Friday, June 21, 2013

Where are they now? Grade 4 Edition

Grade 4 is a big year, scholastically speaking.  You may remember, a couple years back when Jackson was in grade 4,  I mused on music, homework, expectationspotential death by social studies, and of course the advent of working on projects in groups.

Things seem easier this time with a grade 4 student in the house.  It may be because it is a different grade 4 student. Or that I knew what to expect. Or that I was reeling from the start of middle school.   Or that we started drinking wine by the box (note: I did not say FROM the box, saving that for adolescence).  It has just seemed easier.

The homework load increased, certainly, as have expectations. And the dreaded recorder has started and projects (but no group projects this year except in gym [??]).  It has been fun to watch Sydney engaged in school.  She has enjoyed projects from Christmas in Mexico to blizzards and even enjoyed writing  her first essay "Why I love music" to which she added a PowerPoint presentation.

We did start the year hearing from Sydney, the six words I dread most in the word: "I am not good at math".  We are all pretty good at math in this house, and she was not to be the exception (Truth be told, if Husband and I had to learn math from the textbook the kids have, we may not be very good at it either).

Anyway, turns out she was wrong.  It was a heavy load convincing her of that.   Once she has mastered carrying and borrowing  regrouping in addition and subtraction, she would say "Yeah Mommy, but I am terrible at multiplication...".  Once she mastered that, "Yeah Mommy, but I am terrible at division...". With each unit mastered, she would look skeptically at the next.  But finally, now she says "Mommy, math is my best subject."
Her gymnastic instructor told me to take a picture of this!

Although athletics is not necessarily where one would expect my kids to excel, Sydney is turning out to be pretty flexible and strong.  She has decided "dance is my thing". (more on that in blogs to come).

Sydney is generally very good about remembering to bring things home from school. She is not always good at remembering to bring them back. She learned early that "My Mom forgot to put it in my backpack" is never an acceptable response to any question.

Sydney has also enjoyed a much more varied diet this year, with colourful things being added that were not sprinkles, M&Ms and gummy worms. Caesar salad is her favourite food (after chocolate), she is finally started eating apples and she loves orange peppers in particular (some of you will know about my long standing aversion to peppers of all colours).
Atypical hair style (crazy hair day)

Quite apart from that, Sydney's social schedule is a busy revolving door of play dates.  She has a wide circle of pals and a few special close ones.

I have noticed that she tends to worry a little  - classic tale of apple falling near tree.  Last night I took her and a friend to a movie. I said as the movie was about to start twenty minutes of ads began "I hope we're in the right theatre".  She fretted so much about being in the wrong one that we had to go out and check. (And it turns out it was harder than one might think, they don't put up the names or the posters anymore because too many kids were sneaking into R movies).

Sydney has grown out her bangs and actually started wearing her hair different ways.  For most of her life, she has steadfastly rejected any suggestion that her hair be styled in any fashion other than "I just got up" or "I've been backpacking for 3 weeks".  She still favours those styles, but also likes braids, ponytails, high pony, hair band and barrettes.

Can't wait to see how this ride ends!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where are they now: Grade 6 Edition

[written last January]

Time is flying and my ability to blog seems more limited these days.

But we are halfway through the school year and I take this time to reflect on the people my kids are becoming.

Jackson is now one sixth of the way through middle school.   It's therapeutic for me to remember that middle school will not last forever. It is also helpful for me to hear from other parents that they not only survived middle school, but they acknowledge that it's and and importantly, high school is way easier. (At this point I accept this with blind faith because I need to).

What have I learned? Well, he still really likes playing the clarinet and according to his band instructor, he is really good at it.  Rare is the day he complains about early morning practices.

He is also really good at shop, or tech ed as they call it these days. My goals for Jackson in his shop rotation was for him to emerge with 10 fingers completely in tact. You would not believe the industrial power tools they allowed my ten year old to use! He make an amazing and original treasures box that he was asked to show off to the principal and vice principal (I suppose everyone might be asked to do that, but I pretend not).

Jackson has made quite a few new friends, thanks to his full time job of being a Minecraft gamer. He is a pretty quiet kid outside our house so it is wonderful to know that he can make friends.

Jackson's memory, or more precisely lack thereof, continues to be a challenge in dealing with school. Water bottles, hoodies and gym strip are frequently fished out the the lost and found, or are permanently MIA.

I was ready to splurge and buy myself a full set of grade 6 textbooks because three times last fall he came home the day before a test without the texts to study.

But, but, but, he keeps track of and cares for his laptop, his clarinet and his cell phone.  I guess what I really need to do is add a cord and recharging capability to his textbooks and he might treat them like electronics.


This is the longest period I have ever gone without blogging. To what do I attribute my absence?

I could tell you, truthfully, that the rigours of a kid in middle school have impacted my schedule. Car pool, increased homework supervision and adapting to having two kids in two schools have left less time in the day.

But a couple other factors have had a greater effect: first, my kids are more reticent to my sharing of their journeys.  I try to focus on my journey, but sometimes the two intersect and sometimes I just can't help myself.  I think when my kids come to me to talk about my breaching their privacy, I may have slipped over the line.

Second, I experienced a pretty strong and negative judgment of my parenting last fall.  When you write a blog, you certainly put yourself out there and criticism is one of the things that can and does come. 

One of the reasons I started this blog, and kept writing it, (apart from the obvious and palpable need for therapy) is that the parenting road is not always easy and is sometime downright excruciating.   While I felt that many felt the same way, it was contrasted to a perception exists that for everyone else parenting is fun and rewarding. 

So many people ask  "has anyone else had to extract a Flintstones vitamin out of a nose this week? Twice?" or "does anyone else also dread teacher professional development days?"

I would like to rather emphatically and graphically say "YES!"  While there may be a few parents out there who have it easy (I am not sure I have met one) most of us have days where we struggle, or even try to quit.

And I want to demonstrate and give voice to the idea that it is hard and that there is comfort and safety in numbers.

While I think the scars has formed over the most recent wound of judgment , I am going to dip my toe back into the blogging pool, and see how it goes.