Wednesday, September 30, 2009

jungle gym jungle

It was a beautiful Colorado day today. The sky was bright, the air was clear, the temperature was in the low 70's, and the wind was clamoring the Aspen leaves so they seemed to jingle like coins in a pocket.

We seemed to crash a classmate play date today when the kids and I ventured to the local playground to catch some outside time before the weather cools. Michael and Mackenzie were playing on the tire swing when we arrived, and Abi dashed to see if it was indeed Mackenzie, her latest 'best friend' from school. For a few minutes, Abi, Mackenzie, and Michael played together nicely. It's anyone's guess what transpired next, but Mackenzie was somehow put out. She fell out of the trio. I called Abi over and asked her if Mackenzie was okay. Abi said that Mackenzie didn't want to play and said she wasn't friends anymore. I told Abi to try to include Mackenzie- play all together.

I think she tried. On at least on occasion, I saw her run over to Mackenzie, and before she reached her, Mackenzie took off in the opposite direction to avoid her. When Abi tried to leave Michael and Mackenzie to play together, Michael followed behind Abi telling her to slow down. "I want to play with you, Abi!"

I think my girl is a play yard powerhouse. She is creative and confident, and I think she jumps into play- with friends or strangers- in a way that often gets other children actively involved with her. The problem is, when there are just a couple of children, it sometimes means trouble, as it did with Mackenzie today. Try as we did, none of we three moms were able to sway the dynamic. Michael's mom encouraged him to play with both girls. Mackenzie's mom tried to comfort her. I succeeded at getting all of them on a tire swing for a few minutes before Mackenzie wanted off, and went to sadly lean against a monkey bar pole.

Well, what would you have done? On the one hand, it's a life lesson, isn't it? Jump in and play. Suck it up, kid. Carry your own, bring your strong attitude, or get left behind. Yet, isn't that a cruel thing to say when you're talking about five year olds? The purely hot blooded primal creature in me is pleased that it is my daughter that is strong, confident, and clever enough to attract playmates, and draw in participation. The socialized mother in me knows she needs to be kind to the other children and not strong arm certain kids out. It's a fine line we need to walk between strength and sensitivity.

What an interesting thing it is, to watch the dynamics of these little developing people.

What an interesting thing to feel... to not want my kid to be a bully, but to, quite carnally, be proud that she's such a social tiger.

In the end, I felt badly for Mackenzie. It was clear she would be standoffish while we stayed at the playground. I cut our hour there a wee bit short, with feelings of guilt for ruining a portion of Mackenzie's play date...

... and slight, evil feelings of pride as I watched Mackenzie inch her way back into playing with Michael now that the Alpha female slunk off to another hunt...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

the scoop on school

Does it finally come to you waiting souls like a cold litre of Dasani in the middle of the Serengeti? Finally- news on how we are surviving our early school days!

Abi informed me that Friday was the 16th day of school. She then informed me that there were just four more days until the 20th day of school. I have therefore deduced that the mathematics program in her Kindergarten class is exemplary!

She handed me a picture today with two girls she had drawn. She had written across the top: SEDERELU AND ANUSDAYGU. When I asked what she had written, she told me it said Cinderella and Anastasia . Well, of COURSE it did! I have therefore deduced that the literacy program in her Kindergarten class is exemplary!

In all seriousness, Abi is having a great time in Kindergarten, and she appears to be thriving. I have seen some wonderful worksheets come home with her, and she has spoken of some fantastic activities they have done.

The second week in, they baked gingerbread cookies and read the book about the Gingerbread Man. Apparently, each child cut out his or her own gingerbread boy or girl, and they decorated one large one as a class. Well, later that morning, the principal came in and admitted he opened the oven. Wouldn't you know, that gingerbread man ran away. He left a note on the principal's desk. Bet you can guess what it said. The kids looked all weekend for that cookie. He didn't turn up until Monday.

They've worked on graphing, reading, Venn diagrams, coloring, cutting, pasting, washing their hands, crossing the street, Spanish, art, phys ed, music, library use, and (the one thing I've heard the most about) learning to be quiet. She is coming home, singing songs in Spanish, reciting her small reading books beautifully, phonetically spelling whatever she can all over the place, and writing numbers on her chalkboard just for fun.

It amazes me, really. She was clearly so ready for this, and she has jumped in full force. Yes, some days she comes home a little cranky, but when I see what they cram into three hours, I am awed that she even has the strength to walk the 3/4 of a mile home.

Oh- did I not mention that? We walk to school? About 3/4 of a mile each way? I'm sure when she's in her 60's she will recall it being up hill both ways (and parts of it are), and oh, just wait until the snow begins to fall!

As for making new friends... come on. This is Abi we're talking about. Right away she met Joy and Lauren. On day three she came out of school with a new best friend, Mackenzie. She also knows Isaac and Luke in her class, and the mom of a little boy named Sam told me that her son comes home talking about Abi all the time. She also has good friends Jakob and Kaylee in other kinder classes, and McKenna and Anna in second grade. Some days she'll tell me of some random older kid she met: Coby- the second grader on the playground, Maddy- her third grade reading buddy. You get the picture. She's not her mother's introvert. She is her father's social butterdragon.

... and those of you who try to keep tabs on me from time to time might be wondering: how is MOM handling all of this?

Well, with the extra 3-4 miles of walking each day, I am less concerned if I miss my workouts! It's nice to have a little time with Braeden, and I also really appreciate having a little quiet time each morning when Braeden naps. I miss her though. Don't get me wrong, it is easier to tolerate some things when she focuses on school for three hours each day, but... I miss her mind around here sometimes. Even though she is only five years old, given the amount of time we have spent together, she knows me so well. We read each other, and often can be what the other needs without even being asked. She knows me. And I know her. And sometimes it's nice to have that so near.

I'm pretty in touch with my kids at this point in our lives. Reading them is my job right now. It has been such a treat for me to watch Abi's mind develop, to recognize how strongly I understand her, and to sense how she flows. It could be just in simple things she says, or in how she helps or handles her brother. Even in how she gets so mad when all she wants to do is kiss Braeden and he wants no part of it. I see it coming. I see him flip out. I see her overreact, and thrash about not getting to dote on him to her fullest desires. I get a lot of pleasure from experiencing her methods of processing the world around her.

So. I miss that.

Then I think about all of the other people that are getting the chance to learn that she not only has potential to be an amazing person, but that she is, right now, an amazing person, and I am just so thrilled for the world.

What an exciting time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

*sigh*. politics.

I am not an individual with a political mind. Once in a while I try to listen to some of the issues and make my own best judgments on the world around me. I vote, and really that's as romantic as I get with politics.

... but I am really confused about all of the hubbub around President Obama addressing children in a back to school speech.

I guess the way I feel about it is... why should it be easier for Ronald McDonald to talk to my kids than it is for the President of the country in which they live?