Too cool for school.
Zach and I recently took an absolutely amazing trip to Turks and Caicos. Every day we were there was a total dream. Perfect, quiet, (nearly) stress free.
To get that stress free environment, we went without Alex. So, we had an entire week away from our little dude. No one to wake us up at ungodly o’clock. No one to ask us for more food because he’s still hungry at every hour of the day. No one to whine about some random fact of life.
It was wonderful.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my kid. Love love love my kid. He is truly the most amazing person in my life. But sometimes? Sometimes a break is nice. Sometimes a break is needed.
I missed my little guy by the end of the week. While we were away, Zach’s parents had him for the weekend and my mother took care of him at our house during the week. We hoped this would give him some semblance of normalcy: sleeping in his bed, eating his normal breakfast, driving the same short distance to school.
The week didn’t end up quite so normal, though. Overnight Tuesday, Alex came down with a stomach bug. Barfing barfing everywhere.
MOMMY GUILT, ACTIVATE.
I wished I could be with him. He was sick, and here I was drinking rum punch, reading books on the beach, and doing whatever I wanted. Alex ended up staying home for the rest of the week, never quite recovering until Friday.
My poor mother.
But. She made it through. Alex made it through. We all made it through.
On our second night back, I was enjoying being home, back in our bed, when in the wee hours of the morning I heard Alex. I heard him in his room, getting out of bed. Then I heard the door creak open. Then I heard our door creak open.
He was crying, and running towards our bed. “I had a bad dream. It was a nightmare.”
We snuggled and hugged and his breathing slowed down. I asked him what his dream was about and he told me he didn’t want to talk about it. I asked if it was a scary dream, and he told me, “yeah, it was scary, but not, like, monster scary.”
It took the rest of the day, asking him a few additional times, to get him to tell me what his bad dream was about. “I dreamed that you and Daddy were leaving and you were never coming back to me.”
MOMMY GUILT, ACTIVATE.
So. It’s good to be home, and that dream, thank goodness, was a one time dream.
(But I’m still counting down to the next vacation.)
Guess who is a very talkative person?
No one who knows me or has met Alex will be surprised to hear that the answer is Alex. Very, very, talkative, six (and a half!) year old Alex.
You don’t even need to have a kid to understand the phenomenon of incessant chatter that comes with many of them. There are times when, other than the occasional “mm hmm” or “yeah?”, I don’t say a single word for 10, 15, 20, minutes and he’s still talking.
Now, I love that he talks. I love that he has so much to say to me, to Zach, his grandparents, his friends, just about anyone who will listen. I especially love that he’s been complimented on the fact that his conversations are interesting. We have conversations about big words, Doctor Who, how things are made, imagining what the future will be like, Lego Marvel, and sometimes just very detailed descriptions of something that happened recently.
The problem with having a loquacious kid? School.
Kindergarten doesn’t like it when kids are loquacious.
Like many kids, Alex has a really hard time not shouting out answers. He knows the answer, he heard a kid get it wrong, so he must say the answer now. He has a really hard time not sharing the amazing thoughts that are forming in his head. He just wants everyone to know.
And I love that he is so excited about answering questions, and sharing his opinion, and letting everyone know about his experience with what they are learning about that day. I love that he isn’t just sitting there, mind wandering off, just making it through the day. He’s engaged! And that’s great!
He keeps getting in trouble for not waiting his turn to speak. For talking out of turn and disrupting the class. Now, I’m talking about being dropped down one on the color scale of behavior for the day: from green to orange. He’s never dropped again to yellow. He’s never come even close to being red. And this has only happened maybe a dozen times all year. Basically, this is a good kid who talks too much. (Hello, little version of childhood Mommy!)
But! It’s an issue because, well, it’s an issue. He’s one of many children in a small room and interrupting is certainly a problem.
So, we have talked about this. Lots of times. Again and again. And this week has been good so far!
The real issue here is that we don’t want to quell his enthusiasm. And I really hope his teacher understands that.
Christmas was amazing. It didn’t go exactly as planned, with me diagnosed with strep throat two days prior, and Alex’s grandmother heading to the emergency room on Christmas morning.
Christmas Eve celebrations. Then Christmas day, all day, celebrations. Then Christmas part two on Friday. All with strep. All with a sniffly kid (no strep, just a cold). And a sniffly Daddy. And a Super Unhappy Sick Virus Infested Nana.
Still. It was amazing.
But by the end of Christmas Part II, even Alex was ready for a return to normal life:
I’m sad it’s over, but can’t say that The Kid is wrong. It will be nice to return to our slightly slower paced life.
Posted in Uncategorized
Six is crazy fun.
Alex has adjusted amazingly well to Kindergarten after a pretty rough start, full of tears (his and mine), requests to stay home, and general discontent. He is now full of energy at the end of the day, making amazing progress both academically and socially, and genuinely enjoying his time away from home every day.
His kindergarten picture is a perfect example of this:
And a perfect example of his continued style. Unique, at times dramatic, can only begin to touch the surface of Alex. And six so far has been mostly a pleasure.
Mostly being a key word. Because: SIX, man. He’s full of attitude, learning how to deliberately manipulate, bargaining at every given chance. He fights with us about his clothes on a daily basis. In case you are wondering, none of his pants are okay. In fact, “all of my pants are terrible! And I hate them!”
The daily battles regarding clothes are an interesting counter to the fact that he loves blazers and ties.
And I’d love to say his style is just that: style. But ask him on any given day about what he is wearing, and he always has an answer:
“I”m a spy!”
“I’m The Doctor!”
“I’m [insert name of some character from whatever TV show he is currently obsessed with]!”
In other words, he finds a way to wear a costume multiple times a week without actually having to put on a costume, which we would veto.
Six, man. They are tricky little buggers.
He’s lucky he’s so cute and surrounded by so many people who are so full of love.
Alex has officially started kindergarten. Thursday was his first day, after two full days at his extended day program.
The morning started off relatively normal, with the exception being that I was there to help him get ready. I had requested to come in late for work that day in order to take him to school with Zach. Breakfast, lunch packing, getting dressed…it was pretty typical.
We discussed (again!) how that day would be a new kind of a day. The New Normal. Mommy and Daddy would take him to kindergarten, walk him in, and then he would have a few hours with new friends and his teacher before taking a bus to his afternoon extended day program. He would get to play outside, probably do some crafts, read some books, and have an easy day! It would be quick! And before he knew it I would be picking him up in the afternoon.
None of this was okay.
“I don’t want to go to kindergarten. I don’t want to make new friends. I liked my old friends and my old school. I don’t want to go.” He told us again and again that it wasn’t going to be okay.
Before we left for the school, I wanted to take a few pictures. At the end of the year, and the beginning of next year (FIRST GRADE OMG), I’d like to look back and be able to compare. I’d like him to be able to see how much he’s grown, and what a change he has gone through in one short year.
The pictures weren’t easy. He cried. He whined. He reiterated that he hates pictures and he doesn’t want to go to school and he most certainly is not going to smile. Or stay still. Or be a reasonable human being.
With some distraction, mostly by Zach because I was getting frustrated in addition to feeling horribly emotional about the whole thing, I managed to capture a few cute moments; a small number of the pictures turned out okay and will, in addition to the not-so-great ones, be treasured.
When we got to his new school, we parked, took a short walk to the elementary school entrance, and stood around with what felt like a million other people. Every kid. Plus every parent. Plus a second parent for most kids. Plus grandparents for some kids. The playground was overrun with every small person in the place, and when it was time to line up behind the kindergarten teacher Alex melted down.
He told me he was scared. He asked me to hold him. To pick him up. To cuddle with him. To please pick him up or at least hold his hand.
We walked in together. Hand-in-hand, the last kid in line behind his teacher, tears streaming down his face.
I held it together until we were in the room, Alex in his assigned seat, crying and begging us not to go. Telling us he was scared. Telling us he was sad. Asking when I would pick him up and how long it would be and how long is that and would I please come get him before lunch right when kindergarten was over. I couldn’t hold back the tears. He was so sad and so scared and I just wanted to pick him up and walk him right out of there.
But of course, I didn’t. Zach and I hugged him, told him we loved him, and left. I did my best not to keep crying, but on and off throughout the day as I thought about those minutes before I walked away from my crying kid, tears would fill my eyes and I’d have to text Zach and say, “He’s okay, right?” (He’s okay.)
He was okay. When I picked him up that afternoon, he didn’t exactly have anything positive to say about the whole experience, but he wasn’t crying. He came home, ate dinner, and was generally his normal self.
As I looked at his kindergarten folder after I put him to bed that night, I pulled out the typical first-day-of-kindergarten poem/craft:
Three days later and I still can’t read it without crying. That third paragraph gets me every time.
Alex, you were brave, buddy, and you did get by.
My dearest, darlingest, Alex:
Today marks a big day for you. Today you can no longer use just one hand to signify your age. You are six, and have so far entered this new age beautifully. This morning, you made me jump by walking in to the bathroom while I was showering in the wee hours of the morning. You frequently wake up early, but this was particularly early. You were so ready to be six and just couldn’t sleep any longer!
In some ways it feels like only yesterday that you were born; in others it feels like you have always been in my life. And even when we fight, I want nothing more than to cuddle with you and tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you. Like all families, we have our challenges, and your stubbornness can definitely clash with my own at times. By the end of any “fight”, though, all you want is a hug, and I am always more than happy to remind you that I love you unconditionally, give you a squeeze and a kiss, and move on. Your sensitivity is amazing.
And you are one amazing kid in general. And a kid you are. No longer a baby, toddler, preschooler…you are a full fledged kid. You have opinions, which you can back up with facts!, and tastes. You still ask a million questions per day, and even though the “why” stage is no longer with us, it has remained in a much more complex way while you continue to ask about the “how” and the “why not?” Rules are all fine and dandy, but you need to know the reasoning behind the rules. “Because” is never an acceptable answer.
A week from tomorrow you will begin the biggest transition of your memorable life: Kindergarten! You will be leaving the daycare center where you have been for over two years, and begin your first year in elementary school. Each morning, you will have to get yourself out of the car, by yourself, and walk into the elementary school and to your classroom. Each afternoon you will take a bus without parents to your extended day program. This will certainly be a year of increased independence; a year where your wish to do everything on your own will begin to come true.
This year you have managed to change so much, and yet stay the same loving, tender-hearted, child that you have been for years. You grew in height and weight, sure, but also in social and emotional ways, too. You are forming friendships, real friendships, and have begun to notice the way that kids aren’t always nice to each other. You have expressed concern over who you play with, and who wants to play with you. You no longer believe, as your daycare has tried to instill in the children, that everyone is a “friend.” This is a complicated topic, but you know that no matter what one thing is true: everyone deserves respect.
Over the past twelve months, your interest in costumes has not only maintained, but also increased to include less obvious costumes: Dr. Who, Finn, Spy Kid(s). Your interest in style has also been a very fun thing to witness. Yesterday you wore gym pants, boots, and a long sleeved shirt (in 80+ degree weather!), and a few days ago you were in slacks, a bow-tie, and, naturally, a cape. Needless to say, you are always unique.
This year was wonderful. You are so much fun and often so hilarious. You tell stories, long stories, true stories and pretend stories. You share jokes, inside jokes with friends at school that I just do not get, close-but-not-quite puns, and funny things that you witnessed in real life or in movies. You are beginning to read, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading chapter books and much longer stories this year. Your favorite reading material, though, is comic books. We have read easily 30 comic books: Batman, Spiderman, Adventure Time, Scooby Doo. Some mornings you’ll stay in your bed and peruse your new comic book shelf.
When it comes to stories and life in general, you remember everything. Absolutely everything. If we pick up a book we haven’t read in months you can practically recite the whole thing. If I “WHOOPS! SKIPPED A PAGE BECAUSE IT IS SO LATE AND YOU NEED TO GET TO BED”, you tell me I missed part of the story. It never ceases to amaze me that you will remember who gave you what, who said what, what happened, where it happened, 5-year-old-style-when it happened (“that was, like, five years ago, Mommy,” when it was maybe last week). You still ask about a toy that was attached to a play mat that you had when you were a baby: a dangling giraffe that you insist you never said we could get rid of. You still ask about your first ever Transformer, which broke more than two years ago.
My love for you can’t be put into words. And the most amazing thing that it somehow keep growing as you do.
I absolutely cannot wait to see what this next year, SIX!, brings.
I love you forever and ever. To infinity and beyond.
Mommy, who is slowly transitioning to “Mom”
Posted in Alexander
Zach, Alex, and I just came back from a quick, three-night, trip to Colorado.
My family lives…everywhere. Here in Pittsburgh it is simply my mother and the three of us; my grandparents are in Florida; my uncle and aunt are in California; great uncle and great aunts in Colorado; second (or something? I never can seem to keep it straight) cousins in Tennessee. Needless to say, it isn’t easy for all of us to get together.
In fact, the last time I saw the whole family was 10 years ago. In those ten years I graduated from high school, graduated from college, had Alex, graduated from nursing school, and am on my third job since graduating from nursing school. Each and every family member has changed and grown in various ways, too.
I’m sad to say that it took a death in the family for all of us to get together again.
My great aunt lost her husband a few months ago. When he passed, it was decided that everyone who could would gather in Colorado for services.
We spent our three nights in a very funky house way up in the mountains with a few family members. Zach and my grandfather managed to light the grill for dinner our first night with a small lighter and the handle of a shopping bag. Between all of us, we easily killed 50 flies that were constantly in the kitchen. On our last night there, I saw a mouse scurry under a kitchen cabinet.
Alex very much enjoyed seeing new (to him) members of the family: he had never met most of them.
On our last night, we all gathered in the library at the retirement community my great uncle and great aunt reside in, a beautiful place right in Boulder. Various members of the family spoke of our lost family member’s life: his intelligence, smile, total humbleness even in the absolutely amazing things he had done, his love of bacon, high-waisted brown polyester pants, and how he was there for many of us during trying times. Pictures were shared. Chocolate covered bacon was passed around.
Alex was with us throughout the services. He sat on my lap for the first few minutes, but, as any kid would have, he got restless quickly. People were crying, stories were told, and Alex wasn’t quite able to get it.
I was initially worried about how the rest of the family would react to Alex on the floor, silently playing with a small airplane-that-turns-into-a-pen, rolling back and forth as he looked from one person to another. Zach offered to take him out of the room.
But as I continued to watch everyone, it seemed that his presence was not only tolerated, but wanted. The death of someone in the family is hard; losing the eldest member of our family is devastating. But being able to look at the newest generation quietly playing on the floor seemed almost grounding. I watched my uncle, great aunt, cousins, smile at Alex as he looked at them. Blow kisses through their tears.
I think Alex did exactly what was needed: he recognized the importance, the gravity, of what was happening around him and remained silent, but as a five-year-old he wasn’t able to stay completely still. He respected the room, quietly playing, and brought lightness to a dark time.
Alex never met his great-great uncle. I only met him once, and it was many, many, years ago. Too long ago to even remember. But as I watched his family, my family, Alex’s family, I didn’t need to know him to feel the sadness of losing him. He will be missed by us all.
Rest in Peace, John.