Monthly Archives: August 2009

Old Fort Jackson

Saturday evening we took the kids and joined some friends at Old Fort Jackson for a Low Country Boil. It is a beautiful fort, right on the river. The kids had a ball making crafts and learning how to be soldiers (Fletcher, Henry and Benjamin went off with one of the costumed interpreters on a very long march!) While the kids ran, the adults were able to enjoy a cold beer and a good conversation – all in all a perfect late summer evening!



Why Do Young Children Choose to Become Vegetarians?

About a month ago, we took the kids fishing while on a trip to Alabama. We had a wonderful time, but for Fletcher it was also a bit upsetting. I think it was the first time he realized that the fish we eat at dinner are, well, FISH. And he didn’t like it. 

He insisted we release the fish, which we did, and I thought that would be the end of it. But it has not ended there. He has now declared himself a full vegetarian, and asks at every meal “Did this come from an animal?”

I’m not going to lie to him. And if he doesn’t want to eat animals . . . well, how can I not respect that?

Until I came across this article, it had not occurred to me that he might be a bit young to make a moral decision like that. My sister is raising her children as vegetarians, and her oldest is quite vocal about not eating animals. But Fletcher came to this decision on his own. And while I have no plans to stop eating meat myself (at least not entirely) and this will probably make my menu planning a little more complicated, I must say I am really proud of my son for taking a moral stand. He’s a pretty cool 5 year old!


HGSE Doctoral Student Karen Hussar’s research examines children aged 6–10 who have become vegetarians. As with Alejandra, for most children Hussar studied, the decision has more to do with morals than with personal choice. This is contrary to the theories of famed psychologists Lawrence Kohlberg and Jean Piaget–both pioneers in moral development–that children aren’t capable of making independent moral decisions at this age.

“It’s exciting to see how relatively autonomous and independently-minded these children are,” says Thomas Professor Paul Harris, who advised Hussar throughout the research. “This means that children are being influenced by other children and going against the tide in their own homes, which are meat-eating homes. We don’t know much about how children make moral decisions at such a young age. I think this is a good pioneering effort.”

via Why Do Young Children Choose to Become Vegetarians?.

Meeting Mrs. Rowe

Friday afternoon we visited Fletcher’s new school, Jacob G. Smith Elementary, to meet his new teacher, visit his new classroom, and gear up for the start of the new school year. Fletcher’s teacher, Mrs. Rowe, seems wonderful, sweet and smart and excited about this new group of kids. She remembered him from the Kindergarten orientation we did back in the Spring and seemed genuinely pleased to see him back in her class. Fletcher already knows one other little boy in the class, and I have no doubts he will quickly make friends with the rest. I still have a lot of unanswered questions and concerns, but I’m feeling more relaxed. I like the teacher a lot, and I feel good leaving Fletcher in her care.

We let Fletcher carry his camera and take pictures of his new classroom. I didn’t direct him at all, so clearly he took photos of the things he found most interesting. I wish I had thought to take a few photos myself – including one of the welcome to class sign with Fletcher’s name listed as “Raymond Gaddy” (we knew that was going to happen, and warned Fletcher – he seemed totally unfazed but the teacher promised to fix it, and the tags on his cubby and coat hook, before classes start on Tuesday!)

I left the school feeling much more confident about the start of the school year. I’m not sure my friends with children in other classrooms all felt the same . . .
In the evening the rain finally let up and we went to the Sand Gnats game for the last Friday night home game of the season. We had a ball, and the kids were troopers, determined to stay awake for the fireworks show after the game. I never thought we would make it (I was having trouble keeping my eyes open!) but we did, and it was well worth it to have an up-close view of the fireworks. Nice to see the last weekend of summer out with a blast!



I see you, you see me

I spend so much time photographing the children, today it was time to put the camera in their hands for a change! We headed down to the park, visited with lots of dogs, chatted with our neighbor Mr. Brannen (those are his legs in the pic below), and took lots and lots of photos. So much fun – I’m sure this will be an ongoing activity for us!


Tonight, as I was snuggling in bed with Fletcher and talking to him about how exciting it is going to be to meet his new teacher tomorrow, he started to cry. Just a little, but still . . . I asked him what was wrong and he said he was just going to really miss me when he starts school. (Can you hear my heart breaking? Can you see me choking back tears in the dark and trying to find my voice to reassure my sweet boy?) Trying to keep up the cheerful facade, I told him he was going to be having too much fun making friends and learning exciting things, and he wouldn’t have any time at all to miss me. He was quiet for a while, but then he said it was really a shame he wouldn’t have time to go to restaurants or birthday parties any more. My poor boy! He seems to think he is marching off to the salt mines! Have I done this? I have tried sooooooo hard to stay cheerful and not talk about my school anxiety around him . . . I assured him he will still get to go to restaurants and birthday parties – and Christmas, which was his next concern. 

It makes perfect sense for him to be a little nervous but I hope he will feel better about things after we go to school for Open House tomorrow. I know he is going to have a great time in school. . .


One week from today, Fletcher starts kindergarten. 

My mother is having no end of fun teasing me about this. The world is not going to end when he starts school, she tells me. It’s not like he is never coming home! And, of course, she is right.

Sort of.

The world as we know it is, in some ways, about to  . . . . well, not end, but change. We are at a milestone. A pretty big one! I know from friends with older children that things move pretty quickly from here. One friend said that once they start going to school all day long, they might just as well be in 5th grade as 1st. My friend Nicole told me that when her son started kindergarten she could see him growing up, maturing, in front of her eyes. And this is a great thing. But it is a little bittersweet as well. 

My mother, clearly not the weeping, emotional type like me, is fond of pointing out that this is our job as mothers – helping them grow up, helping them move on. This is, obviously, what needs to happen. But my mother has also told me that she spent a good bit of time, as I think many parents do, wishing away our childhood,  thinking that things will be better when . . . when they are sleeping through the night . . . when they are potty trained . . . when they are in school full-time . . . She cautioned me when Fletcher was born to try and just enjoy the now

And I have. I really, really have.

I’m not trying to stop time. I’m excited for what the future holds for all of us, and especially for Fletcher as he starts this next step. I’m not trying to stop time. I’m just taking a moment to pause, to acknowledge where we are, where we have been, and where we are going next.

And frankly, I see nothing wrong with that.

Call me sentimental if you must, I won’t argue. But to my mind it isn’t so much about sentimentality as it is just about paying attention, being aware. I’m taking a deep breath. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Maybe even a little worried. There are a lot of “unkowns” out there, and for the first time ever I won’t be there to hold his hand and make sure everything is OK. He doesn’t really need the hand holding anymore . . . but it would make me feel better.

My dear friend Lindsay, she of infinite wisdom of the “been there done that” variety, told me something a few years back that I keep holding onto. She said that each new stage, each step on the road, is so exciting and so much fun that you never really miss the steps that came before. She’s been right about that so far – as much as I adored my sweet, snuggly baby Fletcher, the big kid Fletcher he has grown into is way more fun to hang out with. I see no reason I shouldn’t expect that trend to continue. So . . . onward to kindergarten!

Seven days and counting . . . 

(Just for the sake of nostalgia, here is a photo of Fletcher on his first day of preschool!)



 My baby girl started taking ballet lessons today! She was soooooooo excited, and has done nothing but talk about ballet class for weeks. But when we arrived at the studio, Lola Gray was suddenly, and uncharacteristically, shy. In her defense, there was a lot of chaos in a very small lobby as everyone arrived for the first time! Fortunately, once the girls were all in the studio she seemed to warm up and danced and leaped and twirled with the class. She goes back again day after tomorrow, and has already told me she wants to go right to sleep so ballet class will come again faster!