I know these videos are, like 6 times faster than reality. But this is what it feels like sometimes. (Of course, when I want it to feel like that—like the kids are actually moving—its the other way: it feels 6 times slower than reality.)
Even though Elsa spent the first couple of weeks of school getting ready to go with the boys and collapsing with disappointment (and sometimes needing to be forcibly kept within the apartment), we are really having a good time together.
Seriously. She wants to do yoga with me. She’s happy to go running with me. We read stories and cook together.
I don’t imagine our mother-daughter relationship can always be this full of fun girl-time, but a mom can dream, right?
It’s always a little nerve-wracking for me when Simon says, “I think we should say a prayer that ________.”
Because what if “________” doesn’t happen?
Especially when it’s something like, “I think we should say a prayer that it doesn’t hurt too much when you pull my tooth out.”
Oh dear. Of course it is going to hurt. Right?
This particular tooth has been “loose” for months. Not very loose, but a little. This is surprising because the adult tooth was fully emerged, sitting right behind it, waiting for it to get out of the way so it could scooch forward and into its proper place.
The dentist said it needed to come out within the next week or two, or he’d have to pull it. We told Simon to wiggle away, then set deadline for Sunday night. The time came and we got a bit of cold feet. I pulled a bit to loosen it some more. And that is when Simon got the idea that maybe we should say a prayer.
We did, of course. Then Micah had the idea that maybe we should try to loosen it some more with some floss. We wrapped a string of floss around the tooth and tugged a bit, and after a few times it was much looser, but still not out. We decided to give it one final tug with fingers. Micah was chosen to perform the job. (I’m much less sensitive to other people feeling pain . . . .) I gave Simon my arm to squeeze, Micah tried to get a better angle on the tooth and then . . .
Oh, wait. It was already out. That “better angle” was all it took. Simon didn’t even notice until Micah showed him the tooth. There was very little blood.
Prayers were answered. Teeth were lost. High fives were exchanged.
Usually, when the boys come home from school and we try to talk about what they did, we get crickets. Sometimes, “It was good.” I often wonder if they do anything all day long. They can never remember, it seems, what they drew or read or wrote or anything. And so those hours they spend away from us are a bit of a mystery. We assume they are learning, but we never quite know.
However, we have gathered that something was afoot in Simon’s class. He comes home and is not happy. He no longer likes school. He doesn’t want to do his homework. He wants to stay home tomorrow.
We have been encouraging him and working with him and telling him we’ll know more about why there isn’t more independent reading time when we go to curriculum night. And he is grumpy but compliant.
Last Thursday was curriculum night. It was amazing to see so much work that they’d done. Oliver draws pictures! (Kind of.) His teachers have noticed that he loves to laugh. He and Juliet and best buds. He has a life at school and it seems to be a good one. There are many things he will be better at by the end of the year, and we are looking forward to watching that happen.
And Simon, bless his heart, is having trouble because, it seems he is too good a student. Too thoughtful. Too determined to do his best work. So he has a folder full of unfinished projects while his classmates, who have finished already, are reading the books that he so very much wants to read as well.
We had a good talk with Simon’s TA about his frustrations. It was illuminating for us and her. She would never have suspected that he was unhappy about school because he works so diligently in class. We didn’t realize that his biggest problem was caring too much.
Our fingers are crossed that now that we all have a clearer picture—and some coping mechanisms—we’ll get back to that place where school is hard in a good way, and even beyond that to a place where he feels like he has a little more flexibility and influence on his learning environment.
I think it was when we had to pull over halfway up the Williamsburg Bridge to move Simon from one bike to the other lest he maul his brother that I realized that our “first day of school” dream was turning rather sour.
The boy yelled and screamed until we go to school. He declared that he wasn’t going to school and clung to me like a baby koala until I forcibly removed him from my body and he ran to follow his class into the school.
After that, Micah and I held our breaths until we had to drop Oliver off for his 90 minute first day of kindergarten. He, at least, performed his part perfectly, waving like a champ as he walked up the ramp at the back of the line, the smallest kid in the class.
But when we hovering parents were invited to come see the kindergarten classroom an hour later and we saw Oliver’s picture that indicated that he had been scared about his first day, it occurred to me that he had also been inadequately prepared.
Of course, we were on pins and needles all day wondering how Simon was getting on. At pickup, however, he seemed to have some amnesia about the morning. And he needed very little encouragement to spend an hour playing tag with a boy in his class who is new to the school this year.
I know we got off on the wrong foot this year, but with a little dancing, I think we’ll be past this rough patch before too long.
Did I forget to tell you about that time we went rollerskating? Good times, people, good times.
Simon had been asking for months to go to the new rink next to the new splashpad in the new development in Prospect Park. I kept telling him we needed to find a time when Micah could be there because I didn’t think I’d me able to manage 3 kids at once.
I was right. And, in fact, the two of us had a hard time making sure all 3 were able to stay on their feet. After we finally got around the rink the first time, I thought for sure the kids would be done and we’d have spent a good chunk of change for 10 minutes of . . . something. It seemed, to put it mildly, an ambitious activity for our stage in life.
But the kids surprised me. They wanted to go around again. And again. And again. Simon was determined to get better at it. Elsa seemed not to understand that she could stop. And Oliver, bless his little heart, kept at it even though he had neither the desire to get any better nor found any enjoyment in the process of trying to stay up-right. At least that is how it seemed to me.
Against all odds, we stayed until the rink closed. There were tears when we had to return our skates. Even Micah and I had to admit that we enjoyed ourselves, even if we did spend the entire time trying to keep Bambi-legged kids from going down.
That is not to say that we’ll do it again. Not any time soon anyway, or not as a whole family. Nope. Roller skating will likely be a special one-on-one activity, at least for the next 5 years.
I try not to write things that are terribly controversial, I really do. And yet somehow I managed to do just that. Who knew that so many people would want to weigh in (nationally and internationally) on the decision to leave a 7-year-old kid home alone for short periods of time? I even went to great pains to cover my bases so that people would realize that this was a very safe, controlled experiment performed on a willing and prepared subject.
I have been told since then that the only mistake I made was to tell people I did this. Their criticism is that now people know that occasionally my kid is home alone and they are going to come stalk him or something. That’s a bunch of bull, of course. Even if anybody knew exactly when I were to leave Simon alone (unlikely since I don’t know myself until just before), good luck finding my apartment and getting him to open the door.
But I really do believe that talking about this is not a mistake. I think it’s important to talk about how to give our kids opportunities to be responsible, and how to know if they are mature and capable enough. It seems like an important thing to talk about, so I guess I should be pretty happy that I got to start this conversation. And I am glad that I’ve had the opportunity to talk about it on tv and radio.
This whole experience has been both fun and overwhelming. There have been times I’ve had to remind myself that they aren’t really talking about me or judging my parenting, but that I merely started a conversation that sort of spun beyond me. I’ve wondered if I really needed to make any comment beyond what I wrote and if I should turn down any interview requests.
I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I had the opportunity to share my views, to get people thinking, and to do it on live radio, live TV, a taped TV segment, and a taped talk show (which won’t air for a few more weeks).
It has been unexpected, but not unmanageable. And I hope that it will be something that gets people thinking about how they raise their kids, how they protect them, and how they can empower them.