You Will Survive, Henry

We are ending our 2nd week of school for Henry.  2 weeks, or more specifically 4 days.   He’s in K2 and being his first time in school we have enrolled him as a T/Th student.   Again, let me repeat, we have finished 4 days and I can’t help but wonder if it will get any better.

For 4 days, I’ve dealt with a child who clawed his car window screaming for his Mimi.  For 4 days, I’ve dealt with a child who has attempted to lock me out of the car when I’ve tried to drop him off at school.   For 4 days, I’ve dealt with a child whom I’ve had to drag out of the car kicking and screaming and hand him off to his teacher all the while he’s reaching for me and screaming “no”.

I had hoped that we just needed to get into our routine, but it appears that drama at the car line drop off will be our routine for this school year.

This morning, Davey and I talked up school to Henry, as he fought me while I was loading him into his car seat.   Davey, my mini-me dork, LOVES school.  He reminds me of myself and how much I looked forward to school everyday, how I wanted to see my friends and my teachers, how I wanted to learn and become smarter, and experience new things.   Henry?  Yeah, to quote his words, “I not care about dis (his speech) stuff.”

So, after all of our playing up school and it’s many, many benefits to Henry, I thought for sure Davey and I had crossed the bridge and that Henry would be excited, or at least more willing.  Obviously, I thought wrong, as once again I’m holding up the carline to the empathetic faces of all the other moms, while getting Henry out, his arms gripped tightly onto his seatbelt while I’m pulling him by his legs.

I try encouraging words, tell him his teachers are going to be so happy to see him, or that they’ll be sad if he’s not there.   I talk about his friends and all of the fun he’ll have with them.   I talk about all of the cool toys they’ll play with and crafts they’ll make.  Finally, I’ve ended up with, “You will survive, Henry.”   Obviously, he doesn’t understand what I mean.

I don’t get it.  I don’t understand why going to school is so torturous, especially when I pick him up, he’s so eager to tell me about his day.   He has a smile on his face, tells his teachers “bye”, and climbs into the car already talking about the day’s adventures.   I want to tell him, “i told you so,” but I’m told that’s not appropriate.

My mother has her own theory as to why my youngest acts as if he’s going to the slaughterhouse when I drop him off at school.   He knows Davey is with me and he feels left out, anxious about what he’s going to miss, and not exactly eager to know that Davey is getting one on one time with me.   I want to tell him, that he gets three days of one on one versus Davey’s two, but once again  I don’t think he’ll understand.

I suppose I will continue to fight this battle and be thankful that my youngest isn’t my brother incarnate.   My brother once locked my mother out of the car when she got out to get him out for school.    I can see this same scenario playing out for me one day.

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A Tale of Two Children

In the open spaces of my heart, live two children, each equally loved, but cataclysmically different.   They both have the same portion of my love and my soul, each with their own physical traits and characteristics forever linking them to me, but alas I only comprise 50% of their make up, so it’s only natural for them to be so much alike and yet so different.

My oldest is outgoing, loving, methodical, and eager to please.  My youngest, not quite so outgoing, a bit more calculating and manipulative, and while he may be a bit standoffish at first, he is quick to love and be loved.   They both have my chin, one has my nose, and they both suffer from mom’s recessive gene of fair hair at such a young age.  Their personalities are different, at times polar opposites, but they definitely share mom’s dominant stubborn gene.

With the start of school last week, I was eager to see how both of my boys would do and since we were milking our last few days of summer vacation for all of its worth, we missed meet the teacher and student orientation at their school.  This meant I would need to walk the boys into their classrooms, since neither had any idea where to go.  Also, I’m THAT mom who will walk her children into school the first day, regardless.

For this school year, my husband and I decided it would be best to have Davey attend MWF and Henry on T/Th.   I am well aware that this means for me I will be on the road a lot, but it also means for me some individual time with my boys, something I have wanted for quite some time.  I must also add this disclaimer…it was technically my husband’s idea for the school year set up, I believe so that I would NOT have any personal time to myself.  He deals with “children” himself in the adult world and I suppose felt that since he couldn’t get a break from the adults behaving as children, then neither should I.   Just my theory.  So, with this being our set up, I felt compelled to leave Henry with my mom and dad on Davey’s first day and then vice versa for Henry’s first day.    And here, my friends, is where the Tale of Two Children picks up.

First day of school for Davey goes something like this…

As I am walking Davey into school, he sees he’s old teacher’s assistant.  This woman has been a blessing to us, she’s worked with Davey since he was in K2 and I quickly learned she would also have our Henry for this year.  Unfortunately, that meant that Davey’s security blanket would be gone, as if he ever really needed one.   Once Davey saw her, he stopped in his tracks and turned around to me, “mom, can you believe this?  Look who it is!  It’s Mrs. Whaling.  Oh boy, I bet she’s missed me.”   Nope, does not have a humble bone in any corner of his body.   After hugging Mrs. Whaling, Davey then proceeds into school, where he sees his old K2 teacher and as if he’s a politician going around shaking hands and kissing babies, he must hug Mrs. Norwood before saying, “I’ll see you around this year, Mrs. Norwood.”  Big Man on Campus then proceeds down the hallway where lo and behold there is Mrs. Scott’s classroom.   We must stop and hug her as well, and as we are looking for his classroom, Davey says, “I bet Mrs. Scott missed me a lot.”  Again…humility?  Nope!

Once we find his classroom, I introduce myself to his teacher, apologize profusely for being at the beach instead of meeting her, and then introduce Davey who immediately holds out his hand, shakes her’s and then says, “nice to meet you.”  His current teacher gives me the rundown, asks if I would be willing to assist with anything and then as I walk out the door, hug and kiss Davey one more time, I hear, “it’s gonna be a great year, mom, I just know it.”   Easy peasy for this mom.

First day of school for Henry goes a little something like this…

I drop Davey off with my mom and dad, calling as I’m around the corner, so she can meet me outside, grab Davey and I can go.   I need it to be as painless as possible, especially since I know how attached Henry is to his Mimi (my mom).   My hopes were dashed when Henry went into Stage 4 meltdown once he realized that Mimi was taking Davey and not him.   His chin began to tremble, the lower lip started protruding and I don’t know who was going to cry first…him or my mother.

For the entire 15 minute ride to school, I had to endure bellows of, “Mimi, don’t leave me.” and “Mimi, save me.  I stay with you,” all the while he’s clawing his window as if he’s a caged animal heading off to slaughter.   Really, my son, do you think mommy would do that to you???  The thought has crossed my mind of some sort of torture, but nothing like what his mind was developing.   Kidding, folks, just kidding!

Once we arrive at school; however, life is grand.   Henry sees Mrs. Whaling who is now his TA and life is good again.   Now, flash forward a week.

Yesterday being Labor Day, there was no school.   So, Davey couldn’t go, but Henry could today.   Davey?  He’s bummed, but he’ll survive.  Henry?  Let’s just say that I had to drag him out of the car crying and while not at his stage 4 meltdown, perhaps only at a 2, hand him off to Mrs. Whaling as he cried while being carried in.   Davey finds it undignified to be carried inside.  Henry?  He needs that attention.  Of course, once I pick Henry up from school, the world is rainbows and unicorns and has been since the moment he stepped foot into his classroom.   I ask him, “would mommy ever steer you wrong?”   And with his thumb in his mouth, nods his head and says, “yes.”   The child knows me too well.

We’re only one week into school and I can already imagine the scenarios that will play out in the story of A Tale of Two Children.

Down By The Creek

Summer is going by quickly.  It didn’t seem that way a month ago.  At that point, I purchased a white board so that we could do a countdown to the first day of school.  It seemed eons away, but now we’re almost at the 20 day mark, and I’m about to eat crow.  I’m a little sad that I technically only have 3 weeks total of summer vacation left.   I’m hearing you all say, “I told you so”.   Especially those of you who have told me to savor the days as they will be gone soon.

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Campbell’s Covered Bridge.

In my effort to soak up the last few days of summer, I’ve taken my boys on some adventures over the past week.   We tried a new hiking group, picked blackberries, and most recently spent a cooler morning at Campbell’s Covered Bridge in Northeastern Greenville County.

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The kiddos love to run and scream through the bridge.

My original intent was to snap some pics of my kiddos, being the amateur photographer that I am.   The bridge is gorgeous and the scenery surrounding it just breathtaking especially in the fall months.   It offers a serenity that’s becoming nearly impossible to find in this day and time and even gives me a sense of nostalgia as I grew up playing in the woods and creeks.   Speaking of creeks, Beaverdam Creek which runs directly under the bridge was easily the best part of the journey for both of my boys.   Thankfully I thought ahead for that scenario and came prepared with towels and a change of clothing.

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It’s amazing the things that seem to catch their attention.

There’s something peaceful about a creek, the sounds, the rhythm of the water as it stumbles over all of the rocks in its path.   I love a good creek.   They’re refreshing , cool and in most cases sparkling.   They offer a great way for a quick cool off without a complete soaking unless you’re my two children.

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A little exploring before taking off of the shoes.

What started out as throwing sticks and stones into the babbling waters, soon turned into no socks and shoes and a trek through the creek.   Davey immediately took off after discarding his socks and shoes, and slipped on the first rock and went right into the water.   My heart skipped a beat.   Was he hurt?  Was he going to start crying?   Would he want to leave this beautiful place to go back home to his toys and television?   I held my breath as he stood up from the water, his clothes dripping wet, arms stretched out as if was going to take flight, and then he laughed.   He threw his head back and laughed a laugh I haven’t heard from him.   Henry, usually the more daring of my two children, stayed back and yelled, “be careful, D.”

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And there is Davey, sans socks and shoes, enjoying Beaverdam Creek.

Davey kicked and splashed water.  He pulled up pebbles and caught some leaves, and even tried to sneak up on a couple of dragonflies cooling themselves in the stiller section of the water.   Henry, after slipping once, didn’t seem to want much to do with the water anymore, which disappointed me tremendously.   So we found a nice dry rock in the middle of the creek and Henry and I took up residence on it, him sliding over occasionally to sit in the flowing water while Davey went up and down the creek bed.

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At home, you can’t get these two to be peaceful with each other. In nature? Well, that’s a different story.

I sat peacefully, a smile upon my face as I watched my two boys, one sitting in the running waters, the other inspecting every inch of the creek, from the various rocks, washed smooth of their jagged edges thanks to years and years of the creek flow, to the flowers that were smiling back at us from alongside the creek.   Davey would walk over to the water in one section, as it danced back and forth over rocks while rolling towards him, and with his hands cupped at the bottom, he would fill his hands with water and then throw it into the air.   I loved his laughter.  I loved his excitement and inquisitive nature.    To see the creek through his eyes?   Now that would be sight.

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Look at those baby feet and that beautiful water.

It became apparent, shortly thereafter that Henry would be best without his clothing and just a diaper which of coursed meant Davey wanted to be free of his clothing as well and run around in his underwear.   So, there we were, my two little redneck children and I, skipping around in the waters of Beaverdam Creek in their underwear, reminding me easily of the little things in life that seem to matter most.

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Henry throwing a few rocks.

We only stayed an hour as a few thunderclouds rolled in, forcing an early evacuation of a place that my boys want to visit every single day now.   Yeah, going there added extra effort on to me.   We could have gone home, where the boys would have been dry and clean, watched some television and just hung out of for the day OR we could just get ourselves covered in some silt, mud, and wet leaves and a treasury of memories moving forward.   I vote for the extra work, especially since it made me feel like a kid again.  When was the last time I stuck my toes in a creek?

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Not the best lighting as I wasn’t totally prepared for this shot, but still a keeper all the same.

 

So Long! Farewell!

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First Day of School for the 2015/2016 School Year.

“Tomorrow is the last day of school,” I said quietly to my husband last night as we sat on the couch reading books.   We’d just put both boys to bed and were relaxing.   I had attempted to get my mind focused on my book, to get lost in a fictional world, but my mind kept evading the words on the pages.   I kept thinking about the last day of school.

“It makes me sad,” I continued when my husband didn’t say anything to me.

“Why?  Because you’ll have to have them the entire time?” he asked me.  I was shocked and angered by his pointedness.   It hurt, I can’t lie, but I brushed it off as the tears started to roll down my cheeks.

“No.  I’m sad because it’s another chapter that is written and closing.   I’m sad because for some reason it is just hitting me that Davey will be 5 in just 4 short months.”

And there it was.   My oldest, the one who made me a mother, is quickly becoming a big boy, a child no more, someone who won’t need or want mom’s hugs and kisses.   Then there’s Henry, my demon child who’s an angel for everyone else.   Well, he’s officially going into K2 AND on top of that is getting a big boy room!   It’s just too much!

There are times, especially on days like the last few I’ve had, when I wish I had a time machine like Orson Welles wrote about.   I’d want this time machine to take me back to the moments in my children’s lives.   I want to get out and experience it all over again, not just relive it all through videos and pictures.   My husband asked me if this meant I wanted to start over, to have another child?   No.  I don’t want that.   I just want my babies to still be my babies.

As I picked the boys up from school today, I found myself choking back tears and trying to beat down that lump slowly rising in my throat.   Henry’s teacher actually cried when he hugged her.   As a matter of fact, he hugged every teacher and even a few of the kids.   When I spoke to him this morning about it being his last day and not getting to see Levi, Tommy, and Rob again, he asked, “why?” and his little lip quivered.   Shame on me for stirring up that emotion especially since it broke my heart a little and even more so when I saw the sweetness that is my Henry hug all of his friends good bye and exclaim, “have a good summer.”

Davey hugged his teachers, he hugged his classmates, and even managed to squeeze in a hug for another parent.   As he was being placed in the car, one of the teachers asked if he was enrolled to come back next year, because as she said, “I just can’t imagine my school year without this happy face.”

I have my trying days with my boys, days when I want to throw in the towel, days when my patience gets the better of me.  I have days when I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and then shout from the rafters, “I can’t wait for you two to grow up!”   Am I really ready for them to grow up?   Probably not, but I don’t have a say in the matter.

So, as we say, “so long and farewell” to this school year, I want to give a huge thank you to every teacher who has worked with my both of my boys, who have loved them, taught them, and treasured them as much as I do.   I’m excited for K4 & K2 next year, but right now I desperately want to cling to their memories and adventures from this past year.   I’m afraid that the winds of change may rip the balloon string from my fingers, their innocence and childhood floating away.

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Last day of school for the 2015/2016 school year.

The Lost Art of Penmanship

Writing a letter is a lost form of art.   Once upon a time, letter writing was the only way to communicate.  At that time, the prose was more romantic, the wording more lyrical, and the grammar nearly flawless.   Of course that was before the days of the internet, back with the Post Office didn’t bleed you dry just to mail a letter, and when someone wrote “I love u”, it meant you loved the letter “u”.   These days, there are comma splices every where, slang and lingo have taken over the way people communicate, and confusion over how to actually start writing a letter abounds.

I wrote my first letter when I was seven.  It was my first summer away from my parents.  I didn’t actually spend the entire summer away from them, more like two weeks, but for someone who’d yet to stray from her parent’s grasp, two weeks seemed like an eternity.   My aunt and uncle from Baton Rouge, La had come to visit us and I flew back down with them.   At first, I believe there was a bit of trepidation on my part, but then reality sank in and it became clear to me that I would finally have something that was all mine.  The birth of my younger brother less than a year before was sucking all of my parent’s attention away from me and to know that I would be free from him seemed like paradise.

While down in Baton Rouge, my aunt encouraged me to write a letter home, a sort of summer camp letter, minus the whole “Hello, Mutha.  Hello, Fatha.”  She bought me my first stationary, a beautiful red pen and even made a snack for me.  We sat down at her kitchen table that afternoon and I pounded out my first letter.

I wasn’t new to writing at that point.  I could write quite well and spelling was my forte, as I was already winning spelling bees by the time I hit first grade.  I found writing the letter to be exhilarating.  It was fun and intoxicating.  I wanted to write a letter every day, each time I embarked on some new adventure.   Fortunately for me, stamps were super cheap back then and my aunt was patient.   I wrote quite a few letters that summer, and even wrote my first story.

I’m not so naïve to believe that the art of putting pen to paper will ever be revived, but that doesn’t mean my boys will not understand how to write a letter and the importance of it.

I started working with Davey a few months ago on learning how to write.  We’d spent months prior to that with workbooks where he could trace letters, but I decided that it was high time we progress past that and start writing his ABC’s on his own.  I didn’t know he would take to it so quickly and happily.

Dear Mimi
Dear Mimi

Last week, I encouraged him to write his first letter, which was to his Grammy in NY.   I put Henry down for a nap, thereby allowing me all sorts of time to devote to Davey.   I spelled the words for him and he wrote the letter.   It was simple and basic, getting his point across.  It went like this:  Dear Grammy I love you.  There was no complimentary closing, as Davey informed me that he’d written enough and was tired.   Those five words took up three sheets of paper.

and Pop
and Pop

At that point, I didn’t realize how happy he would be about writing.  I always thought he would see it as a chore, something I was forcing him to do, but he’s completely blown my mind.   He genuinely wants to write.  He eagerly asks for it every day.  Last night, as I was kissing him good night, he asked me if he could write a letter to Mimi and Pop after this sleep.  Of course I said “yes”.

I love you
I love you

So, following suit with the other days, Henry went down for a nap and Davey began writing his letter.   He has a few stumbling blocks, mostly with the letters “R” and “Y”,  but he’s quite the pro at the others, namely “D”, “E”, and “M”.  Today’s letter actually included a closing and it was four pages long.

Love Davey
Love Davey

I love his excitement over writing.   I’m glad that he wants to continue doing it and I’m aware that at some point this enthusiasm may change.   I know the days are long gone of slipping notes under desks and swapping them in the hall between classes.   I’m also well aware that everyone these days is in a hurry and taking the time to actually write counters that need for urgency.   For now, my boys will hand write letters.  My boys will learn they need a signature and how to write in cursive.   For now, my boys will at least enjoy something that is “mine”, something I’ve always loved…writing.

 

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.