Heart of Gold

We live on a great street in a wonderful neighborhood located in the middle of suburbia.  Yes, even I make fun of suburbia, so go ahead!  But fortunately, it does provide my children with a safe street full of kids where they can play sports and hangout…of course the houses are on top of each other (but the good thing…less yard to mow).

Our street has about ten to fifteen kids that play outside on a regular basis.  Ages range a great deal, but for the most part everyone tries to include everyone.  When it comes to the boys on the street, my son is the youngest of the group, however, we have a couple older ones that do an excellent job watching out for him.  Unfortunately, none of them were present yesterday when six kids were playing basketball in our driveway.  Playing in our yard is always welcome, and it does often to seem to be the basketball goal of choice…not sure why.  Anyhow, it had started with three elementary school kids then two high school aged kids joined the game.  I was watching out the window to see if my son was getting the ball since the older kids joined the game.  Avery started playing recreational basketball this past season, but he still has less experience than all the other kids and often has to fight for the ball.  I understand this will improve over time, but of course a mother is always protective of her babies.  On that note, I try to avoid being that helicopter parent.  I called Avery to the door after a while of seeing him be left out and quietly told him to speak up and say he wants the ball too.  I doubt he said a word.  My Avery has a heart the size of Texas and he just wants to make sure everyone is happy.  For example, last night his sister had her cup of water taken away at bedtime because she was mad and kicked dad.  Avery took his cup of water to her when dad walked away.

Last night, while sitting on the sofa, I asked my sweet boy, “Honey, does it upset you when the big kids don’t give you the ball, or do you just enjoy having all the kids at our house to play?”  It broke my heart when he said he wants the ball and wants to play too.  I took the question a little further and said, “Do you want mom to speak up and tell everyone to make sure everyone is equally included?”  (Not sure what age parents start becoming embarrassing.) I was actually surprised when he said yes to that as well.

Sometimes it is so hard to keep yourself in line as a parent.  Where do you let your child fight for themselves, and where do you step in?  I certainly would not walk down to someone else’s driveway and give orders, but when kids are playing in my driveway, my kid gets to play.  I look at my children and see so many differences.  My daughter, who is three years younger, has no problem fighting for herself…remember, she kicked her dad when she was upset.  But my boy has the huge heart and always wants to play nice and fair; I really hope he does not get walked on in life for being so sweet.

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A Debate With The Husband

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I volunteer at the school a couple hours a week helping my kid’s teachers. Usually, I am sitting in break room stapling, sorting, cutting out laminated items, etc., but every once in a while I spend time helping the teacher in the classroom. So my husband and I recently had a discussion that turned into a debate about parent volunteers in the classes. We are very fortunate to have our children in an excellent public school. The school has an outstanding staff and a great deal of parent involvement. Both things I feel are vital for excellent schools.

The debate began when my husband and I started talking about parents in the classroom. Jonathan (a.k.a. the husband) does not recall parents helping in classrooms when we were younger. His opinion is, since it is a public school, parents should be able to help at the school but not in the classrooms. Why? He feels public schools are meant to be equal for all children. Therefore, it is not fair that one child’s mother can help due to a flexible work schedule and another child’s parent cannot due to a different work schedule. There may be one child that their parent’s inability to help at the school really has an effect on.

His thought is valid in my opinion, but I think the benefit of having additional parents helping in a classroom far exceeds the potential downfalls. Due to struggling budgets in school systems these days, the student/teacher ratio has been raised in many places. As a result, a teacher is expected to teach to 23 children at all different levels, keeping the advanced ones challenged and reaching out to those children that learn a slightly slower rate. Is that possible?

I am extremely lucky to have two children that are very bright and advanced (of course we read and learn new things at home, but I feel we owe a great deal of where my kids are academically to the Primrose environment that they were in from newborn through Pre-K). For example, my 2nd grade child is reading on a 4th grade level. Although wonderful, having an advanced child comes with its own challenges…my child can cause disruptions in class if he gets his work done too quickly. A friend of mine often goes into the class and takes the advanced readers into another room and works with them on things so the teacher can focus on those that need a little more help from the teacher. To me this is a benefit to all the students. Another example is the weekly fluency tests. Every week each child must read a story so the words they read per minute can be measured. A volunteer parent can handle that while the teacher continues teaching, or the teacher can give kids some busy work while she tests each child individually. I feel the parent involvement is beneficial in this situation as well. So my question to you…what is your opinion? Should parents be allowed to help in classrooms?

The Simple Minds of Children

Since my son started school a couple of years ago I have been very fortunate to be involved at the school.  I have gotten to know many of the teachers that you can truly see have a passion for children.  Although some days (when my two children won’t behave) I wonder how a teacher handles a full classroom of kids, I have seen the blessings they receive from teaching.  Just as a mother that volunteers at the school an hour or two a week, you see how big the hearts of so many kids are…they get so attached even to those of us that just make an occasional appearance.   

So, this week I went to help my son’s teacher for a couple of hours.  Part of the time I was working in the classroom while his teacher was teaching.  The teacher was walking through the responsibility of homework, and how in 2nd grade it is no longer mommy and daddy’s responsibility to make sure homework is completed and turned in.  Of course I understand why they are starting to train them in that direction, but honestly, I still feel I should check my son’s homework at the big age of seven.  Anyways, I believe every child in that class asked a question…What if my dog eats my homework?  What if my mom forgets to put it in my folder?  What if I finish my homework but leave it at home?  What if my mom throws it away?  Imagine 23 of these questions.  By the end of the discussion the teacher laughed and explained that all possible questions had been asked and answered.  The funny part, these questions were asked with the straightest faces.  They were thoughts that actually ran through their little heads. It made me realize how their simple thoughts can bring so much laughter and happiness to us if we just take the time to take it in.

Back in the Swing of Things

Well, the school year is now underway. The crazy summer had me slacking off a little on the blog. My kids are loving school, even the kindergartener. Unlike my son that cried and reached for me as I walked out the door, my daughter simply confirmed I would come back for her, then said good-bye without the tears. The odd part…we have been in school for over two weeks now, and today Emory cried as I dropped her off in the carline. “I don’t want to go mommy!” Wow, did that tear at my heart strings. How can their tears make us moms so emotional? So of course I cried on the way to work. I am such a sucker!

On a lighter note, my son has had a smooth adjustment to second grade. I think he is actually starting to build friendships and looks forward to school.  Always a good feeling for us parents! Now, the most entertaining part of the school year so far are the updates I receive from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and par pro. One morning I was actually pulled aside in the hallway and told “Emory is PERFECT!” Oh my gosh! Are you sure we are talking about my child? Perfect? Really?  “She just sits in class, obeying all the rules, raises her hand, stays quiet when asked to.”  Now I’m not sure if they are amazed at any child who behaves like that, or just because they had my son two years ago, and she just is not behaving very Bohlander-like.  Regardless, the word perfect did give me a good chuckle.  Thinking I should record her and her brother fighting one afternoon and show that to her teachers.  She has quite a devil side to her.  Lucky for her, she is super adorable!

Despite all the joking, I honestly have to say, we are so lucky to have two happy, social, normal children that love school.  It makes our lives much easier.  I am thankful every day for our excellent school and teachers.  Another year is underway…boy does the time fly!

More Time Off?

Let me start by saying, I truly admire what teachers do.  And I do not believe they get paid nearly enough.  With my two kids, an occasional bad day can be very draining, much less if I taught 20 of them.  We have been very lucky with teachers so far…I have loved all of them!  I helped my son’s teacher occasionally this past year and I can certainly see the reward of being a teacher…IF all the children are well behaved.  There really are a lot of sweet children out there.  But as with most classes, when I occasionally helped his teacher, there were a couple of kids that I found to be rather challenging (to put it nicely); and I bet my child could be one of those challenges at times.  His teacher amazed me…she was always so calm and mellow; she just had that soft voice and “the look” that made the kids feel guilty for letting her down.  You know “the look” I’m talking about! (I often joked with my husband that she had to drink a lot to be that laid back!) I admired her teaching style. 

Now here is the dilemma…as one who grew up in a fairly strict home with discipline, I have decided I am definitely not teacher material.  Of course, I certainly agree with taking spanking out of the schools (like they had when I was a kid), but let’s face it, teachers have very little options when it comes to discipline these days. However, I am quite jealous of the many breaks teachers receive.  Our county is now on a calendar that has a week-long fall break, a week-long winter break, a week-long spring break, in addition to the normal two weeks of Christmas break.  And let’s not forget summer (I realize they do work some in the summer). Think about spending the summer at the pool and having plenty of time to rejuvenate throughout the year!  As a working parent I think about all the money I could save on child care/summer camps if my job had the same schedule.  My three weeks of vacation certainly does not cover all the school days off.  So, I think a new job needs created for those of us that are not meant to be teachers in life, but provides the same work schedule.  Any ideas? 

Colors of Happiness!

Back to the grind we go!  It is Monday again…oh I mean Tuesday.  I must admit, it was a lovely weekend.  And I could definitely get used to the four day work week.  The weather was excellent for the most part.  We got in some pool time.  And this crazy thing happened…due to the overcast morning yesterday, we were really productive around our house.  What in the world???  The kitchen drawer in our house that has never properly worked is now working; my son’s bed has needed a replacement bracket that is now fixed (I think some boys were jumping on the bed!), and my wonderful husband placed my bird feeders on the deck so I can see all the birds that come to visit.  The gold finches have been beautiful! Light bulbs were replaced in all those places like the basement and closets that have been ignored; and I have loaded up many of the paint buckets to take to the store so they can be shaken up again for the numerous touch-ups that are needed around our house.  I never knew walls could look so bad.  When pondering about why these walls look so bad compared to our last house I remembered there was one key factor missing at the last house…kids!  Of course, I’ll take those messy walls any day (but they are certainly at the point where touch-ups are required).

Speaking of paint, color amazes me.  Yes, I am one of those weird creative minds that believes color can be therapeutic.  Why is color so amazing?  Depending on the shade of red it can be a color of passion or aggression.  Yellow is a happy color in my opinion.  Blue skies make me calm.  What about gray?  Gray seems very gloomy to me; an overcast sky can really leave me feeling rather blah.  That is why I am often so curious why offices use it as a color for walls and cubes.  Can we make cube land any more dull and boring? Before my current job I worked at Home Depot’s corporate office which consisted of endless gray cubes and walls. Shouldn’t a place like Home Depot have bright, colorful walls…I mean, come on, they sell paint!  And honestly, I believe it is the color scheme in Walmart that makes my children behave so poorly. We walk into Walmart and within 30 seconds my children are in rare form.  Although their logo is blue, our Walmart has all gray walls.  Now I don’t want you think my kids are angels in Publix or Target (I still bribe them with something from the $1 section if they behave…something I swore I would never do).  But I will go 5 miles out of the way to avoid Walmart just because it is never a pleasant experience.  You can look all over the internet and find varying emotions of color, so who’s to say which one is right and wrong, but I certainly believe the color in a room can affect one’s mood.  What do you think?    

Here is a color chart I found on Pinterest…  

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Laugh More!

OK…I have a confession to make…I am one of those sappy, emotional moms when it comes to things like Pre-K graduation and end of the school year honors day events.  And the teachers never make it easy.  They love to compile photos from the school year and make a video for the parents with the cheesy, emotional music that makes it very hard for us sappy moms to hold back the tears.  But today I have made a promise to myself not to cry (too much) at my daughter’s Pre-K graduation.  How I plan to go about that is still to be determined.

I have researched “funny things” on the internet.  None of them seem to be funny enough to keep me distracted.  I guess the best thing I can do is remind myself how much money I will be saving next year when my child enters the public school system.  I’m feeling rich already! Alright, the word “rich” might be an exaggeration.

It is so interesting to see things through the eyes of a child.  At the age of four, my daughter already talks about how she can’t wait to grow up.  She hates nap time and is eager to start kindergarten, have braces, drive a car, have kids, drink coffee…the list goes on.  What I wouldn’t do for nap time now! We spend so much of our lives excited to grow-up and when we get there, we want it to slow down.  I guess this is a process that will never change, but I certainly try to remind my children to enjoy being a kid.  Enjoy laughing at the simplest things.  My kids will laugh continually at my son making the arm fart sounds.  Really????  Now I’m not suggesting adults start doing things like that, but I do think we could benefit from a little more laughter.  So, I am setting a goal for myself to slow down, stress less and take time to laugh more.  I’m going to keep track of my progress.  Let’s see if I have made any improvements by next week…I’ll keep you posted.

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