Monday, July 23, 2012
Just jumping right in. Noah’s First Grade year was marked by some disappointments and some reasons to celebrate. We got him into a good neighborhood public school at the last minute and therefore it was a fast, dramatic transition from a small Quaker private school to a much larger city public school downtown. Though Noah is socially shy by nature and only knew one child in his class, he had a good friend in one of the other first grade classes whom he spent recess with every day and that was a big help. But Noah is also extremely resilient – I was amazed at how unfazed he seemed about his change of schools. Of course his new school had a lot of new things to offer – a nice big playground, cafeteria, gym, computer lab, library, downtown location, exciting after school opportunities, wonderful involved teachers, an army of involved parents and a fantastic Principal who nears super hero status. But there was one major disappointment with Noah’s school year – his teacher. Long story short – she was a school district lifer who had never taught First Grade or reading before but ended up picking a great school because of her Union seniority. Not only was she at a loss on what she was teaching, she seemed to lack the basic classroom management skills necessary to teach effectively. The classroom was often chaotic and unguided. She had a bevy of tutors brought in to assist her, a team of other teachers helping out, an attentive Principal eager to help and regular parent volunteers. How she managed to endure all the floundering and criticism and just go to work every day boggled my mind. But she seemed unfazed in a way, not invested enough, putting her head down and waiting for retirement to come her way. But on the positive – the kids seem to like her, she wasn’t mean. And Noah because he is a creative kid, already reading at the fifth grade level, had a lot of freedom to read, to write, to day dream. So in a way it wasn’t necessarily the worst situation for him. He made two new friends – the first real friends he ever made ON HIS OWN, meaning I didn’t know their parents already. His two school best friends seem polar opposites - one a smart, serious, and overdramatic Alex P. Keaton sort and the other an energetic, long haired wild child, already girl crazy, who shares Noah’s love of music. Noah’s teacher was so short on lesson plans that Noah would often tell us stories of he and his friends performing plays and singing songs to his classmates. Any free time she’d give them, Noah was happy to perform. So it was most of all a year of social growth for Noah. He moved to a bigger pond and seemed to enjoy it. His long hair, fedora and inclination to skulls got him a most fashionable award in his class and I think though still shy one on one, that his classmates found him likeable. We are all excited for Second Grade as not only is his teacher excellent but Noah will also start a Gifted Enrichment Program that will hopefully add some challenge to a boy that effortlessly aced everything all year long. I’m even a bit worried how he’ll react to not always knowing how to do everything perfectly all the time. (I admit I hate it myself.) The other big thing going on with Noah is that he already thinks he knows better than us. As well behaved as he is for any other living soul, for us there is often a lot of sighing, eye rolling and you-don’t-understand-ing. The teen years are gonna be rough. Ray had a great year at YCCA. Still our Ray of Sunshine, he has much less problem making friends. He’d come home talking about his classmates using the word friend to describe them all. We’d go to his school events and he’d disappear into a sea of his classmates, where in the same exact situation at that age Noah had problems approaching even his best friends in a different surrounding, clinging to us and lamenting that he didn’t know if they wanted to talk to him. Ray’s biggest development this year is that by Christmas, at four and a half, he was reading. It just seemed to happen overnight. His drive to keep up with his older brother is a boon and a menace to him. Ray is SO SMART. People always remark on how smart Noah is, and he is, but in a quiet sneak up on you way Ray is even brighter. The big difference is that Noah knows he’s smart and he’s proud of it. And Ray , because he doesn’t know everything Noah knows, he doesn’t think of himself as smart. But Ray mastered reading a full two years before Noah did at the same age. And in watching him play games like Othello you can tell he’s got an amazing sense of logic and spatial understanding that can surpass Noah even now. As the middle child Ray requires extra attention – he isn’t the oldest or the baby which have special accolades inherent to their position so I work to give Ray a little extra love and affirmation. He needs it. Ray is also a caring little guy by nature. He’s apt to ask how you are feeling or want to do something for his brothers without prompting. He is empathetic. He can also be physical and rammy. Occasionally he gets in these spastic, energy overflow states where he’s just agitated and set on agitating. I remind myself often that he is a five year old boy and that he’s typically more subdued than more boys at that age – that an occasional whirring dervish mood is to be expected. Ray starts Kindergarten in the Fall at Greenfield with Noah, and in Philadelphia that’s a full day program. It will be amazing for me to have both boys be at the same place all day, five days a week. So much less running around. Now I can concentrate on Lee’s days. I’ve had a taste of that this summer as Noah and Ray are at summer camp together. In fact they are spending so much time together that I think they are really starting to drive each other insane. They get along great at camp, and on playdates, but the moment they are home with just each other at the end of the day it’s like they can’t bear to look at one another. I keep thinking I need to start sending them off on separate playdates so they get some space. Nearing two and a half, Lee is a spitfire. He talks up a storm, is the charmingest little devil and can also get so set on his idea that he won’t hear another word. I can take that boy to the zoo, show him the otters and he will argue with me for months that they are seals. At this point I’m nearly certain they are seals. He loves being read to, listening to music, seeing animals, and being with his brothers most of all. His biggest transition is on the horizon as I’m looking to ween him soon, as both Ray and Noah were weened at two and half – of course I was in my third trimester with the next one both times. But it still seems a good age to me. However Lee is far more attached to nursing at this age then the other boys were. At this age they really only wanted to nurse when they wanted to sleep, but Lee wants to nurse if he’s bored. It’s a battle to just tell him repeatedly that we don’t nurse at the store, in the restaurant, at playgroup anymore. He wants to still be an on demand nurser and I’m putting my foot down for the most part, but damn that kid is persistent. Noah adores Lee. He loves to laugh at him and constantly goes on about how cute and funny he is. He has more patience with him then he had with Ray. And though Ray can be jealous of Lee, and get in his face a lot more he is also more affectionate with Lee than Noah was with him. He often comes upstairs with me when I put Lee to sleep and he falls asleep cuddled up with him. It’s one of my favorite sights. Lee starts the 2 year old program at the Rec Center in the Fall. That’s two 2 hour days that I plan to spend at the gym. First time I’ve had regular scheduled time alone, aside from the couple of months I had super pregnant with Lee while Ray was in his 2 hour class. I’ve been good and bad about going to the gym. I aim to go for an hour, three times a week. I get on a treadmill, listen to an audiobook and walk/run four miles. It’s good for me physically and emotionally. But I have to be disciplined about making it a priority and I’m just not good at making me a priority consistently. And as soon as I fall out of the habit it snowballs and then it’s been a month since I’ve gone and I feel like I start all over again. There is a part of me that longs to have another child. I guess it’s the part that feels like I am at my best as a human when I am caring for a small child, MY small child (before you suggest daycare work.) And that as my oldest becomes 8 and starts the process of independence and pulling away, and the others are soon to follow that I’m nearing the end of my glory days. And I sometimes feel I need to give myself a few more years of this. Another chance to fall in love with another little person, with motherhood. But because of the obsessive, attachment parenting mother I am I am never able to leave my children at all until they are over 2 – and that’s a big daunting commitment to start over as I’m finally getting more me time. And now that Lee is older we are starting to imagine trips and experiences with three bigger boys, without a baby and that’s exciting too. And Mark has been pretty clear that he thinks three is plenty – so I just have my inner debate regularly that can really have no other answer but we’re done. I have to admit to dealing with a little bit of depression – just the typical stay at home loneliness, never knowing if you are doing a good job, and worrying about what comes next. Some things need work – like making Mark a priority without feeling like “I gotta take care of you too?,” just trying to find someone engaging after being with them for 15 years, and trying to really appreciate all they do for you and how much they mean to you without being mired in the details of the daily grind – but it’s nothing serious. Just normal marriage maintenance, I hope. It’s all so textbook it seems silly to mention but since I’m trying to mark this moment I feel I must. In a week me and the boys are driving to Florida with my brother and his kids to see my sister Elisha. I swore I’d never make this road trip with three small kids but I’m desperate to see Elisha. Since Dad is gone I miss her even more than I ever did, which was always a lot. More than anyone else I feel like he is with me when I am with her – and she can understand how I feel better than anyone. I look back at this post and feel bad about always comparing the boys – but it’s fascinating to me – three kids with identical genetic makeups and their similarities and differences. And I think I wrote so much about Noah and then less about Ray, and even less about Lee. Maybe when I blog again (six months, HA) I will lead with Ray and then Lee the next time so I’m not always running out of steam before I get to Lee. Any way – so much more to say but no more ideas or words.