Friday, June 3, 2016

The Last Day Before The Last Day

Today is the last day of school.  Coincidently, my last blog post was on the first day of school.  (Clearly my "new school year's resolution" to blog every month was not a roaring success.)

This is Sarah's last day of fourth grade.  It's been a great year with great friends, a great teacher, and a great many positive changes.  There was much less of the Tweeny Edge than I feared.  Sarah cheerfully learned to do long division, learned to play the flute, and learned how to do many other things that added to the growing list of things my child can do that I can't.

It's easy to celebrate the end of fourth grade -- next year is going to be much harder.  Next year's last day will be THE last day of elementary school.  Sarah's school is great -- a comfortable, friendly place with fantastic teachers, principal, and staff.  I love walking through the halls and feeling the happy buzz of learning.  The middle school she'll attend is great too but parents do not walk through the halls on a daily basis.  The principal (who everyone raves about) reminds parents that they should figure who their child will walk to school with (AKA -- not you.)

This is all taking me back to the end of Sarah's preschool days -- the first of many school transitions -- when they told me, among so many other things, not to zip Sarah's coat for her so she would learn to do it herself in time for kindergarten.  My friend Margie, mother of four, reminded me there would be no orderly pickup in elementary school. I would have to get used to finding my child in the sea of other kids, some of them as old as 11.  I couldn't imagine my tiny child alone to fend for herself all day in the same school as those giant fifth graders.

Now, she is one of them.  And the list of things she has to be able to do by herself is much longer and much more terrifying.  For me.  As with all of this, she is fine.  She is ready.  Now I have to get ready.

But first, we have the summer and all of next year before that big day when she'll head out and I'll stay home.  May it go by slowly.

Happy summer, my big girl.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Go Fourth!

Sarah started fourth grade today.  It seems impossible to me that she is nine.  The other day, Sarah enthusiastically tried on eye shadow for fun, had her nails done, then came home and played with dolls and her Easy Bake Oven.  This age has a little of everything which I am enjoying almost 97% of the time.  Here's a quick update:

--When I woke her up this morning she wanted to sleep for "five more minutes."  This is a new development.  Sarah has been an early riser for her entire life and now she's starting to want to sleep later in the morning.

--Luckily, she was excited to get up so she could don her new outfit from Justice.  Going to stores and trying on clothes is also new.  Although we don't buy her a ton of clothes, Sarah has spent approximately 278 hours this summer trying things on and looking at herself in the 3-way mirror.

--Sarah was excited to pack her own lunch.  Until last night.  Last night she said "You don't expect me to pack it every day, do you?!"  This statement bore the Tweeny Edge that many of her statements have these days.  The Tweeny Edge is also new in our house.  Many of our conversations end with the word "Fine."  Not like "Fine, thanks!" but "Fine!"  Like "Fine, have it your way" which currently I still am about most things despite the Tweeny Edge.

--Her sporty-ness continues to mystify and amaze us.  For example, she can climb to the top of our rope swing and ring the cowbell.  None of the neighborhood boys (in whom she has a mild new interest) can do this which makes her really happy.  It makes them really sad which also makes her pretty happy.

Afternoon Update -- Sarah came home from school and enthusiastically told me her teacher is "The best teacher ever." (No Tweeny Edge!)  She has said on the first day of school every year but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Have a great year, my big girl.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trophy Case

One of my main rules as a parent has been to try not to judge other parents.  This parenting thing is not for the faint of heart and I am of the belief that most people are really doing their best and I should not judge another parent even if they are, for example, letting their toddler eat the foam off their double-shot latte while simultaneously complaining about the fact that her kid has trouble sleeping.  (Clearly, that mom was very tired.)  I'm now the proud owner of a 9 year old and the fact that she's doing fine is rather shocking given the many, many, many mistakes I make on a daily basis.  She just ate Cheetos and gummy bears for lunch.  Thanks for not judging.

So this brings me to the jillions of online blogs, articles and tweets that are super-judgey about those trophies little kids get for participating in sports.  Yikes.  Some of the posts I've read seem to imply that the kids won't learn to win and lose gracefully if they receive a trophy no matter what.  OK, let's calm down people.  Have you ever watched five year olds play soccer?  The idea that one team will "win" over the other is laughable. If one of the kids makes contact with the ball with their feet, I assure you it is mostly by accident. The only real "winners" of the game are the parents who figure out how to get that soccer chair back in the bag, grab their kid and jump in the car before the line forms at the Steak and Shake.  By the end of the soccer season, the kids have played soccer in mud,  They have played soccer in the rain.  They have played soccer in snowpants.  And finally on the last day of the season, they have played soccer in the scorching heat.  (Welcome to the midwest.) And maybe one kid has scored in each game, and that kid usually is the only one that ever scores.  And that kid is generally not my kid and there's a decent chance it isn't your kid either.

When the kids get those trophies and are rewarded for working hard, they are genuinely thrilled.  It is a simple pleasure.  A trophy is shiny and sometimes has your name on it.  A trophy looks awesome on your dresser until you move it to make room for a cool Lego you just made.  I just don't think most kids are equating trophies with winning or being the best unless we tell them that's what the trophy means.  But doing their best?  That's actually really valuable.  Maybe (gasp) more valuable in the long run than winning.

Last year, Sarah played soccer with a great group of girls.  It was a lucky mix.  They had a lot of natural ability and they were scrappy.  They liked each other and laughed.  And (although we are not yet technically keeping score) they never, ever lost. The other teams worked extremely hard when they played our team.  I daresay they worked even harder than our team did.  Sometimes when you work really hard, you win.  Sometime when you work really hard, you lose anyway.

So, when my kid looks at her trophies she doesn't think she won.  She doesn't think she lost.  She thinks she tried really hard and she was a member of the team.  She cheered for her team.  She cheered for the other team.  She stood there in that much-too-big goalie shirt and let that ball come right at her.  She played in the rain.  And she put that trophy on her dresser and we looked at it and said she did a great job.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Last Straw(berry)

OK - so this has not been the best few weeks for the Polley family.

We are in the process of saying goodbye to Eric's dad.  He's lived a long, full life.  We'd like it to be a little longer and he would too.  We're going to miss him very, very much.  His death is taking longer than he would like which is heartbreaking.  In healthier times, he would usually be the last to leave a party.  It seems his body is just used to those types of departures.

There have been all kinds of bittersweet (with a heavy emphasis on the sweet) ending and beginnings for Sarah.  The end of preschool and the start of kindergarten in a few months is thrilling for her.  Even the idea of choosing a snack to bring to day camp and packing it herself in her little lunch bag is very exciting. These changes are exciting for me too, but I am a little emotionally worn out from the happy-sad tears on top of everything else.

Last night Eric was heading off to the hospital to be with his dad and I was attempting to put Sarah to bed.  She was coughing like crazy and needed to have an extra dose of her asthma inhaler (Full disclosure, I suspect that first dose might have been from an empty inhaler.  Oops.)  By this morning, she was coughing non-stop and I needed to take her over to the doctor to get her on some better medicine.  Obviously, it isn't the same thing but the constant cough was also a recent symptom of my father-in-law's so my nerves were a little jangled.

At this point I need to add this -- we are all actually surprisingly fine despite everything.

But.  When checking out at the Jewel after picking up the medicine, we opted for the self-checkout because Sarah loves pretending to be a cashier.  (She asks if you want paper or plastic after every item which I think is quite thorough.)  We got down to the last item -- a container of strawberries.  I used the "look up item" button and there were no strawberries listed.  I looked again and again until finally an actual cashier came over and said "just scan it!"  I came as close to losing it with this woman as I ever have (other than when I was in labor.)  I had to stand there and take deep breaths while swiping my debit card.  Hey, that Lamaze was actually useful!

So I think the end of this post is this:  We are sad but basically fine and a little more crabby than usual.  We're very grateful for our friends, family and our sense of humor.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It Didn't Exactly Work

I have to admit it.  My goal of 31 blog posts in May may not be possible.

I could post every day but I feel like I'm taking the fun out of blogging.  I couldn't think of a thing to write about today except possibly another post about our caterpillars (They're getting so big!)

This was supposed to be fun so I'm going to let it be fun again.  See you in a day or so.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day - Two Stories

I've been looking forward to blogging today.  But this is the third try because somehow I can't seem to capture the essence of Mother's Day.  I've decided to tell two stories that seem to capture it pretty well.

Both of these stories took place at "our park" which is our nickname for the park in our neighborhood.  It's a great park.  The equipment is just OK, but Sarah always seems to make a friend there, and I do too.

-Story #1 - A family had brought some bubbles to the park and the dad was making big bubble storms for all the kids to run through.  (Another perk of "our park" is that everyone in the neighborhood has an unwritten rule that everyone should share everything.  Most people just leave their sand toys there all the time for everyone to use. The bubble storm was for everyone.)  Another mom and I started chatting and, within about two minutes, we were in a deep conversation about what would be the ideal schedule for working vs. raising kids as we pondered the possibility of a life without mom guilt.  We both shared that our husbands were probably better suited to being the "mostly stay-home" parent but that isn't how it worked out.

This woman was a total stranger, but also sort of not after a minute or two.  One of the absolute best and unexpected joys of motherhood are these new instant friendships, and most especially the new instant friendships that have become lifelong friendships.

-Story #2 - There was a man at the park hitting golf balls.  This is not a usual activity for our park because the park is rather small if it seems highly likely that you could bonk a small child on the head.  The mom from Story #1 and I theorized that the man had been sent to the park with his kid and brought his golf stuff along thinking it would be boring at the park (which it sort of is but suck it up, dude.)  This theory was confirmed by the bubble-dad who went over and asked after he had to stop blowing bubbles because he was getting lightheaded.

After a while, golf dad's kid got bored and started to run after the golf balls.  Sarah joined right in and ran over to get a sand bucket to help gather up the balls.  As the kids ran around with the bucket collecting the balls, I thought to myself "I hope this dad doesn't decide it would be a fun idea to try to chip the balls into the bucket while the kids are holding it" which is exactly what happened as I'm sure you predicted right along with me.

So - I went over and got Sarah and said "Come on honey, this is not a good idea."  I think she must have agreed because she followed me right away.  At this point, golf dad walked over and wanted to demonstrate that the golf balls were made of plastic and would not hurt.  He emphasized this point by throwing a golf ball at me and saying "See?  No problem."  In what felt like an out-of-body experience, I let him know that if he hit my daughter with a golf ball, we were actually going to have a very, very big problem.

Nobody messes with my child on Mother's Day.  Or any other day for that matter.  It wasn't until hours later did it occur to me that he had actually hit me with a golf ball but somehow that seemed OK in comparison to him hitting Sarah with a golf ball.

We had a great day, Sarah and I.  Even thought I did think it would be nice to have a day to myself, I am very glad I got to spend the whole day with my wonderful daughter instead.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How about taking a brisk walk?

I have writer's block today.  I tried to think of something to blog about and I have come up empty.  I still want to achieve my goal of 31 blog posts for May so here I go anyway.

I'm thinking about the many conversations I've had with students about their writing.  I feel somewhat guilty that, just like lots of them, I am unwilling to really do anything to break out of this block.  I'm don't want to make a list, look through other things I've written, or take a brisk walk.  (Actually, I would love to take a brisk walk but I'm home alone with Sarah who is upstairs asleep so this isn't really an option according to DCFS.)

Sorry former (and current) students -- those suggestions are rather annoying after all.

But I suspect one of the reasons I can't think of anything to write about has something to do with this -- everything is just fine.  I'm glad for that.  It's boring, but I'll take it.