Sunday, October 28, 2018

ALICE alert

This past week at school my kids did the ALICE alert training.  It stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.  The school sent out a mass email telling us that they were going to do this right before they did the training.  They included the power point presentation that they would use for the kids so parents could see what would be happening.

My heart sank.

It is so troublesome to me that these drills are necessary.  With the situation of the world being what it is, I believe this kind of training is necessary, but it doesn't make it any less heartbreaking. 

I remember when my kids were three years old and started school they had a training.  The teacher told everyone to go into the bathroom, stay quiet, and eat goldfish crackers.  The kids were told that it's a silly thing to do but they should play along with the game.  I'm glad it was presented to them as something fun to do.  Meanwhile, all the parents felt sad. 

The gist of the training for kids at this age is to listen to an adult.  Whatever teacher is around will decide whether it is best to barricade themselves in the room or try to escape through a nearby exit.  As frightening as those options are, I put my faith in the school staff and I'm OK with that.  The part that got to me the most was that if a child is not with a teacher -- for example he or she is in the bathroom or walking down the hall to the nurse -- the child has to become the decision maker. 

My children are six.  They don't know if it's OK to wear green and orange together.  They don't know how to floss their teeth properly.  They can take ten minutes deciding what donut to get at Dunkin' Donuts.  Making good decisions isn't their strong suit right now.

But life is what it is.  There are no guarantees in this world.  There are car crashes and horrible diseases and meteors that fall from the sky and we can't worry about every possible "what if" that our brains can imagine.  I take solace in the fact that I live in a nice and safe neighborhood.  I live in a state with strict gun control laws and the lowest incidents of gun violence in the nation.   I live in a state with mostly "blue" people.  The school my kids go to is locked from the outside and you must be buzzed in to enter.  If I want to feel good about sending my kids to school this is the place to do it.  I think tonight, though, as I reflect on the state of the world, I'm going to bed a little more grateful of my family.  Maybe that's one way I can turn the chaos of this world into something good.  I'll try to remember what others have lost so that I can be thankful for all that I have gained.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

"Your Work Comes First"

A little while ago one of my kids came up to me while I was working on the computer and asked if I could play with him.  I told him I would play with him in a little bit.  He said, "That's OK.  I know your work comes first."

(Oy)

My other kid wrote a letter to me.  It was a sweet letter telling me how much he appreciates me helping him with music, coloring and puzzles.  He thanked me for cooking meals for him and taking care of him ever since he was a baby.  He also wrote that he knows sometimes I can't help him because I'm working.

(Oy)

Before having kids most parents swear that they will always be there for their kids.  Parents promise to make their kids their number one priority as they cradle their newborns in their arms.  We read articles about how playing with kids, cherishing the short 18 years you have together, and making memories is more important than writing an email, cleaning the house or watching that TV show.

The reality is, though, that emails must be returned, the clothes have to get washed, and sometimes I just wanna binge watch a series on Netflix for my own mental health.  Sometimes work really does come first.

I started my own children's theater company this year.  It's something I did for me.  I miss being on stage.  I miss performing for children.  I had hoped that this business would explode onto the scene and provide a decent income for my family.  I'm also working as an interpreter.  I love that career, too, and my income is needed to keep us afloat and help provide music lessons and trips to the pumpkin patch and (ridiculously expensive) birthday parties.

What that means is that my work keeps me busy and I'm not available 24/7 for my kids.  I'm returning emails and making invoices between cutting up veggies while trying to play Uno and listen to a story about who did the monkey bars backwards at the playground today.  Some days my brain and body go on overload.  I'm often stressed out trying to balance my work, my kids, my home, my husband, my family, my friends, my social life, and whatever else pops up.  In 2018 I think we almost always feel like we are disappointing someone or dropping the ball on something.  It's not a good feeling. 

One day I hope to get this parenting thing down.  I hope I'll feel like I have time for both me, him, them, us, it, those and everything else.  Until then I'll just hope someone finds a way for humans to have eight arms.  Science is making great strides so pretty soon I hope to be like an octopus and have the ability to fold laundry, play a game, cook dinner, fill out school forms and brush my teeth at the same time.  Right?




Monday, July 30, 2018

American Ninja Warrior

Here's a little background on me: I used to be a gymnast when I was a kid.  I did gymnastics for years and a coach actually wanted to train me with the ultimate goal of getting into the Olympics.  (My mom said no because I had to go to Hebrew school to get a bar mitzvah so now you know why I don't have a gold medal or a Wheaties endorsement...well, that plus I'm waaaaay too tall to be a gymnast.)  In my head I think I'm a star athlete -- not a 40-something year old dad of two who doesn't sleep enough and spent the first year of fatherhood cramming cheese-covered nachos into his face at 2:00 a.m. 

I have also been addicted to American Ninja Warrior for most of the seasons it has been on the air.  I believe I saw it on a TV one day when Derek and I went out for Japanese food.  I might have been more mesmerized by the crazy athletes on the show than the handsome man in front of me.  (Notice I said "might" so this cannot be admitted into evidence as fact.) 

Fast forward to now when I have two kids who love to climb and run and jump.  A month or two ago I showed them a few minutes of American Ninja Warrior and they got hooked -- Jeff in particular.  We set up a (cough cough) ninja warrior course (cough cough) in our back yard and the kids play on it constantly even though it's just a few monkey bars and ropes and rings.  They come up with ninja obstacles for their trains and stuffed animals to do.  They clearly are fans too.

We started watching a few minutes of the show at night after dinner.  It's nice that we can watch something that doesn't make me want to claw my eyes out (yes, Thomas The Tank Engine and Umizoomi, that's what you made me want to do) and spend time together.  When I heard families watch TV together it didn't make sense to me...until now.  I get how it's nice to do something we can all enjoy and I mean actually enjoy.  You see, playing "Twenty Questions" where I get answers to yes/no questions that include "maybe", "I'm not sure" and "sorta but not really" can be excruciating  exciting, but this lazy dad is happy to enjoy TV with the kids from time to time too.

Soon they'll want to go to a friend's house to watch TV or go to the movies alone, but for now I'll take my Ninja Warrior show on the couch cuddling with my two ninja warriors.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Separation Begins

Apparently I started this entry in October and forgot about it until just now.  Everything is pretty much still true minus the dirty tushy part I talk about in my tushy blog entry.  Here is what I wrote...

I still have that "ugh" feeling when I hear "Daaaaaaaaaaaaady!"  I know that there is a dirty tushy to wipe or milk spilled on the table for me to clean or my reading will be interrupted to go on a hunt for a tiny plastic toy that will be forgotten about two minutes after it is found.  Most days I am waiting for the boys to become a little more independent.  It can be exhausting to have to do everything for them.  I recently read an article by a mom of a tween.  She talked about the benefits of having a tween who can do things for himself and even, at times, had the capacity to help her by carrying in groceries or making his own lunch.

So I know there is a lot of good to come and I'm not lamenting the old days, but...

Yep, there's the but...

When school started a month ago I still had two little boys who were nervous about going to a new school with a new teacher and new kids.  Over the first couple of weeks the goodbyes grew to be much easier much quicker.  After a couple weeks the teacher sent home a note asking that parent/child goodbyes take place outside the classroom to make things smoother.  I have followed that request but what happens now is that my boys run into the classroom and don't look back.  There is no goodbye hug and kiss or signing of "I love you airplane" which was our funny goodbye for a long time.  Some days I don't even get a "see you later" from them.

While this makes me a little sad that the hugs and kisses are going to get fewer and farther apart I have to remind myself what a great sign this is.  It means my kids feel safe in school.  It means they are excited to conquer whatever school brings. 

---------------------------

It's now July and my kids were in separate camps this week in different towns studying different subjects. The first day they were nervous.  By the second day they were excited.  It makes me proud to see them following their own interests, doing things on their own and facing challenges alone.  However, I'm also just as proud to watch them hug each other goodbye in the morning and hug each other when they are reunited in the afternoon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What Will They Be? (Part Four)

I started predicting what my children would be when they were about five months old.  Research has shown that a child's personality is very strong from a young age so it stands to reason you can see a child's interest early in life.  I have predicted my children will become everything from a pilot, a banking system reformer, an Olympian and a crossword puzzle maker. 

Now that my children are six years old the whims and passing fancies are turning into real interests.  Aaron is fascinated with music.  He started taking piano lessons a few months ago and, in my totally biased opinion, has a real gift for music.  He has always had a strong sense of pitch and rhythm as well as a love for music and dancing.  Aaron was also the child who learned to color in the lines first and he can amuse himself for 20-30 minutes by drawing.  He is clearly an artistic child and he enjoys being the big kid and taking care of younger children.

Jeff recently tried a cooking class and loved it.  He does enjoy cooking but his real interest now seems to be with building.  He is getting into Legos more and more and bought a Rube Goldberg contraption with his money.  Derek and I got him the game "Mousetrap" for his birthday because we thought he would enjoy putting it together and watching how the machine works.  And, of course, he still loves math and numbers.  

So what will they be?

My guess is Aaron will do something in the arts.  I can definitely see him performing in shows in high school.  However, I see his real passion in music so maybe he'll be a music teacher for young children.  

Jeff really loves math and building so my prediction is that he'll go into engineering.  I can imagine him crunching numbers for NASA or designing bridges and skyscrapers.

Of course when you think your child will zig he will surprise you with a zag.  So while these predictions are fun, the most important thing is that my children figure out what they really want to do, not follow their six year old hearts.  New careers will pop up in 20 years that I can't even imagine.  So maybe my children will be a musician and an engineer, but I'm not ruling out the possibility they could be a Martian deep sea diver and a volcano muralist.  


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tushies

I recently realized that I haven't wiped a tushy in months. 

Now that's progress.


Monday, March 19, 2018

The Letter

At my kids' school each child takes a turn at being the "Star of the Week."  It is a way for each child to share a little about his or her family, interests, special skills, etc.  The kids make a poster with their favorite things, do a show and tell, and a family member can come in to read a book.  Also, the parents write a letter to explain why their child is a shining star.

I have to admit that when I first heard I had to write this letter I wasn't looking forward to it.  I thought it was a pretty silly and cheesy idea.  I didn't want to have to gush over my children in a cloying way.

Derek and I wrote the letters together and it turned out to be a really nice experience.  Writing them made me really see what the strengths are in each of my kids.  While it's very easy for me to get overwhelmed and aggravated at the day to day stresses of raising kids and the monotony of making lunches, driving them to school and picking them up on the never ending drive line, I realized I sometimes overlook all the good that has happened in the last six years.  My kids have turned into people who excel at music and math.  They are compassionate and good at sharing.  They play and joke and stand up for themselves.  They are separating from each other to explore their interests in Legos, acting, French, cooking, music, and science.  I feel like it was good to take a moment to reflect on who my kids have become and where they are going.

So while I'm still a little scared at some of the future school projects that will come home (I'm looking at you, physics class), hopefully some more of these school projects will wind up being a positive experience that bonds our family.