Monday, October 24, 2011

The Pool

Well, time sure is flying. It seems like just yesterday I lived the babysitting horror story...

We are well into the school year, which so far is going quite swimmingly. Senior Kindergarten seems to be flowing a lot better than JK. Kieran has the same teacher and the same classroom. The class  has about 8 fewer kids (lower enrollment that last year...I think the baby boom was Kieran's year) which seems to make a big difference and their classroom was renovated over the summer to make it quite a bit bigger. In short, it all seems less chaotic than this time last year.

Now, while things are going well on the Kieran side, we are in the throes of hideous swimming lessons with Kaya. Starting at age three, swimming is independent of the parent, which makes me so very happy. I was never a fan of the Parent and Tot classes. Kieran as a baby was the kid who wailed for entire class...he hated the whole process and when he was about two I gave up since it was fairly obvious that that neither one of us derived any sort of pleasure from the class. But when he turned three and could go by himself, he was in love with the water from the very first class and has never looked back.

Because of my ambivalence-bordering-on-dislike of Parent and Tot, and probably an even bigger issue of a complete lack of time, I didn't sign Kaya up for any classes as a baby. Then when she was about 2.5, I figured that I was being selfish so we went and to my utter surprise she loved, loved, loved it. She was the kid that was so happy to be in the class that other parents pointed her out to their own wailing toddlers in a "why can't you jump into the water with wild abandon like HER?" She wasn't crazy about putting her whole head under the water, but neither did most of the kids. And the absolute highlight of the class was the last 5 minutes when they were allowed to go down the mini slide. My God... she adored the slide and would go as many times as possible before the time was up.

The drill for the slide was pretty straightforward. The instructor stood at the slide and would release the kids once their parent was in place at the bottom of the slide. The parent would catch their child and move swiftly far away from the pack of parents at the bottom so that the next parent could move in freely. There was one woman who was particularly annoying in that she would catch her child and then proceed to stand there telling him what a good boy he was: " Good job Evan! Was that fun? Did you go fast?" etc. It wasn't actually the talking thing that was annoying so much as that she was willfully holding up the process. I don't even think she was oblivious to the hold up, I got more of an entitled, selfish vibe from her. 

So, there we are, in the last class, Evan is in just front of Kaya. He goes down first and his annoying mother catches him and whilst praising him profusely on his sliding prowess, moves out of the way but is still completely blocking me...but not blocking the slide. The teacher, I guess because the process of the parents getting into place is pretty quick, let's Kaya go. She plunges into the water with no one to catch her. He immediately realizes that I am no where near the slide (and still trying get the giant annoying mother to MOVE) and jumps in to rescue her. He pulls her to the surface, but she has taken in a huge mouthful of water. Kaya sputters and gags and, naturally, starts WAILING. The entire pool is staring because when the instructor has to jump into the pool at top speed to prevent a near drowning, it grabs everyone's attention. He hands her to me, apologizing profusely because he should never have let her go (obviously). I was furious but he was so apologetic that I told him it was OK and realistically he jumped in the second he let her go and she probably wasn't in any real danger. I was actually more annoyed at this other mother for being the only parent there who repeatedly NOT get out of the damn way for anyone else. She was standing right there and not only did she not apologize, she didn't even acknowledge that any sort of negative episode had occurred.

Anyway, it was sort of a bad scene, Kaya wailing. I was pissed. The instructor apologizing repeatedly, but the class was over, permanently. It all ended on a decidedly low note.

Since she was only a couple of month away from turning three, I decided weeks early that I had done my parental Parent and Tot duty and would wait until she was three to sign her up for swimming lessons. Then because her birthday fell just a few weeks after the spring session started, I decided to wait until September to start her in classes. Also, I wanted to put as much time between the slide episode and the beginning of new classes.

Instead, I bought us a Family Swim pass for the summer so that she would get some practice in the water. After our first outing in the pool, it was quite clear that she was NOT the same child who loved water months earlier. She didn't want anything to do with it and clung to me petrified for the entire time. For almost an hour I tried to coax her into having some fun while Kieran splashed around in joy. The pool had these huge floating flutter boards that could hold three kids so I finally convinced Kaya to lie on one while I pulled her around gently for a few minutes and she was OK. Kieran, seeing some fun to be had, wanted to get on, so I pulled both of them around a bit until Kieran, deciding he'd had enough, rolled off unexpectedly to go do something else. The shift in weight caused Kaya to roll off the other side, again plunging underwater. Cue sputtering, sobbing and even though I was right there, it was all over but the crying. So, I told Kieran we had to leave, which made HIM cry and off I skulked to the change room; defeated.

I made Eric come swimming a few more times to see if he could ease her fears, but she never really got over it. She got a little bit better and loves the beach and to putter on steps of pools...but that's about it.

So, I was quite nervous about starting her in lessons on her own. But, shockingly, she was fine. At first. By the 4th class though, something had happened and she refused to go anywhere past the first step of the water. She wasn't really crying, she just refused to do anything. But that class had a substitute teacher and I thought maybe it had something to do with that. Near the end of the class when they went over the slide, Kaya screeched until the life guard came to get her and brought her back to the shallow steps. Since the class was almost over anyway, I went out to get her, but he shooed me away and told Kaya to sit and wait for the other kids. The next week, when Ryan,her regular teacher was back, it was even worse.  I had read somewhere that often they prefer parents NOT to watch the classes because it can be distracting for the child, and gauging from the dismissal I got from the lifeguard the week before, I gathered that they prefer to deal with these situations themselves.

So, there I was sitting just outside the viewing area - which is small and packed so I opted for the cement bench in the hallway. I thought it might be better if she didn't see me anyway.  After a few minutes, I see many heads in the viewing area suddenly swivel towards me, so I figured she was crying. I sighed and got up and made my way the change room. I wasn't sure if I should walk out in all my street wear to the pool deck to get her and be subjected to another sharp dismissal from the lifeguard, so I stood in the open doorway where she could see me. She stared at me and continued to wail.  I moved out of the way for a bit but left her there, and every so often I would move into her view to assure her that I was nearby. Then another parent came up to me and told me she thought I was doing the right thing by leaving her. "After all, she has to learn," said the woman. It was only at that point that I realized people assumed I was in a Parenting Moment. In reality, much of my reason for leaving her there had more to do with my own fear of the lifeguard and interfering with their process, than teaching my daughter a life lesson.

Anyway, after the class I talked to the teacher and explained that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to come get her and HE told me, in no uncertain terms that I should have and that she was a major distraction to him and that by paying extra attention to her, he almost had an incident with one of the other kids. So much for my Parenting Moment. Furthermore, he said next week, I would have to come into the pool with her. Greeeaaaaatttttt.

So, on Sunday at 9 am, instead of at lounging at home drinking a coffee in my PJs or even sitting on fully clothed on a bench outside the pool, I was in my swimsuit in the pool while a gaggle of parents stared at me from the viewing area. She was better, but I know it was only because I was there. She wouldn't let the teacher hold her to practise floating or kicking like the other kids who stared at me like an alien in their midst. Only after much coaxing did she left him lift her into the air in a pretend jump and then came right back over to me.

So, I guess this is the way it's going to be....Parent and Tot, forever.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

And now we are....really old

Another birthday has come and gone. I took the day off work at the last minute (I had vacation days HR was needing me to "use or lose") so it was nice to wake up and watch an uninterrupted few hours of Netflix with a cup of coffee in my jammies, before heading out to do some errands unencumbered by children. Followed by dinner and a movie with my husband.

Unlike so many disaster-tinged birthdays of yore, it was actually a lovely day.

However, I will say that overnight August 31 started out very, very shaky. As in...the horrendous experience that was the evening of Aug 30 leading up into the wee hour of the morning.

After I post this into the blogosphere I plan on expelling it, Harry Potter into the Pensieve style, from my memory forever, so here goes:

Eric's band practices each and every Tuesday. Mainly, this is the time when they learn new songs, but they will often have potential clients, who may have heard of them through word of mouth or the internet, come out to watch audition, if you will.

Now, to back up a bit further, several of the band members have children, but two of the band members have children together. For them, babysitting can sometimes be an issue and on this night in particular, their regular sitter cancelled and rather force the band to cancel the audition I agreed to babysit their three kids.

So, for a few hours in the evening, I will have one-seven-year old, two 5-years-olds, one 3-year-old and an 21-month old. Its probably nobody's idea of a good time, but sacrifices must be made....

I just want to put it out there, that I like the two band members in question, I really do. (And no, they don't read this blog, so I'm not just saying that). But, things started out poorly when, mere seconds after coming inside, the 7-year-old...who I will call Angel...and is beyond precocious and speaks and acts like the snarky teenager of our collective nightmares, marches up to Kieran, and confronts him with something along the lines of "you have a baby hand and a regular hand and that's weird." She doesn't say it with any type of innocent curiosity, it is definitely an accusation and Kieran, who has in no way mastered the art of the witty (ok, any) comeback, stares at her blankly. Her mother on the other hand, scolds Angel  loudly giving the usual "we are all different and special in our own way" speech and puts her in a time out. Now, we already do have a relatively thick skin in terms of Kieran's hand (and he appears to as well) and kids are we move on.

Now, they are getting ready to head out, and amid the profuse apologies for even having to ask me to babysit at all, they say they will come back after the audition and not stay to practice.  Angel, who is quite used to babysitters so I'm surprised is not more laid back, suddenly says with snark that I didn't realize children could possess barks: "I'm not staying HERE. They have no TOYS." Which is shocking since we are quite overrun with toys, I believe, but again perhaps more of the 5-year-old boy variety.

I fear this is not going to go well.

Meanwhile, the other 4 are already off elsewhere playing with our many, many toys. So I put on a movie for Angel and she is, briefly,  appeased.

Now I am alone, and it takes me a few minutes to remember that an 21-month-old is loose in my no longer baby-proofed house. I locate her in the bathroom where she is pantless and licking (or possibly chewing) my deodorant. I start moving things up a bit higher, but now the other 4 are engaged in some loud-getting-louder-oh-now-they-are-crying-argument about something that requires parental intervention.

And so it goes...for hours and hours, the baby got into everything and anything. Dishwasher cubes? check. Floor cleaner? Check. you know any 21 month old who can get them out of the wrappers in mere seconds...I do. Cat food? Yummy. Cat water...all over the floor, following by a succession of at least three kids wiping out (It's Home Alone 5!!)all of the place. Now, I can HEAR you all saying...Lady, this is what kids DO. But really, she went from one thing to another with lightning speed like a pint sized tornado. Honestly, I was thinking afterward that I was going to have to call FEMA or the Red Cross for aid.

Now, where was I? The baby is soaked from the cat water, and oh...did I mention she was having some sort of diarrhea issues? No? She was. And since she wanted to sit on the potty every 17 seconds I had just left her pants off, and now that her shirt is drenched, I go to find her new clothes and a diaper. Enroute, I am waylaid by the 5-year-old (not mine) asking if he can play with the Lego in Kieran's room. I say: "Sure! Lego! What I good idea." And off he goes. He's a good boy.

A few minutes go by and I'm attempting to wrangle an uncooperative baby into clean clothes and Kieran comes wailing out of his room.

"Mom, why did you say Jack could play with the Lego?" he sobs. Turns out Jack had been eyeing a trio of previously constructed Lego vehicles (jet plane, racecar, helicopter) that Eric had painstakingly made with Kieran last Christmas and have been sitting on a  shelf on display ever since. Kieran likes to show these creations to guests;  breathless and telling them not to touch. Now well, there are many Lego blocks on the floor.  Crap. So now I'm trying to salvage what I can of Kieran's jet plane before I remember the half dressed, diarrhea baby I left roaming around the house. I locate her in the kitchen with a tube of toothpaste, mere moments before it was going to be wiped on the cat who I toss outside hissing: "Wesley, I'm a goner, but save yourself!"

Now is well after 10 pm, and I am beginning to realize realize that perhaps I have been misled to how long this babysitting gig is going to run. So I figure it's time to at least get my own kids to bed, if possible. Luckily, all the kids seem to think this in a good idea, but of course, we don't have enough beds for all 5 kids so four of them head onto Kieran's bunkbeds. (Kaya, who was totally disinterested in all the other shenanigans going on in the house and just happy to be enjoying an evening under the radar, was happy to climb into our  bed with her CD Player). Kieran gets into his bottom bunk and the older two get up onto the top bunk where they immediately start throwing things off. A tossed book whacks me on the cheek and the giant dog that Kieran got from Eric's parents and which is not only huge, but sawdust heavy, comes rolling off the top bunk like a dead body, landing right on the baby's head and flattens her to the floor like Wile E Coyote.

We are now all crying.

Finally, the band arrives back at around midnight. There are zero kids sleeping and I have had 3.5 solid hours of what can sans exaggeration, only be described as hell on earth.

As they are all packing up (didn't take long, I had all the bags and backups packed a waiting by the door),  Angel, as a nightcap, kicks a soccer ball at the wall right into two professionally framed portraits of the kids. The portraits were unharmed...but the night ended the way it had began, with profuse, embarrassed apologies and a time out.

When they all finally left I collapsed on the couch. It's 12:15 am.

"Happy Birthday!" says Eric. And then he made me a BLT.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back by Popular Demand!

OK, well maybe not POPULAR demand. But I'm back by request! 

Can I wrap up almost a year of events into a single paragraph from where I left off just before Christmas 2011? The spa I ranted about back in my last post is now closed. Quel surprise. Christmas good. Kaya turned 3. Kieran turned 5. Junior Kindergarten ended on a high nutrition note and all was good. Summer good. Gee, with high points like that, you can see why I haven't blogged in awhile.

It's not like I don't live a life of bloggable moments, because God knows I do. It's just putting fingers to the keyboard that appears to be the problem.

However, there is one thing that is still annoying me three weeks out (and if you know me in person, it's highly likely that I have ranted about this already) but I just want to take a moment to throw this nugget into cyerspace...

Screw you Air Canada.

You are the only airline that I can think of that when assigning seats to a lone adult who is standing right in front of you, holding a three year old, scolding a five year old for trying to sit on the rolling suitcase conveyor belt, with a luggage cart laden with three suitcases, 4 carry ons (all which will, or course, be carried on by me) and a car seat, that would hand me three boarding passes where none of use are seated anywhere near each other. Now, don't get me enticing as not sitting with my children would be, it reeks of poor customer service. Especially since I didn't even have a chance to glance at our seat assignments until, after I had finally got us all through security, put my belt back on, carried the three year old and four carry ons to the gate, unloaded the crayons and snacks and got us all settled before I happened to notice that we were seated randomly throughout the plane. And this was at 6:30 am well prior to having ingested any coffee.

Pissed does NOT describe how I felt at that moment.

I stormed up to the first Air Canada employee I could find who, since she was not actually working on my flight, couldn't do anything. Then over the loudspeaker I hear that they have changed our gate (of course) and we have to pack up and move to a totally different area downstairs. In the end, I did manage to get the two kids together and I was in the row in front of them but, sweet mother, was I mad.

Anyway, feel free to log on and defend Air Canada and tell me that I brought this on myself by not anticipating their stupidity or whatever. It just didn't cross my mind that even assuming there were only single seats left when we checked in two hours early, that the woman at the counter wouldn't mention that she couldn't seat us together and that I would have to talk to the agent at the gate. Do they think that is appropriate to seat toddlers 9 rows behind their mother these days? I see the answer is yes.

On the way home I made sure that we were seated together prior to leaving for the airport, so yes, a lesson was learned about the value of online check in and I felt like a bit of better parent at that point. Well, that is until Kaya pointed out, after I scooted her into the bathroom - 20 minutes after we had been there already -  and left Kieran with all our bags doing his Spiderman dot to dot in the security lounge, that "Mommies shouldn't leave their kids all alone while they take other kids to the bafroom." Honest to God that is a true story. I was a bit shocked that she would even have been aware of my parental transgression, let alone call me on it. I guess I shouldn't have left him, but he was 10 feet (15 max) from the bathroom door and this was in the security lounge in Thunder Bay, not Frankfurt. It is really just a big quiet room with no exit. I had thought about packing us all up to stand in the can to watch Kaya pee for the third time in a hour, but it felt overprotective and Kieran didn't want to come and I knew if we all left that we would lose our seats. Jesus Kaya, get off my back.

Next year...we drive.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stress Relief

What a horrendous couple of months I just had. Work has been insane and after the nightly chaos of dinner, cleanup and bedtime, I just never have it in me to gather my thoughts for a blog. Blech.

But so much has happened. School is rolling along and the positive difference I see every day in Kieran is quite gratifying. The school still has some policies that I think are odd and sometimes downright ridiculous (ie - they refuse to administer Kieran's asthma inhaler, if he requires it during school hours we are supposed to drive to the school and do it ourselves. Which will be fantastic considering that both Eric and I work about 45 minutes away...without traffic.I suspect I will have more to say about this in the future.)

Eric pointed out not long ago that when I do blog I have been neglecting our little Papaya. Certainly, this is not intentional. Kaya is a doll and we love her to death. Generally sweet and good-natured (except of course, when she's not), she is currently fascinated...obsessed even...with changing her clothes. When I say you will never see her in the same outfit twice, I mean, even if you were with her for 1 hour at our house, you would likely see her in several different outfits...sometimes all at once. I do remember Kieran going through this phase, but Kaya's is far worse. Of course, that may be because girl clothes can go so disastrously wrong. Kieran had an array of jeans and neutral pants and pretty much all shirts go with all pants. Girl clothes...not so much. She's gone to daycare with some pretty fantastic ensembles lately. I don't care that much might be general fatigue or simple ambivalence on my part, but mostly, I let her wear what she wants because, hey, it's not like I have to look at her all day.

In other news, I have had the past two days off work. Since work has calmed somewhat, I seized the opportunity to take a couple days off to do some Christmas shopping, get a much need haircut, etc. For my 40th, a group of friends had gotten together and given me a spa day, so I figured that I would spend the first day of my mini-vacation pampering myself. They had given me some WaySpa certificates, which means there are a lot of places to choose from, but I picked one that is quite close to my house. I'd driven by it but never gone in, I know someone who had been there for a pedicure, and the reviews online were fine. So I booked the Stress Relief package which was a 30 min massage, facial, manicure and pedicure. Nothing fancy, but covering all the basics.

I arrive a bit late (I thought I was early, but turns out I had the apt time wrong) and the first thing the woman says to me was "did you remember your flip flops?" They hadn't mentioned this on the phone, but I assumed that meant that they don't provide any at the salon. No big deal I said, but the woman seemed shocked, so I offered to go home and get them. She looked at the time and said no, that we would "figure it out". Then she said she would go get the room ready. OK, I think, here is another yellow flag..I mean, I was 15 minutes late...really, instead of sitting at the reception desk waiting for me, why wouldn't they be getting the room ready? But whatever, I will be soon be getting my Stress Relief package so I decided not to be annoyed.

Once in the massage room, the therapist(Maria) asks the standard questions, and wants to know if I had any areas that needed to be worked on. Now, I hold all my tension in my neck and shoulders, so show her my tense spots and with that, we get underway. I'm lying on the table and she starts what is the second-worst massage I have ever had in my life. (The absolute worst was the day after my wedding, when the masseuse (and I use that word soooo loosely) basically tickled me for an hour, but that is yet another story for another post, I guess).

Anyway, there was no massage aspect to what she did. She basically rubbed lotion on me for the entire time. I'm not sure why she bothered asking if I had any areas I wanted her to work on since she clearly had no intention of doing any sort of massage. But then it was over (bad sign that while I was getting my "massage" I was thinking about where else I could go to get a real massage?)  Then, facial began. I've only ever had one other facial in my entire life, but it seemed standard. It's just applying and removing lotion from your face for an hour. But a few times she leaves the room for an extended period while some unguent that has been applied dries, and while the therapist is gone you relax on the warm table and listen to the spa music. Except within minutes of her leaving the room, the spa music system craps out and the hallway is filled with commotion as the 4 women who are employed there (I was the only client there at that time) try to fix the sound system. Four late middle age ladies trying to fix a sound system is just as painful as you might imagine and I can hear every word. It was like listening to my mother try to fix something technical, which is to say, it just made me want to stand up and storm out of the room and try it myself) For the love of God ladies, has no one ever told you that your rooms are not soundproofed? Anyway, the music never did come back on but I got to hear the women chat about what they ate for lunch and the fact that they were running out of toilet paper.

On to the pedicure...fine, standard, nothing fancy but the toes look nice. Since I am woefully sans flip flops Maria takes what is essentially a thin piece of foam that connects at the top to make a totally low rent paper sandal, and we move onto the manicure. 
We settle in for the manicure which is set up near the front of the spa. The spa owner was on the phone with Rogers trying to consolidate her services on her bill. Call centres are annoying, I know, I've been there. But I can hear things escalating out of control:  she starts getting exasperated, then irate and finally angry at the poor customer service she is receiving (oh, the irony). While the owner is otherwise occupied, one of the other employees comes up to Maria to go over the purchase of light bulbs, wax strips, toilet paper and Kleenex. They take the opportunity to bitch about the spa owner who is now yelling at Rogers. ("Do NOT transfer me again! I would like to speak to a manager!").

Then, the third therapist comes over and can't figure out how to access Line 2 on the phone. Maria shows her. She comes back two minutes later because she can't figure out how to hang up. Gah. Who ARE these people?

Then, of course, my cell phone rings. I can hear it in my jacket pocket, but I'm mid-manicure so I let it go. Then it rings again. And again. I tell the woman to stop and go get my phone. It's Eric and he needs me to pick up the kids because he's running late. I tell the woman that I'm going to have skip the nail polish because I have to go, so we wrap it up.

I bend down to put my shoes on the woman is horrified. I tell her the polish is dry - the pedicure was at least a half hour ago, probably longer. But she tells me that I have leave the spa wearing the paper on my feet. I sort of snap...I had already told her that I had leave to pick up my kids from daycare and unless the massage room doubles as her bedroom, she must be well aware that it is now winter outside. There is NO WAY I am leaving wearing paper shoes in December. Maria rushes off and comes back with kitchen plastic wrap which she wraps around my completely totally dry toes before she lets me put my shoes on. Finally, I toss the certificates at them and fly out the door.

I cannot get out of there fast enough.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Lunchbox Blues

Now, it is definitely fall. We had to dig out hats and mittens yesterday morning and today, finally, the furnace had to go on.

School is rolling along. I think we are all getting the hang of it. Kieran no longer complains, and in fact, usually seems quite enthusiastic about going. Apparently there are still quite a few kids who are having trouble adjusting and are still crying and clinging to their parents at drop off.

Tomorrow they go on their first class field the grocery store. Seriously...not exactly the happiest or most original place on earth, but they will get to pick out a pumpkin for their class. I'm also guessing it will be another opportunity to teach them about "healthy food choices" which seems to be a rather large part of the curriculum.

Except of course on Wednesdays, otherwise known as Pizza Day, which started last week.

The already ubiquitous permission slip came home (I swear, I think I have signed at least 10 so far) saying that Wednesdays were now $2 Pizza Day, and by signing the form, Kieran would be allowed to have pizza every Wednesday provided he brought the money. I signed the slip and returned it...then I didn't really think about it again. I packed Kieran's lunch as usual for Wednesday. At pickup time, the teacher told Eric that Kieran was a very "sad little boy" at lunch that day because he was only one of two kids who didn't bring money for the pizza. I assume there were either tears or pouting, maybe both. I felt badly for him. I wasn't intentionally depriving him, but I also didn't think it would be a big deal and that lots of kids would have brought their own lunch.

But I do grumble a bit at the double standard of even offering a weekly pizza day though. After all, we went to "curriculum day" where we met the teacher, and her assistant ECE, to go over the daily routine. After the teacher wad finished, the ECE had her turn. She, apparently, had a bit of a bee in her proverbial bonnet about what kindergarteners are bringing in their lunch and snacks. She had a real hate-on for juice boxes (sugar! food colouring! juice from concentrate!...for shame, parents, for shame) Granola bars with more than 5 grams of sugar (which by the way, is all of them) and says that we should be packing more fresh vegetables. Even though I understood, and agree with, what she was saying, this sort of thing vaguely annoys me. I was also quite sure that I was probably NOT a real offender for lunch crap. Kieran always gets fresh fruit (often two kinds) and yogurt and cheese, a granola bar (for shame), a either half a mini bagel with cheese (which he rarely eats) or a thermous of soup. Occasionally I packed carrots or cucumbers or snap peas, but not every day. But he was also getting a juice box and usually some sort of cookie or treat. Now, he brings only a (reusable) water bottle, and the juice and treat have disappeared. Because, as I said...I agree with her.

However, a few days after this meeting, this article appeared in newspaper. Some nutitionist had gone into full day kindergarten classes and was appalled at what she found. Astonished! Failing grade for lunch packing kindergarten parents! But reading the article I was even more annoyed. Again there were us horrible, horrible parents packing juice boxes and almost all lunches had least one sugary treat. Hardly any parents pack milk (which I'm sorry to say, I cannot even fathom sending). Some parents packed cold hot dogs or improperly stored spaghetti. And even yogurt tubes and cheese strings were not "the most healthy choices in that group." Yadda yadda.

OK, so here is my rant: The nutritionist says kids need to eat to learn and by extension, the better the food, the better the learning. But he vast majority of 4 years old (some are still three) are notoriously picky eaters. If I had the time, initiative and resources to every day pack an entire days worth of homemade, unprocessed, exclusively healthy food, Kieran most likely would not eat most of it. To a certain extent, he would go hungry. Obviously, I do want him to eat in order to learn, so is it better that at 9:30 snacktime he eats the granola bar he loves and then can concentrate or does he open his lunchbox and chew a couple of snow peas or cucumber slices, poke at his cottage cheese and then be hungry until lunch? Because I feel like that is what will happen more often than not. Sure maybe at lunch or at the end of the day he would eat it, but what about that missed time in the morning when according to the curriculum is when most of the "learning" takes place?

Most kids like some healthy foods but you need to send quite a bit of food for the entire day. You aren't there to cajole or negotiate or bribe them into trying that new healthy food you have carefully prepared. I actually sympathize with parents who sent the cold hot dogs - I'm sure they are just trying to send stuff their kids will eat. Because maybe the well-intentioned tuna or turkey sandwich came home squished but untouched every day last week. Maybe the parent thought in a moment of lunch packing desperation that "Ethan loves hot dogs, maybe I'll pack one with a bit of ketchup and he'll eat it up and be happy". And now, there is that moderately poor decision written up in the Star for all holier-than-thou parents to mock and cluck at in distain.

But, I guess the nutritionist is vindicated because Kieran no longer gets to bring juice or a treat. He now always gets a couple of veggies, which usually come home, but dammit I send them and when they do come home, I toss them in the garbage like any good mother should.

I think it's safe to assume the majority of parents do want what is best for their kids, and do want them to eat healthy. But judging from the clinginess we still see at our school, they are also just little kids going off to school for the first time all day and we want to make them happy. Which is why I will be sending Kieran tomorrow with his toonie for Double Standard Pizza Day.

But I'm still fairly certain that our newspaper nutritionist would be astonished(appalled! failing grade!) if a kid showed up with pizza in his lunch box.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Settling In.

So, not surprisingly I guess, things seem to have settled a bit on the school front. At least, I think it has. The shine of "I'm starting school!!!!" appears to have been more or less officially been replaced by the nagging feeling of drudgery that I recall from childhood. In fact it started last Thursday (Day 3) when I told Kieran to get dressed for school and he was incredulous: "I have to go to school AGAIN?". This week, he seems to be learning to accept his fate as student in perpetuity.

Although, he did finally bring home a "Welcome to JK" letter the other day, which told us his teacher's name, along with a few choice other things that would have been helpful to have known last week. You know..things like don't pack anything resembling a nut, or seafood, or apparently bananas, since a child in his class is allergic to them. I have never heard of a banana allergy...but none of the contraband items are Kieran staples anyway so that is fine.

We got called today to go get him because he was complaining of a "tummy ache". I am actually surprised we haven't received this call earlier because this kid has complained about stomach aches for as long as I can remember. He usually says it's because he "ate too much lunch" and sometimes dramatically rolls around a bit and then is totally fine. Still, he now has a Dr appointment for tomorrow just in case. I would hate to flippantly blog about his "faux" illness and then have it actually BE something legit. I'm even less thrilled that he has already figured out the trick to getting out of school early. Harumph.

On Friday, we have his "Junior Kindergarten Orientation" where, presumably,we will be able to ask questions about procedures, etc. It will come exactly a day too late for me to ask how I get my child excused from school for doctors appointments. Do we still send handwritten notes? Do I call the office? Do I show up and loiter outside his classroom until someone confronts me? (OK, probably not the last one) Argh. I hate being a newbie.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

School Days

Kieran started school this week. He has been excited ever since I took him to register last January and for months afterward asked me if he was starting school that day.

His school is one of the very first to offer full-day JK/SK...which I believe is both a blessing (yay! no daycare!) and a curse (uh oh...guinea pig).

However, although I'm happy he is going for a full day, I was mildly concerned a few weeks ago when I had not yet received any information from his school outlining a schedule for the First Day of School. I know that kindergarten entry is normally staggered so as not to to overwhelm any scared 4-year-olds (who may, in fact, even be only 3 if their birthdays are in the fall) but I hadn't heard any specifics yet.

So, last week, after I still had not heard anything and had no idea when he was supposed to go, I called to find out if I had missed something. The secretary (who is about 100 years old, I swear) returned my message and asked if I had not attended the info session. Uh oh. I attended an Open House back in early May where we saw the class rooms, met the teachers and had fruit and juice boxes, but that was it.

Yes, said the secretary that was the session where we got all the information.

"Okay," I said "but we didn't go over any staggered entry information or anything like that." Did we?

"There is no staggered entry for full day kindergarten. All children are to be here on September 7 at 9 am for all grades," Says Mildred, and I'm only assuming her name is as archaic as the sentence she just uttered.

"Really? You aren't staggering the entry?" I'm totally shocked.

"Well, we used to stagger them when they were half days, but with the Full Day Learning we aren't any more."

Jesus. AWESOME. Welcome to Backwardsville, kids, try not to be afraid.

So, can you guess what happened on the morning of September 7? Chaos, naturally.

We arrived, along with 40 anxious and excited JK/SK students, almost all with 2 parents, a surprising number of grandparents, dogs, strollers etc. all crowding around the gate to the fenced play area where they were taking the kids. It took almost 40 minutes before we were had reached the gate. When we got the gate, one of the teachers asked me who is teacher was. I snapped at her: "I have NO idea."

"You don't know?"

Now, I didn't want to be the bitchy parent on Kieran's first day, but how was I supposed to know this? Telepathy? Again, did I miss something, Mildred?

She checks her list..."he's not with me, so he must be with Mrs. Sportcheck." Or, at least, that's what it sounded like she said.

So, the other teacher comes over, Sportcheck apparently (who I did vaguely remember speaking to at the Open House...she was quite taken with Kaya). She is perfectly nice and personable and ushers Kieran through the gate and tells him to stand with the other kids in his class and he, finally, since he's been hopping at my feet for 20 minutes, excitedly scurries over.

At which point, since he's now far away from me on the other side of fence and soon to be heading inside the cinder block building, I start to bawl. I walk over to Eric and I'm sobbing not JUST because my little boy is growing up and starting school, but also because I'm not entirely happy with how this has all played out. I sort of can't believe I have just handed my sweet boy over to these people who I have barely ever talked to and who thought this way of starting things was a good idea. And they have him for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I suddenly felt like I didn't know anything about this place. I only know that his teacher's name sounds vaguely like a sporting goods store. And they don't know Kieran. No one had so much as asked me a single question about him beyond what I filled out at registration 8 months ago. I wanted to tell her that he was missing fingers on his left hand and that he was nervous about it. I wanted to tell her that he can write his name. I wanted to ask her to watch out for him because he's little and some of the other kids looked so big. But, with kids and parents (also annoyed) still crowding behind me, it wasn't the right environment.

Anyway, by the time, we left the school, I was more or less back to normal. We picked him up at 3:30 by flashing a special card with his name on it . We flashed the card to Mrs. Sportcheck and a few minutes later Kieran was standing in front of us.

"So, how was school?!"
He shows us two new bandaids on his knees and tells us that he fell in playground.

"What was your teachers' name?" I ask.
"I don't know"

"Did you meet any nice kids"

"Like who?"
"I don't know. "

"Did you do anything fun"
"I don't know."

OK, so the school is still a bit of a mystery. I opened his backpack and there was, thankfully, a package with a long questionnaire about him that we were to fill out. Along with permission slips and other things requiring signatures. And next Friday, presumably after they have gone through the questionnaires, we go to a Kindergarten info session. Which if you ask me, is about three weeks too late - but at least they are having one.

He came home yesterday with a little booklet they had made on the first day of school. It had a little poem and talked about a special story they read about a raccoon (or maybe it was a beaver) starting school. The last page had a blank section where the children were supposed to draw a picture of their families. Kieran, totally NOT surprisingly, had drawn a truck.

Aaaaand, we're off.