Trial Run

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today, we took Sofia to the kindergarten open house at her school. The picture is us en route. My first born! Going to school! Sofia has been really excited about going to school for, honestly, about a year.

The open house was great. They allowed the kids to just go around and have a good experience in the classroom for about 45 minutes; water station, sand box, toy area, painting, crafts... Sofia chose painting and crafts. She painted letters from her name (all random and scattered all over the page), and also tried out making flowers. But she went back to painting.

Part way, the kindergarten teacher announced to the parents that a little later, if their children would be comfortable with staying in the classroom without them, the public health nurse was going to go over some preparation ideas for us to help the kids with the transition. I knew Sofia wouldn't have a problem with it, but I decided to warn her that we were going to be leaving her to hear a lady talk. Two minutes into hanging out with her, Sofia says, "Okay Mama, you can go now." How's that for comfortable in her new environment?

Some ideas that the nurse went over were:
  • Adjusting their routine now so that they can go to bed early to wake early
  • Making sure that they have a good breakfast before they go to school, and giving them a fair amount of time to eat it
  • Dressing them practically for outside play
  • If your child is sick, don't send them to school. She made reference to the fact that in some cultures and/or countries, sending a child to school sick is acceptable, but it isn't here (I thought that this was a good thing to bring up although some people might find that political incorrect)
  • A parent brought this up: what if your child decides one day that s/he doesn't want to go to school, what do you do? The nurse said, you know your child best. Make sure, one, s/he is not sick. Then consider your environment: has something been stressful at home? Has there been a significant change? If not, then try to find out if something happened at school the day before. Speak with the teacher to see if there is anything that they are aware of
We went back to the classroom after a good time with other parents and the nurse, and found Sofia, as always, sitting with an adult one-on-one, still painting. She made about 10 pieces in 15 minutes. Being the first born, apparently, we're really comfortable with adults. Perhaps more comfortable with adults than with other kids. However, she did start off painting with another child and did a good job (surprised me, actually) with sharing the paints and space.

We left pretty happy and excited that Sofia is really, really ready for school. It has been a little bit of a concern for me (teeny tiny bit) that she would face challenges because she is going to be one of the youngest kids in the class having been born in December. But I can proudly say that she appears to be more ready than a lot of the other kids. I know a big part of this readiness is due to having been part of the children's program at church. Once a week, since she was about six months old, she has been under the care of other adults that we trust, and experience a program that is appropriate for their age. Growing and learning to operate within a structure has been invaluable.

So, we're going to enjoy this summer. Gonna live it up! But looking forward to back-to-school preparations and start the long path of formal learning for my daughter. I'm excited for her to learn to read especially. I still remember the first time I could actually sound out a word. The word "FOREST". Enabling a child, giving them confidence to accomplish things in life, to feel that they can contribute to a community, to society...what an awesome privilege.


Friday, June 17, 2011

I need a holiday.
Let me tell you, this working-mom-with-two-kids thing is really, really hard work.

The work-family balance is hard to strike with one kid. With two, yes, it's definitely harder. But I think that I'm getting better. Part of that is realizing and admitting to myself that I have limits. I am definitely a person that loves to throw myself into whatever I get involved in. Heart and soul. But that's the problem. When I've got two young ones, I can only throw myself into so many things until I am spread so thin that I've got nothing left for my kids.

I am learning that I can't do it all.
And honestly, learning this has been a great relief.

I am done demanding so much from myself. I am a ridiculous and extreme example of a first born. I am eager to please. I subject myself to high expectations that are really bordering ridiculous (i.e., I used to aim for a perfect day with Sofia when she was a newborn. A perfect day would be if she didn't cry. Yes, I am officially bonkers). I push, push, push...until sometimes I am so exhausted. I now accept this is not a sustainable way to live.

So part of accepting my limits is understanding I need regular times of rest, of changing gears and putting back into myself, so I have something to give my children. This is not only regular holidays, but also daily. Daily, I must get good rest (being woken up pretty much every night means I need to go to bed earlier). Daily, I must take care of my body (exercise and a good diet). Daily, I must be fed spiritually (reading my Bible, spending time with God).

I've been doing a few of things better.

Kids are a handful. They can really take a lot out of you.
There is nothing more rewarding, however. And children will teach you about yourself more than you'd ever care to know. They have really opened my eyes and I have to be willing to grow and learn from them.

What I have learned from them most recently is that I'm not super-human. And I have to keep reminding the first born in me that it is okay.