Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Missing the Point

This is a conversation between Michael and I that occurred the other day. We were listening to pop music and Michael heard the lyric, "We sleep all day so we can party all night."

Michael: So, I guess it's night where they are.

Me: Huh, what?

Michael: The people making the music. It must be night where they are since they sleep all day.

Me: Well, yeah, but...

Michael: Oh wait. Mommy, are they real?

Me: Real? Well, they are real, but the song is not live. It's a recording.

Michael: Oh, OK. So they recorded it at night.

Me: I think you are missing the point of the song. It's not a word problem.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another Lunch Problem

A few weeks ago I posted about Michael having trouble grasping the concept of the lunch "credit" card at his kindergarten. He still hasn't used it to buy anything, but he has expressed comments that lead me to believe that he does finally understand what the card is and how it's used. One of these days I'm going to push his limits and send him to school with the intent to buy lunch.

But, we have encountered another lunch problem with Michael. And this one is even more basic. He will not throw his trash out. This wasn't really a problem until the day I sent in yogurt, when it became a big, messy, smelly problem.

I've talked to him about why he won't throw his trash out, and the first reason he gave was that there are no trash cans in the cafeteria. When I told him that I knew for sure that there are trashcans in the cafeteria, he then explained that they are too far away. In Michael speak, this most likely means that he's anxious about getting up and throwing out his trash. I've tried to find out why he's too anxious to throw out his trash, but he's so busy fighting me about the trash can being TOO FAR AWAY MOM, that I can't get to the root of the problem.

So, for now, I'm not sending any yogurt. But someday, the kid has to figure out how to throw his trash out, right?

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Fresh Start

I know I've talked a bit about my mom's chemo treatments on my blog, but I never mentioned much about her radiation treatments. They certainly were not as hard on her as chemo was, but it's wasn't easy either. She wasn't sick, but the process left her exhausted. I don't think she realized just how tiring it would be, and was a bit disappointed when she realized she was too tired to do simple tasks like grocery shopping, or watching Michael for three hours. She was really looking forward to getting he life back after chemo, and the radiation treatments brought that to a screeching halt.

Her radiation treatments were scheduled for five days a week, for seven weeks. My mom complained that it was like having a job again. However, when she completed the treatments a week and a half ago, the nurses and technicians gave her a certificate and complemented her for being such a good patient. She really liked the people there, and she appreciated the certificate, even though she thought it was a little weird.

As a reward for her hard work, my sister took my mom down to visit my aunt and uncle in North Carolina for a week of vacation. While they were there, my sister convinced my mom to go out and buy a wig. Even though my mom's hair has started growing back in, I think this is a great idea. It's going to take some time for my mom's hair to grow in fully, so I'm happy that she has the wig to wear until she can go back to natural. It should help her feel more confident when she goes out.

While she was gone, I was responsible for feeding her cats and her pet fish. When I got over there and spent a little time around her apartment, I discovered just how far behind she was on her house cleaning. Things were pretty neat, but my mom has a long haired Maine Coon cat that sheds hair like a maniac and he had coated the entire apartment with a layer of long, fine hairs. So, on Saturday, before my mom returned, I went over and did some hardcore cleaning. Like get down on my hands and knees and scrub with the Magic Eraser kind of cleaning. I knew she would be worrying about coming home to a huge cleaning job, so it made me really happy to think of her walking in and discovering that the job she was dreading was already done.

So, here is to a fresh start for my mom. Chemo and radiation are over. She has a new head of "hair". And now, she can focus her returning energy on things that are more fulfilling than scrubbing cat fur off of the shower stall walls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Karate and Soccer and Bears, OH MY!

It's a cold autumn day. I'm six years old. I'm standing in the middle of a big field. I have no idea what is going on around me. I've got these horrible things shoved into my socks, and all I want to do is rip them out and have some hot chocolate. All of the sudden, a black and white ball comes toward me and the next thing I know a group of kids is surrounding me and we are all kicking blindly at the ball.

That pretty much sums up my experience with soccer. I have no idea how I ended up at that practice, but I do know that I never went back. Things didn't improve after I met Andy. His general opinion of soccer is that it's like hockey, just without anything interesting ever happening.

So, imagine my surprise last week when I heard Andy and Michael discussing soccer practice. We had already decided to sign Michael up for karate and I wasn't expecting any additional sports to get added to my list. But, as they talked, it became clear that Michael wanted to give it a try. For $35 dollars I decided that it was worth a try.

Soccer started on Saturday, and karate started last night. On Thursday I picked up some sweats for Michael and Friday night we picked up shin guards and cleats for Michael. Saturday morning we got him all dressed up and drove over to the practice field. Michael recognized a girl from school and ran around the field with a bunch of the kids. So far, so good.

The coach came out and gave a quick overview of the program and the schedule and then she started roll call. When she called the names, the kids were supposed to run out and join the crowd in the middle of the field. And they did, until she called Michael. Instead of running out, he just grabbed my leg and cried when I encouraged him to go out and play. While the coach continued calling names and kids kept running out, Michael cried and cried. Andy pulled him aside, gave him a pep talk, and finally got Michael to join the other kids.

For the next half hour we were treated to the joy of watching little kids kick their shoes off, wipe-out on wet grass , and completely miss kicking balls that are larger than their heads. Michael was running and smiling the whole time.

After half an hour, the coach sent Michael's group back to the parents for a short break. Michael had some water and then refused to go back out. We gently prodded him to return to the game. He cried. We told him we were going to leave if he didn't go back out. He freaked out. We started throwing out all kinds of stuff, and it all failed. Andy finally had to walk away while I slowly moved him over to the sideline. His coach came over and called him in. It took a few more minutes and a discussion about tummy butterflies, but he finally went back in and played for another half hour. All smiles, of course.

I expect a replay next Saturday, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let him quit after only one practice.

As you can guess, I was a little nervous about how karate was going to go last night. Andy and I decided that it would be better if I did not go, since it's my leg he seems so fond of. So, while Andy was taking Michael into another completely new situation that could easily lead to a major melt down, I went and got my hair done. I clearly got the better deal.

I was relaxing when they got home. Michael had a huge smile on his face and he rushed in and showed me how to punch. He was so excited as he talked a mile a minute about how cool it was and one of the kids from his class was there and...and...and!

Wow, what a difference. After Michael went to bed, I asked Andy how it really went, and he confirmed that it went really well. He even had some pictures and video for me. Michael loved it. I'm not sure if it was because he liked the organization and discipline, the actual karate, or being allowed to run around his gym in bare feet, but whatever it was, it seemed to work. He even asked me this morning if he could go again tonight!

For now, we'll keep up both activities. Even if Michael doesn't care about soccer, there is still a lot to be gained by going back out there and giving it another try. As for karate, I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to keep it up after the six week class wraps up. Only time will tell.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Randomness

It's the end of the week, so lets just go with the flow! I'll jump right in with the random:

  • I was forced to tell Michael that "Hiney wiping is done in the bathroom, not the living room" this morning. And to think, I would have thought that was obvious.
  • Today is Patriot's day at Michael's school. They asked that we dress our kids in Red, White and Blue. The non-conformist in me REALLY wanted to send Michael to school in his green "I'm Just Here To Annoy You" shirt. But, I resisted the temptation and sent him in wearing the appropriate spirit building colors.
  • In the future, if Michael wants to go against the tide I will totally support him.
  • Michael had a great day at school yesterday. When I asked him what was so good he told me that he had music class. Also, that he went to the bathroom. Um...Yay you?
  • For a kid who never really got into music, he's become a huge fan of pop music lately. I've been trying to think of ways to encourage this, and the music class comment makes me think I should really get on that. How should I do this? Might it involve buying him a drum? 'Cause honestly, that doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
  • And finally, the most shocking thing I've heard in ages happened this morning when I asked Michael what he wanted me to pack him for lunch. "Just pack whatever you feel like making." Really? Who are you and what did you do with my child?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Money Trouble

Michael does not get the concept of money. At all. And, not for lack of trying either.

The first thing I tried was a piggy bank. We ended up buying one that announced the type of coin being placed into it. Only it was frequently wrong and kept telling Michael that a penny was a dime. It also oinked and squealed in a shrill manner and was quickly disappeared from the play area.

Next, I tried giving Michael an allowance. Unlike most kids who are thrilled to get money, he was flat out offended by the entire process and refused to even look at the bag where I kept putting money. He even refused to buy anything with the money, even if it meant going home with nothing.

I felt a little optimistic when his daycare teacher started her lesson about coins and money. Surely, that would help right? Nope, the kid that can tell the difference between an Allosaurus and a T-Rex refused to learn even the names of the U.S. coins, let alone how much each one is worth. He did, however, pick up this strange idea; U.S coins do not stick to magnets but coins from India do.

So, after over a year of trying to teach Michael about money, the only thing he has learned is the magnetic properties of the metals used to make different coins. That's just...um...weird.

As I mentioned earlier this week, on the first day of school, his class had a lesson on how to use the food card to purchase lunch. Michael went to the cafeteria and "purchased" a "hamburger". The idea was to demonstrate how to buy actual food with what is essentially a credit card. WHICH HE SEES ME USING ALL THE FREAKING TIME PEOPLE!

Knowing that Michael had this lesson, I loaded money onto his account and told him he could use his card to buy milk for himself. Michael just looked at me like I'm insane.

I asked him to think back to the lesson where he bought the hamburger and tried to explain that his teacher was trying to teach him how to use the card and that I had put real money on it so he could buy real food and milk with it. "Mommy, you do know that was just pretend, right?"

Don't patronize me child! At least I know how to buy milk.

I finally gave up and decided not to pack him any milk in his lunch with a reminder that he could use his lunch card to buy it if he wanted it. Then, I let it drop because it's like bashing my head against a wall.

Later in the evening, Michael started telling me about the "boys" in his school. "Mommy, there are only two boy teachers, one of them is the gym teacher. But, all of the cafeteria workers are boys and there are 16 of them. So that makes...hmm...18 boys in my school."

Really? He's observant enough to notice that most of the teachers are women and that all of the cafeteria workers are men; plus he can add 16 + 2; but he can't even grasp the concept of money having value? You have got to be kidding me.

Update: I checked Michael's account. He did not buy anything at lunch today. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The First Day

Good news! We all survived Michael's first day of school. I'm going to count that as a success. Michael even shared a little bit about his day, so that's good too, right?

The first thing Michael said when he got off the bus was that he didn't cry. Awesome! Until I discovered later on that I think he only meant that he didn't cry on the bus ride home. Before bed he mentioned that the kids on the bus were screaming and that it was really loud and that he cried. But then, he assured me that they were just happy tears.

He did say that he liked coloring. I found two sheets with his first and second lessons on them. The first was a picture of a toilet and a roll of toilet paper and had a sentence about learning how to you the bathroom properly and flushing the toilet. Michael had colored in the toilet paper in a lovely striped pattern. That seemed to be the highlight of his day.

Michael also told a story about going to the cafeteria and buying a hamburger. Considering he had no money and doesn't like hamburgers, I found it pretty odd until I looked at his second lesson. They took the kids to the cafeteria and taught them how to use the lunch cards. I'm guessing the hamburger was a fake hamburger, but who knows what really happened. I've loaded money on his card and will explain to him that he can use it to buy milk.

Since Michael isn't forth coming about what he does all day, I asked him some probing questions. When I asked if he had gym, he said they did have gym and that they played follow the leader. Awesome! That sounds like something real. Then, he went into a story about playing Pac-Man and chasing the ghosts around when they are blue and running from them when they were colorful. He's played Pac-Man before, so he could have made that up, but it was pretty detailed, so maybe that's a game they really play. Again, who knows?

He did finally volunteer some information about school. He told me they played with red clay and he had to squeeze it with his hands to make it soft. He even had red clay on his shirt sleeve, so at least for this one, I think it really did happen!

Overall, I think it was mostly a success. He made it home happy and just a little wound up. Even better, aside from a few nerves this morning, he did great when I dropped him off at J's house and J's dad let me know that things were going OK. The bus came over an hour ago and I haven't gotten any calls, so I'm assuming he made it OK.

I hope today goes even better. Maybe he'll get to color pictures band-aides if they tour the nurse's office!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kindergarten - Michael's Way

I feel a little late to the kindergarten game since in the North East, kids don't start school until after Labor Day. It didn't help that Michael's school sent out most of his information a little on the late side as well. But, last week we finally got to head to Michael's school for a two hour orientation.

I never know how much I should prepare Michael before a big event. I knew orientation would go fine until the end when Andy and I ha to leave so Michael could learn how to do the car line. I debated on whether to tell him or not beforehand, and decided that it would be best to let him know. So, I prepped him the day before and then the morning of, hoping to make the transition easier.

Orientation started well. We went to the auditorium with J from a few doors down and his parents. J sat still and paid attention through the entire thing. Michael wiggled and fidgeted and I finally had to distract him with a pen and some paper. Considering he is normally well behaved in situations like that, I knew his anxiety levels were rising.

After a quick assembly, we all lined up and went on a tour of the school and then into Michael's classroom. There are already 25 students in his class. Each student had at least one parent with them, and many had both parents and several siblings. There were at least 75 people in the classroom. It was loud and it was crazy.

We helped Michael find his seat. He was at a table toward the edge of the room where everyone was trying to stand to avoid getting in the way. Michael wanted me to come and stand with him, but I could barley move through all the people. I finally forced my way through and tried to help Michael figure out what he was supposed to do with the paper at his spot. I couldn't see the instructions on the smart board so Andy shifted around and finally found the computer and read the instructions off of there. I then tried to explain what to do while two dad's had a conversation over my head.

Let's just say that it was not an ideal situation.

We met Michael's teacher briefly. She seems very nice. She seems like she's a quick study and asked me if I was OK right off. (Not Michael, folks. ME) I was and I wasn't. I'm OK with Michael starting Kindergarten. I had no problem with the idea of leaving him for the pick up demonstration. It wasn't anything school related that was upsetting me. There were just too many people in the room. That's way more chaos than I can handle.

And guess what, the apple doesn't fall from the tree. Michael was not to keen on being left alone in that crazy room either. We waited until a lot of the people had left before trying to leave, but it was too late. Michael was not going to willing separate from me.

Now, I've been through this plenty of times at daycare. Miss Carmella would always come over and take Michael away and distract him while I left. No problem. But, kindergarten doesn't have a Miss Carmella. In fact, with the chaos in the room, no one even knew what was going on until the crying and the "NO!" started happening. An aide came over to help eventually, but Michael was too worked up for her at that point.

Finally, Michael's teacher came over and tried to help. We discussed a few options and I finally told her the best thing to do is for her to pry him off me and for me to run. And, to make the moment even better...I started to cry. You know, because seeing mommy cry makes it sooo much easier to be left with strange people in a strange place.

So, I ran crying from the room with Andy asking me if I was OK. I seem to remember snapping "yes" at him several times, but I don't think he was fooled.

The car line was huge, so it took about 25 minutes until I pulled up for Michael. He came running out and ran right up to J's car waving at J's parents and smiling. (They were in front of me.) I got out to let him in and the aide that was with him was completely confused that he was running to one car and his parent was clearly in a different car. "Do you know which car is yours?" He turned to her and calmly explained that he was just saying hi to his friend's parents.

He was fine when we got home. I asked him what he did during the time he was in his class, and he gave his typical "nothing" response. And that was it. He had nothing positive or negative to say about it.

So, we went to the beach for the weekend and distracted ourselves from the actual first day off school today. We didn't talk about school much, but when Michael over heard me saying "old school" he thought I was talking about his school and said, "I know mom!" OK, I get it.

I admit, I was really nervous about how things would go at the bus stop this morning. Would he freak out? Would he be fine because J was with him? Would he cry? Would I cry? Would there be a scene for the bus driver?

It went just fine. The boys talked on the way up to the stop, and then met some of the older boys who they will ride the bus with. And they ran around and laughed. When the bus came, they both ran up and climbed right on. They sat in the front seat and grinned and waved good-bye. My little baby looked so grown up and I was so proud of him.

And no tears were shed.

Now, I'm dying for him to get home so I can find out how his day went. Wish me luck that I may get something more than a big fat "nothing" out of him.