Posted in Mama, Writer

Thanksgiving is:

Thanksgiving is:

-mom’s house.

-waking up to the turkey smell.

-pre-cook pies already back in their boxes in the refrigerator.

-cool whip.

-the big divider Styrofoam plates.

-cream of chicken soup gravy.

-dad trying to change things up and getting lectured (probably saying we should do ham next year instead of turkey).

-never enough rolls.

-debating green bean casserole (it’s traditional vs only two people eat any).

-loud and funny.

-My brother and sister-in-law asking me if I’ve seen this or that movie yet and always saying no.

-kid’s running through the kitchen to the sound of Mamaw’s “Be careful- everything’s hot!”

-saying “cover me” every time I open the oven.

-everything being done and impatiently waiting on the late people to arrive.

-having to schedule a time to eat that works for the poor person in retail. Everyone stopping to greet this rarely seen person as if he were home on leave from the military. (“I haven’t seen you in ages!”)

-awkward food line shuffle (“You go first.” “No, you’re the [host, guest, lady, man-of-the-house, cook, mom-of-that-crying-kid, etc.]. You should go first.”

-some more awkward waiting around the tables while everyone gets food.

-awkward hesitation when everyone’s seated, ‘cause we’re all mildly religious, and though we think praying is probably a good idea, the “out loud” part makes some of us clammy.

-mom rolling her eyes at us and praying.

-eating too much.

-getting pie after having already eaten too much.

-mom starting to clean before everyone has finished eating.

-wondering where my sister is when it’s time to wash the dishes.

-listening to my husband complain that he ate too much and needs exercise.

-husband eating the last of the rolls twenty minutes later.

Advertisements
Posted in Mama, Writer

When the Grinch Decks the Halls: a Holiday Paradox

I didn’t know people like my husband existed. He’s a special one.

I mean that for all of the wonderful reasons, of course. But there’s more. He’s unusual because he has this habit of saying curmudgeony things, sometimes just to stir up trouble, even though his actions are the exact opposite of curmudgeony.

If you listened to him expound on philosophy, you’d think he was an uncaring robot who feels nothing from watching the world tear itself to pieces. If you overheard him talking about the holidays, ANY HOLIDAY, you’d probably feel a sudden welling of sympathy for his poor, “deprived” children.

Then, if you plugged your ears, you would see a man who is tirelessly, obsessively caring. His staggering powers of observation make him more empathetic than the most well-meaning people I know, and his inability to be lazy spills over into service for others.

But that mouth, though.

He will argue with me for days, literally days, about buying pumpkins to make jack-o’-lanterns.

“We don’t need them.”

“They’re messy. They go bad after a couple of days.”

“Just let the kids paint the little ones.”

“Okay, but we’ll just get one. You can do it. I don’t want to.”

And every single year, it’s Husband, with his tongue between his teeth, carefully cleaning, carving, oohing and aahing with the kids, taking pictures, and lighting the thing. Every. Year.

pumpkin

He likes to talk about how he wouldn’t help anyone, or even tell anyone, if he won the lottery jackpot. In his opinion, people would only be needier in the presence of that kind of windfall.

Then, when a friend or family member falls on hard times, he’ll wordlessly pass me an envelope and nod in said friend or relative’s direction.

Today, I came home to see he had already put up our Christmas tree. He was waiting for me and the kids to decorate it.

I remembered when we first got married, and I had to convince him to buy a tree.

Today, the kids and I came home to a tree. We all went to the store to pick out an ornament for this year. While shopping, Husband also took the kids to the toy aisle, letting me grab some groceries in peace.

I called when I was headed to the checkout, and, 2 minutes later, Husband and the kids come hustling, panting and heaving, so the kids could throw some new toys on the conveyor belt behind my groceries.  

I raised my eyebrow at Husband, who had recently talked about how materialistic society was ruining kids’ lives. He’d even mentioned cutting back on Christmas toys.

 All he did was shrug as we paid for the cartload.  

20171116_194543.jpg
Playing with Their New Toys

We came home, and as I started to help the kids decorate the tree, I felt a bit tired. I didn’t have to say anything. Husband just noticed, like he does, and stepped in.

In the time it took me and the kids to trim a tree, Husband had cleared the dinner dishes, set up the kids’ stockings with new hooks over the fireplace, spread our decorations through the house, and even spent a painstaking hour stringing our Christmas lights on tiny hooks through the hallways.

20171116_194557-1.jpg
Husband did everything from build the tree, arrange the skirt, dig out AND deliver the box of decorations. I hardly moved.

20171116_194549.jpg

20171116_194611.jpg It’s one of those magical, cosmic miracles- God gave me my husband before he had a solid grasp of the English language. While we were getting to know each other, it was very much “actions over words.” I never had a chance to believe his curmudgeony stances. All I knew was how wonderful he actually was. He showed me. Telling me (and my subsequent eyerolling) came later.

I’m so grateful for the timing.

And I don’t mind that this heart-of-gold man has a hobby of picking curmudgeony fights. That suits my own super-stubborn, dig-in, inexhaustibly argumentative self to a T.

We were made for each other.

wedding

Posted in Mama, Writer

Turkey Disguise 101: a Life or Death Kindergarten Homework Assignment

                I had other plans for blogs this morning, but my son has left his class project out. One thing led to another, and, long story short, I have been mentoring a helpless, reluctant-to-be-eaten turkey in the art of disguise.

                Here’s Ed’s (the turkey’s) backstory.

Backstory

                So, somebody is after the poor guy. He’s dinner otherwise. Got it.

                After wishing Ed luck, I went about my business. When I got back to the kitchen, I found this:

First Hershey

                “Are you kidding me, Ed? That’s a terrible disguise.”

Then-

second hershey

“Did you just…? Cut it out. I can still see you. And hiding in a layer of chocolates? You might as well be hiding under beef jerky and a stack of Cabela’s catalogues.”

Shaking my head, I went back to cleaning up the kitchen. When I went in the living room, I found this:

sunglasses

“It’s a classic, Ed, but I think you’re going to need something that covers the whole butt of protruding feathers issue. Keep trying, buddy.”

Five minutes later, I checked back in and found:

dead

“Oh, I see- pretending you’re already dead. But, sorry to say this Ed, this kind of dead won’t keep you from getting eaten.”

Ed was horrified. After a round of therapy, I found him in the kitchen again.

waldo

“I see what you did there! Well, it did work for that other guy. I’m just not sure if you really want to risk hiding in plain sight like that. Waldo has a lot of white, human privilege that lets him blend in unharrassed. I’m not sure if that would work for a turkey in a turtleneck.  

I know, I know. This is hard. You’ve got to stop thinking like a turkey, Ed. Get with the human program, and find yourself a safe zone.”

I left Ed feeling discouraged. I made tea and went to start laundry. I found this:

laundry

I could have cried.

Ed had done it. He’d finally found a place that’s a total human turnoff. He was a safe turkey at last.

I wiped away a tear and made a note to call Bojangles and reserve my deep fried Thanksgiving dinner. For Ed’s sake, I prayed they hadn’t already sold out.

 

Posted in Mama

Fighting to Believe the “Mama, I Don’t Feel Good”

You know who doesn’t seem sick?

The kid who suspects you don’t believe he’s sick.

You see, he might actually be legit sick. Sore throat and body aches- all that jazz. Yet, since he suspects you won’t believe him, he’s doubled over with some melodramatic moaning that conspicuously stops and starts when he feels someone is watching.

This morning, I felt my eyebrow incredulously raising up because my boy came out of his room appearing to desperately clutch his stomach- all to tell me that his throat hurt.

I took a deep breath.

I automatically prepared to tell him that he’d feel better when he got dressed.

Then I grabbed the thermometer.

100.6

I would like to say that Mary Poppins took over at that point, and I cuddled my boy, and I told him I knew he was sick, and that he would be well taken care of.

Eventually, I did do some of that- but, first, I ground my teeth.

Sick.

Again.

For the fourth time in the first semester of school.  

Like a crime drama, the number of absences he’d already had swam before my eyes like clues in front of a detective. This many excused. This many where the nurse had called us to pick him up. The time he was late because we decided to “risk it” and send him just a little sick.

My son has a strange immune system. He seems like a healthy, active, strong little boy, but during the school year, he’s usually got some sort of virus.

With so many bugs going around, other kids might have missed three days of school, so far.

My son hit seven today.

We recently took him, with yet another set of symptoms, to the doctor. She told us he appeared to have strong allergies.

It actually gave my husband and I some hope.

Allergies! Maybe a few of these “viruses” have actually just been strong allergies!

There are medicines and strategies for dealing with allergies- unlike a cold, where all doctors told us to just keep him resting, hydrated, and away from other kids until the contagious period calmed down.

With the help of allergy medicine, he could finally stop missing so much school!

Three days later, he woke up with a high fever.

The allergy diagnosis was a swing and a miss.   

That was the previous time he was sick. After him, his sister caught his virus. Then, me.

I’m just getting over my cough today, when my son pops out of his room with yet another fever and a sore throat.

The poor kid. I feel so bad for him. The first couple of sick days after summer, we snapped to attention. We stepped up, smoothed his hair, put him in pajamas, and reminded him we would take care of him until he was all better.

After the first couple of times, though, the “I don’t feel good” announcements start to be met with a barely stifled you’ve-got-to-be-frikking-kidding-me sigh.

Due to school attendance policies, my sick kid has been scrutinized through my narrowed eyes.

I start to question how sick is too sick for school. I start to question whether or not my son is exaggerating, since he can probably tell that I’m not taking this well. My husband and I tensely try to figure out if our schedules need to be redone for yet another surprise doctor appointment.

It’s not fair to the kid with the fever in the middle of all this. They notice everything. They might even feel guilty, as if they were the cause of the tension.

It’s not fair at all.

My Mema used to tell me, “spoil them when they’re sick, fix them when they’re better.”

She’s right, and I want to carry it further.

Worried about school and absences? Fix it when he’s better.

Worried about getting behind due to hastily rearranged schedules? Fix it when he’s better.

First, I’m going to believe him when he tells me he’s sick. First, it’s pajamas and juice. First, it’s snuggles on the couch. First, it’s monitoring his symptoms with my finger on the doctor’s number.

I can’t plan ahead for a surprise virus.

I shouldn’t resist the virus when it appears. My fretting doesn’t make it leave. Not believing my son doesn’t make him well. I’d never send him to school to join his classmates with a fever (hello, contagions).

All I can do is care for him.

Everything else will just have to wait.

I’m sorry that this wasn’t my first thought this morning.  

 

 

Posted in Mama, Writer

For Halloween! The Horror Movie Shower Scene: Single Lady Vs. Mom of Littles

It’s Halloween season (is that what we call it?), so let’s have a little horror fun.

The Traditional Shower Scene vs. The Shower Scene with a Mom of a Child Who Has School the Next Day

Traditional Shower Scene

(Steamy bathroom. Showering naked woman. A disguised serial killer enters unseen.)

(Door creaks.)

Woman: Who’s there? Rick? Is that you?

Serial killer silence.

Woman: Rick, stop it. You’re scaring me. Rick?

(Serial killer is finally seen through the thick steam, woman screams, and is murdered).

Fin.

Shower Scene with Mom of a School-Aged Child

(Steamy bathroom. Showering naked woman. A disguised serial killer enters unseen.)

(Door creaks.)

Mom (fully expecting that this is the child she has already said goodnight to three times, re-tucked in blankets for, fetched glasses of water and teddy bears for, and answered questions about God, superheroes, and Johnny Appleseed for, responds immediately with):

I swear to God above, if you don’t get right back to where you are supposed to be this instant you will be stuck in that room forever with nothing but the darkest whole grain bread, water, and the Oxford English Dictionary with the words “Rue,” “Sorrow,” and “woe” highlighted for your convenience. I don’t know what makes you think you can 1.) be sneaking around at night like you don’t have a place to be, and 2.) that you can just barge in to a bathroom with no thought of privacy or personal space– words that will also be highlighted in that you’re-never-going-to-see-the-light-of-day-again dictionary. Let me assure you, sweetheart- if your trouble making behind is anywhere near here when I get this soap out of my hair, you had better be able to run faster than The Flash, ‘cause I am going to be Right. Behind. You.

(Moments later, Mom emerges into an empty bathroom. The next day, her nice, mild-mannered coworker mysteriously starts giving her a wide berth.)

 

Posted in Mama, Writer

The Usual Distractions

Kids are romping around, giggling and screaming, while watching the loud cartoon they begged for.

Husband is lying beside me. He’s watching Korean singing contests, and, because it’s Husband, it’s all blasting way too loud.

“Honey? Isn’t that loud? Is it at full volume?”

“No.”

(I clearly see him immediately open his tablet’s volume, lowering it two bars).

I’m trying to make myself small over here. If everyone’s occupied, maybe I’ll be able to write something continuously.

Not “in peace.”

Not “distraction free.”

It would actually be hard to imagine it getting any louder in here.

Distractions I’ve had. No problem.

The real issue is that the kids are doing some tickle torture chase game while they watch their show, and if I don’t hurry up my typing, I’ll have to stop in order to kiss someone’s inevitable booboos in the living room, and maybe have a talk with the other one about never pulling someone along by his/her shirt.

If I don’t get a move on, I’ll have to stop when Husband suddenly puts his tablet down and asks what “I” want for dinner (i.e. what am I cooking, i.e. “aren’t you going to start cooking? It’s dinner soon”).

My fingers need to fly because the cartoon the kids wanted is playing that song that means the problem is about to be solved.

Everything is loud. The music is always good, but I don’t speak the language, so, when I’m trying to work, it’s hard not to sound like a stereotypical old person complaining that it’s “just noise.”

Must go faster.

Distractions abound. Writing still happens.

It would be nice to be able to sit down and immerse myself in something for more than the 15 minutes the cartoon/ballad lasts.

I hear the credits-rolling song. Gotta hop up, point the kids in Husband’s direction, and start dinner.

Time’s up. 

Posted in Mama

We Need a Children’s Literature Book Club

We Need a Children’s Literature Book Club.

I have become the book-pushing stealth ninja.

“Someone sent us a book…”

“Oh, really?”

“Was it you?”

“You’re breaking up- going through a tunnel-”

My Christmas card address list has been turned into a medium for my version of “I saw something on YouTube and you just HAVE to see it.”

You HAVE to read these amazing, beautiful books.

Yes, they’re for elementary schoolers, or even preschoolers, but you HAVE to read them!

I love them so much. I want everyone to have an opportunity to experience them- both as children for the age appropriate delight and as adults to “get” all of what the author has crafted.

My kids laugh at Hilo because it’s hilarious. I’m laughing, too. As the adult in the room, however, I was the only one who got a little choked up at the climactic ending of Book 3, when Hilo saves his sister and the magic cats unexpectedly scream to the rescue with, “WE ARE FURBACK CLAN!”

My kids were hushed and attentive as we read through the tense, action-packed Mighty Jack and the sequel The Goblin King. As the adult in the room, though, I was the only one who understood that, by the end of the books, there had been an important shift, and Jack was no longer the main hero, or even main protagonist, of either book. The Goblin King is the combat champion, Lilly, who saves herself and emerges with more supernatural power than all of the other characters. (I am especially prone to sending Ben Hatke’s books to my friends with daughters. His female characters are kick-ass little girls. If you received one of these from Amazon Prime- yes, that was me).  

There’s usually so much more to these books than what my kids can glean (ages 6 and 4). They need an invested adult to guide them- otherwise, they’ll miss out.

It’s one of my favorite things to do with my kids, since I sometimes struggle with conversation. When it comes to reading books together, though, we share common tastes and interests. It starts so many conversations, and helps me teach them things that I didn’t even know needed to be taught.

So, if you receive a book from the stealth ninja book-pusher, I am sending something that is 5000% awesome, but also something that I hope helps build the kind of reading conversations with your little ones that I enjoy with mine.

And, when you’re done reading them, please call me, ‘cause I desperately want another interested grownup to discuss these with. They’re literary GOLD, and, if you liked that one, I have a million more that we should talk about.

Posted in Mama

So Your Daughter Will One Day Have a Period…

Dear husband,

I’ve been picking up on some subtle hints that you’re feeling wholly unprepared for our baby girl’s first period party. That’s fine, since she’s little, but the number of times you’ve said, “I’m scared” when tampon commercials come on TV is really starting to add up.  

I get it. You’re a good dad, and, since I work, there’s a chance that when the fateful day comes, you’ll be the one on call.

I’m here to help.

Welcome to your “So Your Daughter Will One Day Have a Period” tutorial.

Two things must start us off.

1.) We call it a period. There’s menstruating involved. Let’s get our vocabulary in order- no “friends,” “monthly visitors” or “that time” talk. If you want our daughter to talk to you about what she needs, first prove that you can talk about the subject at all.

You might also want to read up on female anatomy. You can even read the books I’ve picked for her.

Spoiler alert: they’re scary books. 

2.) Please forget everything from the tampon commercial. There is no more fallacious advertising on this planet than the tampon commercial.

It’s a blossoming, cheer-squad-spinning, field of lies.

Now, we’re ready to talk.

Will the first period hurt?

Probably. See the anatomy lesson mentioned above.

Will she be freaked out?

Probably. We’ll give her books, long talks, and advanced notice, but all of a sudden she’s going to be in pain and seeing blood, while the world just nods, says its normal, and tells her to go on about her business sporting absorbent gear in some difficult places.

It’s kind of like being stabbed and having to walk around with the bandages hidden, pretending it doesn’t hurt.

It takes some getting used to.

Will she need anything?

Yes and no. She’ll need cuddles. And for you to go away. And chocolate. But not THAT chocolate. She might get frustrated with the pain/hormones and say things- evil, spiteful things, and when you tell her not to say evil, spiteful things, she will dissolve into a puddle of tears and whimper, “Why are you mad at me?!”

And sanitary products.

Years from now, If you’re the one home when this all goes down, tell her everything will be okay, and hand her a pad.

Why not a tampon?

Because, in the beginning, those need a lot of instructions or even some help.

(Ladies, show of hands for those of us who got that right on the first try. Anyone?)

So, hand her a pad.

There’s always Midol in the cabinets. There are strategically placed heating pads throughout the house. She’ll be set until I can come home.  

The first periods will probably feel like the scariest. Even so, it will actually be a long few years before she starts to feel her period is “normal.” There could be some easy times, as well as hard times. There will be so many issues for all of us to figure out.

Is missing school on the hard days in her best interest?

Birth control pills regulate this and that, but the side effects…?

Do we need second jobs to cover the cost of menstruation supplies and junk food cravings?

I’m glad you’re a good dad, since these are parenting decisions (with heavy input from our girl, of course). You and me, we’ll help her all the way.

And you’ve totally got this. You were a little pale in the delivery room, but you were no fainter.

So, go read those scary menstruation books. Learn it so well that you could teach it.

There will be a test.  

 

Posted in Fayetteville, Lately, Mama, Writer

Southern Cooking: We’re Not Just Butter

I watch food network a lot, and they are obsessed with butter. They think that’s a sign of ultimate richness, and each chef talks about it at some point.

What kind of confuses me, though, is that they reference it most often when they’re doing traditional Southern recipes. But, that doesn’t sound right. The south is a mixed-up place full of flavors. It’s never just been the place of butter.

We love butter.

Really.

BFFs.

See above for the picture of my grinning daughter holding up a stick like she just won a prize.  

However, the Southern variety of flavorful fat in cooking is a beautiful thing.

If you make your mac and cheese with 2% milk or your grits with half ‘n half, you just made the “light” version.

Any and all pan drippings from a variety of meat can, and will, be made into gravy. That gravy goes on shortening biscuits or mashed potatoes made with butter, cream, milk, sour cream and cream cheese.

The recipes vary, but the richness does not.

How do the Southern ladies make beautiful sugar cookies covered in soft, fluffy icing that can be neatly tumbled into a cookie jar?

Crisco.

Shortening icing is soft, and it crisps up enough to hold its shape. Keep your buttercream for cakes and your royal icing for gingerbread houses. Shortening frosting for sugar cookie decorating is the best.

Shortening is also the shining, delicious reason why the calorie count in a single fluffy biscuit or a slice of perfect pie crust is higher than a plate of fried chicken.

Vegetables and beans taste amazing with bacon fat. If we slow cook or pressure cook, a couple of pieces of pork floating amongst the veggies is the only way to go.

Collard greens use whole smoked turkey legs, necks, or even fatback. You won’t see many “smoked turkey breast” recipes for collard greens.

If something comes “loaded” in Southern cooking, that typically means its sporting butter, sour cream, cheese, and pieces of bacon.

I don’t know why everything isn’t loaded.

Southern fried chicken is a special, beloved classic. We like to argue about the best fat for frying (it’s probably lard- we cut back and use peanut oil pretty often), but the real secret is soaking the chicken in rich buttermilk before we dredge and fry.

The south has problems aplenty, but there’s a reason why, for many people, the bulk of our cuisine is “comfort food.”

I don’t know if we could have gotten even as far as we have on just butter. We were never just butter.

Acknowledge the bacon grease.

Nod towards the gravy.

Salute with a perfectly-iced cookie.

And vote to establish more parks and sidewalks, ‘cause we have to walk this richness off.

Seriously, call your representatives.

Posted in Mama

Kindergarten: Not Ready to Ready in Just Six Months

We suspected our son was going to have a difficult transition to kindergarten. He was a dreamer, who showed no interest in learning his letters beyond the ABC song and the spelling of his name.

However, when I, or my husband, voiced our concerns about starting Kindergarten, we were met with sympathetic nods and assurances that Kindergarten was made to get kids ready for those academics.

Though well intended, in our case, those assurances were not accurate.

Our Kindergarten (which is a very normal Kindergarten) tested my son in September, and he was given the homework of memorizing every upper case and lower case letter, and their sounds, in order to “catch up.”

My son was labeled “behind” in September.  

In Kindergarten.

Which is before First Grade.

So, it’s technically Grade Zero.

My son, who has no cognitive delays or learning disabilities, was labeled “behind” for Grade Zero, in the first month of class.

It wasn’t just academics. His poor teacher! Not being ready, not being interested, made for a kid who was difficult. Though never aggressive, he was quickly becoming labeled as the chatty kid who was always squirming and asking if he could get out of his chair.

There were a lot of notes home.

He’s my firstborn, and this was all a shock to us. The expectations were even higher than I had worried.

My son, who is super bright- despite not having memorized all of the alphabet yet- realized he was behind. All of the reprimands about sitting still and being quiet weighed on him. His self-esteem plummeted. He stopped chatting and stared anxiously out of the car window while we drove to school.

Teacher meetings. Notes home. Teacher meetings. Notes home.

By December, I had run full-circle. I had tried being supportive, reprimanding, rewarding, hoping, and crying (privately). I had felt sorry for the teacher, hated the teacher, and come back around again.

We spent winter break doing worksheets and running through flashcards, trying to get his self-esteem back up. I was hopeful again when he went back to school in January.

But that self-esteem was not back up. A new development, the worst one yet, reared its ugly head; My son stopped trying.

The behavior notes slowed, but the concerned teacher notes increased. Instead of asking me to help him practice, I was being advised to give him incentives for doing his work. His folder was full of clean-copy worksheets, and there were even blank pieces of paper with “incomplete” written on them.

At another teacher conference, this time with the Vice-Principal and teaching assistants, I was informed that my son was “not focusing” and “not putting in the effort.”

Unfortunately, they didn’t see this as a complete self-esteem break. They thought he was still being “difficult.”

My husband and I had a long talk about homeschooling that night. We weren’t sure if we would be any good at it. We worried about disrupting our boy’s “normal” schooling. It took another month of pep talks and eerily empty worksheets before we were forced to get more serious.

I registered our homeschool, wrote a note to the school to thank them (and make sure no one blamed his teacher for this transition) and we took our boy home.

At first, there was an even more melancholy little boy. No matter how I tried to phrase it, he seemed to think he’d done something wrong to be put into homeschool.

Slowly, however, he started to relax. He chatted away. He played wholeheartedly with the kids in our neighborhood.

For his lessons, I focused on the curriculum covered at the beginning of the school year, reviewing the foundations of math and literacy that had been quickly left behind in the first two months of his old school. I let him run around in between lessons, and we were busy with non-academic activities most days.

His confidence slowly returned, and he started to proudly tell people that he was homeschooled.    

We moved to a new neighborhood during the summer. My husband and I thought long and hard about enrolling our boy in this new school district or continuing to homeschool. We changed our minds almost daily throughout our moving month.

Then, almost overnight, a big change occurred. My son started bringing me books and asking very specific questions. Unlike what he’d always asked about before (e.g. the story, the jokes, the characters), he was suddenly interested in the letters, words, and sentences.

“Mama, what does this one mean?”

“Lots of A’s mean he’s yelling, right?”

“You read this part, and I’ll read this part.”

His curiosity about words was suddenly overwhelming. Everywhere we went, he wanted to know what all of the signs said. I found myself reading out loud ingredient labels and package directions for foods he wouldn’t even eat.

This change brought clarity.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with my boy. There was no reason why he couldn’t go to school-

NOW.

Now, he was ready. Now, he was curious and interested in learning. Now, he was willing to sit in a chair for a while, if it meant he would finally know what these words mean.

We had suffered. My boy had gone still and quiet in Kindergarten because he wasn’t ready. We’d accused him of not trying. My husband and I had agonized endlessly over his schooling.

Homeschool gave us a chance to recover and to realize what should have been said earlier.

Some kids aren’t ready- yet.

What feels like pulling teeth now will actually happen with only a little effort later.

We hadn’t qualified for preschool assistance, and we had chosen to have a stay-at-home parent instead of daycare expenses for our two kids. I do believe that an experienced preschool teacher could have flagged us, saving us almost 7 months of heartache.

It would have been so simple. “There’s nothing wrong with your sweet boy, but he’s a good candidate to wait on Kindergarten for a year. A little more development and maturing, and everything will be just fine.”

I can’t guarantee I would have taken the advice well, but, considering we’d guessed Kindergarten would be difficult before he started, it might have been just what we needed to hear.

Our boy went back to Kindergarten this week. I spoke with the administration at his new school, and they flagged him to be in a super-experienced teacher’s classroom.

My son was nervous to go back to school, and he asked a lot of heartbreaking questions, like, “What if I’m not smart enough?” and “What if I mess up again?”

We’ve reassured him as best we can.

His first week was astounding for all of us. No behavior notes. No concerned teacher comments. I told myself not to get too optimistic, since school just started.

Then, he came home with a prize from the class treasure box. He got it for doing a great job all week. He was so proud and happy, and I mentioned that a class with a treasure box sounded so cool.

He shrugged and said that his old class had a treasure box, too. I was left staring on the spot while he went off to play.

7 months in his old class, and I never even knew there was a prize system for achievement. He’d never had a chance to experience it, that I knew of.

When we made the decision to pull our son out of the Kindergarten that he was not ready for, we did it with heavy hearts. We were sure we could very well end up regretting the decision.

Now that I can see the whole picture, what I really regret is not having taken him out sooner. There is a very simple, gentle cure for not being ready.