Tag Archives: preschool

Other People’s Children are Adorable

Last night we had some good friends over for dinner. Before they had even had the chance to close the door my five year old boy bounces out of his chair at the dinner table and runs into his arms laughing and screaming and shouting “Yah!”. I mean, common, that is about the best welcome you could ask for. I felt bad that his wife didn’t get the same welcome only because she entered our house second and I considered for a moment imitating my son’s response with her, but I was afraid it might end in an awkward embrace. So I passed on that. My son continued to climb on him and giggle and laugh and be cute. Well, cute to them. To me, it wasn’t so cute.

When we have people over for dinner, depending on what I am making, I sometimes have the kids eat first. Since this night was Thai curries that tend to the spicier side of life, I had my two youngest dine early so my oldest and the adults could eat together. So when they walked in and he jumped out of his chair, the only thing that went through my mind was the fact that I had just told him to sit down and eat. Not cute. And when I reminded him to eat his dinner he promptly ignored me and giggled and tossed his curly haired head back in a laugh. No. Not cute.

Some other friends of mine have a four year old girl and twin boys under two. They all have blonde hair and blue eyes and are always smartly dressed for church. I was at their house for dinner awhile ago and walked in to have all three of the kids want me to play with them. How adorable! They would laugh and giggle and hand me trains to play with and come up to me with their arms raised in the air like they were worshipping me, or that’s how I like to imagine it at least. Maybe they were wanting to be held, but I just let them stand there. Anyways, they were so adorable. To me. To their parents they were people who needed to be put to bed. Not cute.

Yesterday my five year old was drawing pictures. He has just developed the ability to appropriately configure people to have bodies and eyes and hands instead of the pumpkin people he normally draws. While I was conducting school with my daughter, he was out at the kitchen table composing various pictures. The picture below is of a fireman. I love the happy face, the two toned fireman’s hat, the hose, and the little fire he is putting out. Very cute.

Steve's Phone 062

Cute.

The next picture he drew was of a man driving a truck. I asked him why he chose to draw such a random subject and he replied that he thought I should get a job. He thought that I should be a UPS driver so I could get more money and buy more unspecified stuff. I replied that my job is to take care of my kids. I then let my guard down and asked him if he thought I was good at my job.

Steve's Phone 061

Not cute. Ok, a little cute.

“No.” he replied. “You need a real job.”

Not cute.

At the zoo the other day other people’s adorable kids are running around being amazed by all the animals. Small fingers pointed in amazement, cute baby noises, eyes wide with amazement. My kids on the other hand are misbehaving by not listening to my commands to stay by my side and to stop running. Isn’t it adorable how excited those children are to see the giraffe? Oh, look at the little one running to see the lions! Ah, the baby is yawning….isn’t that cute! My kids on the other hand need to stop trying to touch the tiger by climbing over the wall. I’m glad they’re excited but they need to relax a little. And, oh, your yawning? Ya, get your butt to bed earlier tonight. Not cute.

I try to stand back from my children on occasion and see the cuteness. The way they giggle and play with each other. Their small fingers and wide eyes. They are cute. They are also work, a lot of work. I think panda bears are cute too but I bet if I had to clean up panda bear poop all the time I wouldn’t think they were that cute. I bet if I did get a real job I might think my kids are as cute as other peoples kids, but then I would miss them because of their enhanced cuteness. What am I to do? I’m not sure, but I don’t think it involves delivering boxes.

Never…Stops…Talking…

never stops talking

If silence is a virtue, then my children are hedonistic pagans bent on creating anarchy and chaos. The only time they are silent is when they are asleep or staring at a screen. If they are asleep there is a good chance I am too so that time doesn’t count, and since we have a disciplinary system that controls how much screen time they get I am often left with children who simply make noise.

One of them whistles. Yes, whistles. A lot. Another one likes to whine and chew gum at the same time. And the last one, my youngest, is a Pentecostal in training.

All of my children have gone through a faze where they talk incessantly. My youngest child is currently smack in the middle of it. If we were Pentecostals, I would think he was speaking in tongues all the time due to the sheer number of sounds coming out of his mouth. Words, utterances, guttural noises, and bizarre facial expressions come forth out of him all day long. While he appears possessed by a spirit at certain times, I am unsure it is the Holy one. I think Holy spirits are supposed to bring meekness, gentleness, and self control. This one brings screaming, shouting, and animal sounds. It could possibly be an Old Testament spirit or maybe I should consider converting to the charismatic side of life. He would at least get extra credit while going through this stage.

I take much comfort from the thought that he is just going through a stage although everything I know from my two older children tells me he is simply being himself. They make noise all day too and they are way past his age. Still, I’m not going to stop telling myself this untruth because it gets me past the moments and getting me past those moments is better than throwing the adult fit I feel like throwing because, as most of us know, adult fits can be noisy.

Before I was a father I would spend time over at a friends house. His kids would occasionally call for him about a dozen random things as children are want to do and he would habitually ignore them the first three times. This drove me crazy. I  secretly vowed I would always answer my future children right when they asked me something so as to avoid this mindboggling game. Now I get it. If you don’t answer them sometimes they just go away.

So much so, in fact, that I used to have five kids.

My children will ask me over and over and over for whatever random thing that pops into their minds. Can I have a snack? I’m cold, can you get me a blanket? Will you hold me? Sheesh people! What do I look like, your father? Wait a minute…yah, that doesn’t make me look very good. I’m really a pretty good dad, but sometimes the noise just gets to me.

If all the noise were gone, as some day it will be, would I miss it? Yes, terribly. The noise is, in fact, a sign of the vitality and individuality that inhabits my house. It is a sign that the people I love the most are living their life in my presence. They feel free enough to just be who they are and say what they need and make random annoying noises. Without them I would be lonely, or asleep; either way I would, after a small amount of time, miss them.

Fine. I’ll put up with the noise.

Well, someone is (what?) calling (huh?) for their (I can’t hear you!) father,

Steve

Homeschooling Demon Spawn

demon spawn

When our first child was born my wife and I talked a lot about homeschooling our kids. We didn’t consider homeschooling as a way to protect our kids from the evil, godless world around us but more to protect the world from our evil, godless children. No, I’m kidding. No, no I’m not kidding. Yes I am.

As she grew older I began to question the wisdom of our homeschooling dreams. Our daughter never went through the “terrible twos”. She went through the evil demon zombie stage and brought the term “stubborn” to new levels in the dictionary. While I was pretty confident I could educate any of our children, this new manifestation of demon spawn was a little intimidating. When her younger brother was born just six weeks into her newly manifested subspecies of humanity, I was sure she would have pulled his arms off and beaten him with them in the time it took me to take out the trash. Because of that, our house went through a period where it didn’t smell so good, but I am happy to report that my son still has both of his arms.

We enrolled her in preschool with the hopes that a little socialization may temper some of her wilder sides. We also took out a personal liability policy just in case she was especially adept at creating anarchy. She cried every morning as we approached the door to her classroom clutching to my leg like I was leaving her with strangers so that I could have a little break, which, of course, I was. Then when I returned three hours later, she would cry that I was taking her from her best friends, which, again, I was. We did this week in and week out for the entire school year.

For some mysterious reason, prekindergarten and kindergarten went off without a hitch. No crying as the teacher pried her off my leg, no grand bargaining about what I would do if she could make it without crying, and no turning of her head in a 360 degree circle. She seemed to be having fun at school and so reserved all of her misdeeds for the moment she walked back into the house.

She continued through her scholastic career all the while slowly maturing. As she completed second grade the thoughts of homeschooling started to creep back in, as did my doubts. I wondered if I could really handle her all day, everyday, for months on end. Could I maintain my well designed façade as a patient and loving father if we were sitting side by side her trying to teach her the basics of algebra? These and many other doubts went through my mind but in the same way as I ignored the doubts about being a good father before I created her, I ignored my own doubts once again and decided to homeschool.

We are now onto our second year of homeschooling. Having done this for two years now I am either a glutton for self induced frustration, or I am trying really hard to do the right thing. Really hard. My daughter is an image of myself and the things I find most frustrating about her are, predictably, my own personal struggles. We both have a hard time with patience. We both could use a little more compassion. We both like soup and noodles which is neither here nor there but is something we hold in common. And, I love here fiercely. I have loved being with her and we know each other in a more complex and nuanced way for our time together.

She has decided to go back to public school next year. She misses the day to day fraternization with other spawn such as herself. I understand. But I am beginning to pray now for a saint of a teacher to continue the exorcism that is the raising of children. Hail Mary, full of grace…

I Am a Human Tampon

human tampon

Today I shuttled my youngest off to a daycare for the day because I was having problems with my internal absorber. We have had a lot of snow days recently and he has been home for hours and days on end. Hours and days, I say. On end. Inside the house. People always talk about how you need a lot of patience to raise children. Well, they’re right. Children require, at least for me, a lot of absorption. It’s the ability to soak up all the random shit they throw at you. You have to soak it up because you can’t simply give it back to them or let it bounce off of you and on to one of your other kids. It makes you look, well, like them.

All three of my children have now gone through the phase where they say “Dad” a hundred times in a day. It happens around the ages of four or five. Suddenly their little minds start to expand and become aware of things they had never thought of before like how do we get oranges?, why do zebras have stripes?, and why does that woman have a mustache? (yes, out loud). I don’t mind answering any of these questions but the sure pace of them tests my ability to think on my feet. And to make things worse, sometimes they call me and have nothing to say. The other day in the car my youngest says “Dad?” and of course I answer “What?”. He sits there a bit and then says “Umm”. He didn’t have anything to say. He was simply sitting there and spontaneously said my name like spontaneous human combustion but with words. And, even if what they say isn’t directed at me the things they say are still within my field of awareness. Yesterday, out of the blue, I hear him say “Fluffy unicorns!”. What? Where did that come from?

The stress of being the sole adult for the majority of the day goes beyond being the only one to answer questions. The ubiquitous squabble of siblings is in itself an unpleasant fact of life. The sibling relationship, that fertile ground of mutual understanding and protection, is forgotten and discarded at the hint of misunderstanding. Words are shouted, faces are curled in anger, and blood is shed as the house descends into chaos. In the middle of these daily, sometimes hourly, events I am to remain calm, cool, and collected. I am supposed to absorb. I am the family’s sanitary napkin.

I think the not often talked about reality of parenting is that sometimes these people in my house are really annoying. On a human to human level. Annoying. I can’t say that to them because they are my kids and I would hurt their soft, little, brutal hearts but the truth of it is they bother the shit out of me sometimes. They say dumb things and chew gum in my ear and leave crumbs in my bed and smell and spill their food. Since I cannot say these things to them what are my options? Absorb, absorb, absorb, drink wine. I added that last one just to throw you off a little. And I like wine.

So as a human tampon I spend my day soaking up all the yucky stuff. And since these kids did come out of my wife’s who who I think the metaphor of being a tampon is really clever. But I can’t tell them that either. There is no way I could explain how it is that there are people who bleed for five days and don’t die. I don’t think they are old enough to absorb that yet.

Well, someone is calling (absorb) for their (absorb) father (absorb)

Steve

Preschool is About the Parents

valentines box

Some parents, notably those of the female gender, seem to have the instinctual ability to know what day it is at preschool. Their kids are always impeccably dressed for whatever special event is taking place with belts and bows in all of the appropriate places. The child’s hair is done, their laces are tied, the hats are super glued to the kid’s head, and the brand new costume is ironed. My child, in contrast, is not quite so together. Most of the time. Alright, almost never. I don’t know what it is; I have the same school calendar all of the other parents have. I get the same warning from the teachers the week before about the next event. And yet, when I show up with my child he is somehow out of place and I feel like a middle school student at, well, anywhere really. They always feel out of place.

When my second child was in the preschool Valentine’s Day was upon us. Every child needed to decorate a shoe box that the others kids could put their valentines into. I worked with him to decorate his box and deferred to him about what he wanted it to look like. Now, I know it’s my job as a parent to expand his awareness of what life could be like and who he could be in it. I know I’m supposed to support him in his dreams and provide the fodder for him to be creative. But, I had no idea that I was supposed to do this with the shoe box. He colored on it and put some stickers on the lid and called it good. It looked good to me. It was simply a box to hold valentines right? Wrong. We walked into the classroom on Valentine’s Day to an array of paper mache creations. These boxes had been transformed into robots, cupids, cars and hearts. The little girls were in brand new dresses with their hair in curls. The boys had slacks and belts, new shoes, and hair cuts. My poor son walked in wearing his normal school clothes and his stickered shoe box.

My first reaction was one of embarrassment for him. I, like every parent, want my children to fit in. Not that I want him to be like everyone else, I just don’t want him to be weird. My second reaction was one of embarrassment for me. I want to fit in too. Clearly, in this instance, I was the weird one. As a parent I had failed to perceive what preschool was actually about. I had mistakenly thought it was about the children and helping them to do the best that they could do. I’m not here to accuse anyone, but I’m pretty sure those kids did not make those boxes. Unless it was a class full of future Michelangelos, I think some of the parents made those things. Apparently, preschool is about the parents.

As a man I’m not terribly competitive. I always gravitated towards the individual sports like swimming and drinking wine. I’m generally not concerned with outdoing someone else or positioning myself to look better than anyone. Other people, apparently, are not as laid back when it comes to Valentine’s Day at preschool. To some, every day is an opportunity to show the world that they can outdo other people through their children. I will leave open the possibility that some of the parents were closet artists, but that still doesn’t explain all the bows and dresses. Unless we’re all looking to position for some early marriage proposals, which I’m not totally against, I’m going to relax about preschool.