Category Archives: Brave New (School) World

Eat My Words

Last week I had a post all planned for Microblog Mondays.

It was going to be about how I used to love September, how it used to be my favourite time of year, how much I used to love looking forward to the new school year.

And then I was going to write about how I was dreading Tuesday, because it was the first day of school, and E’s first day of Grade One, and I was just.not.ready for another eight-week four month transition like we had with JK and SK.

I wasn’t ready for the endless tears, the bargaining, the requests to stay home, the plaintive statements that school was “just too long” and he just missed me “so much”.

I wasn’t ready for the phone calls from the teacher, the meetings after school, the behavioural charts.

I wasn’t ready for the feeling that everyone else’s kid was getting it when mine just wasn’t.

But Monday was Labour Day and we got busy and I never found time to write the post.

And that, it turns out, was a good thing.

E. went to school on the first day worried, because he had heard that “In Grade One you just have to sit and write all day.”

He came out of the school at the end of the day bubbling over with excitement. Grade One had been fun! He had his own desk and his own pencil case! His teacher had told him she was amazed at how much French he knew!

It’s just kept getting better.

All week we had a few tears at drop off (because, as he told me, he finds drop off “so hard and scary”), but he was fine during the day.

He’s been eating his lunch, despite now being in the lunchroom, “which is really really noisy and filled with like a gazillion kids”.

He’s wanted to play in the playground after school every day, something which he almost never wanted to do last year.

He loves that he can go anywhere he wants during recess.

He loves that he has an agenda.

His best friend is in the class, and they come up with crazy games to play on the field (“Mummy, this morning we made a dust storm!”), and he’s already playing with some of the other kids he was friendly with last year.

On Friday he came home, starving and exhausted, and told me, “Mummy, I’m so disappointed it’s the weekend. I just love school so much!”

To top it off, today he voluntarily went to school 45 minutes early because he wanted to try out for the cross country team.

I’ve had no phone calls from the school, no notes from the teacher, no hand waving me over at pick up for a “brief chat”.

My kid, it turns out, is rocking Grade One.

I have never been happier to have been so wrong.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, E.- the seventh year, Grade One

Not My Story

If you’ve been reading me for a long time, you’ve probably noticed that I post a lot less about E. these days.

Partly this is because of lack of time. I post less about everything these days and my Google Doc file of “potential blog posts” keeps getting longer and longer.

Mostly it’s because I’ve decided that E.’s life is not mine to share.

When he was a baby, his life and my life were intertwined. Writing about learning how to be a mother meant writing about what he was doing.

He’s six now.

He’s a big little kid (or a little big kid depending on how you look at it).

He has his own thoughts, wishes, dreams, plans, questions, and opinions (this child is NEVER short of opinions).

Writing about him without his permission feels like a violation of his privacy, but he’s too young to be able to give me permission to tell a story- he wouldn’t truly understand what giving me permission means and what the ramifications are of something being published online (he’s desperate to be able to put “how-to” videos on YouTube when he makes, say, a conveyor belt out of toilet paper rolls and old linens, and can’t understand why I keep saying no).

The problem is, I desperately need someone to talk to about him, and (as I said recently) I don’t have the right kind of friend nearby.

E. is not easy to parent.

I know all kids have their challenges, but I also honestly believe that some kids are harder work than others.

Nothing drove this home more than chatting with one mum after school one day when she told me that the teacher had called her about her daughter. “That’s the first phone call I’ve had from the school about any one of my kids,” she said (she has three- the eldest is in grade four). “I guess one of them had to be the rebel.”

At the time, I was right in the middle of a months-long stretch where I touched base with E.’s teacher (bless her) every single day after school. We talked with E. about what went well, what hadn’t gone well, and what we could do to make things better the next day.

I went home after that conversation and cried.

I feel like most of this past school year has been spent trying to figure out what is going on in E’s head.

I’ve been to eight appointments (not counting follow up discussions with his regular doctor) with three different specialists.

His teacher and I have filled out questionnaire after questionnaire.

I have spent hours Googling, even when I know I should NOT be Googling.

The end result is that the developmental paediatrician thinks that E. probably does have something going on. It’s mild enough that for now we’ve avoided a formal diagnosis (because E. has made huge strides in the areas where we were concerned over this past school year), but we’ll revisit this in a year’s time as the demands of Grade One are going to be much heavier.

I don’t like labels.

I especially don’t like the label that the developmental paediatrician thinks probably applies to E. because it brings with it a lot of assumptions for a lot of people, assumptions which, for the most part, are not applicable to my son.

At the same time, if E. does need more support to be able to thrive in the school environment, and a label is required for him to become eligible for said support, then I will do whatever is necessary to make sure my child gets what he needs.

It’s hard though.

I’ve cried a lot in the last couple of weeks.

It is hard to think that my beautiful boy’s brain is likely to make it harder for him to cope with school (and with life) than it will be for his peers.

It is hard to realize that I have many, many more meetings with teachers ahead of me, that the school may not be able to look past the other stuff to see what he is capable of (and he is so incredibly bright, so capable, so curious).

It is hard to think of myself as a special needs mum, even as I recognize that I am his first and best advocate.

It is hard not to be scared of what the future will bring, especially if you start Googling.

It is hard to know that P. will be at a much higher risk for the same thing and to also know that it will likely be years before we will be able to tell whether her brain is wired like her brother’s or not.

It is hard not to think that this is somehow my fault, that I have done something wrong somewhere along the line to cause this (even as I read over and over again that it is not my fault).

It is hard not to feel guilty that he was five before we put in the paperwork to start asking questions, that we didn’t investigate earlier, that I kept telling my gut to be quiet when it whispered that something was going on, that I thought he would grow out of it or that he just needed more time to adjust.

In my heart, I know that E. is going to be fine in the long run.

Scratch that.

He’s going to be more than fine.

He’s going to be amazing.

P. too.

But the road to get there just got a lot rockier.

And I wish I had someone to talk to about it.

 

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Brave New (School) World, E.- the seventh year, Grief

Microblog Mondays: Pink

A couple of days ago I called E. over to look at a prospective sun hat on the computer (because who has time to go to a store in person?). E. badly needed a new hat, not only because he’d just lost his current one at school, but also because that hat was getting too small for him, and although he’d repeatedly said he wanted a new hat that was “exactly the same as the old hat!”, I’d several years ago only purchased said hat in small and medium, not large, and now the store no longer made it.

The potential new hat was from the same store, but in a different style. E. came over, looked at it, pronounced it a good hat, and then said, “Oh, and look, it comes in pink too!”

“Do you want to get it in pink?” I asked.

“Yes, please,” E. said immediately. “Navy really isn’t my style.”

I ordered the pink hat with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

E. loves pink: he will tell anyone who asks that it’s his second favourite colour because “pink is closest to red!”

Thus far, E. has remained blessedly oblivious to the gendered associations of pink (even though he frequently comes home from school and tells me that something is a “boy movie” or a “girl book”). At a birthday party in January he picked out the last pink balloon when it was his turn and seemed genuinely perplexed when the girl behind him challenged him on his choice (she had clearly assumed that that balloon was hers because she was the next girl in line).

But he is about to turn six, and I know someday soon he will be told he shouldn’t be wearing his pink hat or his pink, orange, and red leggings, that he shouldn’t choose the pink balloon. It will come from his peers or (worse) from adults in the community. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know it is going to.

I hope he is strong enough to ignore the naysayers.

It breaks my heart that he’s going to have to defend his choice, that he’s not going to be allowed to just be a kid wearing a hat.

Do boys wear pink where you live?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Brave New (School) World, E.- the sixth year, Microblog Mondays

(Not) The First Day Back

Microblog_MondaysE should be back at school today but he’s ended up with one extra day of holidays due to vomiting yesterday. So instead he’s had a lazy day in his pjs and has been generally cheerful (once he finally stopped being too hangry to eat breakfast when he first woke up).

I’m the one who’s out of sorts.

I miss our routine.

I was looking forward to seeing all the other Mums at drop off.

I was looking forward to some quiet time when P was napping.

I was looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and organizing what I need to get done over the next couple of weeks. I function best with to-do lists and planning. Right now I have a whole bunch of amorphous “I should do this” thoughts floating around in my head, and I find that quite stressful. They’re easier to quiet when they’re written down somewhere.

I was looking forward to having a few hours most days without E’s incessant questions. I am so glad he is so curious but it can be exhausting, particularly when his questions outstrip my ability to give accurate, detailed answers. Currently his main interests are the universe and microbes (the macro and the micro), neither of which is an area of strength.

I feel a little guilty feeling the way I do, as E is a homebody at heart and would love nothing more than to be able to stay at home, with me, all day, every day. I get it- he’s an introvert, just like I am. The difference between us is he can recharge by being with me, whereas for me to recharge I need to be alone.

I miss school, even if he doesn’t.

If you have children, do you look forward to the end of the holidays and the return to the usual routine?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Brave New (School) World, E.- the sixth year, Microblog Mondays

Don’t want to be that (late) guy

Microblog_MondaysThere’s this dad who lives around the corner from me (literally around the corner- I can see his house from our living room window).

He takes his daughter to school every morning, just like I take E.

He is late, if not every morning, at minimum four days out of five.

And not just “quick-the-door-is-closing-run-for-it” late.

Twenty minutes late. At minimum.

I usually see him walking to school, with a resigned expression on his face and his daughter in a wagon, at the laneway, which is about halfway between our houses and the school, and is where a friend of mine lives, so we usually end up standing around and chatting for a few minutes. The key here is we have already dropped off our kids and nattered to other parents at school and walked halfway back and stood around nattering and THEN he appears.

The other day another two mums were there and he trundled past. So we all talked about him afterwards, because it turns out ALL of us have noticed him and we’re all equally befuddled by it.

Does he not care?

Does he wake up every morning determined to do better and things go pear-shaped?

Does his daughter refuse to cooperate?

What does his wife think?

It’s the consistency that gets to us. If he took whatever their morning routine was and pushed everything twenty minutes earlier, they wouldn’t be late.

“One day they wanted to go to the book fair before school started,” said another mum, who lives two houses down from him. “That day they got to school on time.”

I think I’m both fascinated and appalled by his lateness because it’s the sort of thing I just would NOT be able to do. If parenting is about picking your battles and what matters to you, being late is one of my bugbears. I cannot stand being late, for anything. If our routine made us late, I would change it after one day.

I’m sure that dad probably has aspects of his parenting that wouldn’t be a big deal for me but are a huge deal for him. We all have our priorities. But I probably won’t get to find out what they are because, let’s be honest here, I wouldn’t be able to cope being friends with him. His approach to time management is just too different from mine.

What are your parenting bugbears that you know wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal to someone else?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

3 Comments

Filed under Brave New (School) World, JK, Microblog Mondays

Robocall Panic Attacks

Microblog_MondaysLast week, I had a robocall from E’s school.

It’s a pretty neat system. If your child is marked absent, the robocall program will call you to make sure you’re aware of the absence. It will, in fact, keep on calling you, over and over again, all day long if necessary, until you acknowledge that you have received the message.

So, yeah, good system.

Except on that particular day, E. was at school.

I’d taken him there.

I’d given him a goodbye kiss and watched him walk through the doors, just like I do every morning.

When I got the robocall telling me my child had been marked absent at morning roll call, I hung up immediately and called the school.

And while I waited FOUR BILLION YEARS on hold (real elapsed time: probably less than a minute and a half) while the secretary called down to E.’s classroom to find out what was going on, I had this thought:

Hey, this is exactly the kind of situation where the psychiatrist said I should work on not jumping to the worst-case scenario.

And then, almost immediately afterwards, my brain went FUCK IT, and I went into a complete panic of the “What if E. accidentally came back out the doors before school started and got lost and kidnapped” variety.

The secretary came back on the line, apologetic. He was, indeed, in his classroom. The substitute teacher had made a mistake with the attendance and hadn’t fixed it in time to stop the computer from calling me.

He was perfectly safe and exactly where he should be.

But I can see it’s going to take a lot of work to change my patterns of thought.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

6 Comments

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Brave New (School) World, E.- the fifth year, JK, Microblog Mondays

Manic Mondays

This is fairly typical for my Mondays this semester.

6:30 a.m.: Get up. Print various files required for today that I was too tired to print last night by the time I finished prepping the classes.

7:00 a.m.: Feed cats. Dump dishwasher.

7:15 a.m.: Wake up E. Finish making his lunch. Pack backpack.

7:30 a.m.: Make sure E. is out of bed and getting dressed. Make his breakfast and my breakfast. Kiss Q. who is heading out early to get in a swim before work.

7:45 a.m.: Eat breakfast with E. Answer approximately forty-five billion unrelated questions. Wonder how E. manages to consume so much food while talking non-stop.

8:15 a.m.: Upstairs to brush teeth and find socks. Double check backpacks are ready to go. Wrestle E. into outdoor clothing.

8:35 a.m.: Leave house. Walk to school. Tell a story about Elmer the little red diesel engine with yellow stripes while giving drivers the stink eye when they come into stop signs too quickly.

8:50 a.m.: Wave cheerfully at E. as he heads into school, even if he is weeping. Walk at high speed to the subway. Be passed by many pedestrians. Realize high speed is no longer all that fast.

9:45 a.m.: Arrive at first university campus. Photocopy test for evening class. Notice random printout in photocopier room of application for conference travel fund. Notice deadlines do not correspond conveniently with conference in May. Realize only possible deadline is probably tomorrow. Fret.

9:55 a.m.: Set up in office. Await student who is supposed to write a make up exam.

10:02 a.m.: Wonder what has happened to student. Start correcting chapter solutions for language class that evening.

10:53 a.m.: Think about packing up as office hour is over at 11:00 a.m. and there is no sign of student. Have student turn up with a jumbled apology about it taking longer than usual to get to the campus.

12:15 p.m.: Student finishes exam. Pack up bag and leave to catch transport to second campus.

1:00 p.m.: Arrive at second campus. Realize am about to either attack passersby or cry from hunger. Buy ridiculously large platter of Indian food. Retreat to office.

1:15 p.m.: Inhale Indian food while also making PowerPoint presentation for lecture that afternoon. Text from labmonkey: Dad is in surgery getting a pacemaker. Try not to worry.

2:15 p.m.: Finish PowerPoint presentation. Call to book taxi for that evening. Call to reschedule E.’s dental appointment. Take a minute to check email.

2:20 p.m.: Write to supervisor to tell him good news about postdoc.

2:22 p.m.: Have knock on office door. It is supervisor, excited about the email. Accept congratulations. Leave office door open because am now on official office hours.

2:30 p.m.: Answer emails from students regarding upcoming assessment. No students come to office hours.

3:00 p.m.: Have spare moments. Check exam schedule for April. Email sisters to try to coordinate who can travel when in April. Suggest options. Bombard sisters with emails because have a few free moments to think about all the things on the to-do list.

3:40 p.m.: Pack up backpack. Leave office.

4:00 p.m.: Start lecture.

5:10 p.m.: Finish lecture. Shut down technology, field questions from students, put on boots. Walk briskly down to where the taxi should be.

5:17 p.m.: Get in taxi. Text labmonkey to see if Dad is out of surgery. He is and it went well. Text with labmonkey to get update about Dad generally while in taxi. Argue with driver about route. Win argument.

5:58 p.m.: Arrive back at first university campus. Pay driver. Eat snack and use washroom.

6:05 p.m.: Start teaching class.

8:45 p.m.: End class. Shut down technology, field questions from students, put on boots. Walk briskly out to bus stop.

8:51 p.m.: Catch earlier bus. Send triumphant text to Q. Eat apple. Finish book.

9:40 p.m.: Arrive home. Turn on computer and look up conference travel fund application. Confirm that cannot apply for funding once conference has happened. Realize will have to get up tomorrow morning and complete application. Q. offers to drop it off, saving the trip to campus. Reminded again why he is so wonderful.

10:00 p.m.: Go to bed. Set alarm for 6:00 a.m. Snuggle with Q. Try to ignore baby dance party in uterus. Sleep.

 

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Filed under A (Good) Day's Work, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Family, JK, Me? Pregnant?!