I’ve always looked forward to my evening blog post. It’s a time to reflect on the day, gather my thoughts, share what’s on my mind – whether it’s something of huge importance or just a little blurb about my life. Lately though, by the time the girl is asleep in bed beside me, I find I’m too run down and tired to be much in the mood for blogging.
Lily-Ann is a “high need” kid (a term coined by Dr. Sears). She’s never been easy. She’s challenging, but oh so worth it. She’s super bright, creative, head-strong, determined, yet compassionate and full of empathy. Her emotions are always heightened and many would find them exaggerated – a fact that was nailed home in her report card, which came home right before Easter break. And all this would be just fine, if she wasn’t such a chip off the old block.
My emotions tend to get so tied up within whatever she’s feeling that I’m just exhausted by the time I’ve laid down with her to read our nightly chapters. What she feels has always translated directly into what I myself feel. When she’s happy, I’m happy, when she’s upset, I’m upset. I honestly can’t see beyond her pain when she’s hurting – and that includes when she’s in the middle of a temper tantrum… which has been happening on a more and more regular basis in the evenings.
I’m exhausted, and can’t think of anything to write beyond that.
People talk about “the terrible twos”… Lily-Ann was a BREEZE at two, and good-natured trouble at three. At four she was everything I could ever have hoped for – and then some. We’re now at five and a half, and wow! While I still wouldn’t call her terrible, there are times when she brings out the terrible in all of us.
I’ve got all sorts of parenting skills. It comes from a lifetime of parenting those around me. I have multiple siblings who are young enough to be my own children. I’ve been babysitting since I was ten (which seems crazy in retrospect). My family ran a daycare when I was a child and a teen. Parenting just kinda comes naturally. But even I am left with nothing left after an hour of break-downs over everything including something as trivial as a piece of scrap that missed the wastebasket by 1/2 cm.
Now, I know this will pass. Every child goes through phases where things are just more than they can handle. However, while we’re in the middle of this particular tempest? Blogging isn’t exactly my priority.
And hey! Advice, ideas, suggestions, and pats on the back are ALL appreciated just now. I know, as parents, this is something we’ve all faced (or are going to face) at some point.
Childhood is about learning who you are and how you fit into the world. It’s about trying on as many different hats as possible, and seeing how well you wear each. It’s about learning through play.
I really though I’d have a lot to say today… but in all honesty? I’m tired out after a day of play. I love spending Thursdays in school with kid kid, but it does wear me out. Some very positive news came out of today though!
A literacy expert sat in on the girl’s kindergarten class for about an hour this afternoon – and she was excited by the girl. She’s promised that they will come up with a program that challenges Lily-Ann, one that helps encourage her already present enthusiasm for reading and creative play. I am feeling so much better knowing that the girl is going to have someone (other than me) pulling for her at school. Someone who gets just how important it is to not only focus on those who are behind, but those who have the potential to really excel. So YAY!
I had full intention of sharing a little of our daily routine today, just as the January photo a day challenge demands… however, our routine wasn’t routine. In fact, our routine simply WASN’T.
Early this morning I got a phone call from my sister. She wanted to take Lily-Ann out for breakfast and then for a walk down by the river. The girl has been aching for some time with her auntie, and I was more than happy to make things work. So the girl and I jumped out of bed, she picked out some clothes (I sent her back to pick out something different – a summer dress just doesn’t work for a walk in the snow), got dressed, threw on her outerwear, and she was ready to go!
So what did I do with my kid-free morning? I worked on a tutu her pre-k EA had commissioned.
Last year I made a purple, plum, and black tutu for Rhonda’s Halloween costume. She was a wicked fairy. It turned out wonderfully. I made it extra long and super wild. It ended up being such a big hit that she keeps it at school to wear every so often, just for fun (and has even lent it to some of the other staff – both male and female). Well, last month she asked me to make another one for her… this one with a water theme. And I have to say, it’s turned out beautifully!
It was the most complex tutu I’ve done to date, with five different colours of tulle. All various shades of blue, including one earthy blue that was covered in sparkle. I alternated lights and darks so that while Rhonda walks it will look like ocean waves, cresting and flowing – light to dark. It’s a very elegant tutu.
Lily-Ann and I dropped it off for her at school on our way to Lily-Ann’s classroom. Rhonda was just thrilled, and I’m sooo glad. Damon even overheard her raving about her tutus when he went to pick the girl up after school – which made me feel pretty good.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little more successful with the challenge topic. After all, with such an open topic I’m sure the bigger problem with be narrowing it down.
I love hearing how other people see my daughter. I know how I know her to be, but how a child behaves at home and how they behave when Mom isn’t around are often two different things. So the stories I heard from kid kid’s teacher today were very nice to hear.
Apparently, after coming back from a lesson with Mr. G (who teaches both music and phys.ed) the kids were telling Ms. W how one particular classmate had been bad. They all reported in, one after another, how this classmate had not behaved and ended up in trouble. Then one student said “Lily-Ann was bad”. Their teacher stopped and with a quizzical look repeated, questioningly “Lily-Ann was bad?” To that, she explained, came an entire chorus of “No” or “Lily-Ann is never bad” and “Lily-Ann is good.” LMAO I guess it was just a question of one student’s Freudian slip.
We also talked about how she, as their teacher, gets a unique look into each of their home lives. Through the things they say and do, she’s able to figure things out about each of their lives. How one student must watch a lot of horror movies, and another is jealous of their sibling(s). She continued to tell me, with a smile, how Lily-Ann is always there to help and encourage her fellow students. How she is always supportive, even through creative play. And how a couple of days ago she was playing in the kitchen center and told the student pretending to be the child how she, the mom, was preparing strawberry cream cheese because it’s sweet like they were. And how she was going to make it from scratch by cutting up her own garden strawberries. I’ll admit, I like the story of our home life that paints. And it’s true. I make her mini-bagels with yummy and sweet strawberry cream cheese because she’s sweet like a strawberry and it’s just one way I can show her that I love her.
My daughter isn’t just sweet and supportive though, she’s strong too. And she’ll defend herself, standing her ground if you try to tell her otherwise. I guess one boy has been teasing her, telling her he’s stronger than she is, trying to get her goat. But she’ll just look him in the eye and tell him otherwise… he’s gotten himself in trouble with the teacher a couple times now for insisting she’s not as strong as he is. LOL
The kid isn’t one to back down if she knows she’s right, but she also knows how important it is to offer love and compassion to those around her. It makes me proud to know these are lessons she has internalized simply by how we treat her. It’s nice to know others see the amazing girl I do when they see her too.
On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed. Today was my first chance.
A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY. His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him. Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.
The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes. “Seven boys.” The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”. She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting. “Five girls.” That number gets written on the board too. An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers. “Twelve kids. Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”
Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral. At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school. At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space. And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that. If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?” Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY. “Who feels like a girl?” Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL. But I think we can do better. Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all? After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).
Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers. Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”. Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions. After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day. Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all. This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.
I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all. She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response… what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life. While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating. Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY… simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue… can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.
We missed the meet your teacher night this year because the girl had her very first ballet class that evening – but we already know Ms. Wolfmueller anyway. We are there every day after all, I’m a classroom volunteer, so hang out with the kids and Amanda on Thursdays. So when we showed up for school on Wednesday, we were given a lovely little gift bag all the families received the night before.
The effort that was put into these gift bags just further demonstrates why we love our school. Such thoughtful gifts for us to share, and completely unexpected and appreciated:
We really do love the girl’s school. We started kid-kid there because we loved their pre-k program, Rhonda and Tracy are amazing, and the kids all adore them. But we continued there because of the real sense of community and belonging found throughout the school.
There are kids from all sorts of families, it’s a wonderfully diverse student body. Diversity is both celebrated and embraced in such a lovely way. The school participates in the Day of Pink, and I plan to encourage participation in Wear Purple day this year too. The administration team is fabulous, and well… we really do love Mayfair Community School.
Roo Watch 2012: Roo has been cool, calm and collected. No signs of early labour. She’s due on the 29th… so far so good.
The night before school starts,
and mom writes my name.
On notebooks, and pencils
helping me to lay claim.
I’m not a poet,
that’s as far as it goes.
The rest of this blog post
is thankfully in prose.
My Sharpie is no longer sharp after writing “Lily-Ann” on 12 markers, 24 crayons, 24 pencil crayons, various notebooks, folders, and a scrapbook, as well as on shoes, pencil cases, glue sticks, erasers, a pencil sharpener, a bottle of white glue (with a no clog lid), and a backpack. Gotta love the night before the first day of school. Pre-k was easy all supplies are communal, but as kids enter the regular school system labeling everything quickly becomes the norm.
I remember my Mom scrawling our names on everything… And with so many of us it was no quick task. As our pencils and pencil crayons were wore down into little nubs, and all that remained was a letter or two, I’d still think of Mom writing our names every time I saw mine. It was a reassuring thing, though it didn’t register as such on a conscious level until many years later.
I hope, as Lily-Ann sits in her classroom this coming school year, that seeing her name spelled over and over again brings a sense of belonging and love. That she knows how treasured she is, not just by her Mom (who wrote her name so very many times) but by everyone who knows her. She really is such a special kid, and her joie de vie has left many with grins where previously there were none.
Girl is ready to be a “school kid” whether or not I am ready for the same.
I stumbled onto a treasure while cleaning up some boxes at my parents place the other day, and it’s something I just had to share: my grade eight yearbook! Now, it’s seen better days, and even to begin with it was just a low budget photocopied, plastic coil-bound book, but I thought it was pretty cool. It’s about thirty pages long, so there was no way I was going to take iPhone pics of the whole thing. However, I did think our bios were worth sharing. So here we are, the Bishop Klein grade eight class of 1990 – 1991: