July 29, 2010

Everything I’m learning, I’m learning from Kindergarteners

She sobbed quietly as she tightly grasped her mother’s hand in a cooler-than-usual late July morning. He grips my other hand with a soft, nonchalant grip as he eagerly walks, for the first time, to the bus stop.

The first day of Kindergarten was very typical for both Swee’Pea and TheMonk. Swee’Pea had good moments and rough moments, including some all-out tears. TheMonk had some trepidation at first but quickly decided he liked Kindergarten and fell in line with all the other kids quickly.

But that first day was just a couple of hours while Mommy and Daddy were in the teacher and a couple more hours without Mommy and Daddy. The second day would be the first full day and it would begin with their first ever ride on a school bus.

As the bus arrives, the nervous Swee’Pea begins to cry. We carry her on the bus and the bus driver, a nice older gentleman, tries to comfort her. We find a seat near the front and Swee’Pea and TheMonk sit down. I ask TheMonk to hold his sister’s hand and he does so dutifully. But it is clear that he is in awe of his surroundings and loves being on that bus. It is also clear that Swee’Pea feels just the opposite.

So Mommy and Daddy exit the bus while we watch Swee’Pea cry from afar. Soon, the bus is loaded up with 32 excited kids and one scared, crying kid and they are off.

Of course, I got in my car and followed the bus. You would too if this was the last think you saw when you exited the bus:

Cheers and Tears

July 18, 2010

A Year in Pictures

A little over a year ago, I got this idea (I’m sure after seeing something similar on the internet – I’m really not that creative).  The idea was to take a daily portrait of Swee’Pea and TheMonk starting on their 4th birthday and ending on their 5th birthday.  And so we did.

Over 365 days, Swee’Pea and TheMonk posed for 312 portraits – which averages out to six portraits a week.  So, six out of seven days every week they took their portrait.  The rules were simple.  The kids could make whatever face they wanted and I would try and take only one photo no matter what it came out like (this didn’t always work but for the most part it was one take only).  As you can see, Swee’Pea is not as much a morning person as TheMonk.  The range of her photos from frowns to smiles to one flat-out tantrum is quintessentially Swee’Pea.  TheMonk, on the other hand, liked to experiment with faces and loved seeing them on my digital display each morning.  His photos too capture the true essence of TheMonk.

If I had to do it over again I would have chosen a flat wall rather than the back of our door.  I thought it would create a good center point for the kids but instead it made it very obvious when they moved from their mark.  I also would have put the camera on a tripod rather than me on my knee but this was the last thing we did each morning before leaving and we were often rushed so a quick snapshot was all we could do.  The editing isn’t as sophisticated as I pictured in my head but I still really love watching the transformation.

The music was chosen for the sole reason that they are our most played songs right now.  The kids love both of them and we have been known to boogie to these songs while getting ready for bed.  It just seemed fitting to include them here.

So, without further ado, I give you Year Four of Swee’Pea and TheMonk:

July 14, 2010

Stopping to smell the dandy flowers

dandy-flowerAs great of a responsibility I have, as a parent, to teach my children the lessons they will need to grow up to be non-felons, it has become apparent that an unexpected bonus of this parenting gig is how much Swee’Pea and TheMonk have taught me.

Those who know me will tell you that I’m a bit scatter-brained. I’m often thinking a few steps ahead of what is happening right now and I often lack the patience to be “in the moment.”  At the start of each work day, for example, I’m already thinking about what I have to do that day, who I have to call, what new initiative I want to spring on my unsuspecting staff, what I’ll have for lunch that day, whether the Snicker’s bar in the staff fridge will still be there that afternoon, and how will the Village People survive now that the YMCA has chosen to be known, simply, as “The Y?”

These are serious considerations and since it is my job to ensure the kids get off to preschool (which is rapidly winding down, but that’s another blog post), I am often challenged to get my day started by two five-year-olds who insist on making farting jokes instead of getting their shoes on.  Inevitably, I’m herding two little ones into a car while trying not to spill my morning cup of coffee all over my non-iron shirt that was recently sprayed liberally with wrinkle releaser.

By the time I park the car curbside at their preschool, I’m already counting the minutes wasted and how I just KNOW that the Snickers bar is a goner.  As I try and usher the kids out of the car along with lunch boxes, sweatshirts, and napping blankets, I rush towards the front door only to find Swee’Pea stopping every few seconds to pick a yellow dandelion flower which she calls, “Dandy flowers.”

“C’mon, Swee’Pea! We’re late, Honey.  Please hurry!” I implore.

She hears me but she’s not really listening to me. (Something that seems to run in the female side of our family, I’m afraid.)  Again, I beg, “Swee’Pea! Daddy needs to get to work! Please, Sweetie, hurry up!”

Swee’Pea might hurry for a brief second or two – long enough to give me hope that she’s finally decided to get in gear but, inevitably, she stops to pick yet another flower.

And as we finally get closer to the door, I might beseech one last time, and she’ll finally listen and scamper her skinny little legs over to me while I hold the door open for her.  She and her brother enter and as we put their things in their cubbies and get ready to join their friends on the playground, I bend over to give hugs and kisses.

As I receive my hugs and kisses, Swee’Pea thrusts her tiny bouquet of yellow Dandy Flowers in my face and says, “Here Daddy. I picked these for you to take to work.”  I take the flowers gently in my own hand and as I say my goodbyes and wander down the hall towards my car waiting outside, suddenly the world doesn’t seem so crazy and it slows down enough around me to allow me to grasp what’s really important.  And I clutch the rapidly wilting flowers in my fingers and try and remember that before long, picking flowers for Daddy won’t be as high on her priority list.

So I stop and smell the Dandy Flowers.  I’ve never smelled something so sweet.  Even that Snicker’s bar in the fridge.


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