Mindsets…Yours and Your Childs

As I continue to expand my blog and community Facebook page, I devote a certain amount of time per day perusing through Flipboard and a few of my favorite pages to find things to blog about and share.   One of the articles I came across today was about mindsets and how you speak to your children can encourage them to be successful.  Normally, I would have shared this article on my Facebook page and moved on, allowing for the discussions to begin, but since I’m now focusing harder on getting Henry up to speed, I find myself needing to blog about this article, which I will include at the end of this post.

As many of you know, my children are with me daily, even though they are both in school.  I had the opportunity to put them both on the same days of the week, thereby allowing me some alone time, a chance to recharge, and even accomplish a few things I’ve put on the back burner since becoming a mom (MY BOOK that I’ve desperately attempted to edit over the past 4 years).  My husband and I discussed this option and we decided it best to separate the boys and allow for me to have individual one on one time with them.   So, as I’ve stated before, Henry is a T/Th student, while Davey is a MWF student.

When Davey was 4 months old, I quit my job and decided to be a stay at home mom.  I immediately jumped into my role, taking him to the library for story time, reading to him profusely, quizzing him on animals and their sounds, and even stepping out of my comfort zone to join a playgroup with other moms and their children.   I perused through the internet and pinned like crazy on Pinterest all sorts of ideas to get my child ahead of the game.  I’m not one for wasting time.  I have to be productive in everything I do, even if that productivity is only perceived through my eyes.

By the time, Davey was almost 2, he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program.  I was in the final trimester of my 2nd pregnancy and eager for a little breathing room and to get Davey into a routine that was all for HIM before Henry came along.  He was well ahead of the game when he started.   He was speaking at a 3 year old level, enunciating words, and learning how to grammatically speak correctly.   He knew his letters in order and randomly as well as numbers, shapes, and colors.   I was proud of him and my ability to get him there.

When Henry arrived, for obvious reasons, I was unable to devote all of my time to just one child.   I still worked with Davey, especially during the first couple of months of Henry’s life when he was nothing more than an eating, sleeping, drooling, and pooping mess.   I continued to build upon my foundation I had started with Davey and by the time he started actual preschool, he was ahead of the game, and still is.   As for Henry, I’ve struggled.

It’s hard to teach Henry the same things that I thought Davey, because Davey is always there and he wants to answer the questions.   He wants to please me and he wants to show me that he knows his stuff, displaying his fixed mindset, which discourages Henry from answering my questions.    When I ask Henry what color this is, I get, “I don’t know,” but he really does know.   How do I know this?   Because when I’m NOT trying to sit down and teach him, he’ll pull out a yellow crayon, for example, and say, “mom, I color this sun yellow.”   He knows his stuff.   I just haven’t figured out how to get him to sit with me and let me teach him or to show me that he is just as smart as I know he is and can be.

Henry has been in school for 4 days total so far, meaning that I’ve had 5 days (not counting Labor Day) with which he and I could work on the basic concepts every preschooler should know.   I had started the approach of the fixed mindset when teaching him, since that’s what worked best with Davey, and as a side note, Davey displays characteristics of both mindsets dependent upon what he is doing or working on.  Unfortunately, it appears that the fixed mindset doesn’t work with Henry and he needs to be challenged instead of taught in a basic setting.

He told me this week, while shoving flashcards of letters and numbers across the table, “I not want to do this.”   We’ve bought him a LeapFrog, but he doesn’t use it.   Davey loves ABC Mouse, and so I set Henry up with his own Avatar for it as well.   Nope, he’s not a fan, so I’m finding that I have to step outside of the box and find ways to be interactive and that includes walks in the park where I may take leaves and make a letter “L” out of those leaves.   He then will find rocks and make letters out of those, so you see he knows his stuff.

So, the article that inspired this blog is here:

If You Want Your Kids To Be Successful In The Future, Talk To Them In This Way

It doesn’t go in depth nor is it judgmental, it just helps with finding other ways to encourage your children to be successful.

Of course, dealing with Henry, has given me a new level of respect for teachers as I never really looked at the fact that each child is different (it’s obvious, I know, but I haven’t really considered it) and what these teachers must do and go through to reach each child, to help them to be successful and to learn.

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Davey, The Tender Hearted

It’s hard to not step in and stand up for your children especially when they are around their peers.   It’s hard to see your child fight his own battles, not just physically, but also emotionally and not want to fix it.   It’s hard to see him hurting and knowing that it won’t be the last time that he hurts and he WILL have to work through it.

Davey is a very social child.   He talks to people in the store, at the bank, the zoo, doctor’s office, you name it.   He sticks his right hand out and shakes hands, he is eager to get to know people.   He’s also quite the affectionate child and loves to hug people, even if they are random strangers.   We’ve had discussions about the whole stranger danger as well as trying to be aware of people’s personal spaces, and how it’s best to not invade those spaces until you’ve been invited.   Unfortunately, not every child is wired like mine and they’re not eager to get to know Davey in his way.

I first noticed this right around the 6 month mark when he would crawl up to random babies at our local library, and try to hug them.  Most would start crying, others would freeze, but most just seemed to try to crawl away.   I don’t think we ever cuddled Davey more than the average child.   I do know I liked (and still do) to kiss him a lot.   I know the day will come when he won’t let me do that, so I have to get in those hugs and kisses now while he still enjoys them.

When he would tell people bye, he would hug them, as a matter of fact he still does that.   When he would see his friends, the first thing he would do was hug them, and yes he still does that, but as he’s getting older, as are his peers, it’s becoming more and more uncomfortable for him, me, and everyone else for him to do this.

A few summers ago, he made me quite the proud mama (this wasn’t the first or only time, let me note).   During an outdoor concert, he took an affection to a little girl a couple of years older than him, who was clearly deaf.   Her father was protective her, but stood back on the sidelines, much like me and let the two of them interact.   Davey knew something was different about the little girl, but he didn’t care.   He accepted her and embraced her, even after coming to me and asking what was wrong with her.   When I told him she couldn’t hear anything, he just smiled then went back out to her and hugged her, then continued along with his dancing until time to go.

That same summer we went to a birthday party for a friend of ours child, and by “ours” I mean mine and my husband’s.   Davey hadn’t had much interaction with this child in the past and this child had their own set of friends already, all of whom were alien to Davey, and already seemed to have their own little clique at 2 years of age.   I watched in pain as he tried to integrate himself into their group, but they would wander off from him, at times turning their back, or closing him off from the group.  Yes!  Two year olds were doing this.   It didn’t seem to bother him, he just started playing on his own.   Me?  I went home and cried about it.  I suppose he gets his tender heart from me.

Playing sports is difficult for him because of his soft hearted demeanor with people, soccer being extremely difficult.   He doesn’t want to steal the ball from someone because, “mommy, you’ve told me to share and not to take,” but then he would walk off of the field upset at his inability to score a goal.   Even when we told him it was ok to steal the ball in soccer, his heart just wouldn’t let him do it, and when he was responsible for a child falling or getting hurt, he would give up the ball and take care of that child.

A couple of weeks ago, during soccer camp, we had an incident that had my blood boiling.  Some little boy came up to me and said that Davey had hit him.  Davey swore he didn’t, that the little boy had shoved him.   I believed my child because I’ve become quite adept at knowing when he’s lying.  That same little boy, I noticed, was shoving a lot of other kids later.  The next morning that little boy took a ball from another kid and when Davey came to the child’s aide, the “shover” pushed him away and said, “no one likes you over here.”  My child?  He just shrugged his shoulders and walked back over to me.  Maybe I was more hurt than he was.

It’s a fact of life, that my child will get his feelings hurt in some form or fashion, and I can’t always be there to protect him.  I know that there are mean kids, bullies, and arrogant snots, and a part of me wants to encourage some wit on his part, but instead I take the high road and do my best to protect and encourage his tender heart by telling him, “if no one wants a hug or they say nasty things to you, just walk away, baby.   You continue to give that love.”

Some people consider this a detriment, to be soft hearted.   They like to tell me that I’m setting him up to constantly be hurt, to be pushed around, but when he sees a baby crying and goes up to them, breaking into his own personal rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, I have a hard time trying to stifle that heart.   I have a hard time encouraging him to have more of a stiff upper lip.

Criss Cross Apple Sauce

When I first became a stay at home mom, I immediately began taking Davey to our local library.   I wanted to have interaction with other adults and for Davey to have interaction with other children.  It was a wonderful experience as it allowed me the opportunity to meet other stay at home moms, and we even formed a playgroup that met weekly outside of the library.   It was an absolutely wonderful thing.

As with most things in life, people grow (children more specifically) and responsibilities become more and more burdensome.   Our playgroup fizzled apart after about a year when moms were having other babies and unable to attend or were moving, as was the case with two of the moms.   It was a sad day for me as this became such a wonderful thing for both Davey and me.

With the introduction of Henry into our lives, I found it hard to maintain our once hectic schedules and I stopped taking Davey to the library.   I soothed my guilt by saying that he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program and that was plenty of social interaction for him, but by doing that I neglected to let Henry have his own thing.  I didn’t take Henry to the story time at the library because it was geared for little ones (his age) and met on the days when Davey wasn’t at Mother’s Morning Out which meant he would be with us and thereby bored with the baby stuff.   So, Henry’s social interaction fell to the wayside.  I firmly believe that my lack of getting him involved with programs the way I did with Davey is the reason he’s so clingy to me when he attends the same Mother’s Morning Out program Davey did.

Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.
Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.

Yesterday, I decided to brave the elements…not the cold, but the “elements” of taking two boys to a story time at the library.   I hemmed and hawed about it.  I’ve gotten into my own routine, my own comfort level, but I need to step out of that and step out of it quick for Henry’s sake.   The story time consisted of books about fire trucks and fire safety.   There were even firemen and fire trucks for the boys to explore.

As soon as I walked into that same room of previous years’ story times, I had an immediate twinge in my stomach, twinge of regret as I didn’t know how my two boys were going to react.   When I originally began story time, Davey was a free spirit.  He was the child who never say with his mother, was always running around, liked to sing the loudest, touch everything, climb on other mommies, and just not focus at all.   He was the child who refused to sit still.   I was always jealous of the other moms.  I would come home and tell my husband how Davey would run around, how I felt he was getting nothing from story time, and how frustrating it was for me.   Henry is becoming the same way, but Davey?  Well, let’s just say this mommy was pleasantly surprised at how well her big boy is growing.

Davey immediately sat down in my lap, eagerly listening to stories and rhymes.   Henry?  Well, he was a Davey of years past.   He ran around, screamed, tried to take sippy cups, climbed on chairs, took books.   He was my terror, the one who would not allow me to enjoy the program with all the other moms.  Davey; however, decided to join the circle of other kids.  He sat criss cross apple sauce the entire time.  He sang the songs, listened intently to the stories, and even participated in the “stop, drop, and roll” with the firemen.   If I hadn’t been chasing after Henry and trying to quarantine him, I’m likely to have sat in the room, mouth agape at the astonishment of how much my oldest has grown.   He can sit quietly, albeit for just a short time, but he can do it.

Henry was able to sit still for just a split second.   Long enough for me to get this picture.
Henry was able to sit still for just a split second. Long enough for me to get this picture.

As I sat discussing the days events with my husband, he remarked, “remember how you never thought Davey would sit still?”   Yes, I do remember that.   I suppose that since I survived Davey and his terrible twos, then I’m capable of doing the same with Henry.   Maybe in two more years, I’ll be amazed at his ability to sit criss cross apple sauce as well.

Oh, So You’re THAT Mom…

I didn’t hear those words last night, but I most certainly received the looks that conveyed that message.

Last night was Meet the Teacher at Davey’s School.   School is an exciting time for me.  I’m a nerd.  I love school.   I love to learn, and at times I love to teach my sons.   Unfortunately for me, and my sons, my personality has yet to equip me with the capacity to be a home school mom, which means I send them to a Christian school two days a week.

Davey will be four, one month from today, but he is starting into K3 thanks to the State of SC’s lovely cut off.  I have mixed emotions about this which I will address later.

So, Davey will be in a classroom with kids younger than him, some by almost a full year.   At this age, I shouldn’t be too terribly concerned about it, and that’s what I keep telling myself.

When meeting the teachers last night, I was thrilled to see that his TA (Teacher’s Assistant) will actually be the same one he had last year for K2.   It took a load off of me, allowing me to literally wipe the sweat that had started beading up on my forehead.   He loved Mrs. Whaling, and the fact that she knows him AND me, is making this process a little bit easier.   As for his new teacher, I need to warm up to her a bit.

She’s young.  She graduated college seven years after I did.   Her one advantage in my eyes is that she went to Bob Jones University here in Greenville.   It’s a great university, which instills a lot of love and faith in Christ in its students, something I know she’ll bring with her.   Even with that under her belt, her age still bothers me.   Yes, I’m discriminating.   I’m trying to stop, but as my husband says, she’s a little too bubbly for him, but maybe bubbly is what our kids need.

My biggest concern; however, was when I inquired as to what the curriculum would be like for K3.   When she explained it to me, my heart sank.  I nicely explained to her, with a compassionate smile, that Davey is already well ahead of the game.   He already writes his upper case letters.   He’s learning to write his lower case letters now.   He knows how to spell some words.  He can write his numbers, at least all the way up to 10, and he’s even started learning mathematics.   He knows sounds and has begun to sound out words.  He knows more than a lot of current K4 students know.

As I explained this to her, she looked at me and said, “well, I guess when Sue takes the kids to their centers, I could work one on one with Davey.”  That sentence rubbed me the wrong way.  I wanted to say, “you GUESS?”

I gave up my career four years ago.  I gave up a big portion of my dreams to be a stay at home mom.   I chose to stay at home so that I could be hands on with the boys, not so that I could have the cleanest house, or the prettiest yard, or more “me” time.   Those three things suffer A LOT, even with me being at home.   They are not my priorities.   My sons are my priorities.   Their continued growth, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and physically, are my number one concern.   From my very first day of being home, I started working with Davey.   I took him to story time at the library, made flash cards with colors, bought puzzles, read him books, played music, all of this in an effort to make him better than me and his dad, to encourage him to be more, and at times I feel as if I’ve succeeded.

Five days a week, I find a way to incorporate a minimum of three hours a day of some sort of “schooling” for my boys.   I don’t follow a curriculum and it’s hard on all of us for me to try to create a school type atmosphere, but they learn.   They learn their manners, they learn about God and our creation, they learn their numbers and letters, they learn their shapes and colors.  They either build upon something they already knew or I add something new onto them.   So, maybe I am leading somewhat of a homeschool life after all.

As my husband and I climbed into bed last night, I told him that I had backtracked from my original statement earlier in the evening.   Today is student orientation and while Davey has that, I’m to attend a Sip and Sob with other parents.   My original intent during the Sip and Sob was to find a way to speak with the Headmaster of Davey’s school to convey my concerns about where he is academically and how he’s penalized because of his age.   By the time I’d gotten into bed; however,  I had changed my mind.

I’m going to let Davey go into K3.  I’m going to let him go back to school with some of his friends.   I’m going to let this play out.  If need be, I can have parent teacher conferences on a weekly basis (which I did last year).   I can, and will, continue to help Davey grow and learn every day.   My husband told me last night that truthfully the only reason either one of our boys are going to school right now is because I need a break from them.   He told me, I do more for them than any school could right now, but that their going was really just to give me a few hours a day, two days a week, to recharge.  I suppose he’s right.

So, this morning, I will drop Davey off for his student orientation.  I will begrudgingly sit in Sip and Sob with these other moms and play my role.  I will let him stay where he is because as my mother in law said to me, right now Davey is a big fish in a little pond.   Wouldn’t I rather like that for him than to be a little fish in a big pond?

Once Upon a Time…

When I was Davey’s age, I had very few stuffed animals in my bedroom. I did have toys, but a good portion of them were gender neutral, with the exception of a doll or two here and there. At night, I slept with a night light and was allowed to have a flashlight, but I never slept with any stuffed animals or dolls. I was always allowed to take a one item with me to bed. That item was a book, which is what the majority of my room consisted of as a child.

Just a couple of our bookshelves.
Just a couple of our bookshelves.

When I became a mother, it was a goal and intention to read as much as possible to my children. I started out reading to Davey when he was still in utero. I would sit in his bedroom, cradle my belly, and read one of the many children’s books I had. There were even times when, while taking a lunch break from work as I was working when pregnant with Davey, I would jet over to the local Barnes and Noble, purchase a couple of books and then sit in my car and read to my baby.

Reading was instilled within me at an early age. I blame that in part on my dad, who does not have a college education, but is one of the two smartest men I know (my husband is the other). My dad reads like crazy. He built bookshelves for my parent’s house, bought bookshelves for other rooms, and lately just keeps a pile alongside his recliner. When he finishes reading one, he immediately picks up another. As a child, we lived in the country. We didn’t have a local library, but instead had a bookmobile. On the days the bookmobile would come to the local Winn Dixie (a grocery store chain nearly obsolete), my dad would make a point of leaving work early so he could get me there in the small window of time available. My very first “big person” book I read was at the age of 7 and it was a biography on Helen Keller. It was considered an adult book and while I didn’t know all the words, my dad sat with me every night and helped me read.

These days I don’t have as much time as I used to when it comes to reading books. We are; however, trying to fix that by getting rid of our Directv. Davey is now at the age where we read chapter books to him. We started him out at Christmas with the “How to Train your Dragon” series. We’re currently on book two of that one, but we’ve decided to go a step further.

Reading with Daddy when he was 6 months old.
Reading with Daddy when he was 6 months old.

Quite a few years ago, my sister-in-law bought my husband a copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Harry Potter companion book written by J.K. Rowling. At that point in his life, he’d read all of the Harry Potter books, but this one just didn’t appeal to him, so it sat on our bookshelf. A few days ago, I decided to pull it down and my husband has started “killing two birds with one stone” or so to say. We’re now using the opportunity to read some of the books to Davey that we’ve always wanted to read. The past couple of nights have consisted of ole Beetle the Bard, and once my husband is finished reading a chapter, he says to me, “I’m enjoying this book.”

Almost 2.
Almost 2.

Well, naturally I wanted to hop on board with this. Much like my husband, I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books and I can’t wait for Davey to read those, but the books I haven’t read is the Percy Jackson series. My husband began reading those years ago and even encouraged me to read them, but I had to prioritize. There were, and still are, just too many books I want to read. So, I’ve decided that I can read Percy Jackson to Davey and it’s like I’m reading a book myself. I usually have at least 3 books going at one time (a Bible Study, a non fiction, and a fiction, with at least one of the books being on my Kindle), so this hasn’t been a big deal.

A little over one.
A little over one.

Last night, I read Beedle the Bard to Davey (his daddy was out of town) and the put him to bed. I came back downstairs to relax and read a little by the fire when I heard movement upstairs. I climbed the stairs, quietly seething that Davey was not sleeping as he should have been. When I opened the door to his room, he wasn’t in his bed. Instead he was in his tent with Beedle the Bard, a flashlight, and about 8 stuffed animals which he had placed in descending order, tallest to shortest. I listened quietly as he sat in his tent. I could hear the crisp turning of a page and Davey exclaiming, “You see Flepper (his spotted Leopard), on this page it says this and on this page the witches are walking with the knight.”

2 & 1/2 years old.
2 & 1/2 years old.

He’s only three, so of course he wasn’t actually “reading” the words, but it brought a smile to my face that something of me was being passed on to this child, considering everything else about him is all his daddy.

Enjoying a good book at 2 & 1/2
Enjoying a good book at 2 & 1/2

This morning, we sat on the couch as Henry napped, and took one of his age appropriate books. I’ll give my child this…he is learning words. He knows a decent amount of phonics and he has an awesome memory. So, he would read the words “the”, “is”, “and”, “or”, and would attempt to sound out other words. It truly made my heart burst with pride. Now I just have to find the same amount of time to devote to Henry so he can develop my same love.

One of many bookshelves in our house.
One of many bookshelves in our house.

Now I’m off to order a few more books and continue with Percy Jackson.

Please Calm your Son

I froze, but only for a split second. Was this really my child? No way! That wasn’t possible. I didn’t behave this way when I was his age (or so I’ve been told, which by the way, I think my parents lied to me or either they are the King and Queen of having well behaved children).

As I regained my thoughts, I darted up from my seated position on the carpeted floor of the library play room. Someone had left the door open! Who does that? I mean, seriously, why would you leave a door open for a room full of noisey and rambunctious toddlers to run out? Oh, your child doesn’t like to run and be free? Well, lucky you! Mine; however, saw an open door as his chance of freedom and he took it faster than a dog takes a meaty bone.

By the time my foot crossed the threshold of the door, Davey was already halfway through the children’s section of the library, his arms pumping alongside of him propelling him to run harder and faster while the entire time his mouth was open and he screamed, “Aaaahhhhh!” Librarians looked up from their desks, but not a one of them bothered to offer the obligatory “shhh”. Instead they all glared at me, some over their half glasses as if to say, “oh, you’re THAT mother!”

Yes! I’m that mother! I’m that mother with an overly curious 18 month old. I’m that mother with a very active child. I’m that mother who can control her child, but short of sitting on him or tying him down to a chair, I can’t keep him from running, which leads to the next issue.

Apparently, my child is inciting possible riotous behavior amongst the other toddlers. I’ve been informed that I can’t let him run anymore during the storytime or musical jamboree. If I let him run around, then other children will want to follow suit and then it will just be mass chaos. I believe the teacher actually used the term “anarchy”. Are you kidding me? These kids can’t even say anarchy much less know what it means, and yet my child is going to start this? Please!

The teacher went so far last week as to also inform me that if I can’t keep him from running around in the room, then I would no longer be allowed to attend the musical jamboree or storytime. I’m sorry, lady, but it’s the library and my tax dollars pay for this, so unless my taxes are going to be prorated to reflect the fact that I will not be attending the library, then my son and I will be there.

Davey isn’t abnormal, but he’s very independent. He’s not content sitting with me while stories are being read, unless I’m the one reading them. He’s not content with being docile when there are so many other things to explore. I’m not going to stifle my child, but I will do a better job of trying to keep him more interested in what’s at hand.

Fortunately, the doors are staying closed in the classroom these days and my child is quarantined, so no longer am I mortified at the sight of my heathen running through the library screaming at the top of his lungs. Geesh! The homeless people couldn’t even sleep in their chairs with him around!

On a side note, though, should you be trying to conduct storytime and/or musical classes for a bunch of toddlers, please try to keep them involved. Don’t chit chat with each other or to the parents. You start losing the kids, or at least you start losing mine.