Monthly Archives: January 2009

Boom-a-Ring

This morning I took the children to see the Ringling Bros. Barnum  & Bailey circus! I agonized over whether or not we should go . . . money is so tight right now and the circus isn’t exactly cheap. But I found a coupon code online that let me purchase the tickets at half price! How could I resist? It was still an expensive morning, but I am so glad we went! Fletcher is at a perfect age for the circus. He was in total awe. He laughed himself out of his chair watching the clowns, let his mouth hang open watching the white tigers, and thought the elephant pooping was the greatest thing he had ever seen. Lola Gray loved the little dogs and the elephants, but mostly she loved the cotton candy and snuggling in Mommy’s lap.

    This year it was impossible to just whisk them past all the toys and souvenirs without the kids  begging for everything in sight. In the end they each chose a giant rainbow lolly. Yeah for sugar!

   

Parent Teacher Conference

This morning Raymond and I had our first ever parent/teacher conference at Fletecher’s school. This was prearranged for all the students – not a result of yesterday’s poor behavior.

Mrs. Hale said, as we expected, that Fletcher was a great student. She said he is advanced for his age and that she loves the conversations they have together. She also said that he is full of drama – that he “hates lowercase letters and will hate them forever, for all of his life!” for example, and that yesterday it took him 35 minutes to complete his coloring worksheet because he “doesn’t like a single color – not one!” Yeah, yeah. Drama we are familiar with.

She said 2 things regarding kindergarten: Firstly, she said that Fletcher likes routine and that his behavior problems tend to come on days when they vary from the routine. This shouldn’t really be a surprise – the kids is not a big fan of change. She also said that we need to get him into a gifted program as quickly as possible. She said he is really bright but that he gets bored easily – he needs to be getting challenging new information constantly. So, this is somewhat confusing information. On the one hand perhaps he will do very well in the structured environment of JG Smith. On the other hand, at Smith he will have to wait for others in his group – if not the whole class – to grasp the information before he can move forward. This could pose some opportunities for boredom and the silliness that comes from that. She said really good things about Marsh Point Elementary, but said that like Ellis it is near impossible to get into. Maybe we should go and visit anyway . . . 

She also said he can name every continent on the map – which really surpised me! (But he doesn’t know his phone number yet . . . we need to work on that.)

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Have you ever read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? It is a great book. Poor Alexander, nothing goes right for him that day. Today was almost my own version of that story . . . . ok, not quite. But it had it’s moments.

The day started off beautifully: coffee with the girls – something I have come to realize is vital to my sanity. When I got in the car to pick the kids up from school, I noticed that I had a missed call on my cell – I had forgotten to take the phone off the “silent” setting that I use while I am teaching. Of course, it was the preschool. Lola Gray had an accident (ie: she was pushed) and split open her lip. On the message I think they said “There is a lot of blood. You should come get her.” By the time I got there the bleeding had stopped. She had a nice fat lip though. The swelling has gone down a bit, but she is still complaining that her tooth hurts – the same tooth she bumped last spring so it has already turned a little brown. I hope it doesn’t fall out!

So, I’m already feeling like the world’s worst mother when we go to pick up Fletcher. We were late, of course. And to top it off, his teacher tells me that he got a yellow light for biting his friend Abby. Biting! Good grief – wasn’t he supposed to grow out of that at 2??? I was mortified. Horrified. Furious. And Fletcher just doesn’t seem to get it. I don’t know what to do. If he acts like this next year in public school they are going to kick him out! Then what??

Lately it seems that my emotional stability is . . . well not that stable. The slightest little thing can just plummet my mood into the dumps. No fun at all. So I spent a few good hours making myself miserable over all of this and then, finally, I couldn’t take it any more. We headed out the front door, rode scooters down the street to the square, and spent a few good hours playing Jedi and Princess. I don’t why it always surprises me how much better I feel after getting outside – but it almost always makes me feel like I can breathe again.

   

I love taking photos of the children. It makes me feel like I am being artistic and playing with my kids at the same time. I took lots of photos today – mostly of Fletcher’s stellar Jedi moves. Of course, I had to put the camera down and have light saber battles every few minutes!

Fletcher wanted to take some photos himself, and though I was incredibly nervous about the camera, I let him. He did a great job!

Lola Gray needs to do everything Fletcher does, so she wanted her turn with the camera next. She did a great job as well! Perhaps I have 2 little shutterbugs in the making?

School

Last night Fletcher, Lola Gray and I attended an open house at the school Fletcher will probably attend for kindergarten – Jacob G. Smith Traditional Academy. This is the school we are zoned for, and while we are keeping our fingers crossed that Fletcher gets picked for Charles Ellis Montessori Academy, the odds are not looking good. A friend turned in her child’s application yesterday and was told that they anticipated 11 open spots in kindergarten (after admitting siblings of current students and those already enrolled in Pre-K) and they have already had over 100 applicants. He has better odds of getting into Harvard!

Oh well. I’m not giving up, but I’m trying to face reality.

Jacob G. Smith seemed like a perfectly nice school. It was clean and well mantained. The teachers all seemed friendly and happy (though a friend thought they did not seem happy to her – so who knows really.) The kindergarten classroom we visited was large and bright and seemed well suited to handle the 12-15 students they typically have in each class. It was just over a mile round trip from our house to school and back so we could easily walk or bike to school. There was really nothing WRONG with the school at all. It was just very different from Ellis and very different from preschool . . . very . . . structured.

The first thing I learned about the school, while we were being lead to the kindergarten classroom, was that children are required to walk the halls with their arms crossed across their chests to prevent any touching. The teacher seemed to think this was great, and told me that when they have students come back to visit after they have graduated from the school, they almost always immediately cross their arms when walking down the hall. It seemed really creepy and militaristic to me . . . though I imagine my child would be the one poking and pushing in line (he has trouble keeping his hands to himself) so this is a very practical solution.

When we entered the classroom, all the kindergarten teachers were there and they all introduced themselves to us and seemed pleasant enough. But when I asked them to tell me about kindergarten, the first thing I was told was “It’s not like kindergarten when you were a child, so get that idea out of your head now. We have work to do. This is much more like 1st grade than kindergarten.”

Wow. Ok. I knew this was the case, knew the trend, but to have her spit it out at me so bluntly was a little off-putting. She then proceeded to tell me about teaching reading and writing and arithmatic . . . you could almost hear the refrain “taught to the tune of a hickory stick” floating through the room. No, I do not think they actually use corporal punishment in the classroom. But she made it very clear that this was a no-nonsense learning environment.

The school day is from 8:30am to 3:30pm – 7 hours. SEVEN HOURS! She said they used to have nap time, but they eliminated it because there is too much work to get done. They have homework every night. EVERY NIGHT. In kindergarten. Good grief people! These are children! When do you expect them to run and play and BE CHILDREN? Where is the focus on building their imaginations, fostering creativity, learning to think and explore on their own?

OK. I’m being a little dramatic and I realize that. This is a traditional school. It says it right there in the name – Jacob G. Smith TRADITIONAL Academy. It’s old school. And Fletcher might do very well in that environment. Sturcture is not in itself a bad thing. It can be a very comfortable and nurturing thing. And the fact of the matter is that Fletcher will have to learn, eventually, to sit in his chair and focus on his work. Plus the school teaches Latin to all grade levels (I was terrible at Latin, but it is a great thing for building vocabulary), they offer string instrument lessons, free of charge, to any interested student (I think you have to be in 2nd grade to start), they have a Chess Club and Fletcher loves to play chess . . . he could be very happy there.

So why do I feel like I am sending my baby out into the trenches?

Thinking ahead

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it! I really want to do some fun, special things with the kids this year for Valentine’s Day, but I also want to keep it simple. That needs to be my new mantra. Simple.

So here is what I’m thinking so far . . .

I mean really, how much do I love Martha Stewart? These are projects I did as a child, but sometimes we need someone to remind us. So simple, but so much fun. Throw in the Strawberry Tart recipe my mother sent me this morning, and I think I’ve got Valentine’s Day in the bag!

We won’t melt!

It always cracks me up to hear my words coming back to me out of my children’s mouths. Even more so, when they were originally MY mother’s words. Maybe even her mother’s . . . 

“A little rain won’t hurt us! We’re not made of sugar!”

Too true. And hard to argue. So despite the drizzly day and the slightly muddy yard, we went out. Most of the time was spent on the swings – first in our yard and then across the street at the neighbor’s. We had so much fun taking photos of the swinging, and I think the results are pretty fun, too!

   

Then we headed down the street on scooters to play in the square. I think Lola Gray was disappointed there weren’t any puddles to jump in – the girl LOVES to jump in puddles! One of these days we are going to write down the story her Grandmama Frankie made up for her (and which Lola retells to me in some form every time it rains) about Lola Fairy jumping around puddles, and over puddles, and through puddles . . . But today there were no puddles. Instead, we ran and climbed trees and just enjoyed being together.

The kids were right. We came home slightly muddy, but we didn’t melt.

The doctor had it backwards!

This makes so much more sense. Fletcher is actually in the 50th percentile for HEIGHT and the 25th percentile for WEIGHT. When she told me the numbers the other day, she said it backwards. I don’t know why I was so stuck on those percentiles, but it was bothering me that it just didn’t seem right. This is better. This tells me what I already knew. My boy is average height and skinny, skinny, skinny. I need to feed him more. Dr. Ramos would say, as he has since Fletcher was old enough to eat solid food, that the 25th percentile for weight means nothing more than that we feed him healthy food rather than junk. OK. We eat junk too. But in moderation. All things in moderation, right?