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Archive for the ‘The girl’ Category

The teacher’s response to yesterday’s email was short and sweet:

“Thank you for letting us know.  I’m sure she will learn it is hard to go out for recess in a tank top!”

Of coure the girl did not change into the warmer outfit. I wasn’t surprised.

I relayed the story of the wardrobe issue to my neighbor at work, who replied by saying, “Why don’t you just hide the summer clothes?”

Oh. Yeah. I guess that would work, too, so last night as Nathan helped Autumn with her bath, I snuck into her bedroom and put every piece of summer clothing into the suitcase I emptied after my trip to Asheville.

Autumn did not realize her beloved tank tops were gone until this evening. For whatever reason, she did not fight me on her wardrobe choice this morning, but shortly after I got home she asked if she could change into a tank top.

“I put all your tank tops away,” I said.

“No you didn’t,” she replied.

“Yes, I did, and they’re not coming back out until next summer.”

She didn’t believe me and ran upstairs to her bedroom.  A moment later I heard her pull the drawers open.

“MOMMY! WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

What I had to, dear. What I had to.

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Maestra,

Autumn is having a little trouble letting go of the tank tops and shorts from her summer wardrobe. Rather than continually fight to get her to wear something more weather-appropriate, I’ve told her she can wear what she wants as long as she can sit outside in her outfit of choice for five minutes. She’s very stubborn, and you will see her today in a tank top and skirt.

I’m sure she will become more agreeable as the days get colder, but until then I will be packing an extra warmer outfit in her backpack.

Thank you,

Heather N-

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Abracadabra

And just like that the skirt reappears.

She was very excited to tell me she found it and was completely willing to pose in the middle of the school hallway so I could take this picture.

Hopefully this means things are looking up.

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Barbaric yawps

I have a confession to make.

I am a yeller.

I yell at my child. I yell at my husband. I yell at my dog.

I don’t yell at the fish because we’re cool.

Yelling is how I respond to stress. Note I did not say it’s how I “handle” stress, because the yelling does not help me deal with the stress at all. Yelling actually adds to the stress because I feel like a piece of shit when I’m done barking at everyone.

I was born of two very different individuals, but one thing they had in common was that they were both yellers. Nathan’s parents were both yellers and he has become one, too.

We’re just now starting to realize how awful all this yelling is and that it is the most ineffective parenting tool ever. Our daughter does not respond to yelling. The only thing she has learned from yelling is that it’s ok for us to raise our voices to each other. She is becoming a yeller, too.

This past week has been incredibly stressful. The transition to kindergarten was not at all what we thought it would be. I’m not at the point where I want to write about it in depth, mainly because we’re still working through some things, but also because I happen to know one of Autumn’s former preschool teachers has been a regular reader of this blog for a year now. She has never mentioned the blog to me, but I know she still keeps up with us (hi, btw) and if she was able to find me here, it’s entirely possible Autumn’s new teachers could find this blog as well. We just need to get on the other side of this before mommy starts discussing it with the interwebs.

When we lost our daycare provider last year, I was worried how Autumn would handle the transition to preschool. Our provider had lost her license and I was forced to leave work one morning and pick Autumn up from her house. It was a horrible way to say goodbye to the woman who had taken care of our child for three years and Autumn still remembers how we cried that morning. That was on a Friday and by the next Monday she was enrolled at the preschool where she would spend the next sixteen months.

She adapted incredibly well to the new environment, and now that I look back on how smoothly she handled the transition, I think it was because she was ready for something new. She was ready for someone to bring her to the next level, to nurture her inquisitiveness and creativity and help manage some of her more diva-like tendencies.

And since Autumn handled the transition to preschool so well, I wrongly assumed she would take on kindergarten with the same chutzpa and fearlessness.

Which she has. Sort of.

Getting used to kindergarten has been a challenge for all three of us, and one thing it has taught us so far is that Nathan and I need to change the way we do things. Autumn isn’t a special needs child, but her absolute defiance, stubbornness and inexhaustible reserves of energy require some creative parenting. She makes things incredibly difficult sometimes, both for herself and for those of us who care for her, and now that we’ve seen some of her more explosive personality traits through the less forgiving eyes of her kindergarten teachers, we have realized that the yelling has gotten us nowhere and never will.

But, oh, the girl does know how to push our buttons. I have a feeling that is one thing about her that will never change.

Yay, us.

So we are trying our best not to yell. We had a couple slip-ups this past weekend, but I am happy to say I have handled at least two atomic tantrums without raising my voice above a stern warning. And you know what? The calmer I am during these events, the crazier Autumn gets.

I haven’t figured out yet if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I am proud of being able navigate through her cyclone of hysteria without losing my cool. It takes some doing, but if I can find my happy place, I am able to retain a Zen-like calm that wins out in the end.

The other day I asked Nathan if he felt like we were all of the sudden having to play catch-up in the discipline department. We’ve been lazy and a little too indulgent. We have spoiled Autumn in ways we never intended to spoil her. What we need now is structure. We need to establish clear rules and even clearer consequences.

She’s not two anymore, even if she does act like it sometimes.

And I guess that’s the part of this whole thing that really breaks my heart because we also need to help her grow up.

This is just the beginning of letting go, and I never expected it would be this hard.

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Gravitas

These past couple of days I’ve been trying to get a feel for how Autumn is taking to the Spanish immersion part of her day. While she does attend kindergarten all day, only the first half is en español.

I’ve read that there can be some rebellion as children struggle to understand a language they’re unfamiliar with and that they may not like the experience at first. So far Autumn has given no indication that she’s not enjoying herself, so I decided to grill her a little bit when we were alone in the car together last night.

“How are you enjoying school so far?” I asked.

“It’s good,” she said.

“And are you having any trouble keeping up or understanding Mrs. V-?” I asked, referring to her Spanish immersion teacher.

Without missing a beat, she said, “Nope. Everyone else is, but I’m not.”

“Good to know,” I said.

Often times when we’re watching a supposedly kid-friendly show on TV, a dark villain will appear on the screen and scare the pants off of her. She’ll beg us to turn the channel and Nathan and I will be left wondering if Mr. Magoo did indeed get the best of those assassins.

But other times she’s just fearless. She jumps in with both feet and impresses the hell out of us.

I don’t doubt the other children are doing just as well, but it’s very comforting knowing my kid is up to the challenge.

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Wardrobe control freak

I feel like telling a funny story today, but the only funny story I have is that Day 2 of Kindergarten yielded no recovered skirt. Since Autumn had so adamantly insisted she put the skirt in her backpack, we’re thinking she may have put it in the wrong backpack.

I really hope that backpack belongs to a boy because right now I’m thinking about the pair of mittens we found in Autumn‘s cubby at school last winter. Mittens we, ahem, borrowed for a couple of weeks since they fit so well.

I guess that’s the way karma works and someone may very well be enjoying a brand new Old Navy skirt that was worn very, very briefly.

I told Autumn I’d give her a day to recover the skirt on her own before I got involved. I need her to feel accountable for her belongings and I wanted to give her the chance to be her own hero. Just to make things a little easier, I put a picture of her wearing the skirt yesterday in her backpack with a note saying she had misplaced the garment, so we’ll see where that gets us. I may even pay a visit to the school during my lunch hour to see if it turned up in the lost and found.

I do realize I’m getting a little too worked up over this skirt, and if we’re going to peel away the layers here we might be able to deduce that I’m feeling a little out-of-control with this whole kindergarten situation and that the obsession with the skirt is just a manifestation of the anxiety I’m feeling at having to let go of my little girl a little.

Her old school is right on the college campus where I work. At any given moment during the day I was just a five-minute walk away from her. It’s a small school where she knew everybody and everybody knew her. It’s a place where something could be left behind and still be there the next day (mittens excluded, of course). The place definitely made both of us feel safe.

Now I have to drop my child off at the school playground every morning and trust she’ll not only find her way into class but come out of it with everything I sent with her that day. I also have no idea what she’s eating or if she’s eating at all. I checked her hot lunch account balance yesterday and could see she had gone through the lunch line. Today? Nothing. The balance hadn’t changed so I called her at my mom and dad’s place and asked what she had eaten for lunch.

“A cheese pizza and a banana,” she said.

I did not send her to school with a cheese pizza and a banana, so now I’m left wondering if she stole a lunch on her second day of kindergarten.

The short answer is I DON’T KNOW.

But as far as the karmic scales are concerned, I still have four more free hot lunches coming if it’s going to even come close to making up for the loss of the skirt.

Enough about the skirt. I’m not going to obsess about the skirt. I can totally see this snowballing into a situation in which an APB is sent home with all her classmates urging parents to search backpacks for a missing skirt, and since we will be with these same parents and students for the next seven years, I do not want to become known as “the skirt lady” the very first week of my daughter’s elementary career.

But seriously. Can’t the kid keep track of her stuff? Thank God she isn’t responsible for a younger sibling because I’d probably wind up being the mother of an only child whether I wanted to or not.

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Ayudame*

The first day of kindergarten was not without its share of drama. Or blurry photos, for that matter.

But when you capture a moment like this:

do you really care if the kid turned out a little fuzzy? But hey, the crap on the floor is SHARP.

That face was in response to me telling her she could not wear the pink sandals you see on the left side of the picture.

The kid has been begging nonstop to wear new clothes, and the day I tell her she can, she chooses to pair the ensemble with sandals that have seen two summers and are so small that her toes extend beyond the tip of the sole.

Whatev.

Eventually she came around and put a smile on her face when DADDY asked to take her picture.

Then daddy stepped in a set the tone for the morning.

Crazy.

The girl said she wanted waffles for breakfast, but as luck would have it, we had eaten the last of the waffles this weekend. So I decided to make some from scratch because every child’s first day of kindergarten should include waffles if she wants them.

Only after I got the batter going and heated up the waffle iron did she tell me she didn’t actually want waffles for breakfast. She just wanted sausage.

Um, no, we’re having waffles.

But she didn’t like the taste of the waffles I put on her plate. That would be freshness, my dear. It’s the exact same recipe I use for the ones I pull out of the freezer for you every day. Only these are hot and contain much more love. You might also detect a hint of irritation.

More drama, but guess who was finally guilted into eating waffles for breakfast?

Ding!

I do not normally employ guilt as a means to get my child to eat, but at that point I was still in sweaty workout clothes and had yet to take a shower.  At first she said she wanted a Rice Krispie treat instead of the waffles, a request I very adamantly refused. She threw a fit, collapsed on the floor in sobs and refused the waffles. I told her I took the time to make her those waffles PER HER REQUEST, thus making myself very late in the process.

I also locked up the Rice Krispie treats in my room because she’s exactly the kind of child who would have eaten one anyway while I was in the shower.

But when I got out of the shower she was sitting down with the waffles.

The whole drop-off experience at school was not what I thought it would be. There were kids and parents all over the place yet no one could tell me where the Spanish immersion kids were to line up before class. Kindergarten is in the other wing, they’d say. But the principal told us they line up on this side, I’d say. I was starting to get a little stressed, but she was as cool as a cucumber.

Finally I walked into the school, approached a nice-looking lady who I figured might be able to help me and admitted we had no idea where we were supposed to be. She took us to Autumn’s class, and then to the door where Autumn was to line up every day. I think we’ve got it now.

I didn’t want to leave. Other parents were hovering and l just wanted to hover, too, but I had to get to work. This was the last photo I snapped before I left.

She looks happy.

Last night after we put Autumn to bed, I told Nathan I had a feeling Autumn would be one of the kids whose name her teachers would know very well by the end of the day. And deep down I suspected it wouldn’t be because she has a great sense of humor and loves to sing ’80s rock ballads.

Call it maternal instinct, but I had a feeling there might be a little adjustment in the form of acting out. I wasn’t wrong, but I was really hoping to be. I wanted her first day to be perfect. I wanted her to be perfect.

But she wasn’t. She was, however, totally Autumn.

And that skirt you see her wearing in the pictures?

GONE.

She has no idea what happened to it.

This is going to be a long, long year.

*”Ayudame” is one of the Spanish phrases Autumn learned today. It means “help me.”

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