Archives for posts with tag: kindergartener

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My oldest son is finishing up Kindergarten next week. I have been having an internal struggle with this stage of life we are leaving behind. The idea of First Grade seems harder for me to accept than Kindergarten was. There is still something that makes them feel so little while they are in Kindergarten. It is their toe dip into the big world of education. With First Grade looming in the wings, I cannot help but feel that there is one last piece of babyhood I am quickly losing my grip on.

My son will not be having a Kindergarten graduation ceremony. It is just how things worked out at his school this year. I am a little sad about that. I have even toyed with the idea of staging my own at home. (I am only half joking) I am sure I can find a cap and gown on Amazon in a pinch. I am not above doing something silly like that!

Recently, I overheard some people talking about how they find no value in any childhood graduation ceremonies. They even went to far as to say High School graduation is unimportant. I could not disagree with them more. I find value in celebrating these kinds of events. I cherish those moments. I am not a perfect parent and I never pretend to be. We all have our moments. When it comes down to it though, I cherish these important moments of my children’s lives. I go out of my way to create happy moments together.

We try our hardest to use positive reinforcement with our boys. I said we try. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we end up yelling. Every parent loses their patience once in a while. However, we value the concept and practice of positive reinforcement. This morning we cheered on our toddler who cleaned up a mess he created yesterday. He got high-fives and a ton of praise. Despite the fact that he was being straight up destructive when he threw my container of ear plugs around my bedroom. His face was a big cheesy grin when he heard us praise his clean up job. As a parent, you learn when to let go of the lesson and bring on the encouragement. It can be a balancing act, but you adapt. When you think about it, staging small graduation ceremonies for Preschool, Kindergarten, Middle School, and then the big one in High School, creates the ultimate method of positive reinforcement. You are creating happy and celebratory memories. You are encouraging them to work hard and follow through.

Childhood memories have value later in life. Close your eyes and think back to your happiest childhood memory. Maybe it was a family vacation, maybe a certain holiday, maybe it was a normal day that ended up being so silly and fun, maybe it was a graduation ceremony. The examples are endless. There is even a chance you had a hard time picking just one happy childhood memory. The Wall Street Journal examined the importance of childhood memories. The research determined that when children are able to recall childhood memories, they learn to cope better and have an easier time adjusting later in life. It helps them to develop their own sense of self. This allows them to reflect on their lives and see if they have stayed the same as a person or if they have changed and grown. When they recall happy memories, for example, a large happy life event that involves their family (think Kindergarten graduation ceremony), they learn to value family moments. The reason all of these internal changes occur is because children learn from their recalled memories as they mature.

There is a point in having a graduation ceremony for a child. There is lifelong value in that. Sure, it is not the only way to promote healthy, happy, and positive memories. There are so many opportunities in childhood for happiness. It is one way though. One which should not be scoffed at. How miserable are you as a person to scoff at a happy little afternoon for a child? When we value creating happy moments for our children, we are preparing them for a lifetime of living and learning.

I will do my best to make my son’s last day of Kindergarten memorable, even without a structured graduation ceremony. I always have him hold up signs on his first and last day of school. I started in pre-school. I already have my supplies to make next week’s sign. We will do something fun after I pick him up. He can choose dinner that night. I am not above having a box of goodies for him to open when he walks back through our door a First Grader. I am so proud of him for working so hard this year! Kids work hard in school. Their brains are growing, synapses firing, they create and absorb new knowledge! That is something to celebrate and encourage. What value is there in making a child feel like the work they accomplished is stupid and a waste of time? None, there is none. What will create a better world? Lifting up these tiny humans who will one day be in charge. Lifting them up high and celebrating their lives, happiness, joy, and success will only make our world a better and brighter place.

If I had my way, I would throw my children a graduation every year. I cannot wait to see how they both grow over the next school year, even if a piece of me is sad to watch my babies grow. I cannot wait to be a part of the happy childhood memories that will shape their adult selves.

Kindergarten started last Thursday. I feel like we have been at it for a century already! I have already been missing our lazy summer mornings. Taking my time getting us ready. The boys leisurely eating breakfast for an hour. Deciding that very morning what adventure we would tackle that day. Last minute trips downtown. Our preschool mornings were pretty lazy too. We only had two of those a week. I could arrive there whenever I wanted. I aimed for 9 am, but at times we got there later. Sometimes we rushed to get out the door, but nothing quite like now. I haven’t been in a “where are my keys I cant find your shoes lets go lets go NOOOW” rush yet. The process is still shiny and new and I remain rather organized. Smoothie foods prepped in containers, clothes laid out the night before, backpack organized, up at 5am on the dot, tea preset to brew at 4:50am, and a down to the minute timeline. We do have to get out the door by a certain minute and so I am always watching the clock. We have made it with time to spare every drop off. (knock on wood) I am sure those hectic moments will come as I get more and more comfortable in this new life. I hope not, but I am being realistic here.

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He has had a bit of a rough time adjusting. We have been pretty inseparable his whole life. He has never gone away every day. There are only a few times I have been away from him overnight. This is a whole new world for him. He doesn’t want to leave me in the mornings. Yesterday was his best day and a teacher still had to peel him off of me when I walked him to the cafeteria. I am supposed to drop him off by the front doors. But his eyes fill with tears and he clutches my hand so hard and begs me to not leave him up there alone. I have a hard time saying no to that. He is only 5 after all. I am not complaining. I love being so loved, I just wish that this were easier for him. I hate seeing him cry. I want him to have fun or at least enjoy himself.

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I made him do this several times the other night because it cracked me up. 

Yesterday was better when I picked him up. He was happy and chatty and “had so much fun!” This was a new page from the other pickups. I was relieved. A whole weight fell off my shoulders on our walk back to the car. I try to play it cool, but on the inside I was doing a backflip while holding a toddler! This is the hardest part of parenting I have come across. Not being able to just fix whatever the issue is. Not being able to BE there physically to hug him and help him. I am a very hands on mom. (see: me insisting on holding Alex while he was put under anesthesia) So taking a step back for me is a new challenge. It is hard for me to not chat with his teacher at every drop off and pick up. It is hard for me to not physically walk him into his classroom. I am doing it, but on the inside I am also crying and screaming. All while smiling, reassuring him, and encouraging him to let his wings spread and fly.

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After school yesterday we stopped to meet Sofia and Jake!

When Alex saw Jackson at pick up yesterday he ran up to his big brother, wrapped his chubby little arms around Jackson’s waist, hugged him hard, and said “bruh bruh!” I was goo on the floor. This has been an adjustment for all of us. But seeing how much Alex loves his brother, asking for him all morning, and then the first thing he does is hug him tight, makes this a pinch easier. Small moments like that help you through more challenging times. The innocence of a nearly 2 year old being excited to see his best friend after being apart for a few short hours is truly one of loveliest moments in life. Children have a way of making simple things magical.

I have been writing and drawing notes for Jackson’s snack. They don’t get lunch because it is still half day. (When Alex’s shuffles off to Kindergarten it will be full day, I am preparing myself now). The other day he told me “I actually kind of love the notes mom.” Every day I have wondered if they brought a smile to his face. If they help make his day a little brighter. I hope so. Yesterday he saved his picture and put it in his pocket to carry with him. It tore in two pieces when taking it off the napkin. He saved both pieces. I just hope that these little reminders that he is loved make any rough moments at school a little less rough. That he knows he has loving and snuggly arms to come home to.

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Fly guy was from yesterday. Apple Blossom is today’s note.

Today is a new day and as always I am greeting him with a smile and words on how amazing today will be. I will praise him. I will encourage him to make new friends. A boy told him he didn’t want to sit by him anymore. Which is one of the reasons he was so upset. I told him I will always want to sit by him and he can always sit by me, no matter what! As cheesy as that may sound, it is true. The deeper lesson I am hoping to convey is that this is his safe place, we are his safe people. No matter what, he has love and support with me and his daddy. We will always sit next to him if he needs us. This week he needs us.

 

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I have seven days. Seven days until I have a Kindergartener. Seven days until I drive him to his new school, hug him goodbye while I try not to cry, and send him on his way to begin his official school career. I say official, because he did go to a twos program and then preschool and then pre k. It was different there though. It was only two days a week. I got constant daily updates. I could keep him home whenever I wanted. Vacations, illness, he needed a break. There were no rules. We kind of lived life as we pleased.

Now begins his official journey of education. We will have to plan things around school. Five days a week I will have to send him off for a few hours. If we want to take a random last minute vacation (which tends to be our MO), we will have to take school into consideration.

Five days a week I will scramble in the morning to get us out the door by a very certain time. Another leisure I had before. I always aimed for a certain time, but at his school, there wasn’t a mandatory start time. I am sure some mornings will be smooth sailing and some mornings will be insanity. I have no false hopes that it will be consistent. Life with children is nothing if not rather inconsistent and unpredictable at times.

Five days a week I will come home to a slightly quieter home. His baby brother is a lot different when he is on his own. When he gets the rare chance to feel like an only for a few hours. He isn’t better or worse, he is just different. It is as if he understands he has some mom time to himself. We have two classes we are signed up for to pass some of the morning time. To get to play together and have fun. The ways I used to take big brother to different toddler classes. Five days a week I will have an only child for a little while.

Five days a week I will wonder what he is learning. I will wonder if he is adjusting well. I will wonder if he is being well behaved and kind. I will wonder if other children are being kind to him.

Five days a week I will let other people care for and teach my son. The tiny human that grew in my body. The tiny human who thrived on the milk my body produced for over a year. The tiny human who grew into a chubby toddler. The tiny human whose toddler chub melted away into a tall and long preschooler. The tiny human who has begun to define his ability to be opinionated and in charge. (This is said in such nice terms. In the midst of an opinionated moment, I don’t always feel so sunshiny).

Five days a week I will pick up this young growing boy from his class. Sun, rain, snow, or any weather in between (it can be all of the above in the same day in Chicago). Baby brother in tow, chattering away as he is wont to do these days. Hopefully I get to listen to this Kindergartener’s chattering stories on the drive home. Asking questions I hope he has answers to. Sometimes he says he doesn’t remember what he did five minutes before. I will be clinging to every bit of information he decides to pass along. I will try to get him to tell me his five favorite things of the day. A tradition I started in preschool. It elicited more information than just asking him “what did you do today?”

I have seven days until I begin to live in a world of five days. Today he has had moments of driving me crazy. I love him dearly. He wants to do what he wants to do though and sometimes that isn’t what needs to be done. Then we sat down for a snack. I had a few moments of peace prior to that while he picked up his toys. It allowed me to reset. I just watched him practice his Taekwondo forms for no reason other than he loves it. He showed me a booby trap he made out of a snap bracelet. I have seven days until I have five days of missing out on these moments of happiness. I have seven days until I have five days of him sharing these silly little pieces of himself with other people in the world. While I am across town, doing whatever I am doing in those hours, a gymnastics class or a mom/tot dance class, or a trip to Target, or just picking up around the kitchen while the toddler plays, he will be sharing the unique and amazing things about himself with other people. And I have no choice but to accept and be ok with that.

I have seven days until I have to let go for five days a week for the rest of his childhood education. I have seven days until I have to choke back tears until I get into my SUV and sit there for a moment. I better start practicing.

 

 

I love someone rare

It is Leap Day. It is also Rare Disease Day. My sweet little boy is the reason I am talking about this day. This sweet little boy has kept me on my toes since I was pregnant with him. He is always up to something and giving me some kind of scare. From being admitted at 35 weeks pregnant due to low amniotic fluid and possible very early induction to save him, to an umbilical cord that took a wrong turn and took months to close up and heal, to FPIES, to an ER visit yesterday morning because he got his sweet chubby thigh stuck in the crib all night and it was covered in welts, swollen, stiff, and he limped. I rarely have a dull  moment with him.

He is so full of life. He is very brave. I do not see him hesitate in life very often. If he sees something he wants to do, he will 99% of the time go for it. He loves to make me laugh. He loves to feed people or share his food with them. His smile is contagious. I dare you to see him smile and try to keep a smile off of your face. He is a fierce momma’s boy. I say this a lot, but it is true. I am always holding or snuggling him. Did you know, I literally get a standing ovation every time I walk into a room and he sees me. He stands up and claps, cheesy grin plastered across his sweet face. He loves his big brother so much. The way he watches Jackson makes my heart melt. Jackson had his 5 year vaccinations last week and completely freaked out. Alex had been fine mischievously walking around the exam room up until that point. As fat tears fell on my arms while I held Jackson, Alexander walked up, watching. I slowly watched his face transform from curiosity, to concern, to outright devastation, as he too began to sob. I love to hear him say Dada. If I just mention the word Daddy he lights up and says Dada, DA! DADA! That is his biggest buddy. He tries so hard to keep up with the two big guys around here, when they play catch or when they wrestle. Which is frequently to both things.

Then there are the moments where he does scare me because things seem to happen to him at a higher rate than did Jackson. Maybe it is because I am so hyper aware of all things involving him that I notice every small tiny deviation from normal patterns. Or maybe, things just do happen more frequently. It is likely a combination of both. We have had even more situations than I mentioned earlier. I really glossed over things there. I glossed over how scary it was when he was first having FPIES reactions and we had no clue what was happening. I will never forget when his tiny body went into shock and what he looked like. I will never forget the fact that when he was born, he didn’t cry. The cord was wrapped around his neck and the nurse took what seemed like an hour to get him breathing. It wasn’t an hour, it was probably a few seconds, but in that moment, having given birth previously, it seemed like an eternity.

His may not be the most dramatic rare disease. His may not even be the most dramatic case of FPIES. I am so incredibly thankful for that. Every day I am thankful that when it comes down to it, so far, he has just scared us with things that we are capable of managing in a healthy way. It doesn’t take away from the fact that these things seem to happen to him or that he does in fact have FPIES and is IgE allergic to bananas. Most tests came back negative, that one did not. We are still waiting on a few more results, including avocado and kiwi. I can manage these things. I can keep him safe. I am thankful that every day I get to see that toothy silly grin and those big blue eyes and that raspy voice say mom mom mama mom mama mama. There may be moments where I am utterly exhausted or feeling overwhelmed with doctor and hospital visits or just from worry or from regular mom stress, but all it usually takes is a hug and snuggle into my neck to bring me back down. And if I am lucky, big brother Jackson is telling me I am the most important thing in the world, even more important than monster trucks, and you know how much I like those mommy!

Happy Rare Disease Day 2016!