Ads 468x60px

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What Children Really Deserve

During the holidays, the main focus of my son's life is presents.  He's three.  He just doesn't understand the deeper meaning behind all of it, regardless of how often I try to explain it to him.  Part of the blame lies with me, as well.  As a parent, I see how amazing my child is, so when I'm at Toys R Us filling the cart to the brim, I tell myself he deserves all these presents.  Truthfully, I know that this is just stuff.  But, it got me thinking about what it is that our children truly deserve from us as parents.

I'm not talking about toys, clothes, healthy meals, or even shelter.  I'm talking about the things we give to our children each and every day that doesn't cost a thing.  What do they deserve from us in terms of time, attention, patience, etc.?  I don't believe that we owe our children our entire existence; we still need to maintain a sense of self and spend time doing things that we enjoy or we lose who we are.  An unhappy parent usually makes for an unhappy child.

In that same sense though, we do owe our children a fair amount of our precious time.  Our children deserve to know that they are important enough that we are willing to drop everything - even if it's only for an hour a day - to give them our undivided attention.  My child deserves to feel that he is a priority in my life, not an inconvenience.  I owe him the courtesy of listening to him when he talks to me, not just brushing him away or telling him I'm too busy.

I don't want my kid to feel special in the sense that he thinks he deserves an award, a trophy, or even a high-five for everything that he does.  But, I want my child to know that - on a daily basis - I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life.  He deserves to know that when I make choices, I take into consideration what is best for him as well as for myself.  My choices don't just affect me, and I need to remember that.  I also feel that it is my job to show and encourage my child to make good choices and to think about how his own choices might affect the people around him.

My actions and my attention show him I love him and that he is important - not my wallet.

Monday, December 26, 2011

If teachers got to evaluate students

You might be reading this and thinking, "But teachers do get to evaluate students.  It's called a grade."  Well, you're right, and you're not.  You see, teachers do get to evaluate their students' performance in class by giving them a grade, but we have to be able to justify this grade based (usually) on points and a grading scale.  I can't just say, "I feel this student is a C student," and slap a C on the report card.  It just doesn't work like that.  I have to be able to show test grades and final exam scores that support the grade I've assigned the student.

But, I'm talking about a different kind of evaluation - the kind all students are asked to fill out regarding their instructors at the end of the semester.  These evaluations ask important questions like, "Did your instructor explain the material clearly?  Was the grading system clearly explained to you?  How often did your instructor incorporate technology into the course?  Do you feel you will be able to apply the skills learned in this course to the real world?"  All answers are given by filling in a bubble on a scale from 1 - 5, where 1 means "No or never" and 5 usually means "Awesome!"

Now, I'm fine with those questions, even though I think students quickly bubble in answers without reading the questions just so they can leave early.  What I pay the most attention to, however, is the "Comments" section.  Before handing out evaluations, I tell my students that I actually read (and take into consideration) any helpful suggestions they might have.  And, once in blue moon I actually get one.

Usually, however, I get helpful comments like:
"You shouldn't assign homework."
Great idea!  You'll be completely prepared for your tests if you do absolutely no practice problems.  I mean, everyone knows that the best way to learn math is to just sit back, relax, and watch someone else do it.  Heck, I've watched Aaron Rogers all season, and I'm pretty sure the Green Bay Packers are going to draft me.

"You should offer way more extra credit."
Terrific idea!  But, you  know what's a better idea?  What if, just for the hell of it, you came to class?  Or, you could do your homework?  Or, I know this sounds crazy, but what if you studied for your test?  This way, you wouldn't need any extra credit because you might actually have a clue as to what you are doing.

But, my favorite comment of all time: "You should have a day where we all come to class dressed like our favorite number."
Um, I don't even know what to say to that. 

I imagine that, if in addition to giving a grade instructors also got to fill out an evaluation for each student, they might go something like this:

"Johnny got an A- in the course, but his attendance was horrible.  He only came on test days.  Although he passed all the tests, he never did any homework.  I think this might be due to the fact that he mentioned being drunk on the day he took his placement test and placed into Algebra even though he took Calculus in high school."

"Johnny failed this course because he only attended class five times the whole semester.  He didn't score above 50% on any of his tests.  He claims he had a hard time understanding how I explained things.  I told him that was odd since he never actually saw me explain anything."

"Johnny ended up with a C- in this course even though he could have done better.  Personal problems and attendance issues mostly contributed to his not reaching his potential.  Hopefully, his grandma will die fewer than three times next semester, and he'll be able to attend class more regularly."

"Johnny failed the course even though he attended class regularly.  He may have been more successful had he actually paid attention, taken notes, and asked questions rather than spending the entire class period playing with his cell phone."

While filling out these evaluations for every student would be a lot of work, I think it would provide students, administrators, and future employers with valuable information... but that's just me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The first Christmas concert was a smashing disaster.

Earlier this week, Gavin had his first Christmas program at daycare.  I was informed by the daycare director that it would be the "cutest six minutes" I've ever experienced.  Afterwards, there would be punch and cookies, and all of the children would get to sit on Santa's lap.  For weeks, they had been practicing songs during music time.  I would occasionally hear Gavin reciting "The Chubby Little Snowman" and "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas."  Even though we live almost an hour away from daycare, there was no way we weren't going.

Even though Gavin fell asleep on the car ride there (and woke up a wee bit on the cranky side), he seemed in a relatively good mood when we got to daycare.  We dropped him off with his preschool friends and teachers and took our seats.  I was a little nervous for him, curious about how he would do in front of all of those people, and I secretly hoped it would go much better than soccer class did the first few times.

The teachers brought the children out one-by-one, and when it was Gavin's turn, he was full of smiles.  He went to his spot and stood their quietly while the rest of the kids came out.  I thought, "Hey, this might actually go well!" 

Here is a short video clip of the very first song that they did.  As you can see, it started out well . . .

Even though he was mouthing the words, he was doing all the motions and participating . . . until the last ten seconds.  The next five songs looked exactly like the last ten seconds of the video - Gavin's hands covering his mouth the entire time.  He wouldn't sing, just sat there with his hands covering most of his face. 

I'm not sure where things went wrong, but I am thankful because things could have been a lot worse.  He could have been the kid that:
- rolled around on the floor behind all the other children as they were singing.
- was crying so hard that his mom had to come get him off of the stage.
- picked his nose the entire time.

After it was over, I asked Gavin why he didn't sing.  His response: "Because I was tired of singing, Mommy."  Oh, okay then.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm a sucker

Lately, it has been brought to my attention that I'm a sucker.  A fool.  A push-over.  For who?  Well, my kid, of course.  He clearly has me wrapped around his sticky, syrup-covered finger, and why shouldn't I be?  I mean, he's cute, he's funny, he's clever, and . . . he's naughty as hell.  But, as smart as he is, he's already figured out exactly how to circumvent my "I'm so mad at you I don't even want to look at you right now" mode.

Ridiculous Thing I Do #1:
You know how kids get all crazy and wacky at dinner, and then they try to chug their milk which consequently leads to them doing that half-cough half-choking thing?  Well, Gavin does that at every single meal. I'm not even exaggerating.  At one point in time, I must have patted his back while he was choke-coughing (even though it is completely NOT helpful to the situation) because now I have to do it every time.  Every.  Single.  Time.  If I don't, he tries to pat his own back, which is just so pathetic that I give in and pat it for him.  Seriously, it's just a sad sight - his face turning all red, eyes watering, while he tries with little to no coordination to slap his upper back.  It's gotten to the point, however, that he often fakes cough-choking as an excuse to get up from his chair at the dinner table.  And, I gladly pat his back and send him on his way.

Ridiculous Thing I Do #2:
Gavin has been using forks and spoons for at least three years now. At least.  But, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I find myself feeding him - like a baby.  Of course, a lot of the times it's with something that difficult to eat - like spaghetti - but often it's not.  Did he suddenly lose mobility in his hand and is thereby unable to physical feed himself?  No.  I'm just a sucker.  Honestly, it's just faster.  And a hell of a lot less messier.  And even if it's not, I often get puppy dog eyes with a sad plea of, "Can you just feed me like a baby, Momma?"  How can I say no to that? Especially when it's shortly after he's said, "Oh, Momma, I missed you so much today," when I pick him up from daycare, or "I just love you, Mommy," when I take him out of his car seat.  It's like preemptive manipulation!

Ridiculous Thing I Do #3:
So, remember how I got a puppy?  Well, that didn't turn out so well.  But, I'll save that story (which I plan to call "Why My Dogs are Assholes")  for another time.  Long story short, we had to find Charlie a new home.  But, I felt bad.  I felt like I was all like, "Here's a puppy, son.  You like him?  You love him?  Good, because I'm getting rid of him!  Take that, kid!"  So, how did I cushion the blow of giving away one of his dogs?  I spent $100 on toys.  I came back from dropping the puppy off with a Lego set, a DVD, two coloring books, a paint set, and lord knows what else.  And, this is not the first time I've done guilt-purchasing.  In fact, it's probably the 200th time I've done it.  Gavin, you're having a surgery, but I bought you a toy!  Gavin, you have to get a cavity filled, but I bought you a toy!  Gavin, you had a rough day, but I bought you a toy!  It's ridiculous and send the totally wrong message, but he forgot about the dog for awhile...

So, yeah, I'm a pushover.  And, I think I'm fine with it.  I mean, if anyone is going to be a sucker for my kid, it might as well be me, right?  Yes, this is what I tell myself in my sick, sick mind to make it totally justifiable.  And, I'm okay with that, too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stop arguing with me!

Lately, I've had this reoccurring thought:  I wish I was three so I could know everything.  Clearly, three is the magical age where you know all there is to know about life and the world.  How do I know this?  Gavin told me.

As always, he's full of questions.  Why is it dark?  Why is that the moon?  Why is the sun going down?  Why is it December?  Why isn't it snowing?  These days, however, it seems he only asks me questions so he can argue with my answer.

Gavin: Mommy, who ripped open all of the presents under the tree?
Me:  Arnie.
Gavin:  No, I think it was Danion.
Me:  No, it was Arnie.
Gavin:  No, I think Danion did that.
Me:  It was Arnie.  Stop arguing with me.

Me:  Gavin, don't forget that tomorrow is show-and-tell.
Gavin:  No, show-and-tell was today.
Me:  No, today is Wednesday.  Tomorrow is Thursday.  Thursday is show-and-tell.
Gavin:  Today was show-and-tell.  Today is Friday, Momma.
Me:  Today is Wednesday.  I'd be in a much better mood if it was Friday.  Show-and-tell is tomorrow.  Stop arguing with me.

Gavin:  Where do we live?
Me: In our house.
Gavin:  No, we live on Earth.
Me:  Touche.
Gavin:  Huh?
Me:  Never mind.

Gavin:  Momma, I want to go to your work.
Me:  You've been to my work.
Gavin:  No, you never took me.
Me:  Yes, I did.  It was a little while ago, but I took you.
Gavin:  No!  You never took me!
Me:  Yes, I did.  Stop arguing with me.

Gavin:  I want to put on shorts.
Me:  You can't wear shorts.  It's freezing.
Gavin:  It's not freezing.
Me:  Yes, it is.  It's like 25 degrees outside.
Gavin:  It's not cold, Mommy.
Me:  You're nuts, and you're not wearing shorts.  Stop arguing with me.

Obviously, he knows more than I do.  I'm clearly confused about the days of the week.  I can't remember when show-and-tell is.  I fabricated a story about letting him come to my work.  I cannot tell the difference between hot and cold. And, I seem to have magically invented the fact that The Beagle loves to tear up wrapping paper more than he loves to lick my furniture incessantly.

It's a good thing I have Gavin to straighten me out.  At this point, I'm thinking why even bother sending him to school.  He already knows all there is to know.  Maybe he can just get a job instead.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's one of those days . . .

I know that before I've mentioned that preschool stresses me out.  Before, it was because I kept getting these reports telling me that I needed to work with Gavin on his letters and writing his name, even though I ALREADY WAS!  Well, there's another reason it stresses me out.  Okay, maybe two.

First, someone else is witnessing my child's bad behavior and then watching me like a hawk to see how I handle it.  Last week, or maybe the week before, I got a "bad behavior report" from Gavin's teacher.  It seems that Gavin had some issues keeping his hands to himself.  And by that I mean he punched another boy (who supposedly also punched him).  Apparently, they were wrestling and sudden blows were being thrown.  As the teacher tells me this, she stares at me, scrutinizes the interaction I have with Gavin (which included dirty looks, disappointment, a punishment of never being allowed to wrestle again, and, of course, the ever-famous, "What do you think your father is going to say?"), and secretly judges me in her mind (or at least that's what I think she's doing).

But truthfully, bad behavior and (supposed) criticism of my parenting doesn't stress me out as much as all the things I have to remember.  For example, this is a "theme week" at preschool.  I only know this because they put a poster on the wall at preschool.  Today, was pajama day - probably Gavin's favorite day of the year.  Well, I forgot.  And, I didn't realize it until I was well on my way to work - my hour long commute in 6 inches of snow) - running late, of course.  I made the mistake of mentioning it to Gavin ("Oh, I forgot today was pajama day), who was utterly panicked. 

"Mommy, you need to pull over.  Then you can turn on that street and go home and get my pajamas."
Honey, I don't have time to go back home and get you some pajamas.  We're already running late.
"Well, call my daddy and he will bring me some pajamas to my daycare."
Daddy can't bring you pajamas, honey.  His work is too far away from your daycare.
"Well, call Grandpa Ronnie then."
Gavin, Grandpa Ronnie lives far away.
"But I have to have pajamas."
I know, sweetie.  I'll figure it out.

So, this is the part where I feel like Worst Mom Ever because, once again, I forgot about something for school.  But, honestly people, you can't just put a poster on the wall.  I need a note home - a calendar - something I can hang on the fridge that I can check on an hourly basis to make sure I'm not FORGETTING ABOUT PAJAMA DAY AND THOROUGHLY DISAPPOINTING MY CHILD. 

But, the good news is that I figured it out - even though I only got to work with 2 minutes to spare.  I decided to stop at Meijer and buy him some new pajamas.  I explained to him that we had to be fast, and I'm pretty sure we were in and out with pajamas in hand in under 6 minutes.  And, Gavin was thrilled.

Seriously though, do you think it would be out of line if I asked preschool for email reminders or text message reminders???

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What the heck??? And also, I'm a murderer.

Sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend, Gavin picked up a new favorite saying:  What the heck?

I'm not sure where he heard it, but I imagine it went something like this:

Some random family member or friend:  What the heck?
Gavin (quietly to himself):  What the heck . . .
Someone overhears him, and they chuckle.  Gavin hears them chuckle, smiles, and thinks, "Oh, I'm funny."

The rest of the weekend goes like this:

Me:  Gavin it's time to eat.
Gavin:  What the heck?

Me:  Gavin, you need to get in the shower.
Gavin:  What the heck?

Gavin:  Mommy, I can't find Finn McMissile.
Me:  You'll have to look harder.
Gavin:  What the heck?

Me:  (drops something on floor)
Gavin: (pauses, looks at me) What the heck?

Me:  Gavin, will you let the dogs in?
Gavin:  What the heck?
Me:  I don't think it's cute when you say that.
Gavin:  What the heck?
Me:  I want you to stop saying that.  It's not funny or cute.
Gavin: (whispering) What the heck?

In other news, Gavin recently told a story to some of my family members that went like this:

I saw a firefighter at daycare.  I didn't see a policeman.  The police is going to come get my mommy and take her to jail.  She killed someone.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't tell him that I'll go to jail if he unbuckles his seatbelt, but I still can't figure out (or remember) who I murdered.  I haven't seen any dead bodies lying around.  I mentioned to him that he probably shouldn't tell stories like that . . . especially at daycare.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I don't want my own private island; I just want a top-secret bathroom.

All I want is five minutes.  That's it.  Just five minutes.  Five little minutes so I can just pee in peace.  But, I'm thinking that the only way this is going to happen is if I build a secret bathroom that no one else knows about.  Okay, and so maybe I'd like twenty minutes instead of five . . . you know, so I can shower in peace, too.

Ever since Gavin could crawl, my time in the bathroom hasn't been my own.  I thought that, as he got older, it would get better, but it hasn't.  Before, I would have to take him in the bathroom with me while I showered so I could keep an eye on him.  Now, he's more than capable of staying in the living room and playing with his toys while I shower, but that doesn't happen.  It seems that once I turn that water on, he suddenly has a million things he needs to ask me, tell me, or show me.  And, he has no problem flinging open the bathroom door and ripping back the shower curtain in order to do so.

The other day, the toy ad from Target came.  I gave it to Gavin to look at, telling him that we would go through it together when I got out of the shower.  I barely had my hair wet when the shower curtain went flying back, and there stood Gavin with the toy ad, pointing to something he liked.  I said, "Okay, honey, we'll look at that when I get out of the shower."  He left, only to return 30 seconds later to show me something else.  And then 30 seconds after that, and 30 seconds after that.

Things like this happen every time I get in the shower.  Suddenly, Gavin can't find his shoe or one of the 16 Lightening McQueen cars he owns, he can't open his juice box and he's dying of thirst, he's starving and needs to know if he can have a granola bar, or he really has to go potty and can't remember that we have another bathroom he can use.  The list goes on and on, and none of these things can wait six minutes while I finish shaving my legs.  They are urgent matters that must be dealt with right this very second.

I've thought about locking the doors to the bathroom when I shower, but invariably I would only lock one and not the other or the house would catch on fire or Gavin would simply sit there and pound on the door thereby ruining my 20 minutes of peace and quiet.

The problem is that this doesn't only happen when I shower.  I can't even get three minutes to pee without being interrupted.  As soon as I shut the bathroom door, Gavin suddenly realizes he has to go potty or needs something.  No matter how many times I tell him, "Mommy goes potty by herself," the door still comes flying open 10 seconds after I shut it.  I even go down to the basement to use the bathroom down there.  I tiptoe down the stairs.  I don't even turn the basement lights on.  He still finds me.  In less than 30 seconds.

So, while many people imagine having their own private island to escape the general public, I just want a secret bathroom where I can have anywhere between three and twenty minutes to myself.  It doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

This isn't a game; it's dinner.

Ever since Gavin began eating real food (not that baby food crap), I've been annoying boastful about his eating habits.  He was always a good eater, but more importantly he's not one of those kids who will only eat macaroni, pizza, and waffles (but the waffles have to be the exact kind the kid likes or he /she won't even give them a second glance).  Seriously, the kid will try and eat almost anything.  He likes peas, he loves broccoli, and he devours steak when I make it for him.  Actual words that once came out of my mouth: "Honey, you can't have anymore lobster until you have some more of your cheeseburger."  And he was two.

I'm just going to drink this so it looks like I'm eating.
 Of course, if given the choice, he will always choose macaroni, peanut butter and jelly, or candy, but he'll still eat everything else.  Once, when I asked him what he wanted me to bring him for dinner, he said, "Fish."  And, he was actually disappointed when I brought him chicken fingers instead - he really wanted fish.  So, I like to pretend that my militant attitude of he-will-eat-what-we're-eating really paid off - I always said I wouldn't make separate meals - but he might just have a sophisticated palate or some weird thing like that.  All I know is that he'll eat almost anything.

Except when he won't.

Lately, dinner has become a battle.  And, if I'm being completely honest, almost every meal has become a battle.  He didn't suddenly wake up one day and become picky; he woke up one day and decided he had much better things to do than eat.  It doesn't matter what I make - if I serve him grilled cheese or stir fry - he would much rather screw around than touch one bite of it.  If he tells me he's hungry and asks me for macaroni and cheese, he's suddenly no longer hungry when I hand him his bowl of steaming Sponge Bob shaped noodles.  You see, he's too busy making up silly songs, spinning around on the table, pretending he has to go to the bathroom, and throwing a fit to eat.  I mean, really, who has time to eat anyway.

So, now it's become a game.  A game where we have to talk about how many bites he has to eat of each item; a game of how many times he can sneak away from the table before he gets a timeout; a game of how many different threats can I make before he actually just eats the damn food.  And, it's exhausting.  I'm tired of waiting almost an hour for him to eat his six bites of chicken, five bites of peas, and three more bites of rice while I continually remind him that if he sings with food in his mouth he will choke.  I'm sick of having to set a timer (yep, a timer) to give him a limit on how long he has to finish eating something before there is a serious consequence. I'm done with putting him in time-out seven times before he finally eats his last TWO bites of pizza.

I'm not even gonna eat this ice cream!
 Our pediatrician said that he'll eat when he's hungry.  Well, Doc, you were wrong.  You see, no matter how hungry he is, he won't eat if something else is more interesting to him.  And, honestly, everything is more interesting to him than eating.  We were also told not to force him to eat.  Well, you know what happens if he doesn't eat?  He gets cranky.  C-R-A-N-K-Y.  Suddenly, every little thing causes a meltdown.  When I tell him he needs to eat because he's cranky, he tells me he's sick or his tummy hurts.  That's because you're hungry, kid!  Now eat!

So, somehow, some way, I'm determined to find a way to get him to sit, eat, and be done in under 30 minutes without all the games and without having to negotiate how many bites he's taking of each item on his plate.  I'm also trying to figure out how to get money to grow on trees.  I'll let you know how they both turn out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut . . .

It seems (to me at least) that once we've done something one time, we're suddenly experts on it.  And, we want to share our knowledge with the world - whether they want it or not.  Bought a house? You're now an expert on house buying.  Tiled a bathroom?  You could start your own tiling business.  Been to the doctor?  You can now diagnose a wide variety of diseases.  Went to school?  You now know all there is to know about education and teaching.  But, nothing is worse than when it comes to parenting.  If you've had a child, you know everything there is to know about child-rearing, and you'll gladly inform others as to exactly what they're doing wrong.

You see it's hard for us to keep our opinions to ourselves because we want everyone to think and feel the same way that we do.  It's hard not to tell your friend that it's probably a really bad idea to buy a new car right before she quits her job to attend graduate school.  It's hard not to speak up when someone overreacts to an off-handed comment their mother made.  It's hard not to mention to someone that they should probably be nicer to and more appreciative of the people that go out of their way to help them out.

The fact of the matter is, however, that it's really none of my business.  Just because something seems logical to me doesn't mean it is logical to someone else.  And, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with a choice someone is making, it's not my place to say anything (unless they are hurting themselves or someone else)- especially when my opinion is unsolicited.  It's not my choice; it's not my life; it's not my business.

But, it's especially hard not to intervene in the parenting methods of others.

I hate nothing more then when I am scolding Gavin, and ten other people are yelling at him at the same time.  I get defensive, and I usually say something like, "I can handle this, thank you."  To me, it's an insult.  I feel pretty capable of parenting my child, and I parent him on a daily basis, so the one time you're around, I don't need you to help me discipline my child.  I got it.  It drives me absolutely insane.

Once, someone laughed at me while I disciplined Gavin.  They said, "I just can't take you seriously when you try to be authoritative."  Well, that doesn't help me.  And it doesn't help my kid to see you laughing when I'm punishing him.  So, why don't you just keep that to yourself.

The problem is that I'm also a hypocrite.  You see, when I see someone's kid throwing food all over the floor and spitting it out on the table while the parent messes around on a cell phone (oblivious to all that is happening), I really want to put that kid in a timeout (and slap the parent at the same time).  When I see other children misbehaving, I have the overwhelming desire to discipline them, especially when I feel that the parents aren't taking appropriate action (and by "appropriate" I mean what I think they should do).  Because, you see, I've managed to keep my child alive almost four years now, so I must be a Super Expert Parent.

Just the other day, I put my sister's kid in timeout for supposedly hitting her sister.  My sister was right in the room while I just charged in and took over.  I have to give her credit for not killing me because I might have killed her had the roles been reversed.  As soon as I did it, I thought, "Oh god.  I can't believe I just did that.  I would've have flipped out if she had done that."  

So, I'm going to vow (and try really hard) to just keep my mouth shut when it comes to other people's children - unless my advice is solicited.  If it's not my child, and it's not directly affecting my child, it's not my business.  I parent the way I choose to parent, and I expect people to respect that.  Consequently, I need to respect other people's parenting choices whether I agree with them or not.  I'm going to try to get down off of my high horse and "live and let live."  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 14, 2011

No, you're not having candy for dinner, and I'm not buying you a toy.

Man, I am one mean mom - a modern day Mommy Dearest, if you will.  I'm probably single-handedly destroying my son's childhood and scarring him for life with my horrible parenting and lack of empathy.

Or, maybe not.

Lately, Gavin has been vocal about his (ridiculous) desires, and he's not a big fan of "No."

Me:  Gavin, what do you want for dinner?
Gavin: Candy!
Me:  No, you're not having candy for dinner.
Gavin:  I want CANDY!
Me:  You're not having candy.  Pick something else.
Gavin:  I want . . . junk!
Me:  You're not having junk. 

*Cue tears and tantrum.

Or . . .

Gavin:  Mommy, we need to go the grocery store.
Me:  Why?
Gavin:  So you can buy me that boat from Cars 2.
Me:  I thought you were going to ask Santa for that boat.
Gavin: No, I don't want to ask Santa.
Me:  Why not?
Gavin:  Because I want it now!
Me:  Oh, well, you're not getting it now.
Gavin:  But I need that boat.  I don't have it.
Me:  And you're not getting it now.
Gavin:  Come on, Mommy, let's go.
Me:  We're not going to the store.  I'm not buying you a toy.

*Cue tears and tantrum.

You know what else he doesn't like - besides nutritious food and being told "no"?  Calling me "Mommy."

"What are you doing, Andrea?"
"But I thought your name was Andrea?"
"It is.  But you call me Mommy."
"Okay, Andrea."
"Your name is Andrea.  My name is Gavin."
"Yep, and you call me Mommy because I'm your mom."
"Where are you going, Andrea?"

Sigh.  And he's not even four yet.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gavin's First Story

In my mind, I picture Gavin growing up to be an engineer or a baseball player or maybe a baseball-playing engineer.  I'm fine with any of them, really.  However, I never pictured him as an author.  But, after reading his first story that he wrote at preschool the other day, I'm thinking it might be a potential career path.

Now, when I say he wrote his first story, I mean he told it to his teacher, and she wrote it down.  (We're still working on the name-writing thing, people.  Give me break, will you?)  The topic of the story that each child was writing was "A Puppy Story."  Given the fact that there are three mangy dogs running around our house, Gavin had a lot of material to work with.  Hence, his story went like this:

Gavin's Puppy Story

I almost died laughing when I read it, not because it's a complete work of fiction but because it's completely TRUE.  You see, our lovable, gentle, sweet, adorable labrador, Dan, (Dan, not Charlie.  Charlie is possibly the spawn of the devil), has one or two bad habits.  One of them is eating things he's not supposed to (a loaf of bread, an entire bag of dog food, twelve sticks of elk jerky with jalapenos).  The other one: escaping.

Behind our house, there is a field.  Nothing special, just a field.  A field in which cats and squirrels run free. For years, Dan has found ways to escape the backyard and roam the field.  This wasn't a problem until recently.   A year or so ago, someone in our small neighborhood bought the field, and they fenced it in.  No big deal, except that the entire field can only be accessed from their house.

A month or two ago, I sent all the dogs in the backyard to, well, act like dogs for awhile - you know, play outside and whatnot.  Thirty minutes later, Arnie and Charlie are at the door, but Dan is nowhere in sight.  Why?  Because my 7-year-old lab with all kinds of hip and elbow dysplasia that has required multiple surgeries and expensive supplements decided to jump the five-foot tall fence and play in the field.  By play I mean chase a cat or two and roll around in some shit.  Really, he always finds a pile of shit and rolls in it.

This meant that I had to get Gavin in the car, drive around to my neighbor's house, knock on their door, trapse through the field, find the naughty dog, stick his shit-covered doggy self in the back of my car, drive home, give him a bath, and clean out my car.  No big deal, really, until he did it again the very next day.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.

Not two days ago, he jumped the fence to frolic around the field with another dog.   By the time I got there to search for him, he was gone.  Nowhere to be found.  After talking to my neighbor, he said he had seen Dan back there playing with his neighbor's dog.  He called his neighbor, and his dog was back home safely.  Dan: missing.  So, after searching the field, I returned to my car and slowly drove back home, keeping my eyes peeled for Dan.  I was a little panicked thinking I lost him.  But, moments later, there he was - tied to someone's tree eating a bowl of food and drinking water.  Embarrassed, I knocked on the door, and when the lady answered, I said, "Um.  Hi.  So, that's my dog right there."  Then, I proceeded to tell him what a naughty dog he was the whole way home.
Look, I feel really guilty.  Can't you see it in my face?

Now, you're probably thinking, "You silly people! Find a way to keep him from jumping the fence," or, "You silly people! Stop leaving the dog outside."  Well, we tried to find ways to keep him from jumping the fence.  And he's outsmarted us every time.  Damn smart dog.  As far as not leaving him outside - did I mention there are three dogs.  If they're in the house all the time, I will go (more) insane.

I continue to offer any of my dogs to everyone I know, but no one's biting.  I even offer to let them take one for FREE.  How can you pass that up?  At this point, my other solution involves a concrete wall and a moat, but I think we might try a different type of fence first.  Which is too bad because I was really hoping for a moat.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm going to need you to wear some pants.

Fall is here, the weather is taking a downhill turn, and winter is quickly approaching.  Gavin is not adjusting well at all.  He doesn't mind the cool winds, the rain, or the shorter days.  No, all of that is fine with him.  He minds the pants.  Pants, you say?  Yes, pants.

Part of this is my fault.  All summer, I let him run around in shorts.  No shirt; just shorts.  (Unless, of course, we were going out in public.)  I figured that he was spending most of the day playing outside and getting dirty, or playing in the humid house (because I didn't want to turn on the AC).  On my behalf, it meant I had less laundry to do. 

So, when the end of August rolled around, there was a little bit of a struggle getting him to wear shirts and shoes again.  I patiently explained that daycare and preschool had a rule that said you had to be fully-clothed in order to go there.  He begrudgingly put on a complete and acceptable outfit, but the second we walked in the door, he stripped of his shoes and shirt faster than our naughty puppy could devour an unguarded cupcake.  At the time, it was fine because it was still warm.  Hot even.

Only a few short weeks later, the mornings became chilly.  Chilly enough to where I had to insist that he wear pants - mostly so the daycare workers would stop giving me that disapproving, your-kid-is-the-only-one-without-a-jacket look.  In a nutshell, this wearing-of-pants did not go over well.  One morning, as he laid in his bed semi-conscious, I walked in holding a pair of jeans.  He took one look at them out of a half-opened eye and all hell broke loose.  Cue crying, screaming, and other sorts of dramatics and hysterics.  He did not want to wear those pants.  After ten minutes of listening to whining in the form of, "No pants!  Shorts and short-sleeves," I finally had to hold him down and wrestle the pants on him.  He promptly jumped out of bed, ran down the hall, took off the pants, and threw them at me.  So, this is going well.

Fifteen minutes later, with a tear-streaked face and a package of fruit snacks, we left the house, and he had pants on.  Whew.   Since I didn't hear otherwise, I'm assuming that he had no problem keeping the pants on at daycare, but the second we walked in the door, those pants came flying off.  He said, "I have to go potty," and emerged five minutes later wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  It's like he couldn't get those jeans off fast enough.

I figured that, as time went on, he'd adjust to wearing cool-weather clothing.  Alas, it's almost two months later, and he still tries to put on shorts and a t-shirt every morning.  He's a little more willing to put on pants and long-sleeves, but without fail, he races to his room to change into shorts and a t-shirt every night when we get home.  Every.  Single.  Night.  No matter how cold it is, he'll tell me he's hot, and then he'll race off to change his clothes (after which he will promptly park his butt in front of the heater to stay warm).

Mind you, even though it's dropped below freezing a few nights already, I refuse to turn on the heat.  Doesn't bother Gavin.  He wants to wear "boxers and a beater" to bed every night.  When he gets out of bed in the morning (shivering), he refuses to wear a sweatshirt or put on sweatpants because he's "not cold."  If we go outside on a cold and windy day, it takes less than five minutes for him to tell me that he's hot, and he wants to take his hoodie off.  I have to practically threaten him so he'll leave the hoodie on.

But I'm hot!

Now, I know young children (I'm talking 1 and 2 year olds) like to take their clothes off and run around naked, but this is a completely different beast.  My child has an affliction to winter clothes.  He peels them off his body like they're causing a horrible rash.  I can't wait to see what he tries to pull when the snow starts flying.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I can drive 100 miles on an empty tank of gas. Honestly.

My car is the most inefficient energy-efficient vehicle on the market.  It's kinda awesome, and it kinda sucks.  Sometimes, I get 80 miles to the gallon, and other times I get 0.5 miles to the gallon.  And it all happens at pretty much the same time.

This is how it goes on a typical day:  I start my car, and I see that I have just about 1/2 a tank of gas.  I back out of the driveway, drive less than two blocks to the stop sign, and the whole time the needle on the gas gauge is plummeting towards E.  By the time I turn and start driving down the road, my low fuel light has come on.  So, I drove less than a mile, and I used roughly half a tank of gas.  Not efficient.

But here's the beauty:  I drive ten miles to the grocery store (low fuel light on the entire time), I go in, buy a few items, return to my car.  And guess what?  When I start it up, I have about 1/2 a tank of gas.  Yep, that's right.  My car made it's own gas while I was in the grocery store.  Super energy efficient.

Of course, it's only a matter of minutes, and a few miles down the road, before my low fuel light comes on again.  Man, this car sure does burn through gas.  But that's okay because it makes gas, too.  Fair trade, right?

When I get in the car . . .
Just yesterday, I got in my car, and I had exactly 3/4 of a tank of gas.  Two miles later, I was on E.  Good news?  I didn't have to stop and get gas.  You see, with my low fuel light on, I drove all the way to work and back (including dropping off and picking up Gavin at daycare).  My commute is roughly 100 miles round-trip.  All on an empty tank of gas.  So, yeah, I used 3/4 of a tank going two miles, but then I drove 100 on empty!  It's such a crazy combination of energy-efficiency and inefficiency that I can hardly stand it!

Five minutes later ...

But, really, I can't stand it.  I'm gonna have to get that fixed.

(By the way, GM has generously offered to pay for half of the cost to repair my fuel sensor in my gas tank.  How kind of them because, clearly, this manufacturer's defect is partly my fault.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No offense, but . . .

People are easily offended.  Usually, they’re offended by things that aren’t meant to be offensive in the least.  Try to be funny?  People get offended.  Try being honest (in the nicest possible way)?  People get offended.  Try giving your opinion?  People get offended.  Try giving a compliment?  People get offended. 
For instance, you might say, “Wow, that sweater looks really nice on her,” to a friend.  The friend’s response, “Are you saying mine doesn’t look nice?”  Um, no.  That’s not what I said at all.  But thanks for putting words in my mouth.  No matter how nicely or humorously you word things, people always get offended by the things that you say when you weren’t trying to be offensive at all.
But, you know what people aren’t offended by?  Things that are clearly meant to be offensive.  There are people I know who have absolutely no problem saying exactly what they think – no matter how rude or offensive – and others don’t seem bothered by this.  At all.  (Of course, I won’t mention any names.  Why?  Because those people who have no problem openly offending others - they’re easily offended.  Oh, sweet irony.)
Also, people aren’t offended by things that are offensive because, in our society, we’ve come up with a way to be politely offensive to people.  And you know what?  They don’t seem to mind.  When I taught high school, I had this conversation with my students many times.  I tried to explain to them that you can’t just preface something offensive with one simple phrase and expect people not to be offended.  But you know what?  We do it all the time.  All.   The.  Time. 
What little phrases am I talking about?  These are just a few . . .
No offense, but . . .
Not to be mean, but . . .
No disrespect, but . . .
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but . .
If I can be completely honest without offending you . . .
Not to be critical, but . .
Don’t be mad when I say this, but . . .
For instance, someone might say, “No offense, but I really don’t like your new hair color.”  You don’t?  But why not?  That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.  Oh, but you said, “no offense, “so I guess I can’t be offended.  Yeah, that makes it completely fine with me.
Or, they might say, “Not to be mean, but that outfit does not look good on you at all.”  Well that wasn’t very nice.  Oh, but you weren’t being mean, so I’m totally not hurt by that.  Thanks for the feedback.
One of my favorites is when people say something like, “No disrespect, but you’re kind of a bitch.”  Oh, see, now what a respectful thing to say.  Thank you.  I’m totally not offended.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times I told my students they couldn’t start a sentence with, “no offense, but” and then just say whatever they wanted, they still did it.  I say we start a revolution.  How about we get offended when people are clearly trying to offend us, and we chill out a little when people are clearly NOT trying to offend us?  Crazy, I know.
*If you’re offended by this, it’s because I wasn’t trying to offend you.  And if you aren't offended by it, I was trying to offend you.  And if you're offended by my non-offensiveness disguised as offensiveness, then you probably should just not read anything I write because you clearly don't get it.   Oh wait, did I offend you?  Damn.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yeah, I'm not feeling sorry for you . . . not even a little.

Some days, there's a lot of whining and crying in our house.  I'm talking like every five to seven minutes.  These are usually the days when Gavin is cranky or tired or hungry or any combination of those things.  Normally, I'd feel bad for him.  It must be rough being three and not knowing how to effectively handle your tiredness, your hunger, or your crankiness.  But, the truth is, I don't feel bad.  Why?  Because I'm a cold-hearted person?  Well, maybe a little, but also because most of the dramatic events that lead to the crying are caused by none other than Gavin himself.

Scenario:  Gavin comes to me in hysterics.  Tears streaming down his face.  "Mommy, Charlie scratched me."  Why did Charlie scratched you?  "I don't know.  He just did.  And I didn't like it.  It hurts, Mommy."

Now, normally, I'd say "Bad dog, Charlie," give Gavin a kiss and send him on his way.  But, sometimes I know to dig a little deeper for the real story.

What were you doing when Charlie scratched you?  "He was digging a hole outside."  So, he was digging a hole outside and you were telling him to stop?  "Uh huh."  (I survey his person.)  Why do you have dirt on your hands?  "I don't know."  Were you digging, too?  "I don't know."  Wait.  Why do you have dirt on your feet?  Were you digging in the dirt with your feet?  (Now, he's laughing.)  "Yeah."  Okay, so you were digging a hole with Charlie, and he scratched you, and now you want me to feel bad for you?  Ain't gonna happen kid.  Go wash your hands and feet.

Scenario:  Gavin has been playing in a box all day (leftover from some probably unnecessary purchase).  Commence screaming and crying.  "Momma!  Charlie is chewing on my box!  Stop it Charlie; stop it!  Momma, make Charlie stop.  I don't want him chewing on my box."  I enter the living room to reprimand the dog, and I find that the dog is inside the box.

Why is Charlie in the box?  "I don't know."  How did Charlie get in the box?  "I don't know."  Did you put Charlie in the box?  "Yes."  Why did you put Charlie in the box?  "I don't know."  Okay, honey, you can't put the dog in the box and then get mad because he's trying to chew his way out.  If you don't want him to chew on the box then don't put him in it.  Seriously.

Scenario:  Loud crash.  Screaming.  Hysteria.  I run into the kitchen to find Gavin laying partway under the kitchen table.  What happened?  "Owie, Momma!"  What's wrong?  What happened?  "I fell."  How did you fall?  "I don't know."  What were you doing when you fell?  "I don't know."

The bench that goes with the table is tipped over, laying on it's side.  What happened to the bench?  "I don't know."  Well, how did you get on the floor, and how did the bench get tipped over?  "Because I was jumping."  You were jumping?  "Yeah."  Where were you jumping?  "On that."  (Points to the bench.)  Oh, so you were jumping on the bench, like you know you're not supposed to, and it tipped over and you fell?  "Uh huh."  Yeah, you're not getting any sympathy from me, kid.

So, we have a new rule in the house: You don't get to cry if you were being a goon, and you got hurt.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who's YOUR Daddy?

Over the past few months, I've been trying to explain family relationships to Gavin.  We've been talking about who his cousins are, who is grandparents are, who his aunts and uncles are, and so on.  He knows that Ashtyn, Hayden, Havyn, Braylen, and Keegan are his cousins, and he knows that some of them are brothers and some of them are sisters.  But, he gets a little confused sometimes.  For instance, when talking about Ashtyn or Hayden, he'll say, "Where's my sister?"  Well, they're not your sisters.  They are sisters, but they're not your sisters.  They're your cousins.  "Oh."

I also explained to him that Grandpa Ronnie is my dad and Grandma Paulie is my mom.  "Oh."  Except, he really seemed to latch onto this idea.  Shortly after I explained this concept to him, he started saying things like:

1.  (when getting ready to buckle him into his carseat) "No, Momma, I want your dad to buckle me."  You want my dad?  You mean Grandpa Ronnie?

2.  (when driving to my parents house) "Is your dad going to be there?"  Well, he does live there.

3.  I'll say something like, "Hey, Dad, can you hand me that?"  Gavin will immediately follow this by saying something like, "Yeah, Dad, can you hand me that?"  He's not  your dad; he's your grandpa.  That's why you call him Grandpa Ronnie.

Well, this past weekend we were all at my sister's house celebrating my dad's birthday.  All of the kids were very excited to sing "Happy Birthday" to their grandpa, but they had to wait until after we ate and presents were open.  As we're waiting to begin the cake-eating and sing-along, I hear Gavin, on the other side of the room, singing "Happy Birthday."  It went like this:

Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday, Momma's Dad.  Happy Birthday to you.

I just about died laughing.  And, as if he couldn't get any cuter (secretly I think he had been storing away this cuteness, waiting to bring it out at just the right time - right when I was ready to put him in a perma-timeout for his incessant naughtiness), he climbs in bed with my the following morning, gives me a kiss, and says, "Happy Birthday to your dad, Momma."

That may or may not buy him another week of life.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I See You Wore Your Sassy Pants Today

I've got a problem on my hands.  A serious one.  My 3 1/2 year old is full of sassiness.  You know - talking back, arguing, defying, negotiating - all that fun stuff.  I wasn't expecting this for a few more years, but he's already a pro at being a pre-teen in toddler clothing. 

It's not just him telling me, "I don't want to."  That would be a simple matter.  Gavin, pick up your toys.  "I don't want to."  ToughDo it or go in time out.   Problem solved.   No, it's more than that.  A lot more.  And, I'm not really sure what to do about it.

You see, one thing he's really good at is using my own words against me.  For example:

Me:  Gavin, get off of the table.  (For some reason he thinks it's completely appropriate to stand and sit on the table at all times.  Even in a restaurant.  I'm pretty sure he learned it from the dog.)

Gavin:  I will, Momma.

Me:  No.  Get off of the table NOW.

Gavin:  Be patient.

Huh?  Be patient?  No.  I told you to get off the table, and I mean RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.  Yes, I tell you to be patient all the time, but you don't get to tell me to be patient.  Children need to learn important skills such as patience so they can completely abandon them when they become adults.  So, get your ass off of the table or you're going to spend some time in timeout.

Example Number Two:

Me:  Gavin, stop pushing buttons on the computer.

Gavin: (cautiously reaches one finger towards the keyboard and slowly pushes down the A button).

Me:  Gavin, I asked you to stop pushing buttons.  Do it again, and you're going in time out.

Gavin:  But, I don't want to go in time out.

Me:  Then stop pushing buttons.

(fast-forward three hours)

Gavin: Momma, let's read Baby Bear again.

Me: (exhausted from reading it six times already) I don't want to read it again.  (I set the book on the table)

Gavin: Don't put the book on the table, Mommy!

 Me:  (ignoring him, I walk away)

Gavin:  I said don't put the book on the table.  (Grabs the book off of the table, marches over to me, and shoves it in my hand.)  You do it again, and you go in time out.

Funny story about that, kid. We're not equals, even though that's clearly the idea you've formed at this point.  You don't get to decide time outs, I do.  Wait.  On the other hand, please put me in time out.  In my room.  On my bed.  With a book.  That would be awful.

Gavin is not really a morning person - unless it's the weekend.  I have to work really hard to wake him up during the week - and he's often not very friendly.  (No idea where he gets that from.)  Of course, on the weekends, he wakes up bright and early, chipper and fully of energy . . . but that's another story.  The other morning, as I was fighting to wake him out of a deep slumber, I asked him what he wanted for breakfast.  Me:  "Hey Gavin.  You've got to get up.  What do you want for breakfast?  Cereal or toast?"  He opens one eye, glares at me, and says, "Will you just leave me alone?"  Huh?  And I was trying to be nice.

Lately, our on-going dialogue goes a lot like this:

Me:  Gavin stop doing that (this could be anything from drinking his chocolate milk like a dog, hitting the dog with a sword, or putting his feet in his applesauce).

Gavin:  I don't want to.

Me:  Then you can go in time out.

Gavin:  I don't want to go in time out.

Me:  Then stop doing that.

Gavin:  I don't want to stop.

Me:  Then go in time out.

Gavin:  But I don't want to go in timeout.

(Repeat previous conversation 60 times)

Me:  Gavin, stop doing that and stop talking back or you're going in time out.

Gavin:  (very quietly)  I don't want to.

So, at this point, I'm pretty much thinking I might sell him on eBay.  I'll start the bidding at $1.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Remember when I thought getting a puppy was a good idea?

It's okay.  You can say it.  Go on.  I know you want to.  Just say, "I told you so," so we can move on.  There.  Feels good doesn't it?

I thought getting a puppy was a great idea.  You didn't.  You were right; I was wrong.  I mean, I had all sorts of justifications and reasons supporting my decision, but turns out, I should've thought a little harder about it.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying I don't like the dog or that I want to get rid of him.  Nope.  I'm not saying that at all.  I'm just saying that I've made wiser decisions in my life.

My original justifications for getting a dog included the rock-solid reason of "Puppies are Cute."  Rock.  Freaking.  Solid.  And you know what?  Charlie is cute.  He's super cute . . . when he's not chewing up magazines, stealing socks and hiding them under the bed, climbing up on the kitchen table to eat Gavin's dinner while I stole off to the bathroom for five seconds, sneaking off to the basement with a shoe so he can nibble on it without getting caught, and so on.

I mean, I'll be honest.  He's a pretty good dog . . . when he's sleeping.  And he sleeps pretty well . . . when I take him on a long walk or a two-mile run and tire his ass out.  Just to clarify, though, when I say "walk" I mean he pulls on his leash so hard that he almost passes out from choking himself.  And me, I'm trying to pretend that I have some control of the situation - which I clearly don't.

Gavin loves to play with him . . . most of time.  Except when Gavin's tired and Charlie tries to lick the skin off of his face or body slam him to the ground.  And, Gavin's not really a fan when Charlie drops whatever dog toy he's chewing on in favor of one of Gavin's toys.  It goes something like this:  Gavin screams, "Mommy!  Help me!  Charlie has my toy!" while Charlie runs around the house, evading both Gavin and I at every turn.  And looking so freaking proud of himself.  Look at me.  I have a toy in my mouth.  Look at what I got. 

He is a sweet guy though.  He loves to snuggle and be around people - just like a typical lab.  He did learn how to jump up on my bed, though.  This means that I often wake up to find him laying across my neck.  Practically suffocating me.  Or he lays on me head.  Such a sweetheart.

So, it boils down to this.  I like the dog; he's sweet.  And he'll hopefully probably be a great dog once he reaches maturity.  In like a year-and-a-half.  Until then, I'll deal with the naughty puppiness, and you just gloat about being right.  Deal?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm totally copyrighting my son's first song

Over the past weekend, we headed north, off into the woods, to do a little hiking, a wee bit of fishing (and by wee bit I mean Gavin mostly got his lure caught in the weeds before it even touched water), some hot dog and marshmallow roasting, and a smidgen of sleeping in a tent that leaked, but just a little.  Even with the few periods of rain, it was a beautiful weekend, we stayed relatively dry (most of the wetness came from a spilled beverage . . . what kind of irresponsible person spills a beverage in a tent?  Oh . . . yeah, that was me.) and everyone had a great time, including Charlie, who developed a taste for charred firewood (he also developed a taste for glasses - the kind you wear on your face to see out of your eyes - but that's a story for another time).

Right before the masterpiece was created.
On one of our hikes down to the river and back, Gavin started singing his ABC's.  It's something he's been working on (and will continue to work on since preschool is putting the pressure on us).   So, as we're casually walking along the trail (and by casually I mean Charlie is pulling so hard on the leash that I'm pretty sure he's going to choke himself to the point of unconsciousness), Gavin begins modifying the lyrics.

His first version was:  A, B, C, D, E, F, Gavin.

This is cute because Gavin starts with "G."  (I realize I just made you feel like a moron by pointing that out.  Sorry.)  Smiles and chuckles all around, which encourage him to make keep modifying.

His second version:  A, B, C, D, E, F, Danion.

Okay, Danion doesn't start with G, but Danion (the dog) was there, and Gavin loves that freaking dog.  More smiles, more chuckles, onto a new version.

His third versionA, B, C, D, E, F, Charlie.

Again, cute.  What a funny kid, and he sure does like his dogs.  Ha ha!

His fourth (and soon-to-be-copyrighted-version)A, B, C, D, E, F, you.

Now, if you're sitting there puzzled, think about it (and I'm not mentioning any names of specific family members that are close to my age but just a little younger and live on the west coast and own a dog named Riley).

A, B, C, D, E, F you.

Of course, Gavin had no idea what a  hilarious masterpiece of lyrical brilliance he had just created, but it was hard not to laugh.  And by laugh I mean to the point of tears and peeing my pants.  Because there's no way I didn't laugh at that.

So, I'm going to get a copyright for that song.  It's going to revolutionize preschools across the country.  Every parent will be singing that song with their toddlers.  Never mind the fact that they won't actually be learning the alphabet - in alphabetical order.  It's not that important anyway.  I mean, who needs to know the alphabet these days?  You're welcome.

P.S.  Gavin's other recent masterpiece:

Take that academically rigorous preschool!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Preschool is stressing me out and not because the curriculum is hard

Preschool is stressful.  I'm not kidding.  I'm about to have a nervous breakdown over this.  (Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little but not a lot.)  Let me explain.

Last week, I got a form from Gavin's preschool telling me what they were working on that week in class.  (He goes to preschool in the mornings and daycare in the afternoon - even though it's all the same place.)  From said form, I learned that last week's theme was nature, that they talked about the letter "C", that Gavin spent most of his time playing with Carson in the block area and housekeeping area (did I mention he loves to help me clean?  I am such a lucky lady.), and that they were practicing the letter "C" in their Zoo-phonics program. 

Then, I got to the "Child's Notes" part.  It started off well - letting me know that Gavin was doing well during group activities.  After that, it gave some suggestions as to how we can help extend his learning at home. It said, "Gavin needs to work on recognizing letters of the alphabet and writing his name."  Okay, I can handle that.  We've been working on his letters all summer, so we'll keep on working at them, and we'll throw in some writing practice.  Not a big deal, right?

Well, today, not even one week later, I get another form.  It tells me that this week's theme is fall, they're going to discuss what leaves are made of, and they're going to be practicing letters and numbers.  Super!  But then I got to the "Child's Notes" part . . .

Gavin does well with one-on-one activities but struggles in a group setting when learning new things.

Wait a second.  Did you just tell me that last week he did well with group activities?  And now you're telling me he doesn't?  Which one is it?!?!

Then . . .

It would be beneficial for you to work with Gavin at home by helping him recognize letters of the alphabet and practicing his name.  He also needs help holding a pencil/writing utensil.

But I have been!  You just told me this last week!  And since last week, I've been working with him.  We read books, we look at letter flashcards, we sing the alphabet song, we talk about the different letters in the words on the pages of a book . . . I'm working with him!  Is he supposed to learn this all in a week?  Do you want me to wake him up six times during the middle of the night, shove a flashcard in his face, and scream, "What letter is this!?!  Tell me now!!"  And, if he gets it wrong, I'll throw cold water in his face?

As a teacher, I know how important it is to work at home with your children - to read to them, teach them basic math and letter sounds - so, I appreciate the friendly-reminders, but you're stressing me out people.

Then, I started worrying. . . Is he behind?  Can all the other 3-year-olds recognize all the letters of the alphabet, hold a pencil correctly, and write their name?  Am I not doing enough at home?  Should we be spending more time learning and less time playing?

So, tonight, after being gone from the house for 12 hours, teaching classes, commuting two hours round-trip, making dinner, and doing a load of laundry, we spent time working on this:

Look at those beautiful g's!

And, you know what?  I'm not going to stress about it.  We'll keep working slowly, and he'll get it all eventually.  And I'm just gonna ignore those friendly reminders from preschool for awhile . . .