Friday, March 30, 2012

representational artwork!

I can't take a picture of it right now because it's too bright out, but Charlotte just used her window crayons to draw a picture on the window.  It's a picture of herself, splashing in the rain.  It has a figure (her), blue vertical lines (rain) and some blue irregular circles (puddles).  There are also a lot of blue dots that she says are "reminder dots."  Not really sure what that means.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

so grown-up.

Went out for tacos tonight, after the parents had a really stressful work day.  Charlotte amazed us with her Big Kid behavior.  She waited at the bar for a table, sat at her seat and amused herself with her tote bag of stuff.  Charlotte ordered a cheese quesadilla, which came with rice & black beans.  We told her that she didn't have to eat the beans, but it would be nice if she tried them.  She tried them, ate some, ate some rice, and even used her fork and knife properly!  I don't think we've ever given her a knife to use (except to cut a banana), and she did a great job pushing rice onto her fork with the knife.  We were kind of blown away.  She also drank her water from a glass and managed to not sit there fishing ice cubes out with her fingers.  Seriously, we were so impressed.  Kind of had us sitting there, jaws open, while she sat and ate like a civilized little human being.  Wacky.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


One of the most rewarding and scary things about parenting for me is how similar Charlotte and I are, and how different.  There are so many things that she says and does that remind me of me.  Lately, at four and a half, she has begun developing a temper, lashing out physically when she never has before.  She stomps her feet, throws things, and kicks out when she's mad, which more and more happens as she's tired or hungry, and completely unable to self-regulate.  This is something I know about myself, and seeing it in her makes me half-smile in recognition.  There's another side to her, a cheerful, open, friendly side with an especial interest in older kids that I just don't recognize.  She will go up to any kid that catches her eye, even a seven or eight year old, and try to strike up a conversation or join in their game.  Was that me as a kid, and I just forgot?  Has my shyness as an adult shut off those memories?  Or was I just never like that, more reserved?  The adult me just doesn't recognize that side of her, and sometimes it just leaves me at a loss.

Charlotte's preschool is a public one, part of the elementary school here in town.  I love that she's in the same building she'll be in for kindergarten, that she's meeting the "specials" teachers and the principal, and that she knows where the gym and library are already.  By the time I'm leaving her at school all day with a lunch packed and putting her on the bus, she'll already know the lay of the land, and the names of her classmates. 

There is a smaller scale playground, fenced in, that is off the three-classroom wing that makes up the preschool and kindergarten classes.  The preschoolers play out there before pick up, and sometimes the kindergarteners play too, an extra recess when they need to shake their sillies out, or when the weather is too good to be believed.

Today was one of those days, and I have to tell you, any time you see a kindergartener and think how cute and tiny and little they are, just unleash a pack of them on a bunch of preschoolers, and you'll be amazed at their transformation into raucous giants.  Here is another of the places where my own memories of four years old fail me.  I can't remember how I felt when I was four and a half and faced with a flock of six year olds, seemingly all blond, tall boys who yell.  But I know how I feel as a mom when I watch that swarm descend on the pre-schoolers' recess.  It makes me tense, stand on the balls of my feet.  My jaw clenches a little.  For the most part, unless they have a sibling in the preschool, the kindergarteners have no interest in the "little kids."  There is this group of boys, however, that has picked up on Charlotte's desperate interest in the big kids, and they have decided, for whatever murky six year old reason, to encourage her.

What they do, as a pack, is run up to Charlotte and scream, "Oh no! She's going to get us!" and then run off.  Then she tears off after them.  Back and forth across the playground, over the equipment, around the baby slide, well out of the way of the swings.  The teachers seem to be okay with it, but it makes me nervous.  Because, while Charlotte doesn't get it, I can read their faces.  They aren't playing *with* her.  They are using her desperation to be one of the big kids for their own devices.  It shouldn't bother me.  There's no reason for it to bother me.  There's no real mockery or mean dialogue going on, not that I can hear, just a lot of "Nah-nah-nah-nah-na-na, you can't catch me!" sing-song, and "Oh no! She's getting close!"  But when Charlotte is chasing them, she has no sense of self preservation, and no interest in listening to me at all.  I'm calling at her that it's time to go, and she doesn't care, and why should she?  Chasing is more fun than getting caught, less scary then getting caught.  If they were chasing her, I would put a stop to it instantly, and I know the teachers would too.  It's pretty sinister to have five kindergarten boys chasing a preschooler, even one who is four and a half and the size of a kindergartener herself. 

The other part of this is that she's saying things to me, while I'm trying to get Charlotte to stop chasing the boys and come home.  Some of the things she said today is "I have to defend the preschool kids," and "I have to defeat the big boys."  She's saying that she has to protect the other kids from them.  I know that she's just playing a game, but I'm worried she's going to get to rough.  She's a bruiser.  She's inherited my Swedish peasant physique.  It's kind of hilarious that she has declared herself the preschool's champion.  I just don't want her to take it too seriously.

I have enough experience with kids and playground dynamics to know that this is "all good."  No one is doing anything out of line, the teachers have an eye on things, and this is all normal healthy kid stuff.  It's just surprising to me that even how I know it's cool, and I can see that it's cool, I can't help but feel on edge.  I feel the same way when Charlotte approaches older kids on a public playground.  I want to intercede and steer her away.  I don't want her feelings to get hurt, or for her to get made fun of even if she doesn't realize it.  Because of her size I am usually pretty confident that she's not gonna get picked on physically, but watching her try the monkey bars (covered with kindergarten boys, who, to give them credit, never once stepped on her hands or anyone else's) it occurs to me that she quite possibly could try something far beyond her skill level and get hurt by accident.  Though, given Charlotte's personality (and my own as a child) that's just as likely under her own inspiration as from following anyone else.

It's the same parenting quandary all over again.  As a parent, your job is to protect your child - but from what, exactly?  And how far?  Today I settled for watching from afar as Charlotte tore up and down the playground, purple coat & pigtails flapping from exertion, and occasionally tried to get her attention so we could leave.  I have to promise myself that if the same thing happens tomorrow, I'll just take her coat, take a breath, and just let her chase.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Water Bees

Charlotte decided that "Water Bees" is a more appropriate name for brine shrimp than "Sea Monkeys."  Sometimes she remembers that she calls them water bees, sometimes she calls them sea monkeys.  We started them in the beginning of January, and they have done quite well.  We had a large initial batch; they are supposed to keep reproducing themselves after you hatch the packet of eggs.  It seems to be working - though we just had a massive die-off as the first bunch, hatched from eggs, all, ahem, "aged out of the system."  However, we can see some tiny ones growing, which is exciting.  The circle of life!  It moves us all!

When we had, say, 20 big sea monkeys swimming around, Charlotte didn't really bother naming them.  Sometimes she'd say, "That one is Long Taila, and that one is Big Taila," but it wasn't a big deal.  Now that there are two big ones left, one medium one, and a few tiny ones, she is constantly telling me their names.  Here are their names, in order of size (and presumably age):


Monday, March 5, 2012

There's a wocket in my pocket.

For those of you not in the know, March 2nd is considered "Dr. Seuss Day", since it is the anniversary of Theodore Geisel's birth.  Charlotte eagerly embraced Seuss week at school, and it looks like her teacher is extending it into this week.  She did Seuss stuff at school, Seuss stuff at home, and is loving sharing little facts with me.

"Did you know that Dr. Seuss lived in Springfield?  And Springfield is really close?"

"It is his birthday, that is why it is Dr. Seuss Day.  But he is dead.  How can it be his birthday when he is dead?"

"When will he be alive again?  Can we give Dr. Seuss some medicine and he won't be dead?"

"Did you know there is a wocket in my pocket?"

I printed out a page of Dr. Seuss finger puppets (free from Michael's) and Charlotte colored them (all one color, she was too excited to color carefully) and I cut them out and taped them.  She noticed that two of the finger puppets were Sam-I-am and "the guy who does not like green eggs and ham."  Charlotte got the book Green Eggs and Ham off her bookshelf and acted it out with the puppets, roping in her daddy to be the other guy while she was Sam-I-am.  I almost wish I taped it, except that I know it would have interrupted the flow.  It was adorable to witness, though.

Last week, while I was still recovering from the cold from Hell, I couldn't really read stories to Charlotte at rest time.  It would send me into horrible coughing fits.  So I asked her to read to me instead.  She picked Hop On Pop, and was able to "read" the whole thing to me, with occasional prompts.