take this winter and shove it

“I really don’t like this winter. It’s the coldest winter I had this year.”

A-freaking-men.

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kidling compliments

Those of you who read kidlingville regularly (all four of you) know that The Kidling has been working through some concerns lately. It turns out The Mama was right to be worried about kindergarten and the myriad changes it brings.

Now that I have gratuitously linked to my most recent angsty blogposts, I shall continue.

The Dada and I have been asking careful questions after school lately in order to get as much information as we can about The Kidling’s day without triggering a pity party. As anyone who has regular contact with six-year-olds knows, pity parties are second only to birthday parties in popularity.

So we tread lightly.

This evening yielded some positive information. It turns out The Kidling and her nemesis played together today! And he was kind! Well… kind enough. He did tell my charmingly-coiffed daughter that she had a bald head, but she accepted his excuse explanation that he was referring to his own hairless noggin, rather than calling her names.

The Kidling, it seems, is learning to choose her battles.

Bedtime approached, and we reviewed her day.  Because things had gone far better than usual, I wanted to reinforce that she is a fighter. As I kissed my dear child on the forehead, I told her that we all have rough patches. We will have difficult days and tough weeks, but we survive and get better as a result. “You are strong, you are kind, and you will be okay,” I reassured her.

As a slow smile spread across her face, she returned the compliment. “You are big, you are never late for anything, and you are gorgeous. And so am I.”

The Kidling has returned.

on school and learning

Read this. I know it is long, but go ahead. Don’t worry, I’ve got coffee. I can wait.

. . .

. . .

Are you crying? Well, I am.

I see The Kidling in this frustrated, insecure face, and it breaks my heart. Even something far less dramatic than the testing described here–the everyday work of kindergarten–has affected my dear girl. She has a phenomenal teacher, but she feels so much pressure from somewhere. Her peers? Herself? I don’t know, but I do know that she meant it when she asked if she could retire from kindergarten a few weeks ago. Being six is, it seems, just too hard these days.

Perhaps this is revisionist history, but I don’t recall feeling this way as a child. And no, it is not because I am so damn old. You see, I do recall walking to afternoon kindergarten with my childhood best friend. I recall social angst and trying to figure out how to navigate friendships. I recall being asked to stop talking by my ever-so-patient teacher. I recall forgetting that I didn’t have to raise my hand to use the restroom and waiting, wiggly and anxious, to be called on rather than just tiptoeing away.

But I do not recall requesting early retirement.

Perhaps the pressure is due, in part, to the fact that it never seems to end. The fact that she is in school all day. The fact that we have to wake her every morning and she doesn’t get quite enough sleep. The fact that, as a dual-income family, we get home, eat dinner, bathe, read a story, and head straight to bed (see above re: sleep). She has a great after school  program that allows her to play and discover organically, but this has been a rough winter, and an outdoorsy kidling needs to get her skinny little bum outside to be happy.

So where does this leave parents?

I want The Kidling to succeed, but what does that even mean? It’s not like she isn’t going to learn to read eventually. Why is it such a big deal that it happen at a particular time or in a particular way? I do know that, when presented with constructive learning activities, she relishes the discovery process. Her face lights up with joy when she comes to a conclusion independently. She listens intently as we talk about engineers and dinosaurs. She labors with quiet joy on elaborate drawings that detail a fantasy world beyond any adult’s imagination.

But my book lover shies away from stories when I ask her to read with me. And it breaks my heart just a little.

I don’t have an answer, dear readers. I won’t even pretend to. But let’s think about this, okay? There has to be a better way.

savings plan

Scene: Tuesday. 8:00 pm. The bathroom. The Kidling is getting ready to brush her teeth in preparation for bedtime. She begins to brush, then pauses with tooth-paste-y mouth to tell me a story.

The Kidling: Tara and I are going to start selling books for pennies. Real pennies. To save money for Africa. Tara’s going to Africa, too! And Mommy and Daddy! And Tara’s mommy and daddy are going to come too. And we’ll have to buy an extra ticket for Molly. (pauses) Can I do six chewers a day?
The Mama: Of course! You mean to earn money?
The Kidling: Yeah.
The Mama: Sure. So you can get your allowance and do additional chores to earn more money.
The Kidling: Yeah. But I don’t have to do them every day.
The Mama: No, you don’t. But you understand that you won’t get the extra money unless you choose to do the extra chores?
The Kidling: Yeah.
The Mama: Okay.

Fast forward. Snuggle time. Chatting about nothing in particular, then—

The Kidling: I’m going to keep rest of the money for richness and my needs.
The Mama: (smiles. says nothing.)
The Kidling: And if someone doesn’t have any money, I’m gonna give them half. Because, you can’t just admire money! You have to use it!

Hear, hear. Those pennies aren’t made to be stared at.

questions I am not even remotely a little bit sort of close to being kind of ready to answer

“How do I make sure I don’t have a baby?”

habits

Habits. We all have them.

They can be good.
We brush our teeth at night, wash our hands after using the toilet, say pardon me when we need to squeeze past someone…

They can be bad.
We scratch our mosquito bites, bite our nails, procrastinate…

They are often neutral.
We wear black more often than brown, always eat eggs for breakfast, buy more apples than we can eat in a week… These neutral habits are simply things we do. We do them so often, in fact, that we aren’t even cognizant of their being done until one day, for some reason, it stands out.

That day was last night. As I tucked The Kidling in (after a discussion of shapely meals), I became aware of her habit of repeating what I say to her at bedtime. A salutation, as we know, is oft repeated:

“Good night, Dear” “Good night.”

“Good morning!” “Good morning!”

“Bye now!” “Goodbye.”

“Have a great day!” “You have a great day, too!”

It often makes sense to repeat a salutation, but surely I am not the only one who has found myself replying, “you too!” to a wish of safe travels when I am the only one about to embark on an adventure.The same, it seems, is true of The Kidling. Once we had decided that I would be checking in on her in ten minutes (which I–ahem–forgot to do because I was writing this story), I tucked her in, said goodnight, then promised, “I’ll check on you in a little bit.”

“I’ll check on YOU in a little bit,” The Kidling replied.

Um. Sure. Goodnight.

square meals… heart(y) meals…

Most evenings, The Kidling requests a snack juuuust before I leave her bedroom after tucking her in. I know her uncanny timing is not unique. As a parent, I have adapted to my competing instincts—She needs to go to bed. She needs a snack. She is exhausted. She is starving—with a fail-proof strategy. When The Kidling tells me she is hungry at bedtime, I promise to check on her in 10 minutes. If she is still hungry (a.k.a. awake) in 10 minutes, then she gets a snack… assuming I remember to actually check on her. If she has entered Dreamland, then I tiptoe back downstairs and go about my evening.

It should come as no surprise, then, that tonight as The Kidling and I snuggled, she complained of her belly’s deficit. I promised the usual, finishing with, “. . . and if you are asleep, then I will be sure to get you a big breakfast in the morning.”

“You could say a hearty breakfast,” The Kidling commented.

“That’s right,” I replied. “Like a ‘hearty meal.’ Thanks for the suggestion.”

“You could also say it for Thanksgiving.”

She is so freaking smart, I thought. Thanksgiving is a hearty meal!

“Or Valentine’s Day”

Hmm, I thought. Maybe she isn’t quite catching o– wait! (Heart)y meals. Hearty meals!

Genius. The Kidling’s a damn genius.

life lessons from the classroom

There is a child in The Kidling’s kindergarten class who seems to cause her some strife. This little dude (L.D.) is feisty, but as sweet as can be… at least when I am in the classroom. While I am a fan of L.D., The Kidling most certainly is not.

One recent evening, we were talking about L.D. and the trouble she has been having with him.

I hope it will be for a very long time that her “boy troubles” are about irritations, rather than rebuffs.

We talked for a while about ways The Kidling could model good choices and about what might be motivating L.D.’s behavior. It wasn’t long before she interrupted me with this wisdom,

“He wants attention and he just attentions us in such mean ways.”

Well said, Kidling. I guess sometimes you just have to step back and let it be.