Posts Tagged ‘pre-k’

Life Lessons And Other Skills I Do Not Have

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

This past week has really testing my parenting skills. I don’t mean in a “care and feeding and keeping them mostly alive” way – that I can handle. I mean in a “Mommy, who is God?” kind of way. Those question make an alarm go off in my head that blares: WARNING WARNING! Code red question alert, run away or distract with candy immediately! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this stuff is starting to come up, since 4 1/2 and almost 3 are ages known for ALL THE QUESTIONS but it doesn’t change the fact that in the moment I freeze up and I never know what to say.

The first one was at the park last weekend, while I was taking pictures and Evan was supposed to be helping but wanted to pout instead. Evan is an expert flouncer – he would win the gold, silver and bronze flounce medals in flouncing and the Flounce Olympics – and was trying to flounce himself away from me…right into the graveyard at Fort Shantok, which is part of the Mohegan tribe’s sacred burial lands. NOT A GOOD SPOT FOR FLOUNCING. (For the record, the graveyard is 100 feet from a playground and a baseball field, it’s not like we climbed a fence to go tromping through it on purpose.) I hissed at him not to go in there but he kept inching further away from me until I said “That is a GRAVEYARD. Stay OUT.”

Stupid, stupid Suzanne. Of course then he wanted to know what a graveyard was and WHY do they put dead people there and are there STILL dead people there and what HAPPENS to dead people once they’re in the ground and does that mean HE is going to turn into dirt TOO???

I managed not to mention zombies.  HIGH FIVES.

We both survived, and I think I’m the only one of us who’s still concerned about it, so it wasn’t the worst conversation ever. But it certainly wasn’t a shining moment in using my words.

The second one, which is way harder, is Evan’s bus situation. His best friend since before he was even capable of having friends is on his going-home bus, but there have been some problems with teasing. The good news is Evan isn’t the ringleader and after I found out he was involved we had a good talk and he apologized now he knows he’s supposed to tell people “Those are not kind words, be nice to my friends!” The bad news is four year olds forget stuff and some parents are more involved and some are less involved and when the only adult there is a bus driver whose job it is to DRIVE the bus it’s easy for someone to get their feelings hurt.

In an attempt to separate the troublemakers, Evan ended up with an assigned seat next to a kid he doesn’t know. The bus driver – who is very nice – told me Evan was upset the first assigned-seat day, so I asked him why he couldn’t be friends with the girl he was sitting with. He said,”I don’t want to sit with her, she has yucky boo boos on her face!”

My brain said: “Aaaaaaagh alert alert, your child is a jerk! Fix it! Fix it now!!!”

My mouth said: “Evan! That is not OK! You be nice! To everyone! Even people with…who…different! Everyone is different! We are friends with everyone even different people!”

“OK Mommy,” said Evan.

I composed myself and we talked about it again later. I must not have done too badly, since the next day he told me he sat with (that same girl) and they were new best friends and the bus driver reports that he’s been good. It’s only a 15 minute bus ride, I don’t want it to be the most stressful part of his whole life. It’s crazy to me 4 year olds even know HOW to be mean to each other on the bus – at home the meanest thing Evan ever does to his sister is not share toys. He wouldn’t have any idea how to hurt her with just words and it scares me that pretty soon he probably will. I’m going to need to read a book or watch a YouTube channel or get in touch with Mr. Roger’s ghost somehow to help me navigate this life lesson stuff.

Can we just go back to babies that never sleep and when to introduce finger foods? That seems less likely to cause permanent damage.

First Day of Pre-K

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

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HOW can August already be over? And how can my kid already be in pre-K? And why does it always surprise me when I think about how quickly time passes? Does that ever change?

Last week was sort of the school trial-run for everyone – students, parents, teachers and bus drivers included. We had orientation on Wednesday, which was the first time Evan got to see his classroom and his teacher. I was happy to see that his class is small (15 kids), there are a lot of adults involved in each room on a daily basis and everyone we talked to knew Evan’s name. He was pretty bummed he didn’t get to stay after orientation was over. School has cool Legos.

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Playing during classroom orientation

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School has an ELEVATOR?! Totally the best part when you’re 4.

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Thursday was the official first day that included theoretical bus riding. The town really WANTS the kids to ride the bus – as far as I know they bus almost everyone, unless you are close enough to just walk across the street – because the school is old and in a weird location (a slice of land between two semi-busy roads with very close-together houses on the other side) so they have almost no parking. Not even enough for the employees. And since they moved ALL the town pre-K classes to this one building there are a lot of buses and only one drop-off lane. Basically, it’s a mess, so the fewer parents bring their kids to the school the better.

But because they’re busing SO many kids it’s taking some time to figure out the logistics. On Thursday we were all ready to go and out front at 8:15, even though our bus is supposed to pick Evan up at 8:35. Luckily our bus stop is our front steps, so it’s not hard to hang out.

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Our public schools require uniforms starting in pre-K. I love it.

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He thinks holding his sign upside down is the most hilarious joke in the world.

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Waiting. While they waited I weeded, because yikes.

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We saw at least a dozen buses, but none of them stopped.

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Waiting for the bus…that didn’t come

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Aaaaaand at 8:49 (official school start time: 8:50) I tossed both kids in the car and we drove to school. I had (stupidly) scheduled a newborn photo session that morning and I needed to get going at 9 am, so I couldn’t take the chance the bus wasn’t going to show up at all. Luckily there was one drop-off parking spot open and I ran Evan up to the front door where someone whisked him off to his classroom. He was so excited to go he didn’t even look back but I was a little sad we didn’t have the “I love you, have fun!” hug moment I had imagined on our front steps as he got onto his bus.

To make myself feel worse, I didn’t make it back in time for his bus drop off either – even though they were 20 minutes late. My sitter was there, freaking out because I told her the bus came at 12:15 and there was no bus at 12:15, so I called the school on my way home to make sure Evan wasn’t sitting along in a hallway somewhere without a bus, since he didn’t take one TO school. I was imagining the bus system running like an airline, where if you miss your outgoing flight you can’t catch one back, but they assured me he was on his way. I got home 4 minutes after he did and he said “MOMMY! I rode on a FREE BUS!!!”

I was very glad we had a do-over day on Friday when Caroline and I had nowhere to be and plenty of time to wait for our bus…which came at 9:52. I’m hoping by the end of this week they’ll get here at 8:35.

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Waiting for the bus again

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It came!

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Home from a great second day! His first question was “Do I get to go to school tomorrow?”

 

Back To School Lessons {Giveaway!}

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

We’re down to mere weeks before school starts and it’s hard to believe. On the one hand, YAY SCHOOL! Our town offers public pre-k , so Evan will be going 5 mornings a week. On a bus. Apparently typical four year olds are better at public transportation than I am, since I barely managed to catch the bus in high school, let alone pre-K. On the other hand, 5 days a week is a lot of school. And it never really goes back – it gets worse. Next year he’ll have full day kindergarten, followed by 12 YEARS of school at least 180 days a year. It almost makes me want to keep Caroline home instead of sending her back to preschool.

Almost. But not really, since going to doctor’s appointments alone is an indulgence I can’t live without anymore. Although I haven’t officially registered her at all, so I hope there’s a spot at her current program. File that under Things I Always Forget To Take Care Of In A Timely Manner, although that file might be kind of full since Find Out When Evan’s Classroom Orientation Is, Buy School Uniforms, Get A Copy Of The School Supply List, and Update Both Kids’ Health Forms are already in there.

I learned a lot of lessons in the last year at preschool: Never underestimate a child’s talent for getting paint on the ONE outfit you like best. Putting a note in a backpack does not mean the teacher will get it, ever. And label everything. LABEL. EVERYTHING.

Last year I relied on my shoddy memory and the availability of a Sharpie to label all the kids’ stuff. We lost a lot of cups. I also got a lot of “Just a reminder! Smiley Face!” notes home when I forgot, and nothing makes me feel worse than Smiley Face! notes from the teachers. Might as well write “Failing As A Mother! Smiley Face!” on them.

This year, I’m getting a little help from Stuck on You. They have a huge selection of products you can personalize – not just labels, but pretty much anything you can imagine. They sent me a family starter pack (with 2 kids, everything gets shared) and it is faaaaantastic.

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Shoe labels that stick in the heels – this picture was taken right after I stuck them in. I wasn’t 100% convinced they were going to stay but after a week of hard wear (including leaving them out in the rain) they still look exactly like that.

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Mini/pencil labels on our sippies spotted out in the wild! This one has been through the dishwasher several times already.

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Perfect for summer school lunches!

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Iron in clothing labels. LOOOOOOOVE. Once I got the hang on it (stick a towel under the jacket/shirt so you can press down nice and hard) it took 5 minutes to knock out every fall coat and sweatshirt. BOOM.

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These have been in for a week. Notice how you can still read them?! Amazing. PLUSALSO, they use non-toxic eco-friendly inks.

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These are some well-labeled children right here: lunches, cups, folders, shoes, and sweatshirts.

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If I was really smart, I’d order another set with my phone number on it and stick them on all Caroline’s favorite toys and dolls, so when she leaves them at the beach/aquarium/mall/playground/library there’s a chance we could get them back.

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She likes that idea.

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Sigh. This is what happens when I say “Make a cute face!” It has nothing to do with labels, except that I’m labeling her a weirdo.

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The gingers say “What are you waiting for?! These labels are the coolest!”

To help you get ready for school, Stuck On You has two $20 gift certificates to give to my readers! Just leave a comment telling me what you’re doing to get ready for the school year to enter for a chance to win. And definitely go check out their site, they’ve got everything from place mats to puzzles. You’ll be stuck on them (ba-dum-ching!)

Disclaimer: Stuck On You gave me a family pack of labels so I could try them out. No other compensation was provided and I swear I really, really love these labels. One entry per family. Two winners will be chosen using Random.org on August 14th and contacted via email so please use a real one.

 

Getting Schooled

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Last week I spent a great deal of time thinking about and researching preschool options for Evan next year, but instead of helping me make a decision I’m just MORE confused than I was.

When I looked at a 3-year-old preschool program, my biggest challenge was just tracking down basic information. Where are they? When are they? How much do they cost? You’d think that was all classified information – ESPECIALLY the “how much does it cost?” question. No one wants to tell you until you’ve already taken the tour, brought your kid in for a visit, filled out the paperwork and totally fallen in love with the place. Then SURPRISE! Three day a week preschool costs almost exactly as much a my annual college tuition did! But look, did we show you the llamas the children help care for as part of our animal husbandry program for toddlers?

NO LLAMAS, NO. We cannot eat the things my child learns to knit from your luxurious hair, so we had to choose a less-fancy but totally lovely preschool program. I made my choice and haven’t regretted it for a second since Evan started. I love them so much I started sending Caroline and plan to continue sending her until she’s old enough for one of the public school programs.

So. About those public school programs. There are two options in my town – the charter school and the regular public school. If you had asked me last year, I would have said the charter school was absolutely my first choice with our current (not free) preschool as a back up. The regular public school option was third. Of course, that opinion was based on nothing. Truly nothing. Not a single actual thing. I don’t know anyone whose kids go to the public program, I just assumed it would be not good based on the fact that my town is slightly economically depressed (am I the only one who pictures a really sad dollar sign anytime someone uses that phrase? Probably). But with that opinion behind me I filled out the charter school application a full year early and then crossed all my crossables.

It didn’t work. Evan is number 15 on the wait list. There are only 22 spots in the classroom, so the chances we’ll get moved up far enough to get in are…not good.

The truth is, I’m not sure how I feel about it. The charter school is very, very popular. There are something like 800 kids on the wait list at any given time – there was a mom on the tour last week who said her 5th grader has been on the list for four years. Getting in through the preschool program is the only way to guarantee a spot in the elementary and middle school programs. But after the tour I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was the place for my kid. There wasn’t anything WRONG with it, I just wasn’t…blown away, I guess? There definitely weren’t any llamas.

Now it looks like he’s going to go to regular preschool at the regular public school. This year they’re starting a whole new consolidated program for all the pre-k’s in our town at one elementary school and it sounds like they’re working really hard to make it amazing. Evan could take the bus – THE BUS – to and from school 5 days a week. They have a gorgeous playground. He will probably know at least one kid in his class, thanks to his extensive social circles. I think I can make the pick-ups and drop-offs work with Caroline’s preschool schedule, so she can stay where she is. But the regular public preschool feeds into the regular public schools and I’m a tiny bit terrified of our town’s middle school. It is a RIDICULOUS thing to worry about, since the chances of us still living here when my children are in middle school are about the same as our chances of winning the lottery, moving to a villa on the coast of France and paying a private tutor for the next 13 years but worrying is my second favorite hobby.

It can really all be summed up as OMG WHO THINKS I AM RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS FOR ANOTHER HUMAN BEING? Just like every other parenting decision. A preschool seems like a tiny choice, but it’s a pebble tossed into a pond – the ripples could echo through the rest of their lives. It’s too much. At least now I don’t have to pick which stone to throw?

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