Browsing Category "Photos"
27 Jun
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Perspective

Today is Wombat’s last day of preschool, and I’m having one of those dumb moments where I know it’s the right time to move on yet it seems like he just got started and wait! I’m not ready! slow down! just give me a minute! I’m embarrassingly terrible (embarrible) at goodbyes, so I’ve been fogging up my sunglasses during drop-off and pick-up for a few days now, and at least in that way I’m really ready for it to just be over, by golly, so I can stop giving myself a migraine from trying to hold back tears.

(We all know well how I held it together when he left daycare: not at all, unless weeping for two weeks beforehand falls under your definition of “breezy.”)(I should not have just re-read that post because now I’m doing the ugly cry, even though Fox is there right now and I see Daycare Lady five days a week so it’s not like I miss it/her or anything.)(And there’s an interesting point: What am I sad about missing from preschool? The place? The people? Or moreso the person Wombat is/was in that place and with those people?)

Of course I’m going to miss all of it, and of course there’s a part of me that’s worried kindergarten will take some of the magic out of him, that it won’t give him the time and freedom to draw me too many pictures every day, that this is the beginning of the end of when he is mostly mine instead of completely his own. I’m usually wrong about that sort of thing, though, so let’s just skip right over that puddle and pay it no attention at all because I already have quite enough on my brain-plate, thank you.

(But, oh, my heart, I know for sure I won’t pull up to kindergarten on hot Indian summer days and find all the kids tearing through the playground in their tiny-butt underpants. That I will miss A LOT.)

When the big things feel scary, I find comfort in the little things, and today I find comfort in Wombat’s cubby full of sticks and rocks and pine needles and flowers and loquat seeds (no, pits! no, seeds!) and woodchips and sand (whyyyyyy???) and bits of string and gigantic tangly wads of string and stray marker caps and other assorted odds and ends that look like junk but turn out to be very important things like tickets to this evening’s performance and, oh!, MAGIC BEANS. (Better in his cubby than in his pockets, though, amirite?)(Dammit. Now I’m crying again.)

cubby

For sure, preschool has been great, and I hope Wombat remembers his time there as he grows older. It hasn’t been the wondrous fairytale land daycare was, where he learned concrete, useful, measurable, impressive-sounding-at-parties things that made my type-A parts spark and tingle, but the thing I was most worried about–the loosey-goosey structure at a play-based preschool–turned out to be fine, just fine. They didn’t focus on teaching him all the traditional things a kid might learn in a traditional preschool (and which he picked up anyway, as kids do), but the most valuable thing he learned there is the most valuable thing any of us can learn anywhere, I think: he learned himself.

Sure, he learned to cut and paste and tape and tie and build and make a kite out of paper and a string and binoculars out of TP tubes and a magic board that has wheels for land, a fin for water, and hover powers for the sky. (Don’t be fooled just because it looks like a ratty old rectangle of cardboard.) In his flat-out amazing pre-K class, he learned what to feed a walking stick and how lungs work and where wind comes from and what makes an outstanding teacher. But he also learned how to be the little kid and how to be the big kid and how it feels to help a friend and how it feels to love more than one pretty girl at a time and how it feels to love someone who drives you crazy and how it feels when two bossy people want to play different games but with each other and how it feels when someone says “I get you” and then shows you that they really, really do.

Maybe I’m mostly sad because I know I can’t possibly express to his teachers how lucky we’ve been to have them support our kid as he learns about the world and how he fits into it. A gift card is nice but…lacking.

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preschool-last

I had to do a first day/last day photo comparison to convince me that it really has been almost two years because I can’t quite believe it. The problem with these two pictures is that he actually looks about the same size, if not smaller, in the one I took this morning. One part of that is probably that his backpack is still the size of a Gal├ípagos tortoise shell, but the other part is purely perspective. I’m seeing him from above instead of below. He’s bigger by five inches and five million vocabulary words but he takes up less of the frame. He’s a big fish but in a pond that’s expanding every day.

As our kids get bigger, so does their world, the frame of view that surrounds them. A baby heavy who fills up your arms can feel so much larger than a four-foot-tall man-child who can scale the climbing structure like a jet on steep ascent and then shoot out into space on suddenly-feathered wings, dangling in the sky like a hummingbird for only a second before he swoops low to the ground and zooms off into the distance, never quite touching the ground, going, going, going until he’s just a speck. He’s a bird, he’s a plane, he’s super. Man, oh man.

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Preschool: We’ll miss you like crazy, but we also know you’ve given us the best, most important parts to take with us.

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4 Jun
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Emergent

Come have a laugh with me as I calculate that it was less than two weeks between posting about letting kids live dangerously that one of my kids ended up in the emergency room to have his head glued back together. Ha ha ha ha HA.

No, really, it’s okay to laugh. It wasn’t that bad (the equivalent of two stitches), and by the rules that govern the Bizarroworld that is having two small children, it wasn’t the crazy, fearless child who almost brained himself but the other one. The one who said afterward, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to your safety rules, Mom.” The one who was deemed the Calmest Kid Ever by the ER doctor (a male doctor! they do exist!*), who gave Wombat a sticker and a worksheet and a pair of surgical gloves and a set of professional tweezers and a gratuitous ride in a wheelchair (plus a bunch of superglue on his gouge) and yet still kept looking for something “more special” because a kid who can just lay/lie there with a head injury like it’s no big thing should be rewarded with something “more special.”

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*Wombat still thinks only women are allowed to be doctors. Was one so wrong ever so sweet?

While Fox was in the care of my in-laws, who were at the house at the time of the accident (irresponsible twirling on the backyard tire swing too close to the very pointy corners of the patio furniture), Simon and I took Wombat out for a post-trauma cheeseburger instead. (“Now, don’t think bashing your brains out is a good way to score a cheeseburger, mister.”) This is what it looks like when you eat a cheeseburger after having had your blood-soaked hair clipped back in your mom’s barrettes for a few hours.

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For the past two weeks he’s been wearing magical band-aids that seem to have taken away both the pain of a self-inflicted flesh cravasse as well as the sting of missing two weeks of swimming lessons. If he ends up with a gnarly scar, it’ll just make Harry Potter all the more exciting. (We’re thinking age 7 would be a good time to start? Yes?)

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I’m pleased to report that I was as cool as a frog’s belly during the entire affair, but now, of course, I can’t help but look at everything in my children’s vicinities as potential hazards to their health/pretty, pretty faces. Can someone tell me: Why is the world so sharp? The good news is that I’m still firmly of the mind that it would be ridiculous to attempt to pad every surface my kids might come in contact with, and thus it is that I’ve resolved to simply pad the children. You heard it here first: Summer 2014′s fashion breakthrough is triple-ply quilted bodysuits with matching helmets. Order yours today!

23 May
2014
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Oh, the Places You’ll Never Go!

I realize now I dished out a lot of potentially bad advice to new and expectant parents for several years–not on purpose and with sadistic, BTDT glee but because Wombat was a ridiculously easy baby/toddler/preschooler and we simply had no idea. I mean, we had an idea that he was easier than other kids in a lot of the traditional OMG-having-a-baby-is-SO-HARD ways, but we had no idea what it was like to actually parent those other kids, and now that we do, I imagine there have passed under the breaths of a handful of misguided-by-me friends some choice, grade-A words as they attempt to, for instance, enjoy a nice, calm, quiet family meal in public, only to realize much to late that yeah, nope, not gonna happen.

If it makes anyone feel better, as penitence I curse my own name when we let foolish optimism override experience and good sense and find ourselves thinking we can enjoy a nice, calm, quiet family meal in public. When we went out to eat on Mother’s Day, Wombat managed to spend most of the time sitting on things that were neither his butt nor his chair, and Fox had to be removed from the scene no less than five times, for offenses ranging from violence with and toward his crayons, illegal booster-seat acrobatics, and violating the local noise ordinance. Happy Mother’s Day to me! Count your blessings on one hand and your failings on the other!

Now, I’ll still go on record saying that it’s important for us to go out to restaurants so we can teach our kids how to behave in restaurants, rather than just avoid the challenge and the lesson by staying home, even though sometimes, sigh, we probably should just stay home. (It helped that the place on Mother’s Day was practically empty, although I count myself in the number of offended patrons, which perhaps skews the data.) I guess my point is that just because some smug friend with an easy first baby tells you you can do things with kids like travel, eat out, and attend music festivals and sporting events doesn’t mean you should, or that you will want to, or that you will have a good time doing it.

My revised stance is this: You can take your kids to restaurants, but you might not enjoy the experience, and you might not even be able to eat. Definitely order something you can manage with one hand, a lapful of wriggling babyfat, and peas in your hair. Maybe eat before you go. And do a shot.

I was thinking about this because our big summer plans were to attend a family reunion in Michigan for eight or nine days, and although the chances of that happening dropped like a myotonic goat when we added up the cost of flights and car rental and hotel rooms (no, this family of four is not sleeping on the couch in your cousin’s basement), the real kicker was adding up the hours and hours (and HOURS and HOURS, on into star-streaked eternity) of travel it would take to get us to the appropriate intersection of threads on the Michigan mitten. Twenty-four hours of travel is a lot for anyone, and I can only think of two people for whom it would be worse than for a five-year-old and a two-year-old: their parents.

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But we took a bath last Sunday!

So, in the interests of not orchestrating our own rapid mental deterioration via “vacation,” we’re not going. And it’s sad and I’m bummed, although *ding* not as sad and bummed as I would be if we did go, only to realize too late it was the Worst Decision Ever and we didn’t have the clout to make the pilot turn the plane around. I mean, YOUR toddler would probably never take advantage of thirty seconds of parental inattention to strip down to his nubies and streak the aisle of the aircraft while his brother presses for detailed answers to personal questions posed of strangers in surrounding seats, but past experience tells me mine might. Seriously, life with [these] two kids often feels like marathon avoidance of what the online community would call, with a cutesy little nose-wrinkle, “bloggable moments.” As for myself, I feel–contra the prevailing trend to chase these disasters and then use them to forge connections through shared humiliations–much better when I end the day with zero mortifying-in-the-moment-but-hilarious-in-retrospect stories to report.

What use is surviving to tell the tale if the tale itself is oppressively boring? I don’t have an answer for that, but it’s been forty-six hours since my kid yodeled into the echo chamber of the indoor swimming facility, “MOM, I SAW YOUR FART BUBBLES!” and the way you all just took a step back makes me think I didn’t earn any camaraderie points just now.

In closing, here is my new, improved, updated-with-the-wisdom-of-experience, incontrovertible advice to new and expectant parents: Enjoy the blissful two years of blaming your own farts on the baby because once they can talk, you can NEVER FART AGAIN.