Category Archives: kids

Lost and Found

Standard

I know we all misplace things sometimes, but it seems that Katie and Caleb have raised the art of losing stuff to a whole new level.

I don’t know if it’s all kids, or just mine.  Routinely, they can’t find their homework, their shoes, or their lunch boxes.  I give them their allowance and it disappears somewhere in the twenty feet between the front door and their banks.  One day over a year ago, they were playing hide-and-seek with their favorite stuffed animals, and Caleb’s precious penguin, Flipper, hid so well that he hasn’t been seen since.

Perhaps the most exasperating ongoing battle to get them to keep track of their stuff revolves around a little gadget called the Nintendo DS.  They had both been saving up forever for this handheld gaming console when Paul and I surprised them last year by springing for the difference as a reward for an especially great set of report cards.  Katie got a pink DS, and Caleb’s was red.  By the looks on their faces, they thought all their Christmases had come at once, and it didn’t take them long to rip open the packaging and start playing the games that had come with the units.

It took approximately thirty seconds for Katie to lose her stylus for the first time.  The stylus is a tiny pen-shaped plastic stick that is essential for using the DS.  It slides into a little channel in the back of the DS and clicks into place.  Unfortunately, the “click” doesn’t last long for a heavy user, and soon the stylus slides freely out place any time the unit is tilted.  I have lost track of all the times either Katie or Caleb has lost a stylus.  Paul and I used to participate in the ritual combing of the house, turning over pillows and looking under beds until the wayward plastic nuisance was located, but after the first thousand times, we stopped doing that, hoping that the irritation of having to search all alone would motivate the kids to keep better tabs on their things.  I’m sure it’s going to start working any day now.

And it’s not just the styluses (styli?).  The games, which are about the size of breath mints, also go missing regularly.  While they’re playing, Caleb and Katie have a bad habit of tossing the game they just removed from the DS onto whatever surface is handy–bed, floor, table.   It’s not unusual for me to run across loose games while I’m cleaning the house, often just before I almost vacuum them up.  I used to take the games away for a week when I found them out of their cases, but that didn’t seem to help.  They just turned to the next game and waited with annoying patience for the “jailed” game to be free again.

Finally, though, they lost something they do care about.  A few weeks ago, they misplaced their one remaining working charge cable.  Neither of them was sure where they had lost it.  Maybe at a friend’s house where they spent the evening.  Maybe at home amidst the carnival of crud holding sway in their bedrooms.  No idea.  We’ve searched, we’ve called, we’ve checked everywhere they can remember having it, but it has not turned up.  It’s been a DS-free zone at our house for almost a month.  Paul and I, meanies that we are, flat out refused to buy a new cable to replace the one that had been lost.  At last, today, the kids broke down and asked if I would take them to the store to buy new cables out of their allowance.

So that’s what we did.

Paul thinks that having to spend $15 each of their own precious savings to replace the cables will act as a good incentive to be more responsible.  I sure hope he’s right.

As for me, I’ll keep watching where I vacuum.

Laughter, the Best Medicine

Standard

Katie and Caleb have recently discovered the power of encouragement.  They are forever writing little notes to each other and to friends, and last Wednesday, they spent over an hour working on an art project to say thank you to their Wednesday night Bible class teacher for her efforts in class.

Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when Katie came home from school yesterday with one request: help making a get well card for Daddy, who is still suffering with the cold that laid all of us flat this fall.

She got out colored pencils and cardstock and went right to work.  In no time, she had the front of the card done:

Get Well card

Opening to the inside, she asked me for my contribution.  Could I write a funny poem about being sick that would make Daddy laugh and feel better?  She and Caleb would each write one, too, she explained, so the card would be from all of us.

It wasn’t easy finding a rhyme for “chest congestion”, but I did my best.  I especially love Katie’s poem and the artwork she did to go with mine.  Caleb eschewed poetry in favor of his assurance that “I love you 100%!”   Here’s the finished treasure, and I’m sure it’s one that Paul will cherish for years to come: (Transcript follows the photo.)

The Elephant Cure, by Katrina

When you’re feeling tired and ill

Take heed of my suggestion

And buy yourself an elephant

To help your chest congestion.

He’ll dangle you upside down

By your ankles in the air

And shake until the extra mucus

falls right out of there!

The Dream, by Katie

A bomb in my head just exploded;

A scorpion crashed in my tongue;

It feels like my ear has corroded;

There’s a penguin in one of my lungs.

Half of my chest has turned yellow;

My brain feels like whipped cream;

My fingers jiggle like Jell-o…

AT LEAST IT WAS A DREAM!

But You Have To Take Care of It

Standard

Ever since we bought our own house, the kids have been lobbying for us to get them a pet.  Katie wants a talking bird.  Caleb wants a dog.  They’ve both used every tool in their arsenal of emotional blackmail to try to bend us to their will.  I’m not against pets, by any means, but I know what a big commitment it is to add a small and furry–or feathery–new member to your household, and I’m not sure the kids are taking the whole thing seriously.

Sure, they swear up and down now that, whatever wee beastie we bestow on them, they’ll bathe it and feed it and walk it and love it (and call it George), but I have to tell you that their fledgling attempts at personal responsibility have been rather hit or miss so far.  What if the poor thing starves to death?

That’s why, when we finally do get a pet, I want it to be able to fend for itself, if need be.

And I think I’ve found just the creature.

Say hello to Mr. Fluffernutter:

Just to be on the safe side, I think we might skip over the “Fetch” part of the obedience training.

A Pox on Thee, Dav Pilkey!

Standard

This morning after recess, we took a few minutes out of class time to practice for the talent show.  With the big night only two weeks away, the kids have been buzzing with excitement, visions of their own American Idol moments dancing through their heads as we work on our bring-down-the-house kindergarten musical numbers: Magalena Hagalena, Grandpa’s Farm, and the class favorite, Fishy.

“Have you ever seen a fishy on a hot summer’s day?

Have you ever seen a fishy out swimming in the bay?

With his hands in his pockets and his pockets in his pants,

Have you ever seen a fishy do the Hootchie-Kootchie Dance?”

We’ve sung it a thousand times, but during today’s practice session, the giggles and squeals grew progressively louder, exceeding the usual gleeful enjoyment that accompanies each child’s personal interpretation of the “Hootchie-Kootchie Dance.”

I looked around for the source of the uproar, and there he was.

My son.

His jeans were puddled down around his knees, his Disney Cars underwear boldly flashing back and forth as he clapped in time to the song’s rowdy chorus.

“Caleb!” I screeched.

The note of hysteria in my voice finally penetrated the cloud of delighted chaos that had overtaken the class at the sight of one of their classmates in his underwear.  A hush descended as they all waited to see what hideous repercussions might befall the perpetrator of such a shocking act.

What are you doing?” I hissed.  “Pull your pants up!  Why are you doing that???”

He did as I asked.  Finally, nearing tears, he explained, “Mom, I was just showing everybody the Underpants Dance!”

Oh.

Oh, no.

Oh, no, no, no.

I recognized that dance.  Somewhere inside, I had always known that my carefree, lackadaisical attitude toward juvenile reading material would one day come back to haunt me.  As it turned out, today was that day.

My baby, my precious little boy, had been hopelessly corrupted…by Captain Underpants.

I tried to continue with the class, but, as with a natural disaster or a cataclysmic world event, there was no going back to normal life without a pause for closure.  We finished singing our other songs, and I looked around to see Caleb, dejected, staring at the floor, barely moving his lips.  As the class took their seats, I gently asked him, “What’s wrong, bub?”

“I’m embarrassed about myself, Mom.”

“It’s okay, buddy,” I reassured him with a hug, having had enough time to recover my own composure.  “You didn’t know.  And everybody in here still likes you just fine.  Right, class?”

“Right!” they echoed dutifully.

“For future notice, though–and this is a rule for everyone,” I emphasized, raising my gaze to take in the entire room, “Underwear is private.  You’re not supposed to show it to anyone else.  Okay?”

“Okay!”

And just like that, it was over.  We moved on to math, and the incident wasn’t mentioned again all day.

Still, a part of me is waiting for that phone call from an irate parent demanding to know just what kind of talent show we’re running here.

Bits and Pieces

Standard

*Last night, after sending the kids to get their pajamas on, Paul and I settled down on the couch with our laptops to play a little World of Warcraft together.  Before long, out comes Caleb in his footie jammies, asking, “Can I sit with you guys?”  I patted the sofa next to me.  “Of course, kiddo,” I said.  Only then did I see that he was holding something in his hands.  “I have a computer of my own, see?” he exclaimed proudly.  He had taken a piece of orange construction paper, folded it in half, and drawn a keyboard and screen on it.  He sat back against the couch and set his “laptop” up on his knees to play, just like Mommy and Daddy.  How cute is that?

Dell and Crayola team up to create the ultimate in ultralight computing...

Dell and Crayola team up to create the ultimate in ultralight computing...

*Once, when I was a kindergartner in Michigan, I spent the entire recess getting dressed in my snowsuit and boots.  The teacher was going down the line zipping zippers and fastening gloves and tightening boot laces before sending each student to the playground, and I happened to be last in line that day.  Just as I was walking to the door to go outside, the bell rang and all the other kids came streaming back into the building, faces red with cold and laughing at their sledding adventures.  I burst into tears from the disappointment.

I hadn’t thought about that memory in a long time, until this year, when we came back to school from Christmas break with three feet of snow still on the ground.  Suddenly, the simple act of sending my students out to recess took on gargantuan complications, and it took me a day or two to realize that I had to make some adjustments in the procedure.  Now, I schedule ten minutes of class time before recess for getting into snowpants and hats and scarves and gloves and boots, and another ten minutes after for getting out of them.  (Yes, that’s twenty minutes of preparation for a fifteen minute recess, but such is life in North Idaho.)  Another lesson came from the K4 teacher in the room next to mine, who has been doing this for winters without number.  She doesn’t spend all that time on zippers and laces and stuffing tiny feet into puffy snowsuits like so many nylon-encased sausages.  Instead, she has a hands-off policy: she’ll talk a child through the process (“sit down and pull your snowpants on like you’re getting into a sleeping bag”, etc.) but she won’t do it for them.  As a result, her students get ready to go out all by themselves, and much more quickly than if they had to wait for her to get around to help everyone.  I started doing things the same way in my classroom this week, and it has helped immensely.

*Katie will be participating in the area-wide private school spelling bee next Thursday.  Knowing my proud history of spelling bee glory, her teacher has kindly invited me to come along and bear witness to the victories and defeats of the next generation of spelling wunderkind.  Kathy has agreed to take my class for a couple of hours in the morning, and I am looking forward to being there with Katie, either to share in her moment of triumph or to comfort her in her disappointment, as my mother comforted me.  Spell on, sweet girl!

*Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday.  What a joy it was to explain to my class why we celebrate the birthday of this remarkable man and the impact he had on American society!  His dedication to Christ’s teachings of love and equality burned through our national consciousness like a wildfire.  While we still have work to do to realize his vision of an America where men “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, he made some of the first mighty strides toward that goal, and planted that dream deep in the soil of our country’s soul.  The reverend knew, as many of us today do not, that the first rule of positive change is love.  We can’t get anywhere we want to go without it.

Another Rule I Never Knew I Needed

Standard

I knew it wasn’t good news when Teri pulled me aside after the kids came in from lunch recess today.  Caleb had gone straight to his desk to color and was acting suspiciously nonchalant, which is a hard look for a five year old to pull off.

“There was a little…ah, problem during recess,” she began.  I braced myself.

“Caleb, well…he went to the bathroom out on the playground.”

“What??”

“Peed.  Out on the playground.”  She seemed to be hiding a grin.

I was dumbfounded.

“Wow.  Um, okay…I’ll, I’ll talk to him.  Thanks, Teri.”

And then she left me alone to have a tête-à-tête with the tiny tinkler.

Seriously?  “Don’t pee on the playground” is a rule that actually has to be spelled out?

Feh.  I guess I’ll just add it to the list.

Clearly I never need to worry about finding something to write with Mommy’s Little Blog Content Generator around.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Standard

After sharing a room with his sister for all five years of his life, Caleb is not sure how he feels about having his own bedroom.  More to the point, he definitely doesn’t love it that Katie has her own room, a room into which she can retreat at will and close the door on his brotherly pleas for attention.  Tonight, wearied by an unrelenting string of knock-knock jokes, she did just that, leaving Caleb standing forlornly alone in the hallway.

Not to be deterred, Caleb got down on his belly on the floor and directed his comments to the crack under the door:

“But Katie, I love you and I want to play with you!”

Nothing.

Pleeeeeease?

The door did not answer.

I couldn’t stand it.  I was on the verge of bursting into to Katie’s new retreat to demand, cajole, and otherwise compel her cheerful cooperation when I remembered that the promise of giving her a sacred space all her own was one of the reasons we moved in the first place.

Instead, I gathered Caleb up onto my lap and tried to soften the blow with some uninterrupted Mommy attention.

It worked pretty well, if I do say so myself.

All the same, as much as we looked forward to being able to provide the kids with their own space, it’s a little bittersweet to close the book on this room-sharing chapter of their lives.  I’ll miss the sound of their giggles as they kept each other awake long after lights out.  I’ll miss the tent castles they erected around their bunk beds with blankets and pillows.  I’ll miss the joint goodnight rituals and Caleb asking to be lifted into the top bunk for our nighttime prayer.  I’ll miss tiptoeing back in hours later to say a prayer of my own over the two sleeping forms in the bed, gazing at the beloved faces with helpless adoration and a painful recognition of how quickly my time with them is passing.

I’m glad I have those memories.  I’m glad they do.

I’m also glad that they’re stretching their legs at last and enjoying some long-awaited independence and privacy.

But I’m still not sure how I feel about that closed door.

I suppose in a few years I’ll be the one on the floor, talking to the crack.

100% Return Rate

Standard

Eleven kindergartners went on the field trip today.  Eleven came back.

I feel pretty good about that.

Yes, I’ve survived my very first ever field trip as a kindergarten teacher, a milestone that I looked upon with trepidation in the days leading up to our schoolwide expedition to Carver Farms, a beautiful and expansive patch of land in the heart of farm country.  But, as usual, all my worrying was for naught.  Several parents came along, and I was able to assign a pair of students to each adult, making the hand-to-kid ratio a nice, comfortable 1:1.  We enjoyed a hayride, took a jaunt through the corn maze, picked colorful Indian corn and perfectly plump pumpkins, and filled our tote bags to bursting with festive fall goodies.

Finally, after a lovely lunch break beneath an obligingly shady tree, the whole happy, dusty, disheveled crew piled back onto the bus, covered in corn silk and chattering gleefully to each other about their treasures.  I had a wonderful time, but this was my favorite part–all my little chicks safely tucked back into bus seats for the drive home, counted and accounted for.

Thank you, God!

*I took a lot more photos, but I didn’t want to post pictures of anyone else’s kids without their express permission, so you’ll have to make do with my little pumpkins.

Shopping List

Standard

“Mom, is this your shopping list?” asked Caleb.

Distracted by an email I was composing, I glanced over quickly.  “Yes, it is.”

I didn’t notice him writing on it, but later, when I picked it up, I saw these additions, scrawled in adorably childish hand, at the end:

WODRMELiN

TOYS

PETTATOS

FROTSNAXS

THIKINEGITZ

Can you interpret?  (scroll down for answers)

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

watermelon

toys

potatoes

fruit snacks

chicken nuggets

***

And the scrapbook material just keeps on coming!

Cute Kids

Standard

Reading Corner

From the first week of school:

*While reading a story about pythons on the reading carpet, a felt a tap on my knee and looked down into Andy*’s mischievous grin.  “Hey, teacher, do you want to see a python in real life?”  “Um, I don’t know,” I hedged.  “Because if you do, I’ve got one RIGHT HERE,” he continued, pointing with a flourish to his tiny curled bicep.  I tried to look impressed, hoping he didn’t notice I was choking on a laugh.

*Little Kyra was in tears, and I was the duty teacher on the playground.  “What’s wrong?” I asked, and she informed me that she only had “one friend in this whole school, and she’s playing with somebody else!”  I told her that she might only know one person so far, but that there were lots of girls in our class that would love to be friends with her.  As if on cue, sweet, quiet Brandy, who had overheard us, stepped forward and said, “Hey, I want to be your friend, Kyra!  Let’s go play on the slides.”  And off they went.  I just stood there with my eyes tearing up, full of sweet gladness at being witness to such a moment.  I can see already that my students aren’t the only ones who will be learning a lot this year.

*Caleb brought Tiny Tiger to school for Show and Tell on Friday.  He told the kids a little about where he got him, and then delivered what he clearly considered the coup de grace:  “Watch what he can do!”  And with that, he seized Tiny Tiger’s tail and used it to execute a complex series of what I know were karate moves, complete with whipshot sound effects.  The kids laughed (and so did I, I admit.)  Caleb’s face creased in consternation as he admonished, “Guys, don’t laugh!  This is serious business!”

*After school on Thursday, as I stayed to finish up my prep for the next day, Caleb asked me if he could have some more of the Skittles I use to reward the kids for good behavior at the end of class.  I said no.  “Uh oh, Mom,” he said, “You just broke the Number One Caleb Rule.  It’s give Caleb whatever he wants all the time.  You get an ‘F’.”

So I survived the first week of school, but I got an F.  Look at it this way:  At least there’s room for improvement.

***

*Names of kindergarteners have been changed to thwart the papparazzi.