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I have always, as I am sure all of you have, had students whose behaviour ranged from Practically Perfect in Every Way to Why Can’t You Follow Just One Rule Consistently. I have tried to understand both of those children, and all the ones in-between and meet all the accompanying needs.  I have even spent time trying to put myself in the parent’s shoes, wondering how the parents of the well behaved students feel about The Other Kid, and vice versa. This summer I have realized that I am that parent now.  Specifically, I am the parent of both of those children.

Both of my children have finally been signed up for swimming lessons.  Many things delayed this happening, but the main obstacle in our way was timing.  At the YMCA, independent lessons start at 3 years old.  I could never take both children at the same time simply because there weren’t openings in a class for an under 3 and an over 3 that could fit into our schedule.  No matter, really.  Both of my children are comfortable in the water, and we swim often so they have learned a lot of the skills that show up in swimming lessons.

During our first lesson, my daughter, age 4.5, immediately began to shine as the top student.  Seriously.  During the first lesson they determined she should move up a group.  She was fully compliant, and fully able, and still had a great time and used all her kind words.  Alas, no spots were available in the next level group, so she has stayed. My son, on the other hand, placed in the same group for reasons unknown, was running away from the teacher, refusing to jump when he was meant to jump and jumping when he was meant to sit.  He wouldn’t lay on his tummy to flutter kick, or blow bubbles in the water. The second lesson was even worse.  I kept telling myself not to worry.  I kept ordering him to return to the group instead of sitting on my lap like he wanted to.  I kept noticing how the discipline of my son was keeping my daughter (and their one classmate) from having a good swimming lesson.  Luckily the other mom was very absorbed in her phone and didn’t seem to notice.  Or maybe she just understands that this is how it is sometimes.

We’ve had a few times like this over the summer.  Daughter is so well behaved at the library, at the store, at playgroup.  Son runs around like a maniac, pulling books and grocery items from the shelf at top speed and playing instead of participating in Closing Circle.  It’s an age thing. It’s a boy thing.  Daughter was well behaved much earlier on than her brother.  But I keep reminding myself how important it is that he is allowed to participate in all of these activities so he will learn how to do it – how to have some self-control even when there are trains in the room.

Now I don’t have to imagine how both of those moms feel because I am both of those moms.  We had our 3rd lesson on Thursday.  Both kids did really well.  My son stayed with the group, only cannonballed into the pool at the wrong time once, and kicked up a storm exactly when he was asked. Last week we also successfully navigated the ice cream shop, and only came home with one $10 pepperoni I hadn’t intended to buy when we visited the grocery store.  Neither of us cried at any of those places.  And I can already look back and laugh at myself sprinting down the aisle of the grocery store trying to catch him.  Almost.

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Yes, that is why we had to get a new dishwasher.

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Slice of Life: OMG

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“Let’s come back here every summer for the rest of our lives!”

“Yeah!  And we’l wander around giving people advice like ‘Cherish every moment of your life.’ and they will all think we are crazy but we’ll think we’re so wise!”

“OMG!  YES!”

“Hey!  There’s number 8!  That was the most beautiful one I have ever seen!  Everyone make a wish!!”

It was about 10 p.m. when the girls in the campsite across the path from ours were immersed in this part of the conversation.  It was the night the Perseids were at their peek, and when the talking woke me up again at 11:00, the girls were making a wish on the 51st most beautiful meteor they had ever seen.  They had extinguished their fire, put away the guitar and were carrying on with a conversation that was just loud enough to keep us all awake, but not quite loud enough for us to truly follow. This was also about the time the couple beside us decided to break up.  Both groups had been drinking beer all day.  One group was contemplating the wonders of life, while the other lamented the annoyances of a partner that never pulled her weight and another who flirted with every girl who came along, including the 3 across the path.

At about the time the 107th most beautiful meteor was wished upon (“Nobody is ever going to believe us!!”) I wandered up the path to the park warden’s shack to discuss curfew violations.  They put a stop to both conversations, and I assured them that my children would still, despite my late bed time, be getting up at 7 a.m.  Sweet revenge.  And it made me feel old.  And grateful that I don’t think I need a case of beer to enjoy a camping trip.

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

There is still nearly a month  until school begins here (hooray!) but my daughter is already counting the days.  She will start junior kindergarten in September.  She keeps telling me that she is very brave about being a kindergarten kid, but is nervous about the first day.  We’ve been trying to make sure she is prepared for great start, practicing all sorts of things like being able to open her own string cheese, and put on her own indoor shoes.  Those indoor shoes have taken up a considerable amount of her mental energy this summer.  They are pink, and glittery slip-ons.  She wants them on her feet all the time.  Instead, they are perched on a shelf in my closet.  I’m sure they call to her in the night.  Last night she wanted to try her backpack on, just to make sure it fit.  This led to trying on the shoes, just to make sure they fit with the backpack on. “Will there be enough room for my toys in this backpack?” she asked.  I explained that her toys would be at home, not in the backpack.  “Then why do I need to take a backpack to school?” she wondered.

“To carry important papers,” I said. “And your lunch and maybe some spare mittens.”

“Some kids carry their lunch in their hands.  They don’t put it in their backpack.  I want to do that.”  I have no idea where she got this information, but she’s not going to be on the bus so I honestly don’t care if the lunch is separate.

This is a first for me.  I think the first day of school is one of the most exciting days of the year, but also one of the scariest.  I can remember being a kid and not knowing where I would go once the bus pulled up to the school.  Even now, probably because I am a teacher, I have anxiety dreams about the first day for weeks before it actually arrives.  I am always trying to help kids be brave that day, despite their nervousness. I’m hoping the pink glitter shoes are the answer, and that my little girl can start her school career on a positive note, empty backpack and all!

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday.  You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Slice of Life:

A few years ago, I discovered the existence of Mackinac Island.  I joined a sewing challenge (obviously this was before I had children) and another person in the group lived and taught on Mackinac Island.  I was enchanted by the idea of living on this island for a while.  Though I never seriously tried to talk my husband into moving there, I did start wanting to visit.  Last summer, out of the blue, my step-mother-in-law said, “Do you know where I’d like to go?  Mackinac Island!”  She has a friend who goes every summer.  So it was set.  We were going.

Our trip finally happened last week.   We drove to their house on Monday, and on Tuesday morning we all drove to St. Ignace.  After spending the night, we boarded the ferry on Wednesday morning and made out way to the island.  It was beautiful and enchanting, just as I expected.  We had a lovely day, and the sun even peeked out of the clouds for our ferry ride home. My daughter thought all the horse-drawn carriages were great, but a missed opportunity to have unicorns drive people around.  My son was less impressed with the shopping and carriage rides, but the boat ride was probably one of his summer highlights.

I grew up in Utah, a long way from the Great Lakes, and visiting them was never something I considered. I was pretty focused on getting to the ocean, which is probably what really made me move to New Jersey in 1990.   Then in 2003 I moved to this part of the world, and lived in a town that was on Georgian Bay, a very large bay in Lake Huron.  We traveled north along the shores of Lake Superior more than once.  Last summer, we went swimming in Lake Superior, and in Lake Ontario.  A few weeks ago we went swimming in Lake Huron once again, and last week, we stopped at a visitor’s centre, and we put our toes in Lake Michigan.  (My 4.5 year old put her whole body in Lake Michigan, but that’s another story!)   Now all that’s left for me is Lake Erie.  I didn’t realize this was something I had “accomplished” until we were actually there, in the water and I started to think about how the water in all 4 lakes compares.  It’s crystal clear in all the spots I have visited.  I’m sure there are spots that are not, but the beaches we have been to have been beautiful. This is a big deal for me because lake swimming freaks me out.  I like to be able to see the bottom!

A quick Google search informed me that Lake Erie is having blue-green algae bloom problems, so I’m not sure we will be in a  hurry to go swimming there.  I am glad, however, that this summer has led to me checking two things off my imaginary To Do list for life.

Lake Michigan, St. Ignace, MI

Yes, she is fully clothed.

Yes, she is fully clothed.

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday.  You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Flying a Kite

It was a pretty windy afternoon, and it seemed like perfect kite flying weather.  My 4 year old and I went over to the church, just a few blocks from our house.  She was on her bike (first time riding on the street!) and I was carrying our kite.  It is a cheap, plastic kite, with thin string and I suspected it would not fly in the end.  “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” my husband asked as we walked out the door.  I gave him a look and kept walking, but as we started to try and get the kite up in the air, I realized I probably actually didn’t know what I was doing.  The good news is Claire’s expectations were pretty low.  As the wind whipped the kite around her, or as she ran with hit dragging behind her, she shouted with glee, “I’m doing it!  I’m flying a kite!  This is the best day EVER!”  After an hour of trying, the kite was finally aloft, for a grand total of 3 minutes.  It didn’t go high, and it was a struggle to keep it there, but the 4 year jumping and laughing next to me made it feel like quite an accomplishment.

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday.  You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Just for fun, our family decided to spend the weekend at a little cottage way off the beaten path.  It was to be a sunny, warm weekend – a perfect few days to spend boating and swimming and possibly fishing on a tiny, quiet lake.  We arrived an hour later than expected, after a wrong turn had us lost in the bush with no cell service.  We were tired, and after taking one step from the van, we remembered the mosquitoes.  We knew we were coming into their territory and had packed accordingly: long pants, long sleeves, hoodies, and lots of bug repellant.

We spent some time on Friday night at the beach, but the day had been a bit overcast and humid.  That’s perfect mosquito weather and they were only too happy to share the beach with us.  Try as we may, we couldn’t stand it for another minute and agreed to try the beach in the morning.  “Oh, we’re going inside?  Fine with us!” the mosquitoes seemed to say.  We slap-clap killed many of them, but, alas, not all.  We crawled into bed, tired and looking forward to the next day.

My son, who is particularly sensitive to mosquito bites, tossed and turned.  He kept waking everyone up.  I’d stayed in his bed thinking it would help him settle but it didn’t.  Finally, sometime late at night (no clock in the cottage!) I retreated to my own bed thinking I could have a few hours sleep before he came to find me.  As I stumbled out, I ran straight into my husband.  He was standing in the moonlight with a crazed expression on his face.  “You should see all the mosquitoes in the bathroom.  We shouldn’t have left the nightlight on.”  One mention of the bathroom and I had to go.  They, a swarm of them, were biting me the whole time.  I ran back to bed after turning off the light.

Sleep was not to be found, however.  One lone mosquito decided to serenade me for the rest of the night.  I slapped myself silly, and burrowed deep under the covers, but the incessant drone, a high-pitched whine more than a buzz, kept me awake.  It kept us awake.

The next day, my husband sped into town to get mosquito coils, an incense-like product that fumigates the house for mosquitoes.  They smell terrible, and are probably bad for breathing, but they did the job.  We burned them most of the day, including one outside the front door, and then aired out the cottage before going to bed.  We kayaked, swam, and drove the boat around the lake, all after about 2 hours of sleep.  We were tired, and grateful for a mosquito-free night!

Tired boy...before we even left shore!

Tired boy…before we even left shore!

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday.  You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

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