Tag Archives: Kindergarten

Poor, old, neglected blog

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[I’d like you to picture Ursula the Sea Witch singing the title of this post, please.]

I promise you the neglect of this blog in NO WAY reflects the way I parent my children. Well, maybe it does a little, but you say “neglect,” I say, “fostering independence.” Tomato, Tomahto.

Here’s what’s been happening since we last interacted:

The kids have become kind of boring.

I KNOW, I should NEVER say that out loud because next think I know, the school nurse will be calling me with all, “Lice! Strep! Broken bones! Behavioral problems!”

But that’s not to say our days are boring. They’re not. Ever. They’re still busy and loud and active and fun and sometimes not fun, but they’re never, ever boring.

But as far as “issues I shall ponder upon in my blog,” we just haven’t had many of those come up lately.

I could talk to you about the fact that my EIGHT year old now has a full mouth of braces and I’m not exactly sure how it happened. Especially since braces are not supposed to enter the picture until birds and bees and bras enters the picture and Lord knows, I’m not ready for ANY of that. But so it goes. Luckily, it hasn’t effected her amazing smile one single bit.

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We can talk about how the Nibbit is really in the Kindergarten groove now… he comes home reading new words EVERY. SINGLE. DAY and it blows my mind. I honestly think there’s a special place in heaven for all teachers, but ESPECIALLY Kindergarten teachers. Because THEY TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO READ.

Our kids walk in those doors sort of understanding what letters are and then they come home all, “Oh? Little Pea? I can read that NO PROBLEM.” AND THEN THEY DO. They read it and their little brothers look at them in awe like, “When in the hell did you learn to do that??” And they’re all, “I learned it in Kindergarten… you will, too… someday. But not that soon.” (I didn’t say he was any less fresh. Another reason teachers shall be rewarded in the afterlife.)

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I could then tell you all about how even my littlest baby is getting to be a real kid and not just some preschooler who walks around saying, “Blah blah!” OK, that would be a lie. He is definitely still a preschooler who walks around saying, “Blah blah!” and let me assure you that this does not get any less annoying the more you hear it.

The other day, I was encouraging HD to get his shoes on for school and he just kept saying, “Blah blah baby!” My sister, who was sitting in my kitchen, laughed and said, “Oh Happy Dude, you’re such a textbook right now.”

So he may be annoying, but at least he’s TEXTBOOK annoying. Which is the BEST KIND of annoying. Ask anyone.

(By the way, he also “requests” (those are air quotes which are intended to imply that “requests” really means “demands”) that I tuck the loops of his shoelaces into the top laces so they don’t “bounce and bother him.” WTF?? I’m fairly certain this is NOT textbook, but I’m hoping it’s one of those things that if I don’t give too much attention, it’ll go away.)

Aside from all the textbook annoyances and neurosis, he’s also learning stuff. LOOK:

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He’s sort of writing his name!

(I know I’ve never mentioned the kids’ real names on this blog, but most of you know them by now, PLUS this won’t really clue you in if you don’t know what you’re looking for. )

Ah, my baby’s all grown up! Next stop, college applications! Or, you know, working-in-a-fast-food-chain applications!

Oh well, at least he still looks like this:

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In addition to all the learning, we’re also busy with soccer and baseball and drama (both the “LO-is-taking-a-theater-class” variety, as well as the “Eyeroll, ‘seriously, mom?’” variety) and homework and worrying about the Ebola virus* and birthday parties and writing stories and playing with friends, etc. etc. etc. (*This one is really only something I’ve been busy doing.)

And of course, always on the evening agenda, Wrestle Baby.

The other night,

LO: C’mon guys, let’s go upstairs and play Wrestle Baby.
Nibbit: OH YEAH! I’m gonna win this Wrestle Baby!
LO: There’s no winning or losing Nib, there’s only kicking people’s butts and then celebrating.

Ah, the phone’s ringing…. “Lice! Strep! Broken bones! Behavioral problems!” GUARANTEED.

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PS. If you’re not following, “Who Needs A Nap?” on Facebook, you’re missing stuff like this:

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PPS. I also want to mention that I’ve got a couple other writing endeavors going on, which has contributed to the neglect of this blog. It’s like I have a couple shiny, new toys that are getting all my attention, while poor, old “Who Needs A Nap?” is like the old toy that’s been relegated to corner where her batteries will probably die. I promise to try to pull her out and keep the dust balls from forming, but hopefully that explains why there have been – and will probably continue to be – longer lapses between posts. JUST until I get my Pulitzer. Then I’ll totally be back full time. Deal? Deal.

Is the Nibbit Ready for Kindergarten?

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WARNING: The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and mine alone; they do not reflect the overall views and beliefs of the management of Who Needs A Nap? Me. Oh wait, yes they do. Because I AM the management of Who Needs A Nap? Me. Yay! I can say whatever the hell I want here! You can disagree, but you can’t sue me! In addition, content provided on this site is for entertainment or informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or safety advice. That part is TOTALLY true. Although anyone that takes anything I say as safety advice is crazy in the head and sort of deserves to be laughed at by an ER doctor.

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The reason for the above disclaimer is because I’m about to add my two cents (well, more like $1.39 since I have a difficult time editing myself or using fewer words when I can use more or saying things succinctly or using brevity) to a VERY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE. (Granted, nothing I say here is THAT controversial because I stay clear of controversy, the same way I avoid roller coasters, talking on the phone and cilantro. Conflict is not my thing.)

But this issue has reared its moderately unattractive head one time too many for me to ignore.

Yup, I’m talking about the RED-SHIRTING YOUR KINDERGARTENER issue.

DU DU DUH. (<– that was supposed to be that scary music theme that often follows some big dramatic announcement… did you get it? It’s kind of hard to know how to spell… go ahead and say it out loud, you’ll see what I mean. I’m open to suggestions if you think you have a better way to spell it. I mean, I don’t want to FIGHT about it, but if you can be gentle in your feedback, I’m willing to hear it.)

 

So, my introduction to this issue was when I was first pregnant with the Nibbit and a stranger asked me when I was due and if I knew what I was having. When I answered, “I’m having a boy, in December,” her response was, “Oh, a December boy? You’ll have to hold him back for school.”

CRAZYTOWN, right? I was pregnant – as in HE HADN’T BEEN BORN YET – and random stranger ladies were already telling me that my kid needed to be held back in school. Insane, I know!

I didn’t really have any idea what she was talking about at the time (I was too busy trying to get the Loud One to sleep through the night before the new kid came along and screwed us all up again), but I soon found out.

These are the facts:

  • Connecticut is one very few states to have a cut-off date of December 31st for Kindergarten. This means that if your kid was born on December 15th (like the Nibbit), then he is legally able to start Kindergarten at 4.8 years old.
  • There is research to support the conclusion that sending your 4-year old to school is: the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, a good parenting decision, a terrible parenting decision, a potentially life-altering decision, a good idea and just plain stupid.

Everything else is up for debate.

As this issue became more and more relevant for us over the past year, I’ve read many articles and have had many conversations (with both teachers and parents) about it. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Opinions vary. Woah! Someone write a press release!

Many professionals believe sending kids as soon as they are eligible to go is the right way to go. I understand this and on principle, I agree.

BUT.

My principles aren’t worth a damn when the reality of the situation is that many parents are ignoring the research and giving their fall-born (and sometimes summer-born) kids that extra year of preschool. Which means that my 4.8 year old son could be in class with kids that are 6.1/6.2/6.3 year olds.

And I’ve decided that, knowing my kid and his social maturity (or extreme lack thereof), I’m not OK with that.

I have said the following statement so many times that I’m fairly certain most of you reading this have heard me say it. Twice.

I have no problem with my kid being the youngest in his class. SOMEBODY has to be the youngest. I DO have a problem with him being younger than the oldest kid by almost a year-and-a-half.

I have to believe that THAT big of an age different does put my kid at a firm disadvantage – socially and emotionally – possibly into his high school years.

I just don't want the Nibbit to be in the same class as this guy.

I just don’t want the Nibbit to be in the same class as this guy.

Let me be clear:

This is NOT about academics. Of course, I want my kids to do well in school and go to college. I am fairly confident that will happen regardless of my decision… or not. Point is, this will probably not be the deal-breaker.

This is NOT about athletics. I have no idea if any of my kids are going to play or excel at sports. (Early indicators say probably not, but there’s still time.)

This is about a social and emotional maturity that I don’t believe MY son will have achieved by September. And my fear is that this “lag” in maturity will follow him throughout his school career.

Have I mentioned that this is about MY kid?

I make no grand statements about what ALL parents should do. Every child is different and every parent is different as well. Some parents believe the research 100% and are willing to give it a shot. Some parents believe their child will thrive regardless of age. Some parents can’t justify paying for another year of preschool, when FREE school is available. And some parents are just ready for their kid to be out of the house for most of the day. (Believe me, that last argument resonates with me. A LOT.)

So what’s the answer? It’s the same answer that applies to most parenting questions (How do I get them to sleep through the night? What discipline method works best? What TV shows make for the best babysitters?): It just depends on the kid.

We stressed about this decision for a long time before enrolling the Nibbit in a pre-K class next year. I wavered on a daily basis. But ultimately, I watch the Nibbit saying, “Blah blah blah blah blah” (literally “Blah blah blah blah blah” – that’s not code for anything) all day long and honestly think this is the best call for him.

I didn’t feel great about this idea of holding him back until a friend yelled at me one day, “STOP thinking of it as ‘holding him back’ and START thinking of it as ‘sending him when he’s ready.”

AH. Isn’t that a much better way to think about it?

Because ultimately, nobody wants to hold their kid back.

PS. Google “Redshirting Kindergartener” and you’ll see approximately a bazillion articles. Here’s just ONE that I like.

PPS. There are a lot of “I” statements in this post. Rest assured, KJ is allowed to have opinions on these issues (they count for approximately 20% of the vote) but this blog is all about my perspective, so I only like to speak for myself.

There’s a Literary Genius in the House… and It Ain’t Me

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I’ve been working on two different posts lately… one about how I tell my kids it’s my #1 job to keep them safe but how in reality, things are sometimes completely and frighteningly out of my control and another about how sometimes I feel totally inadequate in all areas of parenting and life. (You know, just some light reading for Spring Break.) As you can imagine, both will be hysterical and uplifting and won’t cause you to have panic attacks at all!!

While I continue to sort out those comedic masterpieces, I thought I’d share some of the Loud One’s recent academic exploits.

Side note: my kids are really funny. And not in the “they have fantastic senses of humor” way, but mostly in the “kids are funny because they say things that are wrong or crazy and then we laugh at them” kind of way.

Like when The Nibbit was mad in the bathtub a few weeks ago and yelled, “The Loud One keeps kicking me in the pirates!” See? Funny.

So anyway, the Loud One and I are working on “Sight Words” at home. Words that, at this point of the Kindergarten year, she should be able to recognize, spell and use in a sentence. For the most part, she’s doing great. (According to her teacher at our recent conference, she’s reading at an 11th grade level and given her math and science skills, she should probably skip straight through to 4th grade. But we’re not crazy like that, so we’ll just keep her where she is and continue with our daily three-hour vocabulary drills.)

Anyway, some of these sight words include: if, and, an, but, can, am, if, not… etc. (I added “Fruit Loops” and “milk” to her list so that I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning. And “beer,” too as a tiny, little gift to her father.)

Well, we’ve been working on reading and writing these words and recently had the following exchange:

Me: Now, let’s practice the word “am” by using it a sentence.
LO: <blank stare>
Me: OK, I’ll give you some examples and then you’ll take a turn. “I am going…”
LO: <interrupts> … to the grocery store.”
Me: Great! How about “I am…
LO: “… hungry for some ice cream. But not mint. Just chocolate. With sprinkles. Can we have some? Pleeeease??”
Me: Hmm. We’ll see. But GREAT sentence. OK, last one. “I am feeling…
LO: … nervous about going into a cave. Because of the bats.”
Me: <Blank stare>

She’s taken this talent for description a step further and has now become obsessed with writing her own “chapter books.” I’ve given her a whole bunch of small notebooks and she is rapidly filling them with short stories, primarily about Huskies, but there is one about turtles as well. She’s usually in such a frenzy to get her thoughts on paper that some of her spelling and grammar suffers. But these stories are awesome. There have interesting characters, suspense and exciting plot twists!

Here’s a sample:

A Husky Sikness   

Wons thar wos a husky. He had siknis. He was onle a baby. The husky had tarubl siknis.  He coft and coft and coft. Sutly he medid a hors. He sed “BO.” Husky sed “You skerd me! You skerd my hikups awa!” He shawtd “Hra Hra.” The End.

 Translation: Once there was a Husky. He had sickness. He was only a baby. The Husky had terrible sickness. He coughed and coughed and coughed. Suddenly, he meeted [met] a horse. He said, “Boo.” Husky said, “You scared me! You scared my hiccups away!” He shouted “Hooray Hooray.” The End.

 GET IT? He didn’t have a tarubl siknis after all! It was just the hiccups!! Genius, am I right?

And one more:

Huske Folod The Ramboe

(Now, I’m pretty sure nobody’s messing with Sylvester Stallone in her story, so I’m going to guess she meant “Husky Followed the Rainbow.”)

Husky went on a bot. He soring to sink. He got biting by a sork. He was a hape sork, iksep he wos hongre. It hrt. Help! The End.

Translation: Husky went on a boat. He started(?) to sink. He got bitten by a shark. He was a happy shark, except he was hungry. It hurt. Help! The End.

I am pretty sure that the Husky’s quest for the pot of gold didn’t end well in this one but that’s what I love about it!! A surprise ending! The title sucks you in and then the story takes you in a whole other direction! Fantastic!

That’s it. In addition to over-sharing the boring minutiae of my life, my new goal for this blog is to find her a publisher. People, she’s got that special something.

 

The Most Valuable Commodity (besides Margaritas)

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There are some people in this world that think money is the most valuable commodity. Then there are other people who are quick to get all Judgey McJudgerson on the money people and say, it’s NOT about the money, the most valuable commodity is time (these people always have a lot of money). You hear these people saying annoying things like, “Time just goes by so fast… the years slip by so quickly… blah, blah, blah.” (To those people I say, come spend the morning at my house and you’ll see two hours turn into a LIFETIME.)

Anyway, both of those groups of people are wrong. The truest most valuable commodity in life is clearly… tequila.

I kid! (Slamming down shot glass.)

The truest most valuable commodity is – wait for it – patience(Starting now, please picture me writing this in a lotus position with incense burning behind me. That’s not at all the scene here, but I’d like you to picture it that way.)

Anyway, patience. As a society, we have very little. We have cell phones because we can’t wait until we get home to call our friend and bitch about how slow the barista (anyone else have a very hard time calling them that?) was at Starbucks today. We have DVRs because we can’t possibly sit through commercials.* We have convection ovens to cook faster, express check-out buttons so we can buy crap online faster… we even have Facebook so that we don’t have to wait for our college reunions to find out what all those people we were never really friends with have been up to since graduation.**

Yet as a parent, patience (+ tequila) is just about the key to survival… for kids of every age.

  • Newborns scream → you need patience to not become one of those scary shaken baby statistics.
  • Toddlers mess with all of your stuff → you need patience not to grab your camera/pen/coffee mug/shoe/wallet/sunglasses/french fries out of their grubby little hands and scream, “That’s MINE!” (Ooooooh, maybe that’s where my kids got that.)
  • Preschoolers test. Like it’s their JOB. (Well, I guess it is kind of their job. One they’re really f***ing good at. ) → you need patience to not yell, “If you say ‘NO!’ one more time, I’m going to [fill in awful unacceptable parental action here… I don’t want to tell you what I say just in case DYFS is reading].”
  • And Kindergarteners? Well, Kindergarteners learn how to read.

I imagine the process of helping a Kindergartener how to read is a little like teaching your teen how to drive (maybe slightly less terrifying because “Hop on Pop” can’t kill you… but make no mistake, it can still DAMAGE YOUR BRAIN). Both require infinite patience. And deep yoga breathing. And Xanax.

Every night, when my daughter and I sit down to read, I take a deep breath, put on my best [fake] “I’d totally rather be doing this than watching “Project Runway”” smile and then duct tape my hands to my lap so that I won’t grab the book out of her hand and just read it myself.

Here are the things you can usually hear me saying multiple times during reading time.

  • “Come on, you know this word, we’ve seen this one on every single page.”
  • “Really? You don’t know this one? It only has two letters.”
  • “But you just read that one three seconds ago!”
  • [Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale]
  • “I don’t know why words have silent Es… I wasn’t actually there when this language was invented.” (And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t have allowed words like moist and navel to make it out of the room.)

Side note to kid: Honey, when you’re old enough to read this (and I really hope that’s sometime before you’re 12), you should know that all of this was really MY problem, not yours. You know, it wasn’t you, it was ME. You should also know that if any guy ever tells you that, it’s a load of BS. Love you!

I lose my patience a lot. And you know what’s funny? Sometimes I warn my kids ahead of time. I’ll actually say, “Guys, I’m starting to lose my patience now…” and you know what else? They could NOT. CARE. LESS. They just go on doing whatever it is they are doing that’s pissing me off. But you know what does work? Threats. And bribes.

So maybe threats and bribes are the most valuable commodities. Huh. I’m going to stock up on lollipops and M&Ms now.

K, bye.

PS. When I started writing on this theme, I had a few others contenders for MVC: coffee, sleep, babysitters, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Benadryl and wine all made the list. Please feel free to cast your vote by leaving a comment.

MVC! MVC!

*Given the popularity of Superbowl commercials, I have to wonder… why don’t companies just make good commercials all year round? Do the ad execs only have one or two great ideas a year and therefore, save them for the Big Game? Because if that’s the case, maybe it’s time for a new agency. Just a thought.

**Anyone else think, that because of Facebook, reunions should be a thing of the past? What’s the point? I’ve seen you, I’ve seen your kids, I know how long your commute is, I know you love cheese… what’s left to discuss?