Sometimes our life is so full of those moments when you say, “Man, I really want to remember this,” or “I have to write down what she said when we get home.” Of course, many of those moments never get recorded, being put off until they slowly fade from memory. And I think that’s okay because I certainly don’t want to miss those moments by worrying about how I’m going to remember them. I like to record things but I don’t want to be the dad that sees his kids growing up through the screen of the iPhone.
But I did want to take some time tonight to remember today. The afternoon was more hectic than usual (if that’s possible) because Sarah had to be somewhere and it was “open studio” night for Keana’s ballet class. This meant I had to take all three kids and keep two of them somewhat tame for an hour around dinner time. It turned out better than expected because both Maia and Aliya are in ballet too, so they enjoyed watching the older girls and practicing some of the moves they knew along with them. Not only that, but it was such a joy to see Keana practice. I don’t usually get to go and watch her, and she was amazing. Poised, confident, struggling, succeeding…it was such a gift to be able to take the time to really see what she does every Tuesday night in ballet class.
This morning was quite unique. We awoke as usual: Aliya woke up first, crying for “Mama”, just before six. Not long after, Maia began to stir, snuggled in next to me as lately, she’s found her way back into our bed in the middle of the night. Then “stomp stomp stomp” went Big Zoob’s (Keana) feet, eager and excited to get ready for school and get the day started. It was cold though, so Keana crawled into bed with Maia and I as Maia complained about the kitty crowding her. Keana said “Papaaaa! Get up! We’re going to be late!” and I had to reassure her there was plenty of time—several times. But finally, after the snoozed alarm on my watch went off for the fourth time, I dragged myself out of bed as the kids and kitty dropped to the floor around me and took off running.
And it was like that, business as usual. Aliya joined us and wondered around, being busy as only walking babies can be with all sorts of little baby projects, scrounging occasional bites of bagel from Keana, Maia, and I when she was in the vicinity. As we ate, Keana began to talk about all her loose teeth—there were five—and said this particular one on the bottom was annoying her. Then, much to my surprise, she asked me if I would pull it out. I laughed a little nervously, asked if she was serious, and then said “sure.” Keana got very excited and started talking about how excited she was going to be to show Ms. Daigle and her classmates, and I realized that losing teeth was social currency in first grade. It was exciting, different, and a sure sign that showed you were growing up. Missing teeth, especially freshly lost ones, got you attention and Keana wanted her some of that this morning.
I tore off a little piece of paper towel, folded it around the tooth, and began to pull straight up, gently, just as I had done many years ago on my own teeth. I had a method in my youth and once I got my fingers around the tooth, it all came back to me. Maia and Aliya looked on with excited curiosity. I watched Keana’s face for signs of discomfort but she was all good. The paper towel soaked through, so I got another little piece and tried again, this time applying a little more pressure. I saw Keana’s eyes close and a concentrated calm came over her. The next second I felt the root of that little tooth pop free and Keana and I both laughed with excitement. I think was as surprised as she was. Maia jumped up and down and declared, “It came out! You’re so big sissy!” and Aliya squealed and turned in circles, not knowing quite what to do. We all examined the tooth briefly and Keana ran into the bedroom where Sarah was to share what we had just done.
When I rolled out of bed this morning, never did I imagine I would be extracting a tooth. That’s just life with these crazy kids though: moment to moment, adventure to adventure, big, and small.
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!
Curling toes that try to grab; tiny chubby fingers that have difficulty navigating at first, but then get a death grip that can’t be budged, the grip surprisingly strong. It’s these little things that we’ve forgotten over time that Aliya is now reminding us of. She’s really working on her motor skills and figuring out what those little hands attached to her chubby little arms are for. She still likes the finger puzzle (a term we coined when she interlocks her fingers and stairs at them intently wondering how and what they are), but she’s moved on to liking baby rings, watches, and any other baby-hand-sized object to grab, grip, explore, turn around, and bring up to her mouth. Yep, she’s started the quasi-teething. Maybe it’s real teething, but basically she’s started exploring things by sticking them in her mouth and producing inordinate amounts of drool.
Aliya continues to be completely entertained by her sisters. When she sees Keana or Maia dancing or jumping around—or generally acting crazy—she busts out laughing. It is the cutest thing. It’s not just a giggle but more of a bellowing baby laugh. Her sisters love to see how she’ll react almost as much as they love holding and squeezing her. The fact that Aliya’s beginning to sit up better and develop more of her core body strength definitely helps with being held by Keana and Maia who aren’t always, how should we say, stable. Also, Aliya actually enjoys “tummy time” for a while and can roll herself over onto her back when she gets up on her strong little arms. She continues to be very mellow and quite smiley, even to nosey strangers.
In other news, Maia and Keana had their first voluntary sleepover at Grandma Jennie’s house last night. They stayed at Grandma’s when Sarah and I were with Aliya in the hospital in San Francisco, but of course that wasn’t exactly something they chose. So we watched the Giants secure their place in the World Series, then said goodnight. Keana had a little trouble saying goodbye, and we assured her she didn’t have to stay if she didn’t want to, but when Maia decidedly said she wanted to stay and sleep there, Keana quickly decided that was really what she wanted to do too. We took Aliya home and it was very, very quiet. I sort of liked it and sort of didn’t. I was quickly thinking of what life would be like when they started sleeping over at friend’s houses or stayed out late doing who-knows-what. But I did sleep until 8 a.m., with no interruptions, something that hasn’t happened in ages, and it felt great. It seems like the girls had a blast too, so it was a win-win.
Oh, and Keana is on the verge of loosing her first tooth. She has several loose, and this one’s been loose for a while, but it’s finally, almost there. She’s in no hurry to get it out though, and certainly doesn’t want any discomfort, so it’s basically holding on by a proverbial thread. It’s so loose it can stay sideways, but yet she’s not quite ready for it to come out. Of course we don’t want to damage any trust by yanking it out without her permission or her being totally okay with it, so we wait. It’s her tooth, it’s her call. Maybe tomorrow.
(Started and almost finished 6/3/08. Since this was written the teething has been more manageable.)
Poor little Maia is having an especially hard time with teething lately. She’s always preferred to be held, but lately Sarah has barely been able tot set her down at all, which makes an already long day with the two little ladies that much longer. Sarah goes to work out two nights a week (and on Saturdays) and that’s always a little tough on both the girls since during the week it’s right around dinner time. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s hard on me too, but I know it’s important for Sarah to not only exercise, but also have a little something just for herself too. Anyway, Wednesday night (6/4) was really tough with the little teether. The three of us barely managed dinner and I actually left mine mostly unfinished as I tried to calm Maia. I can usually put her in the sling and rock her to sleep, but on this night I think her teeth hurt too much to let the sleep take over.
I tried everything and finally decided maybe a bath would do the trick. Up until this point Keana had been doing a great job with putting up with her distraught sister and her distracted dad and seemed ready to move on to the bath. So we all hopped in and Maia continued to cry and cry and I had to try to just be okay with the fact that there was just nothing I could do, and just hope the remaining time without Sarah would go by quickly.
Sarah walked in the door to little Miss Maia splashing and sobbing, with a frustrated Papa and a worn out sister. Thank God Sarah was home and thank God every night isn’t like this.