Archive for the ‘5 year-olds’ Category

Preschool Politics- March 4, 2016

Friday, March 4th, 2016

I think we as Americans are collectively realizing this is no longer a joke. This ridiculously brazen reality TV star billionaire is somehow inching closer to becoming the leader of the free world with each new idiot he recruits. When I say I know no one who is supporting Donald Trump I literally mean I know no one who backs him, or would admit to backing him. I scratched my head as I watched Super Tuesday returns showing Trump winning seven states while Facebook friends vented outrage and my Twitter feed filled with #nevertrump.

One Trump opposer in my life is the loudest. I’ve watched her disgust for him grow with each debate clip or Today Show interview she happens to see. After cartoons, of course.

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Yes. My five year-old is a staunchly against Donald Trump. Let me be clear when I say my husband and I had not said much about him before the fall. That’s when our little girl was skipping through the living room early one evening and stopped in front of the TV. CNN cut to Trump speaking live at an Iowa campaign rally. She carefully eyed him through the screen. He carried on with his usual rants about walls and how everyone, even immigrants who would be kept out by his wall, love him. She asked who he was and what he was doing. I said, “That’s Donald Trump. He wants to be President of the United States.”

She scowled and said, “Mama, he is rude!”

From the mouths of babes, amiright? This is when the questions began. They say 5 year-olds ask 900 million questions a day or something like that. I’m convinced 890 million of those are to request a snack. On this particular day, she saved 10 million questions for an impromptu preschool civics lesson.

Her: “Why is he so rude?”

Me: “Well, he is like that. That’s how he chooses to talk.”

Husband: “Because he’s a blowhard!”

Her: “What’s a blowhard?”

I scowled at my husband.

Me: “He just doesn’t say things in the nicest way.”

Her: “Why is he gonna be the President?”

Me: “Well, we don’t know that he is. He’s trying to become president.”

Husband: “Lots of people are trying to become the next president this time. They give speeches like that to try to convince people to vote for them.”

Cue our explanation of voting: “When Mommy and Daddy go to the fire station and you get a sticker. That’s when we’re voting.”

Her: “What about President Obama?”

Me: “Well, his time is almost up. You can only be president for eight years.”

Her: “Who do we want to be President?”

I thought carefully about this. I remembered asking my parents the same thing. The first election I really remember was Bush vs. Dukakis in ’88. I was seven. We had an election in our 2nd grade class. I watched debates with my grandfather in ’92. I remember pondering the political choices of my parents and grandparents. They are the first shapers of our politics and civic mindedness whether we agree with them or make a complete 180 degree turn from their views.

Me: “Well, I like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. They’re different from Donald Trump. I like what they have to say better.”

My husband went on to talk more about Clinton and Sanders. She listened before turning back to the TV. “BOO DONALD TRUMP!” She shouted. We chuckled. She lost interest in CNN and found her “My Little Ponies” as you would expect from a little kid. Months later, her dislike of Trump continues. This week she channeled her inner journalist with an in-depth one-on-one interview with Trump. She did apologize to Cookie Monster for making him be The Donald for this game. I can’t make this up.

Trump Cookie Monster

I had to talk to her when she made her own version of a protest sign with an index card and a chopstick using Disney “Frozen” markers. She marched and shouted “BOO, DONALD TRUMP! BOO, DONALD TRUMP!” Her chants started to sound less spirited and more nasty. This hurt my heart a little. She doesn’t watch that much news, right? Could the nasty political, discourse in our nation be influencing her young mind? Was she reading Huff Post? She can’t read words that have more than four letters, where was this coming from? I stopped her chant and explained that just because we aren’t voting for Donald Trump, that doesn’t mean we need to talk nasty about him. It’s a fine line to walk. Yes, I want her to be passionate about politics and protest what she feels is injustice in the world, but not do it in poor taste.

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That’s when I suggested she make a sign that is in favor of the candidate she wants to win, versus a negative one against Donald Trump. “Okay! I’ll make one with stars and sparkles that says ‘Go Hillary Clinton! You are the best! You are better than Donald Trump!'”

Sigh.

Or, I can just make plans to pay for a Poli Sci degree and watch her run a fierce smear campaign against the Republican nominee when she graduates in 2032.

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The Start Of An Education- January 10, 2016

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

It came up so fast. For months we’ve been saying “We register our daughter for Kindergarten in January!” I’ve had many deep conversations with other parents of 4 and 5 year-old’s about school assignments, calendar options, rankings, test scores, magnet schools, Montessori, language immersion, private school tuition…the list goes on. A mother of a first grader laughed at me and some other moms the other day. She laughed at us with all her wisdom and quipped, “Oh! You guys are the first to EVER send your kids to kindergarten!”

A tweet from Thursday:

kindergarten tweet

Our large public school system is both heralded and criticized. It’s heralded for excellence in public education. It’s criticized for reassignments and lots of snow days in the often wet, icy winters here in the south. Parents have lots of options for school choice, with limited numbers in each school as our area grows. This is overwhelming for first time parents. I find it overwhelming and I’m a product of this school system and my mother has been a teacher in the district for nearly 30  years. When I was a local TV news reporter I covered the turmoil of a school board election and aftermath that changed the politics and makeup of the system. Even with that insider look at the history of our public schools, it was still overwhelming. Would our assignment change even though we bought a house practically on top of the elementary school I wanted her to attend? Was I unnecessarily mean to our realtor two years ago when I said, “No! Try again, THIS is the school we want!!!”? I feel very fortunate that we did get the school I had so hoped for. Many of my other friends are not as lucky as they tour schools while their child’s name remains on a waiting list. Others protest assignment changes at school board meetings. It’s crazy, ya’ll.

Last week I compiled the long list of documents needed to officially enroll a 5 year-old into the educational system. Birth certificate, proof of residency, immunization records etc. Good God! How many times to I have to write our address?! I asked my mom what she had to do to register me for kindergarten. She laughed at me, promising I wouldn’t remember this in 30 years. It was indeed 30 years ago. The 1986-’87 school year was when I went into kindergarten. I reminded her I was documenting this on the Internet in 2016, so I WOULD remember. Different times. I dutifully paperclipped the stack of forms together and was third in line to register at our school.

A smiling employee helped sign me in and give me a visitors badge. It had been a long time since I entered the colorful, florescent lit halls of an elementary school. She directed me to the “Media Center.” Huh? Oh! That’s right, that’s what they call the library in elementary school. As a kid I always assumed the tape players with blue headphones made it a media center and not just a library. They don’t have those headphones anymore. It was fancier than my media center with the few old IBM’s I remember. I got a ticket, sat with my younger child and fed him the cookies the PTA offered. I recognized some parent volunteers from the neighborhood pool, getting a glimpse of the volunteering that would likely be in my future.

When my ticket number was called I took my forms to two other employees who quickly photocopied everything like they had done this a million times. I sat there, answering their questions like it was clearly my first time. They were kind but hasty. I could tell they had dealt with many new kindergarten parents over the years. We are a year-round school so the schedule or “track” you are assigned is a big deal. Everyone has a preference and you are not guaranteed your preference. I asked about this briefly before she said, “Okay, you’re all set!”

Wait. That was it? Some photocopies?!

This was my brain as I stared before standing and walking back across the media center:

“Wait! No hug? But, I just registered my first born for kindergarten! My baby! My super special snowflake will be in your charge for the next six years. Wait, thirteen years, and ya’ll don’t want to make a HUGE DEAL out of this?!”

Nope. They kinda just wanted to get to the next parent. They had to get to more first time kindergarten parents who believe their babies are the most special snowflakes in the pile of snow. I looked at the other parents who all also had become parents in late 2010 or 2011. They too had looks of wonder at how this had happened so fast.

Okay school system, my snowflake is all yours. May she happily pile on the school’s roof, making it scenic and not be a flake that helps ice over the roads.

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow- January 5, 2015

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

My hair now has some golden streaks mixed in the dark brown. It’s pretty. It catches the light. It gives more dimension. I starting highlighting my hair in my early to mid-twenties. (Oh God, that’s more than 10 years, now. Yeesh.) Before then I had my mother’s voice in my head telling me “Don’t color your hair!” “You don’t need to!” “It’s dark brunette. Don’t mess with it until you have to cover gray.”

highlighted hair

Sorry Mom, but I’m so mad I listened to you all those years. I feel like I missed out on fun hair experimentation when I was young. I kept it plain and boring, never daring to jump on the chunky highlights trend of the late 90’s-early 2000’s. Makeup? That’s a different story. I always loved makeup and experimenting there, but hair? I kept it plain until I was on TV as a news reporter and changed it up.

My mom has always cared about my hair and my sister’s hair. Always. When we were dating my husband said, “Why does your mom ALWAYS comment on your hair?” I replied, “I dunno. She’s my mom.” Over the years she was all for braids, curling and perms. But color? No color according to Mom. When my daughter was a toddler I wrote about our budding mother/daughter hair relationship. Suddenly I find myself obsessing over my daughter’s hair.

You see, for awhile I was quite sure Charlotte was part mermaid. Take a look at these pictures:

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Here I was, worried Disney would give her unrealistic hair expectations, but oh my goodness! How is it possible for a human to have such magic, princess hair?! It’s glorious with all it’s natural ombre ringlets!

But, people kept telling me I needed to cut it. One friend laughed, “If she starts sitting on it I’m going to make fun of you, Amy.” I joked about her starting to look like a Duggar it was so long. It was getting to be a huge pain to brush and detangle. The ends, while curled, were dead and less bouncy than they were in these photos. When the warm humidity of summer gave way to fall, it didn’t look as lovely. She needed a haircut.

I told myself the curls would be there, just fresher. I lazily took her to Sports Clips with her brother. She’s five! I’m not spending a fortune on a 5-year-old’s haircut. I regret that now. We had been to some kids haircut places before. I figured I could still get away with not going to a real salon for awhile longer. The woman kindly put nearly 6 inches of ringlets in an envelope for me to save, but my heart HURT when she made a straight line with her shears and cut those curls off.

They are not back. Soft waves settle into the cheap, blunt haircut line. I scrunch and twist after her baths, trying to make those ringlets magically reappear, but they are gone. Maybe they’ll return with humid, warm weather? Maybe with a better haircut? I don’t know.

haircut charlotte

She is still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Her hair is a trivial part to the amazing person she is. Plus, I’m just grateful she is healthy and happy. Maybe my mom didn’t want me to color my hair because it would have been saying goodbye to the dark silky strands her baby was born with, just like I mourn the curls my baby had.

Charlotte, your hair is yours to experiment with…one day. For now, I’m going to be the one to obsess over it. When chunky highlights come back in style it’s yours for the obsessing.

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Sleeping With Santa- December 6, 2015

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

This will be the year I remember that Henry’s Santa suit was too small and cut him off at the ankles. My shaggy haired two-year-old wouldn’t go near the big man without Mommy and Daddy. I promise the kids weren’t asleep, it’s just the best picture we could get.

2015 santa collage

In three of these pictures, Charlotte is without Henry. She’s with him in three others. Half of all her Christmases have been with a little brother. This makes me smile.

My funny five-year-old was only apprehensive for a quick second when talking to Santa Claus. She remembered her sweet, simple list of two gifts and went on to ask Santa for gifts for Henry. I was so proud of the kind little lady she showed she’s becoming today.

Memories locked down: polka dot dress, red bow, too-small Santa suit, closed eyes. Christmas 2015.

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Keep Lying- December 3, 2015

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

I just wanted to have The Ellen Show on TV Wednesday afternoon while I cleaned and got things done. Ellen is awesome. She’s doing that Christmas giveaway thing and audience members lose their minds. It’s funny.

No Ellen. “Breaking news.” “Mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.” “Multiple fatalities.” That familiar wave of horror went through me and settled in my chest. I watched for a moment before going upstairs for something. The kids were upstairs in their rooms. My 2-year-old son was waking from a nap and my 5-year-old daughter was playing. When I came back downstairs she was there, standing in front of the TV. She eyed it. I watched the question I expected come to her lips. “Mommy, what happened?”

“Some people got hurt,” I explained.

I turned it off. We hurried out the door for dinner at church where she happily sang with the preschool choir. Adults said prayers for southern California as our phones buzzed here on the east coast with updates. “Searches for suspects.” “Standoff with police.” It all continued to unfold on the other side of the country as our evening went on.

In the car on the way home a news update came on the radio at the half hour with the latest from San Bernardino. I hear from the back seat, “Mama. Am I going to get shooted by a gun?”

Her question pushed on my chest. The weight of it stalled my breath. The worst image any parent can have came to mind. I said, “No baby. You won’t be shot by a gun. Why do you ask that?” I knew why she had asked. She said, “It was on the news on TV.” I assured her it was okay and that it happened far away. She said, “Well, are you and Daddy going to be shot by a gun?” I promised we wouldn’t.

I changed the subject and mulled over my answers to her as we brushed teeth and got in bed. As I tucked her in I gave her the whole Mr. Rodgers speech. The “look for the helpers” quote.

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I lied to my 5-year-old. I lied to her. We are lying to our children when we say “No, baby. You’re safe. You won’t be shot by a gun.” It’s a lie because they could be. As we’ve learned in the past decade any of us can be shot at a mall, movie theater, university, elementary school, church, medical clinic, holiday office party… I can’t even remember all of them now. Who can? This Washington Post article explains that on the 336th day of 2015, San Bernardino marked the 355th US shooting. Oh, and it was the second one on Wednesday. There was another in one of my favorite US cities, Savannah, Georgia.

In my mind I’ve played out scenarios of what I would do if I was at Target, the park or the grocery store with the kids. Hide or flee? It depends on where we were. Would the kids know to be quiet if we had to hide? How fast can I run with both of them? Let me be clear, I’m not a paranoid person. I don’t live in fear day-to-day. I just keep it in the back of my mind. My child does not show signs of any anxiety or excessive worry at this point. She’s only five, though.

We cannot honestly tell our children they are safe. Even quoting Mr. Rogers isn’t that comforting. My daughter asked who the helpers were. I explained that police officers and EMT rush to help people when they’re hurt. But, wait. What about children in communities with strained relations with law enforcement? Would a black child in Ferguson, Missouri see a police officer as a “helper?” What do their parents tell them?

Maybe all we can do as parents is lie. We can keep telling kids it will all be okay when we really don’t know if it will be. We can just keep lying.

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