Birthday’s can be tricky. They’re supposed to be fun and special, but they also tend to get wrapped up in expectations. For the kids, this plays out by them having a hard time enjoying the moment—thinking about the next fun thing—or being disappointed with their presents. We, as parents, want to do what we can to encourage them to enjoy what’s happening as it happens, and have to know that no matter how hard to we try, we’ll never be able to create the perfect birthday for our kids.
Tag Archives: Maia
Maia Turns the Big Five
Our sweet, petite, middle firecracker is now five. Maia has brought so much life and love into our already brimming lives and we had a wonderful day celebrating her. Of course she has challenged us in ways that Keana and Aliya haven’t, but just as unique as her challenges are, so are her amazing attributes. For instance, though each of the girls have a great sense of humor, our Little Maíj continues to be especially gifted in cracking us up. The edge that she has makes her fierce but it also makes her extremely funny and able to understand and express humor like no other little munchkin I know.
Since Maia turned four she’s just grown on every level—physically, emotionally, and able to show off her mental brilliance—becoming more and more like a young girl and less and less like a little kid. And now that she’s five, we can’t wait to be along for all the great changes and growth in store for her (and us) this next year. So how did this little girl spend her special day?
Well, it started off with a trip to the grocery store, just her and me, to get the crucial ingredients for her favorite breakfast: belgian waffles and bacon. She was also able to pick out her cake and tell the baker exactly what she wanted written on top. We happened to have some whip cream left over from Thanksgiving, so that wasn’t a bad addition to the waffles. We had a nice little dance party to some of her favorite songs while making breakfast, and after breakfast set up a video chat with Grandma Linda and Grandpa Sam who had sent presents in the mail a few days ago. It’s become a sort of tradition to have them along virtually to enjoy the mayhem of the girls opening their presents. Maia even had a little time to chat with them on her own, somewhat uninterrupted. Then we headed to the zoo to meet Grandma Jennie, Tia Iana, Cousin Olivia, and Uncle Michael (on his last day here before heading back to Santa Cruz). It was such a privilege to see Maia run from animal to animal exhibit, radiating happiness, a smile plastered ear-to-ear, surrounded by some of her favorite people. There’s a great hill at the zoo too that the kids like to run up and down, so we took a break there to open presents. Throughout our visit Maia would exclaim, “This is turning out to be the best birthday ever!”
When we got home from the zoo, she and Keana enjoyed some of her new gifts while Aliya napped, then I headed out to pick up some Chinese food, her favorite dinner meal. I think the thought of that delicious chocolate cake that was waiting nearby may have hindered her appetite a little. We won’t know for sure unless she wakes up at 4 a.m. and says, “Papa, feed me, I’m hungry!” Aliya had a particularly hard time watching Maia get all the presents and eventually had to be taken off to her room, crying. I think she was easily distracted by a game of hide-and-seek under the covers with Sarah though.
And that’s pretty much how this day-long celebration went for Maia. She was exhausted by the end of it and now our big five-year-old is sleeping soundly with her new dolls tucked in under the covers on one side of her, and the best birthday assistant, Keana, tucked in on the other.
First Dance Recitals and End of School
It seems fitting to write something about the latest goings on of Team Hokama on Father’s Day, so, um…here they are:
First Dance Recitals (photos and video from the dress rehearsal at the end)
The big news I’ve really been wanting to write about is Keana and Maia’s dance recitals that happened last Saturday (June 9). It was such a big a deal! Of course they were both rehearsing their routines months beforehand, and I was really glad that they still focused on the basics and didn’t spend all of every rehearsal learning the routine. There were fancy costumes though and of course the girls did their hair and makeup(!) for the recital. Man, they were talking bout the makeup alone for a full week before the thing.
Of course, this sort of thing conjures up all kinds of issues as a parent. Is all this appropriate for kids this age? Maia’s dance was to Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and part of me wanted to just enjoy it for the cutesy number it was meant to be, and part of me thought we were doing a grave injustice to Maia and women everywhere by allowing her to participate in something so sexist, materialistic, and outright dated. Sarah and I talked about it and in the end we figured what was the harm in something that Maia was so clearly enjoying and maybe it didn’t have to be anything more than just a cutesy number.
Keana danced to a somewhat generic piece called Music Box Dancer and the choreography was more classically ballet as far as I could tell. She was still dressed to the hilt in pink, sparkly, froofiness and again, we questioned if we were bad parents for participating in this stereotypic socialization of our little girls. I know it will be something we grapple with for a while, but this time, we let it go and just let the girls have fun. They’re 4 and 7. They like to dance. They like pink sparkliness. It is what it is.
The day of the recital was very exciting to say the least. We woke early to do hair and makeup for the dress rehearsal. Maia went on at 9 a.m. and Keana at 10 a.m. The recital was at the CUSD Performing Arts Center which was beautiful; new, modern, great stage, lighting effects and everything. I was very impressed and proud we could provide such a great performance opportunity for their very first recital. They were both a little nervous, Keana more so than Maia, but they both got up there and did very well. After their run-throughs, we went back to their dance studio which was about 10 minutes away for pictures. After the madness of pictures, we headed home for a few hours before heading back to the recital hall at 3:15 p.m. for the performance, which started at 4 p.m.
The studio was very organized, keeping all the kids backstage for the whole thing, entertained with various art stations and things for the kids to do between performances. The grandparents—Jennie, Robert, and Cin—met us there and we got great seats in the middle, far enough back from the stage to see everything clearly. When Maia came on my heart jumped and any doubt I had about letting her perform was instantly washed away. She was even better in the performance than I had every seen her and she was so alive on stage. Both Sarah and I were definitely teary-eyed.
We had to wait till after intermission for Keana to take the stage but again, any doubt I had about her performing was gone the instant she made her first move. She too was even better in the performance than I had seen her perform before and she seemed more relaxed than in the dress rehearsal too. Sarah and I weren’t going to spring for the professionally recorded video, but after seeing them live, we couldn’t resist.
Of course we took family photos and all went out to a celebratory dinner after. What a joy-filled day. There was some anxiety, but mostly it was just pure fun for the girls and they both can’t wait for the next one. At the end of the day it was a good reminder that sometimes as a parent, you have to just let go and not worry so much about whether or not you’re scarring your kids for life. There will be plenty of time for them to “fight the power” and right now may not be it.
End of School
School’s out! Keana is now officially on summer break and ready for second grade (but not quite yet!). It was a long, fun, tough, exciting, tiring year and we were all ready for it to end. Of course, once it was over, Keana instantly missed her teacher and friends but we’re going to make an effort to keep her social this summer between our family plans. It is really amazing how much she learned this year. Everything she learned—reading, writing, math, social studies—was leagues beyond what I remember doing in even second grade. We want to keep an eye out for burnout, and are still evaluating if the academically intensive nature of the school is really good for her, but right now, we’re just enjoying summer, which officially starts tomorrow for her. And I will happily let our hard-working Keansta Monsta sleep in on her first Monday off.
It Ain’t Summer Yet
There are stretches of time when I stop for a minute (or sixty, on and off over a few hours) to update our records of Team Hokama—whether it’s the blog, photos, or videos—when I realize there is more happening than I can possibly keep up with. Yet I continue endeavoring on. So. Time to write some stuff down.
The past week+ has been tough. We were cruising along, having a great Mother’s Day, and just after a really nice brunch of belgian waffles and eggs benedict for the adults, Keana starts throwing up. And it doesn’t stop. For 7 hours. Yeah, nasty. At least it stopped by the time bedtime rolled around, but when things like this happen, especially with two other kids, I just wait anxiously to see who’s next. I was really proud of us though, because Sarah and I managed Keana and were still able to enjoy what we had planned for the day. It was a true tribute to Sarah on Mother’s Day.
Throughout the week, Sarah got a milder version of what Keana had, then it hit me pretty hard Thursday night. Luckily, Maia and Aliya seemed to have escaped it, though Aliya has been a little sensitive lately, possibly due to fighting this thing off. It’s just one of those things about having kids and it can, and does, derail things. I think we’re learning how to roll with it though and are a little better about taking time for ourselves if we need it. Half the battle is just staying in the moment and dealing with what’s actually happening and not getting carried away with what might happen. It’s funny to write all this, now over seven years into this kid thing, realizing that I’m sure I wrote those exact words after the first year of having one kid. Cycles of realizations and revelations?
So life’s been busy. Keana and Maia have been enjoying ballet since mid-January as something “extra”. Keana is pure muscle, tall, and poised. She watches the teacher like a hawk and doesn’t miss anything. Her execution is of course strained at times, but she is a joy to watch. Maia is definitely a natural. She’s only four yet her moves are crisp and precise, then graceful and smooth when they need to be. She makes it look like she doesn’t have to think much about what she’s doing. They’re preparing for their dance recitals, which will be happening in the beginning of June. They both have some apprehension about it, as can be expected, but they also have no idea what to expect, so we’ve been balancing listening to their fears and trying to give them a little supportive push at the same time. Another challenge as a parent: let your kids do what they want and what they enjoy, but still push them to try new things so they can figure out what those things are.
Last Thursday Keana had Author’s Night at her school which is where all the kids gather outside to share the books they’ve written and illustrated with parents, friends, and family. This starts in kindergarten and goes through fifth grade. Just like last year, we were really impressed with Keana’s story, how well it was written, and of course, the amazing pictures she came up with to go along with it. It’s really such a cool tradition at this school. Imagine having a book that you wrote each year of elementary school? What a gift. I have to admit that this year Keana had enough plot twists in her story that I’ll have to read it again to be sure I catch all of it. As the school year winds down, Keana is definitely struggling with the long, eight-hour day. She’s struggled with it on and off, and that, coupled with 30-45 minutes of homework each night has really been tough. This morning I told her she just had to stick with it through the rest of the year and we’ll reevaluate this summer. Nothing can’t be changed I told her. So we’ll see how that all plays out.
Maia has really been growing up fast too. She is just more and more mature every week, with how she relates to and helps Aliya throughout the day; being more open to what she wears and eats; and just generally handling things that used to stress her out. She tells amazing stories and plays really well on her own, mostly taking care of her babies or animals. She can often be seen flitting about the house, gathering things from each room, each item necessary for the best possible care of her clients. She loves taking care of us too. For instance, when I get back from a run, she’ll often grab a towel to dry me off and help cool me down. For how fiery she is, she is really sensitive and sweet. She is such a joy day in and day out, and I know Aliya really enjoys having her to play with. They like to run around the house playing together, making up various adventures, and yelling, “C’mon Aliya, c’mon!” and Aliya will scream back as she runs, “Okay Sissy!” We feel really fortunate that they get along so well and have so much fun together. The real bottom line with Maia is that she knows what she wants—or doesn’t know—and will make that clear either way.
And Aliya. Oh, little miss Aliya. Since the last post featuring her, she’s just progressed on that path of talking up a storm and being her own little, opinionated, feisty, happy self. She’s filling in her sentences more, sometimes with gibberish, but definitely trying more complex word formations. She has fits of silliness that crack us up, like changing the way she walks as she sings a little song or chants something. She’s fearless when bouncing on the bed and runs like a little daredevil, barely slowing down as she turns a corner. She’s definitely territorial and if she even senses a threat to something she has, or even something she sees that she wants, she screams, “It’s minnne!” Having two older sisters will do that to you I guess. Keana and Maia are mostly pretty good about sharing, but they are bigger and faster and swoop and pounce on things a bit quicker—for now. Aliya loves stacking things and will run into the room and motion saying, “C’mon Papa, c’mon!” then run to her stack of blocks to show it off. She love racing too, often counting off, “Two, two, two, GO!” Lastly, she, almost more than anything, wants to be doing exactly what everyone else is doing. She’s stopped sitting in her baby chair at the table. She clears her plate just like her sisters; loves to brush her teeth and even taps the water off the toothbrush just like we do. She wants regular glasses, puts her own shoes on, wants flip-flops, you name it. She is two going on five. What a brilliant little independent child.
Look at that, 1176 words. Apparently I could go on forever. And I would, but I have a few more hundred photos to back up and I would like to squeeze in some lushly mellow, possibly brainless, relaxation time with Sarah too. So. I go now.
Maia in the Moon
A couple nights ago, in the kitchen and exhausted, I look at Sarah and say, “I’m lost.” She says, “Me too.” and we hug.
We are in the middle of another “how do we get Maia to stay sleep well” phase. Each time I tell myself that it’s just that, a phase, some brief period that we just go through as part of her growing up. But over the winter break I was moving our old blog to this site, and years ago I wrote about pretty much the same thing I’m about to write now. When it comes to Maia getting good sleep, we are lost—again.
It’s on and off. Sometimes this thing works and sometimes that thing works, but we have yet to find that magic formula. Really, since she was a baby, we have experimented with every method you can think of, tweaking things here and there hoping for some solution. We’ve thrashed between being confused and confident, angry and peaceful, despairing and hopeful, and everything in between. And the only thing we’ve really come up with is that sleep is important and we all need more of it. Well, Keana and Aliya are doing pretty good, but sometimes Maia wakes them up with her middle-of-the-night anguish too.
The last three nights pretty much sum it all up:
She goes to bed fine, but wakes up around midnight and can’t go back to sleep.
She has to pee.
She wants Mama.
She has to pee.
She wants Papa.
She has to pee.
She has to pee.
Finally, at 4 a.m., she falls asleep (and Aliya wakes up).
Friday night’s antics pushed us to rearrange her bed, moving the mattress to floor (her idea).
She goes to bed fine, but wakes up around 1 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep.
She has to pee.
She doesn’t want Mama (because Mama makes her have to pee).
She wants Papa.
She has to pee.
She has to pee.
I am so frustrated with her that I lose it.
I ask her why she can’t just sleep like a normal person.
I ask her why she’s such a problem.
I tell her I’m going to put her in a box and ship her to the moon.
I feel horrible.
I tell her I’m sorry and frustrated and she’s not the problem, but her not sleeping is the problem.
I tell her I won’t put her in a box or ship her to the moon.
Finally, I lay with her in our bed and she asks in a whisper, “Papa, if you ship me to the moon, what will I eat?”
I feel horrible, but muster, “In your box there would be a magic fridge with whatever you wanted and a little bear would help you.”
“How big is the bear?” she asks.
“About as big as Miko [our 20 pound cat].” I reply.
She snuggles in and falls asleep.
I’m not sure how early or late it is, but I know Aliya will wake up soon. And she does.
She goes to bed fine and starts to fuss around 11:30 p.m.
She has to pee.
She just wants to be held.
I take her back to her room and ask if she wants me to sleep with her.
She nods yes, we snuggle in, and we fall asleep.
I wake up at 2 a.m.
I have to pee.
I go back to sleep.
What happens next? We have no idea.
We’re asking lots of questions.
We’ll stay patient.
We’ll stay open.
We’ll stay loving.
Sometimes as a parent, that is the only magic formula you have.
First Trip to the Ballet
Today was Keana and Maia’s first trip to the ballet and what was on the bill? None other than The Nutcracker. It was Grandma Jennie’s Christmas gift, and we were all excited. Sarah hadn’t been since she was a kid (to that very same theater), and I realized that I had never been to a ballet before either.
Sarah got the girls dressed up in their holiday finest, and we dropped Aliya off at Grandma’s house. It was weird leaving our fifth member behind, but there was no way she was going to go. So it was a little sad but also kind of special just being able to focus on Keana and Maia.
Maia was hating her stockings and shoes all the way to the William Saroyan Theater, but once we got out of the car and headed towed the large building, she was immediately distracted. The theater is really nice and we got there with plenty of time to hang out and enjoy the experience. The girls were very anxious to get inside and see what it was all about.
We found our seats and I noticed right away that there wasn’t a live orchestra which was really surprising and also pretty disappointing, but I tried not to let that soil my experience. The girls were buzzing with anticipation, and Maia especially liked the self-folding seats. The lights dimmed, the music started, and the curtain raised. Show time.
Throughout the show I looked over to see what the girls’ reactions were, and they were pretty engrossed, for the first 30 minutes. Then the hunger and tiredness kicked in a little. Surprisingly, they had very few questions. We had sort of prepped them with what to expect, so maybe that helped. By intermission though, Keana was sad with hunger and Maia really needed to be close to Sarah. I tried to get them to go to the bathroom, but they insisted they didn’t have to go. The lights dimmed, the music started, and Act II began.
Maia was definitely having a harder time paying attention, but there was more action and more frequent cast changes, so they were pretty into it. The Russian dancers were almost more B-Boy than Russian, but were still really impressive and got the audience pumped up (and gave the girls a little jolt). They even had a dude in a wheelchair doing stands on his head, wheelchair lifted straight in the air. Crazy. I felt sort of bad for the other dancers in the other segments, because I’m sure they were doing really impressive stuff, but the crowd reacted much more boisterously to the Russian dance crew.
15 minutes to the end Keana started complaining about having to go to the bathroom really bad, but I convinced her to hold it telling her it was almost over and I didn’t want her to miss the end. The Pas de Deux at the end was really well done and you could tell the principals were quite talented. I couldn’t help but think they cut the orchestra to pay for better dancers, but it was a ballet, so that’s probably a good thing. Still, I was bummed the girls did ‘t get the live orchestra experience too (of course, they had no idea). Anyway, when all was said and done, the lifts were amazing and so was the footwork (or whatever it’s called). The bows at the end were fun and the size of the cast was really impressive.
The girls also enjoyed catching glimpses of the cast in their costumes in the lobby, but were pretty much ready to bounce at that point. When I asked them which were their favorite sections/dancers, they both replied “all of them”. So there you go, the first trip to the ballet. I’m really thankful we could go as a family and I’m looking forward to future performances. Now that Keana and Maia are a little older, these sort of excursions are becoming possible, and today was a really nice taste of what’s to come.
Maia Turns Four
It’s never easy sharing your birthday with a holiday, but this year I think it really worked to Maia’s advantage. We celebrated her fourth birthday the day after Thanksgiving and I think it was pretty special, at least I hope it was for her.
It’s hard to say why this particular birthday felt like such a big one. As always, I have to check myself and see if I’m projecting some of my own stuff onto my kid’s experience, and in this case I sort of was. For me, turning four was a really big birthday because it marked the beginning of my constant memory. What I mean by that is that I remember bits and pieces of my life before four, but after turning four I remember just about everything, with few holes. So I think that’s part of why this seemed like a big birthday for Maia. Plus, Keana and Aliya have really been getting a lot of attention lately, so it was finally Maia’s turn in the spotlight.
The usual suspects were there for an early afternoon party—Tia, Cousin Olivia, Uncle Ryan, Grandma Jennie, Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin—but there was one special guest this year who came down for Thanksgiving and stuck around for Maia’s birthday, and that was my brother Peter. All the guests are special of course, but we see Uncle Peter far less, so it was a particularly special treat.
One really cute thing that happened that day was after waking up with Maia snuggled next to me, I said “happy birthday little Maij!” and she said, “it’s not my birthday yet! Not till the party!” I tried for a moment to explain, but then just smiled and let it go remembering having the same thought myself many years ago.
Maia’s favorite “special” meal is Chinese food, and she really had her heart set at going out to eat for dinner. Aliya was super tired and we didn’t think we could all go, so Sarah stayed home with Aliya so I could take Maia and Keana out to her favorite spot. It was kind of sad splitting up the team, and I knew it was really hard for Sarah to sit one out, but it was more important that Maia got her special wish on her birthday. I don’t think I had ever been out to dinner with just Keana and Maia, but it was fun. They are both so old and capable now, that it was really easy and we were able to all relax and have fun. The girls mostly played with the new toys while we waited for our food, and I just sat quietly and admired my amazing daughters, especially my big four-year-old.
And that was that. Maia turned four. It was great, we had fun, few regrets, and as always we’re left slightly out of breath, still amazed at the passage of time and all the wonderful things it brings along the way.
One of the most enjoyable parts of being a parent is seeing your kids’ personalities emerge. Even six years after our first, and two more later, witnessing our little people turn into, well, little people is such a surprise. There are some similarities amongst our girls—like their great senses of humor, their musicality, and their love for dancing—but really they are all quite unique and very much individuals.
A week ago, we went to the Intermountain Nursery for their fall festival. We’ve gone every year since we moved to Fresno, and it’s always a lot of fun to see the local arts and crafts, sample some great food, and hear a variety of live music. And this year what I really noticed, and loved watching, was how each of our girls’ personalities shone in different ways in that setting.
I was mostly on Aliya duty last Sunday and she never stopped. She’s been walking for about three months now and is steady enough and confident enough to head out on her own adventures. In fact, she’ll often give a little scream when you pick her up when she wants to be on her own two feet, so I just let her go. I did run a little interference for her in more dense crowds, but for the most part, she chose her own path and made friends along the way. “Shy” is not really a part of this girl’s personality at the moment. She walked straight up to groups of adults who would be talking, looked each one in the eye, smiled, then moseyed on. I watched stranger after stranger just be immediately charmed by her independent, cute-as-hell smile and felt humbled and proud at the same time. She even walked right up to this older man and put her arms out, requesting to be picked up. He asked if it was okay and I said it was fine. I knew Aliya’s sense of who is safe and knows what they’re doing was good enough to trust, and I asked him about his kids. They were grown now and he told me the saddest day of his life with them so far, was the day he couldn’t pick them up any more. I could tell that having a minute with Aliya was pretty special for him and Aliya was right at home, even in this stranger’s arms. When she was ready she leaned over, he set her down, and away we went. We did that for hours, literally.
Now Maia on the other hand, she’s a little more reserved in social settings. She sat in the stroller much of the time, and only ventured out for short periods. She got out to say hi and be with Cousin Olivia at first, then was out for little bit to dance in Grandma Jennie’s arms, but then went back into her little chariot, content with observing things from in there. When one of their friends showed up later, she of course got out and wanted to be in among the little tribe of kids, but in general, it seemed Maia needed some space between her and the crowd and had no problem asking for it, which I thought was great. I want her to be comfortable even if it’s a little anti-social. When she’s ready, she makes her presence known. In fact, it was really interesting watching how much other people were drawn to her, even though she really wanted nothing to do with them. Maybe it’s because she’s stand-offish, or maybe it’s because she’s so petite and cute, I don’t know. But if you think you’re going to make Maia you’re friend, you will be set straight. Maia really likes things on her terms.
That leaves Little Miss Thang, Keana. She and Aliya seem similar personality-wise, because I remember Keana, even as a baby, charming the crowds and being open to just about anyone. Still, they are different. Aliya has a little bit more edge in her outgoingness, whereas Keana is still our little happy-go-lucky. People everywhere have described her simply as “a light”, and that pretty much sums it up. There could not be a more loving little girl. It doesn’t matter how old you are, younger or way older, if you’re ready to play, Keana will be right there with you. She also loves to dance and she didn’t let her slight nervousness stop her last Sunday. There really weren’t many people dancing, and really no other kids, but Keana was right up front, busting out all her moves. It was really cute watching her assimilate some of the moves of the older people around her. She danced as long as music was playing. She admitted to me later, “Papa, I was a little scared to dance. But I just like dancing so much I just did it anyway.” I have much to learn from Keana.
That’s really what it is: noticing, appreciating, supporting, and learning from these kids as they grow into who they’re going to be. Watching Keana, Maia, and Aliya is a constant reminder to me that I’m still growing too and that who I am is exactly who I am supposed to be. When I remember this, it helps me with them. It is such a gift and such a joy to be a part of this.
Taking Her Time
In all the excitement of Keana starting first grade, I don’t want to lose sight of what Maia’s been dealing with this week: her second year in preschool. Last year was a bit of a roller coaster. She was almost three when she started, which felt a little young, and some days were easy, but almost an equal amount were hard. Even in May there were some mornings she just did not want to go. We left her anyway, two days a week, and there was the occasional day we had to peel her off and just head straight out the door, hoping her sadness at our departure would quickly fade once we left.
We began this year hoping it would be easier now that she was older and knew what to expect. In some ways things are definitely better. Both Tuesday and today she started out excited about going; excited about the process of getting ready for school, picking out what to wear, packing her lunch, etc., but once it came to us leaving her there, she got very sad. But on Tuesday, she came home exclaiming, “Daddy, I love school now!” and then basically the same today. So it is similar to last year, but one thing she’s warmed up to is playing with friends which makes a big difference I think. I got the impression that much of last year she played by herself or with minimal interaction with her friends at school. By the end of last year, she had definitely made a couple friends she hung out with, but nothing solid. This year, two friends in particular are pretty close, and I can tell it’s much easier and more fun for her to really play with them and she feels more comfortable in the school environment.
The first week is almost done and we’ve survived. There is a lot going on for each kid and it is amazing to see how much growth Maia (and the other two) have had over the summer. I think we’re all really feeling the lag of shaking off the free-for-all of summer, and I think Maia will really settle in this year. Of course she will always be different than her more happy-go-lucky sisters, but I think as Maia matures, all these social things outside of the home will get easier and easier.
So it begins: another school year. It’s kind of weird saying “another” since we’re really only in our third year of “school-age” kids, but wow, tomorrow. We’re a little nervous. Last year was a big step for Keana going into “real” school (kindergarten). And for Maia too, her first year in preschool. We had all our worries about how they would do with the new environment, schedule, teachers, other kids, and the usual things on the list for parents when they send their babies out into the “real world”. Maia did about as we had expected—starting out excited then settling into a roller coaster of resisting getting there, loving it while there, then not wanting to talk about it till later—and we think this year will be a little easier in her Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Keana’s jump to first grade though feels like a big one.
Her school is an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program charter, a program we’re still pretty excited about. However, the academic intensity of it is still something we struggle with, especially for these young kids. Keana’s day will be 8 hours long with a 15 minute break in the morning and 30 minutes for lunch, so the breaks seem a little short compared to her academic day. Plus they often have quite a bit of homework. They do get PE every day in the afternoon though, as well as special sections of art, music, specialized PE, and Spanish. Also, what makes this curriculum so cool is that much of the learning is hands-on, interactive, and collaborative, so they’re not just sitting at their desks memorizing stuff. Sounds like I’m talking myself down, doesn’t it? Maybe I am…a little. She is so excited though and she got the teacher she was hoping for, so I think she’ll do great. As a parent I’m constantly reminded of how important it is not to overlay my own experiences, fears, and emotions on whatever our kids are doing. They get to have their own and we’re just here to guide and support them.
Today we had a family meeting too to get our own household rules laid out and agreed upon before starting this new adventure. We all sat down together, with homemade peach muffins, and all contributed to defining what we though respect and communication were, and what logistical rules were reasonable (like chores) and what the consequences were for not following them. It was a little abstract for Maia, but I know she understood what was going on. Even though she pretended to play games and check out, the amount she did chime in was a giveaway as to what she was soaking in. Keana struggled a little too, because I think it was all overwhelming with the big first day of first grade looming, but she warmed up to it, especially when we let her write down the ideas being thrown out. We also made it clear that these were rules that mama and papa had to follow, with the same consequences, and I think that was a little surprising to them (in a positive way). I know Keana is super-excited to bust my ass when I fall out of line, as well she should be. Sarah and I needed these rules as much as the kids did. So we put them up on the fridge and I think it was a great first experience defining some boundaries in our home, together.
Well, I better sign off and get some sleep for the big day, but first I think I’ll draw a little “we love you” note for Keana’s lunch tomorrow. Big Zoob is going Big Time and truly, we are excited.
Oh, and I almost forgot! Keana lost her third tooth 8/17/11 to kick off this sure-to-be exciting school year. Beat that!