Tuesday, August 31, 2010

D-Day Part 2

My baby, the baby of the family, started Kindergarten yesterday. Of course she loved it. She’s like a fish in water at school. She loves the social; she loves the learning; she loves it all; except the nap time! I did not cry. I held it all together. You would think Kindergarten the 4th time would be easier, but it wasn’t. It was my final first day of Kindergarten.

Last night she brought her backpack to me -- her new, big girl backpack. Inside was the expected teacher letter, this month’s calendar and the “tell me about your child” paper. One of the questions was “What are your child’s likes?” the hardest part of that question was narrowing it down to fit in the blank. The other question was much harder. I realized there are very few things my child dislikes – other than the aforementioned naptime. She is for all intents and purposes a very happy-go-lucky child. She will play Barbies, Baby dolls and Matchbox cars. She loves rocks and lip gloss (both of which can be found in her purse at any given time). She plays soccer in the rain and loves ballet. And she’s not bad at either. She refuses to leave the house without a matching bow in her hair, but hates to have her hair brushed.

She has a favorite brother, and she will tell anyone who asks, “Jay is my favorite brother.” Her adoration of him is clear to even the most casual observer and he reciprocates. He has loved her since she was born. He has also protected her, cajoled her, made her laugh and tended to her. There is definitely a special bond between those two, and it is with a heavy heart I watch the two of them this year go on to open new chapters in their lives.

It really does seem like just yesterday it was him I was seeing off to Kindergarten. How then can it be now I’m seeing him off to High school? And even more important will the time go by so fast to when it’s time to see her off to high school?

When she goes off to high school, our house will be a much different place. She will be the only child still living with us. It is possible that D & J could have families of their own. Boo will be off in college and the house will be very quiet. And as much as we wish for “just a moment’s peace” right now, I know that kind of peace and quiet will come with a price.

I will see the “It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your children are” reminder and not be able to say yes.

Thank goodness that is a long way off. Two years that’s like forever, right?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Today my oldest sons headed off to High School together. It was hard but almost surreal when the oldest made this coming of age trek two years ago. It was heartbreakingly real to watch the two of them go off together this year. For some reason when my blonde boy joins the road travelled by his older brother it just becomes concrete and permanent.

When he was still getting on the bus with his younger brother that stops at the elementary & middle school, I could rationalize. Only a quarter of my children are growing up I could say. I've done it quite a few times now. Daniel turned 10 -- it was double digits, it was hard but not nearly as hard as Jason bringing the ratio of my children to 50% in the double digits. Then the same for the teen years and now High School. Jason's milestones also seem to coincide with Sarah's --the baby. As he heads off to High school she heads off to Kindergarten. This is a really bad year for me.

Next year will not be better. She will start the public school first grade and Benjamin will begin Middle school just after climbing into the double digits himself.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Walking Finn Road Park

My youngest had her first Soccer Practice yesterday. It brought me back to a few years ago. My middle son, played year after year for our Township Rec League. He’s not bad, and the League builds skills as well as confidence. He has since aged out of the program and so it was a bittersweet stroll down memory lane.

It seems like truly just yesterday, he was 7 and we were just barely in our new home in NJ and he was a skinny little boy with curly white blonde hair and all knees and elbows. He has always been athletic, and soccer was no exception. On top of raw talent he also has a competitive streak as long as the Mississippi, which probably comes from being the middle brother. Or maybe it’s as much a part of him as his curly blonde hair which he now hates and brushes straight.

It’s funny, the first time I walked on that field we had only 3 boys and no plans for this little girl I was escorting on the field yesterday. Now he’s 14 and starting high school later this week long gone is the blonde curly hair and the cherubic grin, and she’s playing soccer on the same field he played on those many years ago.

One tough Cookie

My youngest had her first Soccer Practice yesterday. I had my doubts about how well this was going to go, it was raining and she hadn’t really done much with a soccer ball before. Beyond that she was most worried about how she looked for soccer practice and less worried about the practice itself. But in true Sarah fashion, she was a trooper.

She marched out on the field a pink streak set to dazzle the world. She had her pink shirt, which she wasn’t happy with because it had no “shinies” on it, her pink cleats and her pink shin guards, which could not be seen under her grey sweatpants, which she was also none too thrilled with. And of course a pink bow in her hair which she insisted on.

To be fair, the only “activities” she participated in up to this point has been ballet and she does get all pretty for that. Hairbows are encouraged, nearly required. But once she got out there, fashion took a back seat to her zeal for running and competition.

She is a not too bad dribbler and kicker. She needs to work on passing, but I think that’s more about sharing than anything else. And she’s pretty darned good at stealing the ball – for a girl. She doesn’t seem to like being goalie, but in true “hogball” fashion very few of them do.

There were only 6 of them yesterday on the under-6 team and they were evenly split 3 boys/3 girls. Two of them were pretty sure they didn’t even want to be there, and the other 4 ran and played in the rain. The first one on one matchup was Sarah against a boy, I don’t think she understood what to do, but got really mad when he kicked the ball right away and headed down the field before she knew what was going on. That did not happen again. After that she seemed to go after that ball with uncommon ferocity. She does not like to lose.

So while I don’t see Mia Hamm in her, I do see a little girl who is very competitive and probably many more years of Finn Road Park in my future.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Have we as parents completely abdicated our roles?

First off, the following is a rant, it's rather political in nature, but it's also a rant.

It seems each day I read news about another law passed to protect our children. I must confess that I live in New Jersey, appropriately named the nanny state, and we have more laws "protecting" our children than most. For example, children in the state of New Jersey are required by law to wear helmets when they ride bikes and scooters. We also have one of the oldest minimum driving ages at 17. And a new law that imposes special restrictions on "teen drivers". In addition NJ tried (unsuccessfully) to make smoking in your car with a child present a crime.

I started wondering "How did we reach the point in this state that people are eager to allow the government to parent their children?" And then I found the answer in a most surprising place. I was attending a birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates. Another parent was bemoaning the fact that her child missed the public school cut off for Kindergarten and would be repeating Kindergarten with my daughter at their private Pre-School. Specifically she said "I really don't know what she is going to do, she already knows how to read." My response was "Yeah, Sarah knows how to read as well, I spoke to the teacher and they will give her more challenging books to read." Her response shocked me speechless "Oh wow you worked with her at home, I never considered that."

I literally could think of a thing to say. Because what I was thinking would have made me a pariah in the Mommy circle and perhaps given Sarah no attendees at her birthday party. Because what I was thinking followed along something like this:

"You never considered reading a bed time story to your child? You never had your child ask you how to spell something? You never had your child want to repeat the page you just read? Your child never made up their own story by looking at the pictures in a book?" I could obviously go on.

Because I believe that I am my child's first teacher and it doesn't stop when she learns to walk and talk. That's just when it starts to get interesting. It also doesn’t end when they start real school. My school, my community, my lawmakers are not raising my children, I am. I was responsible for bringing them into this world and I am responsible for producing responsible citizens. I look at the alternative and see how ridiculous it is. It’s like taking your dog to obedience school and then not training them at home. It’s like going to church on Sunday and lying the rest of the week. It’s like being elected to congress and then doling out favors to the people who helped your campaign or directly to your family members.

Wait a minute, I guess I’m starting to see the bigger issue. The citizens of this country are eager to give over their parental duties to the government because that also abdicates their responsibility. And we all know how every one in this country is so very eager to accept personal responsibility.

Our news cycle this morning was eye opening.
We started with the former Illinois Governor hoping for a hung jury in a corruption scandal where he was “just the fall guy.”
Then jumped to reports of Rangel partying last night a day after telling the House of Representatives he was not backing down, he just did not understand tax laws.
To Maxine Waters saying she did nothing wrong in steering finances to a bank her husband had stock in.
To finally a footnote to how long our political process has been corrupt Dan Rostenkowski & Ted Stevens deaths were announced, both of whom were charged with corruption, the former spending 17 months in jail.

Ironically, Rostenkowski thought he was the victim too.