I'm thinking that it's a stupid question because he's gained weight and is active and looks healthy. He eats as often as he needs to. And he gets enough. Sometimes that's every hour. Sometimes he goes four or five or six hours without eating. And then he eats for two hours with only a couple of pauses to burp to make up for it. Because my life is crazy enough without writing down when he eats and for how long and then average it out every 24 hours.

How many wet diapers does he have a day? How many poopy diapers?

Again, like I have the time to count. Oh wait, I actually did count his poopy diapers one day. But it was after the frustration out of realizing I was changing the fourth poopy diaper in less than an hour. So I counted out of curiosity and maybe some bonus points in my mommy book to see just how many poopy diapers I had to change that day. (There were eleven poopy diapers that day.) But normally, I don't count them. I have better things to do. And sometimes, just like counting how many times your baby woke you up in the night, knowing a number associated with an unpleasant task makes you more cranky about it.