Monday, December 31, 2018

Hello 2019!



New Year's Eve - a time to reflect on the past year and make meaningful changes to your life for the year ahead.
OR
New Year's Eve - a time to drink, eat, and possibly say fuck a few too many times in front of your friends' children.

I plan to do both.

2018 was an eventful year. It started with Disney World, Kindergarten and Third grade were completed, amazing new friends were made, our company reached the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, we loved the Rodeo, E1 came into her own on the softball field, and E2 killed it in the pool. We celebrated friend's children's Bar-Mitzvahs, picked strawberries, celebrated Jewish holidays, the girls participated in their first ever running series, we cruised, we vacationed with friends, the girls and I road tripped, we spent time with family near and far, started first and fourth grade, and lived each day to the absolute fullest.  2018 was a great year.

Having a great year doesn't mean there weren't bad times.
There were many days I cried in my closet - it seems to be the only damn place my kids cannot find me. The girls' struggles on certain days were just too much, my husband was annoying, we had a health scare, and a childhood friendship was lost. I questioned my strength, my courage...
Through it all, I remembered and always remember - stay true to yourself, stay true to your values, family first, to hell with the rest of it.

My life isn't perfect.
Do I sometimes want to scream shut the fuck up to my kids? Every. Damn. Day.
Do I want to stop making lunches and cooking dinner and doing laundry? Hell yes.
Do I want to find a way to make my seven year old stop whining? For the love of G-d, yes.
Do I want to tell my ten year old to calm the fuck down? All the time.

My kids have issues. I have issues, My husband has issues. We all have issues. Our issues are not what defines our year.
I could get bogged down in the neurology bills, the therapy bills, the constant teacher contact, the ridiculous paperwork that comes with labels OR I can see the fantastic achievements of two strong, independent young ladies.
I can see my husband's inability to take out the fucking trash or clean his damn night stand, or better yet fix some shit in this house OR I can see a man that works his ass off every single day and sacrifices his time with his children so we can have an awesome life.
I can see myself as overbearing and controlling OR I can remember that I am loyal, sensitive, and probably the funniest fucking person on the planet. (My brother is a close second)

I choose to see the positive. It doesn't mean the negative didn't happen, it just means I choose not to dwell on it. I have to smile each day. I have to laugh. It is who I am at my core. I am a happy person. I must find the joy even if it comes from the smallest victory, like witnessing E1's organized backpack the one and only time it happened. (She seriously is a fucking hoarder)

2018 brought family together, friends together, small and big strides, laughs, smiles, and love. The mistakes that happened were just that- mistakes, and I will try to learn from them and not make the same mistake twice.

As I prepare to eat, drink, and shoot off HOA banned fireworks with some of the greatest people this evening, I will remember all that happened in 2018 and pray for the same in 2019-
Health, Happiness, and Love....

And as always, below are the top ten most read posts for The Adventures of Tomboys in Tiaras.
It is incredible to me that my words have reached thousands and traveled to countries all over the world.

Top Ten
(Most to least this year)

1.  We Are Jewish
2. Tell Me Again
3. Unwanted Membership
4. I See You
5. Thank You, Kindergarten
6. The Answer
7. Because I am an A**hole
8. FRamily (One of the greatest memories of 2018. Love y'all!)
9. Operation $40
10. Procrastination

THANK YOU for all your support.
xoxo
Happy New Year

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Swim Medal

Tonight, as you swam your heart out, there was a renewed energy in your spirit. You knew Ms. K had something for you. I told you as much, but you didn't know exactly what was happening.


A year and a half ago we switched swim clubs. A year and a half ago you had learned basic swimming and had come so far, but you weren't nearly the swimmer you are today.

Our swim club listened when I called and described you. They assigned you Ms. K, the most patient swim coach on the planet. Ms. K "gets you." She knows when you're frustrated, she knows when you're happy, she knows your work ethic, she knows your capabilities. Ms. K, with all that knowledge, has transformed you into a magnificent swimmer.

Twice a week for a year and half you have given 110%. You want to be on the swim team, but you just aren't ready...yet. Ms. K knows your goal and is working with you on the same exact drills the swim team does, she is timing you, she is yelling, "go," "swim faster," "kick," she is pushing you each and every lesson to learn not only the motor plan of each stroke, but the motor plans of a swimmer on their swim team.

Every week you smile and skip into the swim club.  But a few weeks ago you came to me sad and upset. Your friends, your sister, all have trophies from their sport and you do not have one. There are only trophies and ribbons for swim team races, not swim practice. I tried to explain to you all of this, but you weren't quite getting it. After all, you are in a sport. You are making progress, but you have nothing that says, "look what I have accomplished."

E2, you are still little and don't quite know yet that I will move heaven and earth for you. You don't quite understand the daily strings that must be pulled in an effort to keep our family stronger, to keep life moving down the path of success. As your mom, I have done many things to help you navigate this life and given the chance I would do them all again. So when I was faced with your sad face, I did what I only know to do - help get you what you deserve.

If you were a child that didn't try, that didn't listen, that didn't give 110%, I wouldn't have done this, but that is not you. You are a hard worker. You are determined. You are a fighter. And you deserve recognition for what you have accomplished in the pool. At 41, with no neurological impairments (being a sarcastic asshole isn't an impairment), I cannot swim the butterfly. But you, seven year old you with mild CP, not only can swim the butterfly, but it is your favorite stroke. You can also swim freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke.
And you swim them all with grace.
You swim them all with a smile.

With all this in my mind, I spoke to Ms. K and she agreed recognition is what you earned. I ordered a swim medal off Amazon (hallelujah for Amazon) and secretly gave it to Ms. K. She presented to you your medal tonight after your lesson and your smile was huge.
You held your medal all the way home.
You rain into the house to show daddy.
You are sleeping with it in your bed.
You know the value of hard work and this medal means the world to you.

I do not believe in "everyone gets a trophy."
I do not believe in parenting what people call snowflakes.
I do, however, believe in the value of hard work and telling that person "job well done."

Tonight, as you were given your swimming medal-
You were recognized for being you.
You were recognized for your dedication.
You were recognized for your efforts.
You were recognized for your determination.
You were recognized for being you.

Job well done, E2.



Sunday, October 28, 2018

We Are Jewish

At 9:00 this Sunday morning I dropped my girls off at religious school. At 9:00 this Sunday morning I cried as I dropped my girls off at religious school. With tears streaming down my face I thanked the armed guard ready to give up his life to protect my children. At 9:00 this Sunday morning I kissed my girls good bye and for the first time ever, prayed that I would see them at pick-up. My morning was the same for every Jewish family. A morning filled with sadness and fear.

On the way to religious school I prepared the girls for the armed guard. I told them what happened in Pittsburgh. I told them some people hate Jews. Some people blame Jews for the world's problems. Some people no matter how hard we try will always hate Jews.

E1 asked if the shooter was a "psychopath."

This question sparked an entire discussion about antisemitism and what it looks like. It is not always a "psychopath" with a gun. It is not always the genocide of six million. It is not always the destruction of temples and Jewish owned businesses. With a shaky voice I told my girls of different times I experienced antisemitism.

I told them about the time my 11th grade English teacher told me to stop crying about the C on my paper because in the end I would still get into Harvard with the rest of the Jews.
I told them about how the Hebrew Club was not recognized at graduation even though all the other foreign language clubs were.
I told them how during sorority rush it is understood the Jewish girls will be cut from the majority of the houses after round one.
And then silently I remembered all the times we were almost chosen as parents, but ultimately looked over because we were Jewish. Antisemitism does not only come with guns. It comes with actions and words.

Antisemitism is as simple as the music teacher telling a then eight year old E1, there was no time to include a Hanukkah song in the holiday performance even though it was two weeks away.

Antisemitism is a Jewish friend posting to the neighborhood Facebook page because her son was teased/bullied for not celebrating Christmas.

Antisemitism is being told the Jewish kids can just hang the ornament from their door knob and we do not need to change the craft for the holiday school party.

Antisemitism is being asked where to throw a party because your friend knows you've found the best deals since well you know....you're good at research.

Antisemitism is practices, games, school activities all being scheduled during major Jewish holidays.

You may be thinking these are not acts of antisemitism. And maybe you are correct. Or maybe it is the word and my using the word that is really bothering you. Calling it ignorance or a mistake does not change what it is. It is antisemitism. Antisemitism can look like no big deal to the outside world. People can call it a lack of tolerance for others. People can call it a million other things. They don't call it antisemitism because we tend to reserve that term for the evil with guns. The truth of the matter is we all have bias, and the sooner we admit it the sooner we can learn from it.

I do not believe the athletic associations, our schools, our children's friends are deeply seeded with antisemitism. But what I do believe is no one would ever schedule a school performance or athletic game during Ash Wednesday, Easter, or Christmas. We, the Jews, must continue to remind our community to respect our religion and respect our time to practice our religion - Year after year.

What does antisemitism not look like?
It is when your kindergarten teacher asks you if the holiday crafts are inclusive. It is when your third grade teachers tell you all religions are respected in their classrooms. It is when the music teacher includes not only Hanukkah songs, but Diwali in the upcoming holiday performance. It is when an entire team of teachers invites you into their classroom to teach others about your holiday. It is when the administrators in the school wish your children a happy new year in September.

When you acknowledge the difference, then accept the difference, that is when antisemitism ends.

Today I told my daughters now more than ever we still stand proud as Jews. We will continue to be different. We will continue to practice our faith loudly and proudly. We will continue to be exactly who we are and educate those around us. I told them now is not the time to cave and lose ourselves in what  is "normal." We will not put Christmas lights on our home, we will not celebrate Easter with egg hunts, and we will not pretend to be something we are not. We are Jewish. We are proud Jews. We will respect other religions and their traditions and pray the respect is returned.

We will continue to miss school for Jewish holidays. We will continue to educate the school district when the Jewish holidays are so school events are not scheduled on those days. We will continue to host holidays in our home and let the Shabbat candles shine light into a world that has become so dark. We will continue to invite our Jewish brothers and sisters and our non Jewish brothers and sisters to our home. We will continue to let the smell of latkes and brisket and matzah ball soup seep through our windows. We will continue to speak Yiddish words. We will continue to miss athletic games and practices during our holidays. We will continue to be Jewish.

We will be Jewish. We will be proud Jews. We will speak our truth, practice our religion, and do it with all the chutzpah G-d gave us because we will not fall. We will not quit. We will not die.

Judaism teaches acceptance. Judaism teaches you to love thy neighbor. Today and every day, I remind my daughters to make good choices. I pray the rest of the world begins to make good choices.

Thank you to my friends that changed their Facebook profile picture to stand with us. Thank you to the friends that texted me to see if we were okay. Thank you to my friends who said they were disgusted. We, too, are disgusted.

We are Jewish. We will prevail.






Tuesday, September 25, 2018

PBKK

It’s the end of an era- the Pottery Barn Kids Kitchen era. 

A decade ago, Aunt J and Uncle S bought a then 4 month old E1 an
amazing play kitchen. The mother of all kitchens. The kitchen that screamed,
“I’m going to be the most popular toddler.” Today, we made triplet four year
old girls smile and scream with joy because their mom was able to give them the
“Mother of all kitchens.”
The smiles on their faces reminded me why we loved this kitchen so. 

So goodbye, PBK kitchen (PBKK).
You’ve given E1 and E2 so much in the last ten years.

PBKK you helped both girls learn to stand with your sturdy sink and towel bar. 
PBKK you helped both girls learn what “bang” sounded like when they hit toys on your stainless steel sink. 
PBKK you taught my girls how to slam doors correctly because your refrigerator gave them great practice
for their bedroom doors. 
PBKK you scared the crap out of me many late nights when the timer went off to let me know your
oven was finished cooking. 
PBKK you were a great hiding place for baby dolls because all missing babies somehow ended up in
the cabinet under the sink. 
PBKK you taught red for hot and blue for cold with your awesome retro handles which then let my girls use
real sinks independently. 
PBKK you were the first piece of furniture to be adorned with stickers....and the only furniture to still have stickers. 
PBKK your refrigerator stored ice cream that helped the girls learn colors, cookies that helped them learn to count,
and fruit that helped them learn fractions. 
PBKK your oven stored all our pretend challahs and other Jewish symbolic foods and plates.
There wasn’t a holiday you didn’t help us celebrate. 
PBKK you were a safe place for the teacups and mismatched saucers the girls enjoyed using for countless
tea parties. 
PBKK you graciously held onto containers of toy food that if they were real, could have fed an army. 
PBKK you were the center of all picnics. 
PBKK you were the toy that was sought after and fought about most. 
PBKK, you sparked imaginative play, practical life, and sharing. 
PBKK, you were the first place E1 and E2 washed dishes and fed their babies. 
PBKK, you provided stability when they learned to walk and needed something to hold onto. 
PBKK you were the star of every play date.
PBKK, you were the cause of every mess. 
PBKK, and in your final days you became another place for the hoarding sister to store her crap. 

PBKK, I already miss you. And while the girls will just remember you as a kitchen,
I’ll remember all the memories you gave us and remember you were more than a kitchen,
you were part of a childhood. 

Thank you Aunt J and Uncle S. 
And thank you PBKK

Thursday, September 13, 2018

5779

Rosh Hashanah has just passed and we have entered a new year as Jewish people. The new year brings promises of hopes and dreams and a reflection of the past year. It also brings me the hee-bee-gee-bees. Rosh Hashanah is the time when the Book of Life is opened and names are transcribed for who will live and will die, who will be healthy and who will be sick. We are to make amends between now and Yom Kippur when the book is sealed.

At 27, I was given five years (max) to live. When you think you will barely see 30, you rejoice in being 41. To pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life is a whirlwind of emotions when on a sunny summer day you were told your days were numbered.

The practice of medicine is just that, a practice and with all the overbearing love our Jewish community could provide, my life was blessed by an amazing team of doctors and nurses who made it their life mission to save my life and countless others. Their practice of medicine and my (our) faith in G-d is why at 41 I am still here with the hee-bee-gee-bees during Rosh Hashanah.

It is not that I don't trust G-d, I do. I believe and have faith that my time here is not up. I believe I have much more to accomplish as a mother, friend, family member. I have more to give this world and I will continue to fight to be here. As I reflect on this last year, I am blessed to continue to learn to accept myself for exactly who I am and know that I am a perfect version of myself.

I am a lover and a fighter.
But can you be both?
The saying says "I am a lover, not a fighter."
Yes, you can be both.

I am truly a lover. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and have a hard time containing them. I will laugh louder than anyone in the room, I will smile bigger than those around me, I will cry harder than the saddest scene you see in a movie. My emotions are big. I share them. I am loyal to them. I respect them. If my heart is not fulfilled by those around me, I choose not to be around them. It does not make the others bad people, it makes me honest in whom I share my life with. I choose to be positive, proactive, look on the bright side. I choose to be this way because it suits me, it suits my heart, my life. We are all blessed with life and to be bogged down in the nitty gritty is not something that makes me happy.

Do I get annoyed with little things? Of course. Traffic, my snoring husband, my whiny kids, too much laundry, the forgotten homework, the flat tire, the mosquitoes, etc all make me want to scream in frustration and sometimes I do and sometimes I remember to breathe and think there are people in this world who would kill for whiny kids and pray they find a partner in life, even a snoring one who never remembers to take out the trash.

Finding the positive and staying happy is no easy task. Happy people are not fake either. They are lovers. They choose to love and smile and make the best of situations that are typically out of their control.

As a lover and a fighter, I will love you and protect you and I will fight for you as I do myself. I am a fighter. With my loving, outspoken, often too loud, personality I will fight. I will fight for my children, my husband, my family, my friends. I will fight when an injustice has occurred. Whether the issue is small or large, I will fight. I am an honest fighter. My mom told me as a child, honesty is the best policy. What she forgot to tell me is people rarely like honesty.

Am I going around telling people their haircut sucks or their outfit makes their ass look big, no. That is just mean. But am I telling you to advocate for your kid? To stand up for what you believe in? To take pride in your spouse and the life you have created? Yes. Yes. Yes. Fight for what's right. Fight for honesty. Fight for justice. My daughters know I will fight for them. My husband knows I will fight for him. My friends and family know too. On days you are not strong enough to fight for yourself, I will fight for you. I will fight with my whole heart and my whole being. I will sacrifice outside perceptions to do what I know needs to be done. I am a fighter. Each day I fight my own securities, my own self doubt, my own self worth and remind myself I am worthy of love and patience and my life is worth fighting for.

Being a lover and a fighter can come at a cost. I am often misunderstood and seen as overbearing and loud. After 41 years of this, I can promise you I am okay with this. I cannot change myself. I am proud of who I have become and those that take the time to get to know me, know my love and my fight are worth having in your life. Loving and fighting out loud can be judged, it can be off putting, but I know as each year passes and I am blessed to live another year. Other's judgement comes from a place of being uncomfortable with such a vivacious personality. With the judgments, with the misconception, I am given a chance to change, but I won't.

I will continue to wear my emotions on my sleeve and I will continue to fight the good fights. I will apologize when I am wrong, but I will not apologize for who I am. We are all gifts from G-d. I tell my children this daily and since I speak the truth to them, I know I am speaking it to myself. I am here now. I choose to make the most of the life I was given and I will continue to be true to my heart and live my life the best way I know how.

When the Book of Life is sealed on Yom Kippur, I will pray my name has been inscribed. I will pray my family and friends have been inscribed too. I will pray that G-d knows I have more love to give and more fights to fight. I will pray that I continue on the path of doing what's right for me, my family, my friends. I will pray for the future and all I have to offer it.

Happy new year, readers.
You have helped make this blogger proud of her contributions.






Friday, August 17, 2018

Day Three

Holy mother fucker! Day three!!

I get it- school started Wednesday and today is the third morning of waking early, but holy shit - it was a damn ass nightmare this morning.


This is the year of the alarm clock for E1. I do way too much for her as it is, so to expect her to wake up by alarm and get ready independently is actually not too much to ask. Beep beep at 6:30. We leave the house at 7:30 for school and in a normal world a 10 year old does not need an hour to get ready, but my morning bear - well, she probably needs two hours. Now it is 6:40 and the beep beep can be heard throughout the house. Beep Beep at 6:45, 6:50, 6:55, 7:00....I now walk into her room and it is 7:05 am. I tell her it is after 7:00 and to get up. I know full well this is not going to be the end of this story.

I walk into E2's room and she rolls over and whines about school starting too early. She then gets out of bed, excited to wear her butterfly dress. The excitement leaves when I pull out the monkey bar buddies for her to wear underneath her dress. Apparently monkey bar buddies are made of nails or needles or knives because E2 was wailing about wearing them. Snot and tears are flowing while she is repeating why why why....I don't have the patience for this shit. I remind her no one should see her panties, she sits criss-cross applesauce at school, and plays at recess so the monkey bar buddies help with keeping her panties covered. The snot, tears, and cries continue. Quite frankly, I don't give a fuck so I cave and put the damn monkey bar buddies back in the dresser. Yes, I know - she won and was rewarded for her "bad behavior," but I myself am not a morning person and as the saying goes....pick your battles.

In E2's bathroom she asks for pig tails. I double check this choice. I ask her if she wants them high or low (showing the placement). She chooses high. E2 has hair for DAYS. There is so much thick, gorgeous, wavy, brown hair you wonder if she will become a drug mule one day because you could easily hide heroin in that head of hair. I begin to brush the drug smuggling head of hair and the tears begin to flow. I stop. She gets mad I stopped. I brush again. Tears. Brush. Tears. Brush. Tears. I ask her again if she still wants pigtails and she insists she does and then reminds me that I am a shit mom for not scheduling her a haircut like she has BEGGED because short hair means no knots. Uh, sorry E2, but you'll look like a damn mushroom with short hair so I am actually not a shit mom. I am a rock star. Pigtails complete. Teeth get brushed and E2 is all smiles, is happy and ready to start her third day of school.

7:21- E1 is not downstairs. I yell up to her the time and I can hear it in her shrill preteen voice that the monster inside her will be the one joining us this morning. She claims she will be down in a minute. Tick tock. Tick tock.

7:30 am. Time to leave.
E1 in FULL attitude has made it downstairs. As the sneakers are being put on her feet, the tears begin to flow. She hates her sneakers, has no time for breakfast, it isn't fair, blah blah blah - I actually have no fucking clue what she was saying because I don't speak "bitch."(Actually, I invented that language but she's 10 and I needed to prove a point and continued to ignore the tantrum.)

E1 has shoes on, backpack on, and as they are walking out the door the hubs asks E1 where her glasses are. HOLY MOTHER OF G-D! I thought for sure she was going to kill him with her eyes. STOMPING with her backpack on, shoes on, crying, mumbling, snotting, E1 goes into my bathroom to grab her glasses. (Why the fuck were they in there in the first place?)

7:35. The hubs pulls out of the driveway and I can exhale. Happy driving!!

Day three, you're a bitch.
Welcome back to school!!


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sweet Seven

August 13


"I won't give up, no I won't give in
Till I reach the end
And then I'll start again
Though I'm on the lead
I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I won't give up, no I won't give in
Till I reach the end
And then I'll start again
No I won't leave
I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail"
Shakira



Oh my baby, what a year this has been! 365 days in a year and I might be a tad off, but I bet I have cried happy tears at least 300 of these days. Every year you remind me in a world of rainbows and unicorns anything is possible and this year is no different.

In one short year my amazing daughter, you accomplished all your goals. Not my goals, yours. Every year you remind me you are on your journey, your path, not mine. Your journey is an incredible one that I am truly blessed to watch unfold. This year especially has been a brilliant.

From six to seven you became a successful student. Kindergarten came and went, speech therapy came and went, occupational therapy came and went, swimming came and went. Each day I watched you find success. Each day I watched you smile. Each day I watched you crush a challenge. Each day I watched you with your teachers, your therapists, your coach prove to yourself you can do it. With their encouragement, you became a kid with big dreams and each day your dreams became a reality.

When we saw the neurologist and heard scary words and heard what you shouldn't be able to do, we, your parents, were faced with a world of uncertainty. But you, you smiled when I told you a neurologist is a brain doctor and were lucky because the pictures of your brain tell your teachers exactly how you learn. And once again, with all the labels that you carry, you showed us there is no cannot in your world, only a smile and maybe next time until you master the skill.

This year I watched you share frustration, anger, and disappointment. These were fairly new emotions for you as this year was one of maturity and your world becoming more intense. Even with the moments that caused you strife, you still found your unicorn for the day and still smiled through it all.

This year I watched how your determination is all you need. I have never known a child to say they are going to do something and then move every mountain in their way to get it done. You continue to be a hard worker. You continue to do all you shouldn't. You continue to make me cry happy tears. You continue to be a wonder.

Grit, determination, hard worker - these characteristics make you unique for such a young child. But you are so much more.  You are kind, sweet, gentle, funny, trusting, loving, thoughtful, generous. You are happy. Happiness is something people chase their whole lives and at seven, you have figured out that happiness is within you.

Your joy, your laugh, your smile, gives hope to all who know you.
Your joy, your laugh, your smile, reminds people dreams do come true.

On this seventh birthday I have so many wishes for you. I wish for another year of extraordinary feats, another year of smiles, another year of friendships, another year of  look what I can do vs cannot, another year where each day you prove to this world what I have known all along - You are destined for greatness,

Happy seventh birthday to my rainbow, unicorn loving daughter. May this be a year you never forget.




Sunday, August 5, 2018

Double Digits

HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY!!
DOUBLE DIGITS 💓

August 6th

I don't even know where to begin. I am in disbelief that you are officially ten years old. It is true what they say- the days are long but the years are short. 

On a ridiculously hot August day I woke up and went to my professional development. My principal texted me and asked me what I was doing so I told him I was learning at the meeting he asked me to attend. He called my bluff, told me to quit playing brick breaker (you can google that), and come to the school....I had more important work to be completed. 

As I approached the building our caseworker called. While she was talking, I walked into the building, into the library, started crying, walked out of the library, walked out of the school while my principal and colleagues were saying my name. As you know, our caseworker was telling me you were born and we were chosen to be your parents. With more joy than you can imagine I called your dad, who of course, was out of town. He had but one question....boy or girl? Yep, your favorite part of your story, I was so happy I did not even ask. 

IT'S A GIRL!!! our caseworker said when I called back and the rest...is history. 
Ten years of history to be exact. 



TEN YEARS OLD! A WHOLE DECADE! 

My beautiful daughter,

On this special birthday, I wish you many more years of happiness and joy. I wish you all that life has to offer and wish you the knowledge to know you can accomplish anything. I know this for a fact because in the last ten years you've proved to be a strong, exceptional young lady.

From two in the morning feedings to sleeping through a hurricane, ten years have passed
From similac sensitive to a true foodie, ten years have passed
From orange spit up everywhere to surviving stomach bugs, ten years have passed
From crawling to running softball bases, ten years have passed
From barely talking to never being quiet, ten years have passed
From messy paintings to wearing make-up, ten years have passed
From sleeping through car rides to becoming a thrill seeker, ten years have passed
From your first plane ride to loving traveling, ten years have passed
From tantrums to pre-teen meltdowns, ten years have passed
From hugs and kisses to 'good night mom', ten years have passed
From a bald head to gorgeous long locks, ten years have passed
From crying on the first day of preschool to a nod hello from the classroom, ten years have passed
From Barney to Double Dare, ten years have passed
From dolls to video games, ten years have passed

In ten years you have grown from the smallest baby to a phenomenal child. I have seen you at your best and your worst and while we sometimes get on each other's nerves, our love is a force to be reckoned with. Your big brown eyes and incredible smile have filled my heart with such happiness. Every day you show the world what a caring, sensitive, thoughtful woman you truly are. 

In one decade you have traveled a short distance in your journey, but you have chosen the path well. At each challenge you've faced, you proved your integrity. You are honest and loyal. You are brave and inspiring. You are stubborn and head strong. You are kind. You are amazing. 
In this next decade you will continue your journey, but this time it will begin to lead you to adulthood. I know for you it will pass slowly. For me, it'll be another blink of an eye. 

I wish from ten to twenty, you continue to be true to yourself
I wish from ten to twenty, you do not fall victim to peer pressure
I wish from ten to twenty, you continue to do what's right when no one is looking
I wish from ten to twenty, you see yourself as others see you 
I wish from ten to twenty, you love more and hurt less
I wish from ten to twenty, you laugh more and cry less
I wish from ten twenty, you let your passion become your path
I wish from ten to twenty, you remember what an astounding young woman you are 

I hope and pray you know even when you're mad, I love you more.
I hope and pray you know even when you're disappointed, I love you more. 
I hope and pray you know even when you're frustrated, I love you more.

I love you because you are you and no one else. 
I will always love you.

From your head to your toes, 
From your thoughts to your actions, 
I love you more.

HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY!

May your next ten years be a ride you'll never forget. 

I love you more today than yesterday.





Sunday, July 29, 2018

I See You

I see you.

I see you every day making a difference.

I see you smile when you're exhausted.

I see you kneel down so you can speak on eye level.

I see you covered by lamination while you sit on your floor.

I see you frustrated when someone has another question at the never ending staff meeting.

I see you sending emails at the most ridiculous of hours because you spent all day teaching.

I see you typing each parents' name carefully into your distribution list because hell hath no fury like a parent not receiving emails.

I see you spending more time with my child than your own.

I see you helping my child learn more than I ever thought possible.

I see you continue to put forth effort even when the student is reluctant.

I see you put my family first.

I see you and your extra snacks just in case a student forgets theirs.

I see you and your Wal-Mart bill because inevitably supplies run out and get lost.

I see you and your car in the parking lot way before 8:00 am and way after 3:30 pm.

I see you lesson planning and then redoing them when the children need to be retaught.

I see you being honest with parents.

I see you continue in this profession when most people think you barely work.

I see you appreciate the tiniest of gestures because someone finally noticed your dedication.

I see you and your pride when a student achieves something great, big or small.


I see you sweating on the playground making sure the students are safe.

I see you opening a million juice boxes or chip bags while trying not to puke from the cafeteria stench.

I see you conferencing with students, parents, colleagues all to ensure success.

I see you and your desperate need to use the restroom because you cannot leave your students unattended.

I see you eat your lunch in seven minutes because there are more important things that need to be completed.

I see you have no time.

I see you taking work home each night and on the weekends.

I see you attending professional development during the summer while the public says you're on vacation.

I see you and your crazy amount of unused personal days because parents get angry when you are absent.

I see you prepping for all outcomes.

I see you teaching the at risk, the average, the above average, the gifted, the learning difference all in one classroom.

I see you putting your life on the line to protect my child.

I see you being mom, dad, therapist, nurse, and teacher without a simple thank you.

I see you and the mountains you move because you are capable of a level of motivation that is inspiring.

I see you and the love you have for your career and know this is why you continue.

I see you and the joy the students bring you and know this is why you continue.

Teachers.

I see you.

Teachers.

I thank you.



Friday, July 27, 2018

Operation $40 Part Two

Need the back story? Read here.

What was supposed to be a lesson in "you are privileged" and need to understand "tough times" quickly turned into many lessons that I did not expect and a realization on my part that I cannot actually teach poverty. Yes, I can expose E1 and E2 to other parts of the world and we can volunteer our time in helping others, but I cannot actually teach what it is like to grow up in poverty. I have never been in fear of my lights being shut off or being evicted. I have never lived a life in which I could not afford the basic needs. I know I am privileged and giving my children a privileged life, which I cannot change or apologize for. What I can do is try to engage in meaningful conversations with my children, help them learn the value of hard work, the importance of budgeting, and an understanding that they have it better than many.

So.....
With her food taking up a small section of our counter and $19 (not 40) in her wallet, we began the life lesson first thing Sunday morning even though the hubs literally said, "Oh..we are still doing this?"

E1 woke up and eagerly had one of her coveted croissants for breakfast. Lunch was plain pasta and cupped pears. This pasta was the first lesson of many. E1 cooked her own pasta -  she filled the pot with water, turned on the gas stove, learned to add olive oil and sprinkle salt into the water, how long it takes water to boil, and how to tell if the pasta is cooked. While I supervised, E1 learned to cook a basic meal.  She was nervous and excited and proud. So proud that when I offered her to empty the dishwasher for some money, her response?
"What's the point of doing the chore? I still have money."
SIGH. Case in point why we started this damn lesson.
A few snacks were had: pudding and a granola bar.
Dinner was interesting as she ate microwavable Easy Mac and successfully peeled her potato and cut it into slices to make fries. E1 is a master of peeling potatoes...I can thank Hanukkah traditions for that!

What the hubs and I noticed this Sunday was E1 did not waste her food. She ate everything she cooked. E1 also only ate when she was hungry. One cannot eat because they are bored if one does not have enough food. E1 also felt independent which was a good thing because the week was just starting.

Monday's breakfast was a croissant again....whatever. We had lunch plans scheduled, so E1 brought her wallet and had previewed the menu so she was all set. I reminded E1 to put her wallet in her purse and because she is the smartest child I know she did not listen. Shockingly, the nine year old did not listen. We stopped at a store before lunch. As we were leaving the store, walking to lunch, I asked E1 where her wallet was.....DEEP FUCKING BREATHS because it is not with her. She left it "somewhere" in the store. "Maybe on a shelf?" I gave her the eye glare that I learned from My Aunt Cheri and trust me, this eye glare could be used in terrorist interrogations. E1 walked swiftly to the store and because she is one lucky bitch or because G-d didn't want me to lose my shit, she found her wallet.

E1 got her own bill at lunch and ordered the cheapest lunch option and water to drink. #winning
She learned how to face bills the proper way when paying cash and learned about tax and making change. All in all she was a good sport while we were out to lunch.




When we got home I asked her again if she wanted to complete a chore for money (sweeping the kitchen floor). This time, after finally paying for a meal, she agreed to sweeping. Because it is E1 and because she is a child, the job was quickly done and done in a half-ass manner. Half ass job gets half ass money....THAT pissed her off. I told her in the real world she might have been fired and not paid at all. An eye roll and back to reading her Harry Potter was the reaction. E1's dinner was tuna fish and canned pineapples. She paid me $1 and "bought" another potato - the love of fries is strong in my young Jedi.

Tuesday E1 woke up more willing to participate? Hungry? With a realization I was holding firm? I am not sure why, but she asked for a "big job" worth "a lot of money." Um....How about she cleans out the garage? After eating her daily croissant (seriously, what the fuck with the croissants?), she got to work. Tears and sweat were experienced. Each time she thought she was finished, she wasn't. There was no half assing this. After E1 truly finished cleaning the garage one of the best unexpected lessons happened. E1 said to me, "I get it. I get why daddy is so tired when he comes home. Hard work is exhausting." My heart filled with such pride, I almost ended the week right then and there! (But I didn't)



We went back to school shopping and were headed home when Miss Money Bags asked me to stop at the froyo place...funny how when E1 is paying the yogurt and toppings weigh in at single digits.


E1 ate more Easy Mac, pudding, cupped mandarin oranges, and bought another baked potato from us along with butter and cheese.

Money total: $36.

E1 started with $19, earned money for sweeping and doing a damn great job cleaning the garage, spent money at lunch, froyo, and on baked potatoes and fixings. We reminded E1 that we would double anything she saved.

Wednesday is no longer hump day. It is forever burn a hole in my pocket day. Like a girl without a care in the world and so much money she clearly thought she was rich, E1 spent the day spending. Of course we couldn't leave the house before she ate a damn croissant. Chick Fil A for lunch, but an adult sized meal because she could afford it....a double scoop of ice cream with sprinkles in a waffle cone later on that day because... she could afford it and my favorite part of the "let me piss away all my money" day was dinner.....a shirley temple, an appetizer, and a main course.




Each instance, E1 had her own bill. Each instance she physically counted her money. Each instance, I thought would be her last. Nope, not at all because she is a child. This is when I realized she cannot begin to understand poverty. She has never been exposed to it, never met anyone living in poverty, never even heard a story. And let's get real, all the poverty she has seen during our trips to other countries is eventually forgotten because she is a child vacationing to other countries....privileged. So, I began to focus more on budgeting, money management, saving, etc.

Money total: $7.07

Oh Thursday, you were no fun. E1 realized she wasted all her money. She did not realize this on her own, but more from me asking E2 where we should go for dinner and/or a fun treat, etc. After truly realizing she made a mistake and saying "I get it. I swear I understand the saying money doesn't grow on trees" we decided to spend the day at home playing and doing summer work. I am not sure if it was the poor diet or the lack of money or just that she is almost ten, E1 lost her shit. I SO love preteen tantrums....is there a "stop being an asshole" pill? No? Just checking.

Because she's a week away from 10 (I will cry about this later), we have been practicing her being home alone. So while she was pissy and rude and less desirable, I told E2, "Let's go." E1 was flabbergasted that I was leaving. I reminded her she was old enough to be alone and since she was being icky, we were leaving and when we got back I hoped her work would be finished and her attitude would be better. E2 and I left for about 15 minutes and just because I am a jackass, I let E2 walk into the house holding her Icee. E1's face said "Are you fucking kidding me?" but her words said, "I'm sorry."

The last day, Friday, arrived. Cereal for breakfast because the damn croissants were finally finished. E1 spent no money again and kept reminding me she had $7.07 and daddy said he would double it and it is so awesome that she has $14.14!!!
E1 was feeling great until her bitch mom reminded her that at one point she had forty dollars and had she not blown it all Wednesday on a ridiculous amount of food, she would have EIGHTY dollars.

Cue the angry tears and the return of the attitude.

I will say overall I am happy we did this and I do believe E1 learned many things - work ethic, the value of a dollar, how to save money, budgeting, self control, tax, tipping, responsibility, independence, and the best lesson of all - don't fuck with mom - she never caves.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Operation $40

If you are my Facebook friend, you are already excited to read this post. But for those not on Facebook or for those that hid me a long time ago because I post way too many pictures of my children and essential oils, here is the story.

Friday
The hubs and I are having a conversation and all E1 overhears is the word "spam." She asks what it is and I tell her it is a term for junk mail, in regards to email. E1 responds saying she thought she read somewhere that spam is food. We both then explain that yes it is a type of canned meat, how it is inexpensive, and many people still buy it and eat. Then came the kiss of death.

"Gross. I am glad we have a lot of money and don't have to eat food like that."
I believe she said rich, the hubs says I misheard. Either way, I wanted to strangle my daughter.

I get it, it isn't that bad what she said. But it is. You didn't hear her tone. You didn't see her facial expressions. And you certainly don't fully know E1. This child, along with her sister, are growing up privileged. I know they want for nothing. I know how we are raising them- cruises and Disney and everything in between.  But, I also know that when we go to Target, I do not buy everything they ask for each and every time. I know I say no. I know I make them wait for birthdays and Hanukkah. I know they say please and thank you. I know they are grateful. Or I thought I knew. It is quite apparent E1 has no understanding of the value of a dollar or how hard we work to provide the life she leads.

Do I expect the almost 10 year old to truly understand the value of a dollar? Absolutely not. But I do expect her to understand on a level what privilege is, to not think certain foods or restaurants are weird, and to appreciate how quickly money comes and goes. The hubs and I already knew E1 needed a money lesson (hand her a dollar and it gets lost, give her $5 and it is misplaced, gift card - spent in 10 seconds flat). And her attitude pushed us over the edge to go ahead and teach this lesson, NOW.

After we explained to E1 about money, working hard, professions, cost of living, etc, she STILL had attitude and insisted she was rich. "You aint got shit" was my exact response. Her response, "I have $40. I have my own money." Oh fuck....the attitude is strong in this one. Like her mother, this bitch must learn everything the hard way.

While the hubs began to waiver in our genius evil plot, my teacher mode personality took over and I jumped all over this. The solution? E1 has $40 to spend at the grocery store for the week. My know-it-all daughter with stubborn personality thought this idea was brilliant. So brilliant that damn idiot told E2, "I am buying my own food and you cannot eat anything I buy - it's all for me." News flash - E2 is not going to want your food, trust us.

Saturday

As E1 woke up, I had realized some things. We have lunch reservations Monday and the girls typically eat Chick Fil A on Thursday after E2's therapies. The hubs and I spoke about new rules and how to follow through with the "beat the smugness out of our daughter" operation. We called for E1 to get her wallet. We sat E1 down and told her to count her money again and we would discuss the week's rules afterward.

Are you even fucking surprised to find out this smart ass does not have $40? She has $17. I am so glad my crazy smart daughter is so full of herself she didn't actually know how much money she had. So typical.

Seventeen dollars.  
This is going to be a great week.

We told E1 she had $40 for groceries. We were giving this to her. The $17 is her spending money for fun. I reminded her about Monday's lunch and Chick Fil A. I told her there could a be a frozen yogurt date with friends.....we cannot predict play dates. People need a budget and when that money runs out, the fun is over. E1 was still all too happy to participate. I pulled up the menus for the known meals out and then the fun faded. E1 was shocked how her $17 wasn't going to go past Monday's lunch if she ordered what she really wanted and got a drink.  (Let the learning begin)



We went to the grocery store. E1 paid attention to name brand and store brand, learned canned or cupped fruit is cheaper than fresh, bought items that did not require the freezer or refrigerator. We also had an amazing discussion about how "good for you food" is way more expensive than processed food and how eating healthy costs a ton more money.  As she put food in the basket, we told her how much money she had remaining. We then made a deal. Any money she did not spend, we would add to her $17. E1 really liked this idea. We reminded her again the stove, oven, and microwave would cost her money and the only free items she could have are utensils and plates and water. We finished up grocery shopping and E1 was able to add seven dollars to her 17.

In the car, E1 handed us $5 for microwave, oven, and stove use for the week. E1 can do chores to earn more money through the week if she chooses. E1 can also save her money and have us double it. The week is from Sunday morning until Friday night. 
(I am leaving town Saturday and let's get real - I am the tough parent in this parenting duo)

Starting tomorrow E1 must eat only the food she bought and pay for any meals out now using her $19.  (Her original 17, plus the 7 left over from the grocery store, minus the 5 to pay for the stove, microwave, and oven.)

This is going to be epic.

Just now E1 said, "I have a feeling I am going to regret agreeing to this."

I told her she would for sure regret it, but it is going to be the best damn lesson she ever learns. And to never again make the mistake that she "has money" or that "we are rich" and that people's income is a private matter and something no one should ever be judged by.

I cannot wait for tomorrow.
Stay tuned!




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 3rd Birthday, Tomboys!




Time sure is flying! I cannot believe the blog is three years old. From projects to funny stories to trials and tribulations, I have written about it all. Thank you to all of you for supporting me and sharing the posts that spoke to you. This blog has reached thousands of readers world wide! It was always my hope for all of us to feel supported and never alone.

I cannot wait to see what this next year brings for my family and our lives! Thank you again for making The Adventures Of Tomboys in Tiaras a success.

The top 10 posts for the past three years are:

10. Gray

9. Procastination

8. Real Family

7. We Don't Do Cold

6. Framily

5. Because I'm an A**hole

4. Thank You, Kindergarten

3. The Answer

2. Unwanted Membership

1. Tell Me Again




Sunday, July 1, 2018

Framily

Summer is in full swing! School ended, we said goodbye to kindergarten and third grade, and started summer with a bang. The girls and I took a road trip, we went our annual family cruise, and just this past weekend, the hubs and I went out of town, just the two of us.
(He had business, I had free time 😊)

During my free time, I had the pleasure of having brunch with my friend and her son. But it wasn't just any friend and he isn't just any child. This little boy is E2's biological sibling, her brother. His mom and I became Facebook friends shortly after his adoption and have had wonderful conversations and enjoyed many laughs over the phone. Our relationship was strictly via technology until recently. I had dinner with my friend last month when she was in my hometown and now I got to have brunch with her and her son in their hometown.

Our first date, just us moms, was so fun that of course I was all too excited to see her again. Then the reality of meeting her son crept into my brain. I do not process things out loud. I think about every scenario in my head, make decisions, and move on. I rarely ask for advice so when I do, I must really be struggling. So in my head (a dangerous place to be sometimes) I processed meeting a little boy that is my daughter's brother - but not really, but really.
I processed meeting a little boy that looks so similar to E2 if they were together, you'd ask if they were twins.
I processed meeting a little boy that could have been in our family, but for numerous reasons we said no (thankfully) to a third child.
I processed meeting a little boy who will one day turn into a young man and perhaps be a part of E2's life.
I processed the emotions my girls will feel when they learn about him.
I processed meeting a little boy my children know nothing about.
I processed meeting a little boy that I have watched for the last five years on Facebook and wondered if in real life, he and E2 were as alike as they seem.
Then I processed the ultimate emotion - would I feel regret for not adopting him after I met him.
And then I processed the guilt that came with even thinking I would have regrets. I know he and his mom are meant to be, but somehow meeting him, my daughter's family, was an experience that had my heart pounding.

I originally processed the last question when I first my met friend. And after that dinner I knew I had no regrets - they are the perfect duo, the perfect mother & son. I knew they were meant to be after she adopted him and we learned his name. I knew they were meant to be in every picture of him growing up and in every smile he brought to her and her family. I knew this. I know this.

But meeting him in person, this made me think about it again. Meeting a child that is your child's genetic sibling that your own child and her sibling have no idea about is pretty intense. It is a wild ride of emotions and like every 41 year old Jewish woman, I have many emotions.

Morning came and my friend and her son picked me up at the hotel and as I knew, he was the cutest little boy! And like any other five year old meeting a stranger, he did not talk to me. This made me laugh. Didn't he realize it was a big deal we were meeting? Nope. He is a kid and his mom made him have a brunch with some loud blonde lady. He had no idea our relationship and that is the way it was supposed to be.

As he walked, talked, whined, played, cried, ate, laughed, and carried on like a typical five year old boy there were many instances when I felt like I was looking into a mirror. I could see E2 in him. I could see myself in my friend. I could see what we shared. Meeting him proved to be a strong case for nature. He and E2 share struggles. They also share a smile that could melt anyone's heart.

But I was caught off guard by the case for nurture more. Yes, he and E2 share so much genetically, but what makes them cry, laugh, smile is totally different. While I loved hearing him laugh, it was not me that brought the happiness out - it was his mom. When he cried, I could not soothe him - it was his mom he needed. His favorite show, what he likes to eat, his mannerisms when he speaks: all resemble his mom. His favorite toy, his hopes and fears, what makes him unique - that I do not know. His mom does. He is her child through and through.  Just as I know E1 and E2 from head to toe, inside and outside, she knows him. Her son. Her family. Her child.

Experiencing this was a true blessing. He and I bonded over Snap Chat and making silly pictures together. His favorite - the dog so we could stick out our tongues at one another. I received a great big hug from him when we said good bye and knew, yet again, all was as it should be. He waved bye, holding his mom's hand and walked off proving a five year old boy has a better sense of direction than I ever will.

As I told a friend today, meeting him was like meeting any other friend's child.  The circumstances between us are extremely rare, but there was not an ounce of regret, anxiety, sadness. All I felt was a genuine joy in meeting a special little boy that made my friend a mom. A joy that can only be felt by a true friend. A joy that comes from being more than friends. A joy between "framily."







Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Procastination



Koalas have chlamydia.

Why do I know this useless shit? Because my procrastinator of a daughter waited until the mother fucking very last minute to start an IN CLASS project. 

Here we are just a few weeks shy of the last day of school and my daughter forgot the home she lives in. She forgot her mom is a crazy psycho overbearing bitch. Poor daughter. She likes to to learn shit the hard way. Like mother like daughter. (Sorry mom)

4:30pm. I send an email to her teacher asking about a math review. We settle on the child coming in early. (Thank G-d because lord knows her teacher has the patience of a Saint.) Silly me thinks this is our only “issue” of the day. 

4:32pm Oh yes, two damn minutes later. My daughter tells me she hasn’t been able to do her project that is due Monday. MONDAY?!? It seems my child has experienced “technical difficulties “ and has had “NO TIME” to complete her research. I find out she’s researching Koalas. She is going to draw a picture as her “model.” Said child is telling me this while she continues to play with her friend outside and I continue to sit on the driveway chatting with my neighbor. 

Knowing full well my mini me is a procrastinating bullshit artist, I email her teacher her stupid fucking excuses just so this child can read her teacher’s response. 
One day she will learn I’m smarter than her and made all these mistakes and worse ones.
One day she will call me Yoda and treat me with the master respect I deserve. 

Back to the project: yes I, the parent, have known about this project for weeks. And yes, I’ve been patiently waiting for this moment.
Yes, I let this life lesson happen forgetting it would cause my blood pressure to rise. 

Ping! Phone alert- an email from the teacher saying she can research at home (you don't say...) and a picture is unacceptable (shocking, I know) and other students have been bringing in art materials all week because the model must be made at school.  I do wonder what the actual fuck my kid was doing when these students brought their shit in!!? My guess is reading. Stupid book worm. 

I tell my daughter I’m 30 seconds away from going full blown psycho mom on her and she responds with “I got this, Mom. Don’t worry.”

What do you actually got? An F? A lazy fucking attitude? Because you ain’t got shit. I send her teacher a message saying feel free to fail her. And I wasn’t even kidding. I relay this to my daughter, without all the profanity because she’s only nine. 

NOW my kid is rummaging through our arts and crafts cabinet because I told her to use what we have because I’m not going to any store to buy her anything. I didn’t procrastinate.

I, on the other hand, am now sitting in a closet breathing deeply to calm myself down which doesn't work because I smell disgusting because I was at the zoo for the kindergarten field trip. I am now annoyed my kid didn't do what she was supposed to and even more annoyed that my deep calm breathing has lead me to smell elephant shit, sweat, and kinder germs.

I am feeling like a rock star. 
I got this parenting shit down. 
I am fucking winning today. 

Rummaging complete.
She has white construction paper, black construction paper, a glue stick, and damn mini marshmallows to glue on as fur. Whatever dude. Good luck with these choices. 

And now all of a sudden she CAN physically research Koalas vs playing outside or experiencing technical difficulties.  

“You know what mom? Koalas have chlamydia. What’s chlamydia?”

Son of a bitch. 

Is it summer yet? I’m fucking done. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Works Out In The Wash


Let me start by saying I am a HUGE proponent of giving your child an extra year to grow. As a mother of two summer birthdays, both my girls started kinder at six for different reasons. Not all children are the same, not all decisions can be one size fits all, but this is a decision that requires much thinking. You can think I am nuts, crazy, and wrong. That's okay. I am confident in my own parenting decisions, just as I am confident you make the best decisions for your child. Like my entire blog, this is my opinion.




It's that time of year again, when parents agonize about bridging their child, repeating a grade, or simply starting them late.
It's that time of year when other parents take offense to another parent's actions or take offense to what a teacher is trying to tell them.

This is my second blog post dedicated to "holding back" your child. With my daughters' summer birthdays, it is a topic often discussed in this family. With my education background, it is something people often ask me about.

I will say I am a firm believer in holding back, bridging, starting late....The cut off date for the great state of Texas is September 1st. Years ago, this topic was not as hot as it is now. It has become more common than not to start kindergarten at 6 if your child has a summer birthday. Children with birthdays in April and May are beginning to be bridged so instead of your summer kiddo being 10 or 11 months younger than the September birthday, they are 15 months younger than the oldest child in the grade.  Does this anger many parents? Yes, hell yes. Should this be what determines your decision? No. There is much more to think about.

What should you think about?

Think past Kindergarten. Think about your 10 year old going to middle school with fourteen year olds. This coming year, school starts August 15th. If the start date had been pushed a few days earlier, which could happen in years to come, many 10 year olds would start middle school. That is something you should think about.
(Had I not started my girls late, and with the current state of when we start school, they would be 10 entering middle school - yikes.)

Think about college and the responsibility that comes with being away from home and managing money. Think about how many colleges have summer programs. Now think about a 17 year old joining a community of 20 something year olds. Think about your 17 year old who has only been driving a year, driving across the state or across the country to move into their college dorm.

Let's go back to the younger ages...let's think about the 5 year old and the 6 year old. Let's think about the formative years. Let's think about self esteem, leadership, and confidence.

Think about whether or not your child can make their own lunch, tie their shoe laces, get themselves dressed, tell you about their day in the order in which things happened, problem solve, resolve conflict, take turns, wait their turn, share, make friends....Are they a leader? Are they a follower?

Think about whether or not your child has struggled academically. Typically, children do not need tutors in kindergarten. (There are exceptions to every rule, I know this.) Is your child struggling to learn to read? If they are one of the younger ones, this is okay as reading is developmental, but it is a sign that you may want to pay attention to. Reading is the foundation for every subject, EVERY subject. If your child is getting ready to leave kindergarten and you're thinking they just need the summer to fine tune their reading, ask their teacher. If your teacher recommends your child to repeat kinder, be bridged, start late...LISTEN. Really LISTEN.
(And the few summer weeks between camps and vacations probably wont be enough to catch them up. I'm sorry to be realistic, but there are very few success stories in this area and there is a huge difference between a summer to keep abilities going and a summer to hopefully achieve grade level.)

The last thing to think about is your child. The decision to hold back your child is not about you, your parenting, your love, your attention, your financial status, your race. It is about your CHILD. It is about whether or not your child is ready academically, socially, and emotionally. A child needs all three to be successful.

For every yes, hold them back there is a don't do it - it all works out in the wash opinion. The opinion that all children eventually catch up. The opinion that all children end up on the same playing field. In my opinion, this is not true. In elementary there are kids in reading and math groups varying from high to low, there are gifted children k-12, in middle school we have Pre-AP classes and in high school, AP classes. If everything works out in the wash and all children end up on the same playing field, why are classes still leveled by academic abilities?

Am I saying that all children who start kinder at 6 are at the top of the class, hell no. I would never say that. However, the curriculum being handed down by our legislature to our teachers is much harder than the curriculum we studied as children. A more challenging curriculum requires a child to be ready to not only learn the material, but process it, and apply the knowledge. The curriculum requires a child to sit and learn for a long period of time. Do I agree with the changes in curriculum? NO, but I am not a lobbyist and that change is beyond my reach (at least for this week).

Before you make a firm YES I am holding back or NO I am not doing that, THINK. Think about everything. Talk to your teacher, visit the next grade level's classroom, think about how one seemingly tiny decision really can change the course of your child's life.

As you will hear when you ask around, no one ever regrets holding their child, but plenty spend each year wondering if they should've.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thank You, Kindergarten

In less than thirty days our kindergarten year will be over. I say our because this has been a team effort.

We are a few weeks away from summer and E2 is almost a first grader. I could cry, actually I am crying, just typing those words. I cannot believe kindergarten is over. I cannot believe E2 not only survived kindergarten, but rocked it.

Let's be honest, I was not expecting E2 to rock it. Hell, if I am being real fucking honest, I figured she would be homeschooled by Halloween. The hubs and I were prepared for public school not to work out. I was petrified to send E2 to school. E2, however, was ready, willing, and excited to go to big kid school like her sister.

Being my controlling self, I met with the principal and explained all of E2's struggles and cried while she assured me there was an amazing teacher for my daughter. Our teacher letter arrived in August and the name on that letter forever changed the course of E2's life.

Meet the teacher happened and because I cannot help myself, I followed up with an email. You see, I am that mom. I am that mom every day, but for E2, I am that mom, every day, hour, minute, second, of her life. In that email I explained E2 the best I could. I was overwhelming, crazy, overbearing, and basically said "Yep. I am THAT mom and I am saying sorry for all I will do before we even have day one." While not my proudest moment, it was a necessary one. You see, when your kid has special needs there is no off button. There is no wait and see. There is no let things happen and see where we are at Halloween. There is now. And now cannot wait.

My email was received with grace and a tad confusion, but within a few days our kindergarten teacher began to see examples of the struggles I had described. Emails were exchanged and conferences were had and trust was formed. This phenomenal woman knew E2 as well as I did....some days I felt like she knew her better.

Our kindergarten teacher, yes OUR.
Sure, she spends her day teaching E2, but she has taught me so much more. It's true what the poem says- everything you need to learn, you learn in kindergarten.

I have learned that advocating for your child is necessary and if done properly, you will find a fierce advocate in your teacher. I have learned that honesty is the best policy. I have learned to appreciate the smallest of gestures. I have learned to celebrate every victory no matter how big or small. I have learned that crying in a parent teacher conference is a-o-k. The tears are not a sign of weakness, but validation of what you've been thinking all along. I have learned to listen, to truly listen to someone who has been there. I have learned to trust my instinct. I have learned that a label will never define E2, for greatness is always within arm's reach. I have learned to trust. I have learned letting E2 fall in order to teach her how to get back up is exactly what she needed. I have learned what an amazing, dedicated, hard working person our kindergarten teacher truly is.

While I cried through my Kindergarten lessons, E2 soared. She became a new version of herself. From day one to now, I have watched her go from a baby lamb trying to walk to running with grace like a cheetah in the wild. E2 has learned to make friends, share, problem solve, speak up for herself, engage with others, resolve conflict, ask for help. She has gained independence, become more generous and thoughtful, and learned how to be a part of a community. She grew. She went from little E2 to big kid. She learned what you are supposed to learn in kindergarten - E2 learned how to be successful without her mom in her corner.

And did she succeed? She did indeed. Mid way through this year we received E2's Cerebral Palsy diagnosis and with a hug our teacher let me know the only thing that changed is now we know why E2 struggles. Knowing why didn't change our expectations and it didn't change our teacher's expectations. Striving to be better is what life is all about. Being pushed (gently) to be better is how we grow as people. E2 has been pushed and pushed and pushed. And when I didn't think she could do anything more, she and our teacher proved me wrong. From mathematics to writing to learning to read, my daughter has done the impossible. E2 has become a successful student.

Our kindergarten teacher knows I think she hung the moon, but I have never really been able to express fully how she has changed our lives. Each day as summer draws near, I get a little twinge in my stomach. I know E2 is ready to move on, but when I look back on the year she has had I cannot begin to think how we will all say good bye. First grade is only a hallway over, but light years away from our comfort zone.

And just like last summer, E2 is excited and ready to go to first grade. She is ready to tackle new challenges while I sit here crying, anticipating what I will say in my "Yep. I am THAT mom" email.

To our kindergarten teacher, THANK YOU. Thank you for seeing past the toothless smile, the happy green eyes, and her big Texas bow. Thank you for seeing a clean slate and drawing the first steps in what will prove to be a bright future.

THANK YOU