The End of Spring

Dragon in a Hat at a Puerto Rican restaurant.  Hat by Sweetheart Toppers

Dragon in a Hat at a Puerto Rican restaurant. Hat by Sweetheart Toppers

Spring may have ended on Beltane (May 1st), but for us, our spring activities came to a close Monday when my son’s final Tiny Treks adventure celebrated at the instructor’s house.

Monday was the last day of Tiny Treks. We went to the main teacher’s house and saw her bunny and played in her backyard and …

… and C insisted we had to go onto one of the boats. Not the paddle boat. Not the kayak. He wanted the canoe. Understand, I haven’t been in a canoe in thirty years. In fact, it’s probably near the anniversary of my canoe trip at a summer day camp when I was 7. I loved it when I was a kid; I felt like a god of the water. I sat at the back and led our boat safely around the bend.

Finding a life jacket big enough for me wasn’t easy, but there was one. Sort of. It closed, but my breasts pushed it up at a 45 degree angle. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to paddle, so I sat up front. C and another child sat in the middle, and her mom sat at the back. Neither of us knew what we were doing, but we made a good pass around Cottage Lake, and even landed back safely at the dock from which we started not too long after. There was an almost-collision with the paddle boat, but we all stopped and drifted together, then gave the paddle boat a shove to get them off and moving.

It was exhilarating, a little scary, but I’m glad I did it. C is elated. He LOVED it. He wants to go again.

So there you have it. 30 years after my first canoe experience, I finally had my second. And we all survived.  Someone took a picture of us, but I haven’t yet heard back about getting a copy of it as proof.

On the same day, my daughter completed an online orientation and registered for fall classes at the community college where she’ll begin her Running Start journey toward both a high school diploma and an Associates degree.  Since it took longer to register due to miscommunication from three different counselors, she wasn’t able to get her desired courses.  The first quarter REQUIRED course was full as a stand-alone class.  They did have it as an integrated studies course, though, so instead of Engl 101, she’ll be taking a combination of her required class and a psychology course, along with the Japanese we thought she’d not be able to get into first year.

So it’s done.  We pay fees toward the end of summer, buy books in September, attend a third orientation (how many times can you use the word and still leave it with any meaning?).

Spring of this year has gone, and in some ways, the spring of my daughter’s life is heating up toward her many years of summer.  Come fall, my focus will be far more focused on my son, and I’m already trying to find a routine that we can settle into for both seasons.

My partner struggles as well with this closing of a chapter, where we collaborated on educating our daughter together.  Most of her studies will happen at college, and though we’ll be around to answer questions and offer guidance, this is a journey she’ll be walking mostly on her own and the responsibilities and consequences will be far steeper than those she’s experienced at home.  We’ve scheduled eleven weeks of home prep — my partner wrapping up what he most wishes to impart upon her, and me working with her on the final books I think she most needs to read (and the essays she needs to practice).

Good bye, spring.  Hello, summer.

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A Little Moment

Let me tell you about my daughter.  Sure, she’s a teenager, and with pubescence come a host of conflicts between parents and children, but there are moments between conflicts which highlight who the child really is.

Her brother was upset.  Really upset.  Having a meltdown. I started collecting Calico Critters and

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Calico Critters: Apple & Jake’s Ride ‘n’ Play

Sylvanian Families figures on my birthday, and he is only allowed to play with them supervised and when being gentle. Well, he’d broken the toddler car he likes so much, and I asked Ana to put them away.  He cried.  He screamed.  He pleaded for more time.  I explained calmly that he hadn’t been gentle. Even though the break was probably accidental, it proved he wasn’t being gentle enough and they needed to go away for a while.

After running from his sister and screaming at her (since she put them away at my behest), he came to me for a tissue (he LOVES ending his upset with a tissue).  So, I cleaned his nose, and he sweetly asked for three more minutes playing with my “critters.”  I told him not this time, because a toy had been broken and they needed to go away.

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Inside Out Box of Mixed Emotions

He cried again, but this time, he didn’t yell at his sister.  She took out his Inside Out feelings books, and quietly read Sadness to him.  He immediately calmed down and wiped his eyes.  Then she asked him if he wanted to read Anger, because disappointment can be both sad and angry.  She read each book in turn, following the cycles of emotions, and before she was finished, he was pointing out parts of the book and cheerful once again.

This is my daughter.  Who she is when fears and hormonal fluctuations, and other biological interferences disappear.  This is her compassionate, quiet nature, which shines best when she’s helping others and sharing a bit of her time.  Her whole worldview revolves around fairness, and it comes out in these moments when someone, especially a young one, needs help.  This is why she feels called to teach.

I love her so much it makes my chest ache sometimes.

“‘You just gotta twirl sometimes.’ [Little Fox], come twirl with me!”

Little Fox Quotations

Since taking a month long break from Facebook, there were a number of activities I didn’t post, and some of my family and friends commented privately they missed hearing about the little things.  During my break, I recorded some of the funniest or most memorable moments said by my son (and sometimes in an exchange with his sister).  This post is mostly for Facebook, but some of you might enjoy these as well.

For clarification: “C” is my son, the Little Fox, and “A” is my Dragon Daughter.

The Capeless Cavorter: Bringing fun wherever he goes

My children cuddled next to me on our bed, and C held his sister’s head, and pointed out the window. “[A] look out! There’re spiders outside! See?”
A shuddered and made a noise.
C patted her head and said, “There-there. It gonna be ok.”

Then he mentioned the spiders again and again to get a reaction out of her, and every time she made the noise he giggled until we were all in fits.

*

He threw his yellow car onto the floor from the bed.

“Oh no! My Lamborghini!”

*

“Are you my baby boy?” (Normally he says yes, but not this morning)

“No. I not mine. I not yours. I just huge baby.”

“Are you Mama’s huge baby?”

“No, I just big baby.”

*

C fell off his chair onto me.

“Oh no! Are you ok?”

“I fell.”

“Did you get hurt?”

“No. I fell on you. You’re nice and soft.”

*

He put the stethoscope in his ears, started singing, and moving his body. Then he took them off and put them away, and said, “There’s music in there!”

*

Train is a two syllable word pronounced, “Two-wain.” The Simon game is pronounced “Sow-en” just like upcoming Samhain.

*

“Oh, Miss Charlotte! That’s my sweet little girl!” (Takes my hand) “Come on, Mama, let’s pet Miss Charlotte.”

*

“That’s my Dada friend, and my [A] friend, and over there’s my Mama friend.”

*

After watching The Incredibles and Jack-Jack Attack, my daughter asked my son, “So baby, which of these characters do you think reminds us of you?”

“I dunno. I’m playing with my car.”

*

I came into the living room where we’ve hung broken wind chimes on the armoire to be fixed when I have a free moment. “Are you playing with the wind chimes?”

“Yeah. They make sound.  It’s pretty.”

“The sound is pretty?”

“Yeah.  And sparkly.”

*

“More chocolate pleeeeeeeaaassse.”

“I gave you a piece of chocolate.”

“Yeah.  I already ate that,” he said while gesturing with hands wide.

Three More Minutes

Little Fox likes to get his way from wearing skirts to negotiating extra time to play and dance.

Little Fox likes to get his way from wearing skirts to negotiating extra time to play and dance.

Our two year old is at the age of toddlerhood where what we, the parents, say becomes hard and fast rules in his mind. If we identify an object correctly or incorrectly, he’ll repeat our original phrasing and it’s a struggle to convince him to correct this.  He’s more likely to tell his sister she’s wrong before a parent, but there are times he will argue a point until he ends up in a meltdown spiral.

To avoid this, we actively work to say what we mean the first time and stick to it. We explain a series of events he should expect, we offer choices, use positive statements (e.g. “Pet the cat gently” instead of “don’t poke the kitty!”), stand firm about an issue, and offer negotiations where possible. One of these negotiation tactics he adores using several times a day is the “three more minutes” request.

If he’s engaged in something he enjoys and doesn’t wish to stop immediately, he can request an extra three minutes to wrap up. And most of the time, we agree to those extra three minutes.  I say, “Ok. Three more minutes to play with your cars,” and I wait. At the two and one minute markers, I let him know how much time is left.  When it gets toward the end, he especially enjoys to have me count down the last ten seconds. He even tells me to do it if I’ve forgotten, or reminds me at the start of the three minutes to do it at the end.

The moment I get to 3, 2, 1, he pops up on his feet and is ready and excited about what he’s going to do next, whether it’s a diaper change, nap time, or getting ready to go out. It doesn’t matter what, as long as I’m excited in that final ten second countdown and he had his three more minutes, he’s ready to race to the next task.

In part, I think it works because it’s fair to give him a little extra time to prepare himself for transition and he sees it as fair, but also, he gets to have a little control over his time. The enthusiasm we show also helps, as he wants to share in the excitement.

We don’t allow him an additional three minutes (this isn’t a Foamy the Squirrel skit), and I think a longer period would make it harder for him to retain focus on transition and be less excited should we allow him five, seven, or ten minutes more.  In fact, he might have even picked the duration himself (and requested it the first time) after I said a meal we had would be done in three more minutes, and he had to wait.

This method might work for you if your toddler isn’t dealing well with ending a task or frustration/disappointment meltdowns are common. Give it a try, and keep a clock or timer handy to help stick to the agreed upon duration (unless your internal clock is as on point as mine).

Triumphant!

Guess who just figured out how to add the share button to WordPress?  *points down to the end of this and every entry*

Woot!

This accomplishment shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is.  ^_^

Also, I figured out how to manage imports on a multiple authored WordPress blog elsewhere this evening.  My house is still a mess, but I’m feeling particularly mighty.

Those Little Moments

Squirelflight just asked for my attention so she could explain her understanding of a^2 in a problem where 3a is multiplied by 7a to equal 21a^2.  “It makes sense to me,” she said, after a lengthy monologue on the subject.

It’s one of those little moments where, as a parent, your eyes blink a few times, and you realize your child just spoke intelligently about a complex matter that previously baffled them, and you think, “Yeah, she’ll be ok.”