Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

With much affection from The Frog Princess and Link from Zelda

Who, by the way, do not appreciate being mistaken for Peter Pan and his gal pal, Tinkerbell, no matter how forgivable the mistake may seem.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tough Crowd, Man

Maggie to Max: Let's play LEGOS together, Max!!
Max: Okay, but I get all these grey ones, Maggie. You can have the pink ones.
(Director's Note: We don't have any pink legos)
Maggie: OH THANK YOU! We are going to be brother and sister forever and ever, Max!!
Max: I know that Maggie. I already know that. It's not anything new to get excited about.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Half A Decade!!!

Five years ago exactly (yep, I'm awake at 6:25 am, and nope, it wasn't my idea for sentimental reasons or anything; Max appeared by my left ear at 6:12 and whispered in that kind of whisper that is so loud that it is secretly shouting, "MOM! MOM! IT'S MY BIRTHDAY NOW! IT REALLY IS! I AM FIVE YEARS OLD AND I THINK MY EYES GOT BIGGER! MY TEACHER THINKS I AM GOING TO GET TO WEAR A CROWN ALL DAY SINCE I'M THE BIRTHDAY BOY! IS IT TIME TO GET UP?" and we were off), Max appeared in the world, in all his rosy, soft, slightly pointy-headed glory.

I have spoken, and most of you reading this were there to see it anyway, about the sense of flurry and anxiety that accompanied his birth and it's unexpectedly early timing. At Max's pre-kindergarten doctor visit, his pediatrician was going over his medical history with us, and he said at one point, "So I think we can move his prematurity out of the "current" part of his medical file and into the archives. It doesn't really seem to be a relevant part of his story anymore". He meant medically relevant, of course, and from my layman's perspective, I agree that it is probably way past time to safely put that piece of Max's history to bed. As his mom, however, Chapter One of the story of Max always has resonance, and it has been an ongoing challenge to hold onto those first memories of our life as Max's parents without also holding onto the anxiety. There is, therefore, an added sweetness to the delight of seeing him this morning, gigantically tall and exuberantly joyful and amazingly capable and uniquely creatively intelligent, celebrating this birthday that was earlier than we thought it would be but somehow at exactly the right moment.

I love you to the moon and back, Max, and I am so glad you are here, and that you are five, and that you continue to be your sunny and quirky self, more so with every year, every day, every minute that goes by. Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Week One

Well, we have been doing our new kindergarten thing for one week as of today. During the worst of my hand-wringing prior to sending Max off into the wild, my mother-in-law told me that she remembered it being very hard to let Ian go at first when he started kindergarten, but that she had been amazed by how quickly it became a natural and even enjoyable part of the day. And I think -- I think -- I am beginning to agree. The first couple of days, I missed Max horribly. I have been so used to being with Max and Maggie pretty much all of the time, to knowing what their indecipherable comments about their day meant because I was there to see what they saw. I felt tremendous sadness thinking about this big, important stretch of time in Max's day where what he did and how he felt about it were largely a mystery to me, and I counted down the seconds until it was time to go pick him up. But whatever he is doing at kindergarten (and I have only his opaque descriptions of his day to go on right now: "Well, we sit and there are books, but we don't read them, there are earphones sometimes, you know, Mom?"), he loves it. He is excited to go to school every day and he always has a giant smile when we go to pick him up. His entire body and spirit seem to have relaxed in some way, too. He is ready to assert his independence, and kindergarten gives him a way and a place to do that.

Maggie has actually struggled with the transition a little bit more than Max, a predictable turn of events that I completely failed to predict, somehow. Max has been the focus of a great deal of attention and a flurry of activity, and Maggie was kind of baffled (and by baffled, I mean enraged) as to why she was being left out of so many things and denied so many opportunities. Ian and I have made an effort to make the time that she is home with us by herself special for her, and she enjoys the sudden dominion over the TV, all the toys, and the choice places to sit in the house. After about an hour, though, she always starts missing Max and asking if it is time to go pick him up yet, and it has been a challenge once or twice to convince her that charging into the classroom to reclaim her brother is not a mission that she can or should undertake until the end of his school day. So we are juggling, like always, the various needs and wants and problems and hair bows and favorite shirts and Rube Goldberg machines, and trying to make sure that we are all taken care of. And I think, or at least I hope, that we are mostly succeeding. It always feels like a ball or two is about to pop out of the rotation and crash (if I may stretch the juggling metaphor to its breaking point), but so far nothing vital has broken.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


In the middle of the night, before Max's first day of kindergarten, I began to angst (oh, come on, OF COURSE I was still awake -- have you been following along at all? Do you really think I slept much at all that night?) about the fact that we had never really had the whole discussion with the kids about not going anywhere with strangers, should strangers approach and ask to go off places with them. We've never really had occasion to emphasize this point, because both kids have been with one or the other of us almost all of the time for pretty much their entire lives, and if they aren't then they are with their grandparents or other relatives, who if anything are even more alert to their well-being than we are. However, it occurred to me that just about anyone could stroll on into the kindergarten classroom and claim to be Max's friend and relation, and Max is so friendly and social ... and at this point in my musings, I jabbed Ian, who pretended to be peacefully sleeping although surely he is smart enough and has been married to me long enough to have anticipated a rough night.

Ian agreed that the subject of approaching strangers cautiously should be broached, although he disagreed that three in the morning was an appropriate time to go over our game plan for how best to broach it. Consequently, during the evening after the second day of kindergarten was over and done with, we attempted to explain to Max and Maggie why they should not feel free to wander away with anyone unless that person were well-known to them, or unless we were there with them, or both, and what to do if a stranger comes your way. It is a surprisingly difficult task -- trying to preach caution without freaking anyone out about people, most of whom are not creepy lurkers in bushes, but range from delightful to benign to annoying but not acutely sinister. My feeling is that we have mostly confused Max without actually imparting any useful information ("The mailman is a grown-up, and so he can't bring mail to me because I don't really know his name", he told me after a package was dropped off the other day), but we will keep chipping away at it, I suppose. By the time he has graduated and gone off to college, we will have this parenting thing down pat, by God.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

And so far, it likes Kindergarten!!

I am happy to report that Day 1 of Kindergarten was a success for all parties concerned. Max is in the a.m. class, and so among our adjustments to this new routine is an earlier go time in the morning. (We are slow-moving morning people by nature, and our routine up until now has supported this.) As you can see by Max's giant yawn, his excitement took a couple of minutes to overcome his shock at being up, dressed, and out the door before 9.

But once he hit the fresh air, the adrenalin kicked in, and he crowed and squawked gleefully all the way to the car (You're welcome, Neighbors!).

Parents were invited to stay for the first twenty minutes or so, and Ian and I toured Max's classroom with him while he alternated between anticipation ("LOOK! They have new kinds of blocks!") and trepidation ("I don't know how many kids are going to come in here!") and I sternly conversed with myself about not hovering outside the classroom the entire time peering in the windows and becoming a shoe-in for Most Annoying Parent Of The Year. When it was time for the parents to leave/get pried away from their cherished offspring, Max did not cry, although he did wrinkle up his forehead in a manner reminiscent of my mother when she thinks I am getting sick.

Maggie is having a small amount of trouble with the fact that Max has been getting so much attention and action, and she was not super impressed to find that she was not also attending kindergarten, or that Max was staying somewhere that she was not. "What about my BROTHER?!?" she said in tones of alarm as we were leaving. You should be proud of me, too, because I did not say, "You're right! Let's go back and get him!"

Maggie found some consolation after we dropped Max off, when we went to the multi-purpose room and shared a cup of coffee and a meet-and-greet with the PTA and other nervous parents. The multi-purpose room has a stage, and on that stage, Maggie performed an impromptu song and dance number or two. PTA moms far and wee murmured about her cuteness, and Maggie basked in the warm glow of their regard.

When we went back to school to pick up Max (and no one was there early hovering outside the door or anything), the teacher poked her head out the classroom door and invited parents to come in and pick up their kids. I felt almost exactly like I had gone back in time, to when Max was a newborn and we were scurrying down the hospital corridors to see him. There was the same desperate, almost physical desire to see him and hug him, the same excitement to hear about his progress while we were apart and the same fear that I would find him sad or sick or scared without me there to comfort him. When we walked in, he was sitting on the circle rug with his new classmates, and when he saw Ian and I, his face, already gently smiling, broke into his patented, glorious, giant sunny grin. "I love Kindergarten!" he said when we got close enough. "I love it so, so much! It was so great! Can I have an extra juice box when we get home? Since I'm in Kindergarten now, you know, and so I need a lot of lemonade." Apparently, one of the skills that you hone in your first days of kindergarten is hustling.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

We Interrupt The Deafening Bloggy Silence To Bring You The Following Alarming News Flash:

Max starts kindergarten in four days. Four days. Four. Days.

It's not as if I have progressed along the path of being Max's mom for the last four and three quarters years without being aware that he would, someday, sashay off into the world and start kindergarten. But now that it is not happening in the hazy someday future, but can officially be moved into the category of 'imminent', I find that I am not coping as gracefully as one would hope of oneself. Today we went shopping for back-to-school supplies (Iron Man backpack + crayons + Mario t-shirt = ready for success, as far as Max is concerned). On the way to the counter to buy our loot, we walked through the aisle that has all the baby stuff, and I was suddenly struck by the fact that I would never need to buy any of the things surrounding me for the gigantically tall boy walking beside me ever again. Instead of diapers or bottles or baby food or extra-soft cloths, we are looking for pencils and notebooks and backpacks with the coolest superhero on the front of them. Only the narrowest sliver of self-respect and control stood in the way of my fellow shoppers witnessing an ugly scene involving me weeping over the preemie diapers whilst clutching Max to my bosom and singing 'If I Could Catch Time In A Bottle'. (I totally don't know the words to 'If I Could Catch Time In A Bottle', and actually the only reason I know that the song exists at all is because of a hazily-remembered episode of 'The Muppet Show' in which someone -- Professor Honeydew, maybe? -- actually experiments with putting time in a bottle and gets progressively younger as the song progresses, but I could freestyle that stuff. I find that if you are staring down the barrel of a hysterical crying fit in the middle of a crowded diaper aisle, you sweat the more minor embarrassment of mixing up lyrics much less than you might otherwise.)
Max has had several meltdowns of his own (less embarrassing than mine, but no more logical or predictable in nature -- one of them yesterday was about the slight warping of an old ratty bucket handle at preschool), but on the whole he is excited to begin his new big boy adventures. I think he will enjoy himself and I know that he is ready for bigger challenges and more intellectual stimulus and even, gulp, more independence from his mama. I am, despite my wailing and beating my breast in the diaper aisle at Target, very excited to watch yet another petal in the remarkable flower that is Max unfurl itself and taste the world. I just wish I could let him do his thing AND keep him close by me, for protection and comfort and care, both at the same time. Maybe I could just, I don't know, hide under his desk at school or something? Just for the first three or four years?