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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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.

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

I’m not getting that vibe right now.  Nope.  Not as I sit here and complete paperwork for my youngest to participate in a Mother’s Morning Out program.

Davey started at First Presbyterian Academy’s MMO program two years ago.  I was nearly 6 months pregnant with Henry and truthfully I enrolled Davey just so I could have a little bit of peace, even if only one day a week.   I wanted him to get set into that routine before Henry arrived, so that he would have at least ONE thing that wasn’t disrupted by the arrival of a new baby.

Being pregnant, I wasn’t able to participate as much in any sort of volunteer opportunities.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to get involved for one reason, but I used my pregnancy and the birth of Henry as an excuse.   My one reason…I’m not comfortable meeting new people.  I think I’m a bit socially awkward.   I’m not good at idle chit chat, and I don’t have a witty sense of humor, well not initially.   That wittiness usually arrives hours later after I’ve dwelled upon my uncomfortable encounter and replayed different scenarios and end results in my head.

After MMO was over for Davey, I enrolled him in K2 at the Academy last year.  Once again I didn’t volunteer for anything.  I did things on my own, secretly berating myself for being so insecure, thereby making my child suffer the repercussions of having an unwieldy mom amongst societal peers.   I did participate in the occasional classroom party, but I felt like an outcast.  In hindsight, I should have introduced myself to the other parents, but I didn’t.   After said parties, I usually came home feeling dejected, less than mom like, and a complete failure.   My poor husband not only had to deal with craziness at work, but also craziness at home.  This year, that’s going to change.

Right now I’m looking at a volunteer sheet for Henry’s MMO program.  I studied it for a moment and perused the options I had before finally deciding that I’ll volunteer to be Room Mom.  Yep!  That’s right.  I’m going to possibly coordinate Teacher Appreciation, Christmas gifts, and other little parties.   Of course, there’s a possibility that a more Pinterest friendly mom may win the position, but I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and I’m volunteering.

I don’t have that peaceful, easy feeling.  No sir, but I’m going to do it anyways.   Stay tuned, for if I should get this position then I’m sure craziness will abound along with a few complaint from me, the occasional whine and frustration, and the desire to end my day with a little brown liquor.

Summer Break…Just a Day Away

I remember the first day I dropped him off. I was nervous, more so about whether I would remember everything I needed. Would I forget to pack his lunch and what about diapers? But then, I got us on the road and walked my little man into his first official “class” (more of a mother’s morning out, but he’s still in a classroom setting). I smiled as he proudly walked in with his backpack and Toy Story lunch box. He was excited and I was sad. I thought for sure he would cry or grab onto my legs and beg me to stay, but not Davey Doser. Instead, he pushed me away and said, “Mama go. Davey stay and play.” So, I kissed him goodbye and walked out the door before he saw the tear fall down my cheek.

I’d been looking forward to this day, just because being a stay-at-home mom can be tough. I longed for a day to have to myself, to clean the house, to read a book, to take a nap. I had anxiously counted down the days and had convinced myself that it would be a piece of cake to take him. Never did I imagine the feeling in the pit of my stomach. Never did I think he wouldn’t want me to stay.

Days went by and weeks became months. We developed our routine and Davey quickly learned that Tuesday meant he was going to see Mrs. Beth (his teacher). He was excited, always waking up and knowing when Tuesday had arrived. He came home with stories of friends, playground misfortunes, and even the blessing that he says now before every meal.

Every week, there was a new craft waiting in his cubby from the week before. Some days it was especially made for me and other days were just little paintings to go along with the Bible stories, shapes and colors of the week. He was learning so much and was proud to show it to me.

One of my favorite crafts from Davey.
One of my favorite crafts from Davey.

The days during Christmas break were hard. Davey had a new baby brother AND he was away from Mrs. Beth for almost four weeks! He cried for her a couple of times, but quickly told me that he loved me most. He woke up on Tuesday mornings with the anticipation of going to see her, only to be disappointed when I would tell him not today.

Finally, Christmas break was over, but the frigid temperatures and snowfall began. School was closed and Davey’s heart sank. When the snow melted and everything began to thaw, we were back on our routine once again. I was relieved and Davey was happy to have someplace to go where his little brother wasn’t.

And now we’ve come to the end of the year. I’ve explained to Davey that tomorrow is his last day with Mrs. Beth. He says he’ll see her again, which may be true. I don’t think he fully realizes that next Tuesday morning when he wakes up, it will just be the three of us (me, him, and Henry). I think he’ll be alright. I know he’ll be alright, but it still saddens me to know that this chapter of his life is now over. I almost want to cry. This wonderful woman has been a blessing not just to me, but also to my son. He loves her and tells her this every time he leaves her class. When we pass the church, Davey exclaims, “That’s Mrs. Beth’s house, let’s go see her.” Usually I answer with, “we’ll see her on Tuesday.” That won’t be the answer anymore.

So, to thank her and her assistant for taking such wonderful care of my precious cargo, Davey and I decided to make them a couple of teacher appreciation gifts.

Davey's gifts to his teachers.
Davey’s gifts to his teachers.

And as a side note, thank you to all of you teachers out there who sacrifice your time to take care of those that are precious to us.

“Mama Go. I Play.”

Four simple little words, two sentences, and yet so profound and impactful, at least for me.

Those were the words my son gave to me as I dropped him off at his first day of Mother’s Morning Out, which is a sort of preschool/daycare. He’s not quite two yet, but my husband and I felt that it would be beneficial to all parties involved (me, him, Davey, and the soon to be Henry), to enroll Davey in something that is “his”. I wanted him to have more social interaction with children and less time with me. So, we chose to do it one day a week. It meets for five uninterrupted hours in the day! What a joyous break, or so I thought when I first decided to enroll him.

Monday night, I did my typical “first day” preparations. It’s something I’ve always done the night before my “first day”, whether that be work, school, vacation, community function, you name it. I’m a planner and I need to have things in place and organized. I don’t do well “flying by the seat of my pants”.

As I packed Davey’s new back pack, complete with diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes, I started feeling a lump in my throat. What was wrong with me? Where was all of my excitement and anticipation from the previous weeks? Why was I starting to think I was making a bad decision? I shook my head for a moment, quickly doing my best to demolish the thoughts from my head, and started working on his lunch. I was nervous and excited. Would I sleep? Would I be able to eat the next morning? And why was this affecting me so badly?

Tuesday morning rolled around. I woke up early, showered, made coffee and ate breakfast. (What was this? My first day? I suppose.) I double checked Davey’s back pack and his lunch box. I made sure to grab his raincoat as it was raining and then debated on just what type of breakfast I would make for my future scholar. After completing all of this, including making sure I had any last minute paperwork completed and in hand, I went upstairs to awaken Davey. Let me make a quick side bar here…It was 7:30 and Davey was still sleeping. My son NEVER sleeps this late, even if we put him to bed later. Could it have been that he knew it was his first day of “school”? Perhaps all children are born with this sort of microchip in their brains that signals when school is starting, therefore encouraging the late sleeping? I don’t know, but I do find it quite fishy.

I dressed my son, fed him his breakfast, combed out his hair, and put his back pack on him. We walked out the door a half an hour before school started (it’s a ten minute drive away, but I loathe tardiness. I detest it. I can’t understand people who are constantly late). As we drove down the road, we sang some nursery rhymes, listened to the news, and briefly discussed Davey’s first day. Did he completely understand the significance of the day? Probably not, but being so important to me, I continued on.

We pulled into the school parking lot. I parked, walked around to the back, and opened Davey’s door. He eagerly put on his backpack, grabbed his lunch box, and held my hand. He commented on the flowers, the color of the door, the stairs, and the pretty bulletin board as we walked down the hall to his room. As per my usual custom, we were the first to arrive. Did I tell you I hate being late? If I instill one good trait in my children, it will be that they’re ALWAYS early, not just on time.

I signed Davey in, got him situated, and walked through everything with one of the teachers. Davey began immediately playing and within a couple of minutes, another child had arrived. I asked Davey for a last hug and kiss. He ran over to me, gave me one of each, and then pushed me out the door with the comment, “Mama go, I play.” Then he ran off! The nerve of him! He didn’t cry! He didn’t seem scared. He seemed perfectly happy and adjusted, so why was this such a difficult moment for me? I am becoming a mother I never thought I would be.

Quietly I closed the door and then lingered for a moment. I peeked through the window, anticipating that Davey would realize I was gone and quickly run to the door screaming, but it never happened. He continued to play. I dropped my head, succumbing to the defeat, and knowing that my child would do quite well.

I choked back my tears until I got in the car, then slowly let them fall. What was I sad about? I should be grateful that my child is so independent, and I am! I should be happy that he’s able to adjust to his environment, and I am! I guess what I’m sad about is the fact that for just today or maybe that one moment, I was not needed. My baby boy isn’t going to be a baby much longer. Sure, I have at least 16 years before he goes off to college, but the past two felt like they’ve flown by. I’m afraid if I blink, the next 16 will be gone as well.

I’ll adjust and truthfully having him gone for five hours allowed me to accomplish so much…3 loads of laundry (all of which needed to be ironed), a clean kitchen, cutting in with paint on his new bedroom, and even a Rotary meeting at lunch. I can only hope, though, that dropping him off will eventually get better.

Preschool Blues

Today I dropped off the paperwork and registration fee for Davey to start a Mother’s Morning Out program the first week of September. It’s something I’ve considered for quite some time especially with Henry on the way and truthfully I think Davey and I need the occasional break from each other. I researched, discussed it with my husband, and then contacted one of my girlfriends who sent her son to this same program. And it really didn’t take much coercion for me to decide that this is the place I wanted to send Davey or that I even wanted him to go.

Of course, it was almost a month ago when my husband and I made the decision to send Davey. At that point, September seemed so far away and I was almost conflicted about the whole thing. Actually, I’m still conflicted. Last month, I was almost desperate and at my wit’s end. I needed an outlet for Davey. I needed some place he could go so that I could have some time to myself. As a matter of fact, I would have sent him that very day, but now I’m becoming sad and a little nervous about the whole thing.

I’m sad because this is yet another sign that my baby is growing up and he’ll no longer be my baby. I’m sad because I almost feel like I’m a failure for needing to send him to a Mother’s Morning Out program. I’m sad because while he may be my Achilles heel at times, he won’t be with me all day. And then there’s the nervous end of the spectrum.

What if he doesn’t like it? What if he’s a little minion? What if he displays his stubborn, independence with his teachers and they want him to leave? What if he doesn’t really learn anything? What if he sees it as abandonment? I don’t really think he’ll feel abandoned, but I still worry about him. Supposedly, he’s a completely different child when he’s not around me. I should be thankful for that. I guess I’d much rather have him displaying his Terrible Twos around me as opposed to anyone else.

We go next week to Open House where I’ll be able to meet the teachers and introduce Davey. This is a big step. This is huge. This is the next milestone in our relationship as mother and son. I can’t help but wonder if he’ll be like me when my parents took me to Open House before I started kindergarten. Apparently, I wanted to stay and my words to my mother were, “You never let me do anything.” Or will he be like my brother, who screamed bloody murder and latched on to my mother’s leg? I don’t know how my husband was with his first day of kindergarten or preschool, but I can only hope it was a piece of cake.

On the plus side, this will give Davey social interaction WITHOUT me, which is a good thing. I’ve had him involved in a lot of things since I became a stay at home mom, but I’ve always been with him on each adventure. And then, I’ll have at least one day a week for three months to myself, that is before Henry arrives, and then I won’t be alone again for a while.

So, this weekend I guess we’ll be off shopping for a backpack and lunch box for Davey and I’ll officially be one of those moms who’s up and packing lunches and getting together school supplies (the school supplies are a little ways off still). It’s exciting and scary all rolled into one. Yikes! Here’s hoping Davey and I both survive!