Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hard lessons

Remember that feeling I had that Sam would be harder to potty train? I could not have been more right. For about a month we were trying hard to get him trained, but after a while it became apparent that he just wasn't interested. It was SOOOOOO frustrating because he would barely stay dry or clean for an hour, let alone a whole day. After a few weeks of that we did something that is very hard for Heath and me to do... We admitted defeat. I bought training pants (which are basically diapers masquerading as underwear). At first I intended for Sam to only wear them in public, but now he's wearing them all the time and potty training has ground to a halt. It's a bit demoralizing. I thought we were going to be done with all this nonsense by now. No more diapers! No more diaper bag! *sigh*

It's one of those lessons of parenthood. Every child is different. Every child does things at their own pace. Blah blah blah.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sam's first day of school

I was a little nervous for Sam's first day of school... Not as nervous as for Ben's, but with Ben it was merely the newness that was nerve wracking. Ben's so outgoing I knew he'd be fine going to school. But Sam's more sensitive than Ben, and I was afraid we might have a different drop-off situation with him. I've seen parents having to walk away from their screaming child at drop-off and always been glad it wasn't me. I didn't know if suddenly I'd be on the other end of that.

However, as a second child Sam has some benefits, as well. He's seen Ben going to school for his entire life and at times he's been very jealous he didn't get to stay and play. So he was very eager to start school and it's been great. We've had exactly zero tears from him, and on the first day he was pretty much the same as Ben. We walked in, said goodbye and he was running off to play with toys. Such a big boy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Today, while reading an article about a New Yorker's experience on September 11, 2001, the thought struck me: Will Ben learn about 9/11 today? Do they talk about it with kindergartners?

We've never told him, because there's never been a reason. We weren't personally affected by it and it's not exactly a conversation you have with a 3 year old.

But it got me thinking... Ben lives in a pretty nice world right now. He lives in a world without 9/11 and assassinations and Nazis and slavery and all the other atrocities committed throughout human history. But he's going to learn about those things, and probably very soon. If not this year then maybe next. And I want him to learn about them, and think critically about them and become a knowledgeable human being... But... It's just hard imagining my children learning about those things.

Ben's not nearly as sensitive to stimuli as I am, but I remember in 8th grade when we did a whole unit on WWII it was pretty emotional for me. I couldn't - and still can't, really - believe that people would do such unthinkable things for, what? Power? It makes absolutely NO sense to me. And the idea of my children feeling that hurt for people who died long ago... Well, I was going to say I didn't want them to feel that pain, but maybe I do. I want them to be empathetic people, but unfortunately that does mean taking on a lot of pain that's not directly your own.

There are hard conversations in our parenting future and while I don't love the idea of my childrens' innocence being shattered by the reality of how horrible people can be, I do relish the idea that I get to explain how we can be better than that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Curse of the Second Child

Sam starts preschool tomorrow. He's going two days a week from 9am-noon and he's SO EXCITED. For months every time we passed the church where it's held he'd yell out, "There's my school!"

He was supposed to start last Monday, but the air conditioner broke and wasn't fixed until late in the week. Unfortunately, by the time we found out we'd already started excitedly telling him, "You start school tomorrow!" He was pretty disappointed.

I'm having trouble with this, but not for the usual reasons. With Ben I worried and fretted for months before he started preschool. On his first day I bawled (though, in fairness I was 7 months pregnant). It was the same with Kindergarten, though in a more toned down way. But with Sam I have none of that. I was a little nervous last Sunday, before we found out school was cancelled, but nothing like with Ben. And I'm while not 100% certain, I'm pretty sure I won't shed any tears tomorrow when I drop him off. And I hate that.

I don't want to not be moved by milestones in Sam's life simply because Ben did it first. It seems so unfair to Sam. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter, because I didn't fret in front of Ben and I didn't let him see me cry on those first days, so to them it's all the same. But it's not to me. I'm no less proud of Sam when he accomplishes things, but I have to admit, sometimes it is a little less exciting. It's his first time, but it's not mine as a mother.

Right now Sam emulates everything Ben does, but once he's tired of being in Ben's shadow I have a feeling he's going to be a pretty different kid. So I will have those moments that are true firsts with Sam. I just don't want him to feel like he got the short end of the stick, and I certainly don't want him to feel like Ben's the favorite.

*sigh* This parenting thing is HARD.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Six in the books

Dear Ben,

This past year wasn't one of our best. You and I clashed a lot. I think I've yelled more in the past year than all my other years of parenting combined. Really, I think it was the alchemy of you, Sam and me together all the time. I didn't get enough time to myself to recharge, you didn't get enough social time, neither you nor Sam got enough of my attention. Everywhere you looked nobody was getting enough of what they needed and everyone was grumpy because of that. Luckily, our savior arrived in the form of Kindergarten. These past few weeks have been wonderful. You get plenty of social time at school, I get plenty of alone time while Sam naps and we're all much happier when we come back together. We get the chance to MISS each other. It's a very strange feeling, missing you. We've spent most of the last six years together. But missing you makes the times we are together all the more sweet. I look forward to picking you up from school and hearing about your day (what I can get out of you, playing 20 questions). Our conversations are getting more interesting as your mind and world expands. And it's just more fun being together. As you get older you'll realize that even the best relationships need some air, and Kindergarten is just about perfect for us.

One of the best things about this year was COUSINS! Taylor and Beckham were born only a few months apart. You're not overly interested in them yet, as they can't keep up with you, but when you do turn your attention to them you're extremely sweet, doling out hugs and kisses. Avery, on the other hand, is becoming a more worthy sparring companion everyday. She runs and jumps and climbs and swings right along with you. And hearing your duet of the Frozen soundtrack in the back of the van was one of the highlights of my year. It makes me so happy that you get to grow up around cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. That is one of the greatest gifts I can give you.

This year brought a couple of big milestones. You took swim lessons all winter and by the time the pool opened on Memorial Day you could SWIM. Like, for real swim. You even passed your swim test and can now jump off the diving board! I'm so proud of your accomplishment, but even better was seeing you proud of yourself. Your other big milestone was riding on a plane all by yourself! You went to visit Oma and Opa in Phoenix. You're becoming so independent and capable.

You completed your last year of preschool in May. You and Ms. Dee Dee formed a tight bond of silliness and energy. She's the first teacher I think you really connected with and it was fun to watch that. I hope you have many more teachers who inspire you like she did. You also played your first year of baseball, with Daddy as the coach! You've been a natural athlete since you were two years old, so I think you're going to enjoy many more years of playing.

Even though we butted heads a lot this year, in between our yelling and crying I could see you maturing. You're emerging from baby/toddler/preschool-hood and becoming someone who can use logic and have patience and be helpful without even being asked (or not throw a fit when you are asked). Even though you've realized you can use your influence with Sam for evil (i.e. telling him to throw toys or make messes or cause chaos), sometimes you use it for good. You encourage him to eat his unwanted food, or help him in the bathroom or put on his shoes. As always, watching your and Sam's relationship develop is a joy of my life.

It's getting FUN to hang out with you. Like, actual fun, not just kiddie fun. We can all go to movies together now. You and I have gone to the Muny and the symphony and to paint pottery and we even went to Six Flags by ourselves once. You can ride rides that are fun for me, too! And we're moving on to chapter books! All summer we spent our afternoons reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (at which you laughed and laughed), Mathilda, Freckle Juice, The Phantom Tollbooth and just last week we started Harry Potter. Harry Potter! One of my favorite book series! It's so exciting to be able to share my favorite things with you.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how Kindergarten molds and shapes you. This year is going to be fun!

I love your pickles and fries,