progression

I view the point of parenting to be getting your kids ready to not need you. Yes, have fun with them, and cherish the time you have with them. Just remember, at some point, they will leave and go out into the world. They need to go out into the world.

First day

So, Brooklynn, go out into the world. Welcome to kindergarten.

We’ve been taking Brooklynn to daycare since she was a few months old, so it isn’t as if we’ve never had her out of the house without us before. In fact, she will still spend part of her day at a daycare to allow all of us to avoid multiple drop-offs, pick-ups, and varied schedules. And she’s fine with it.

Last night, as we reviewed her lunch list and picked out her first day outfit, she took some time to explain to Maddi that she would be going to school during the day but she’ll come back in the afternoon so Mom can pick them both up. She explained it with a “Of course this will be fine” tone that showed she was the big sister, more than capable of taking care of herself.

With Brooklynn in daycare, she has been getting to be one of the big kids for a while now, some I’m used to seeing her as a rather mature and capable person. This morning, to help her get into the routine, we took her to daycare and let the shuttle take her to school. I told her that I would see her at school just to make sure she got to her classroom on the first day. At daycare, she was fine – I’ll see you there if you want to come. If anything, Maddi was more worked up over the notion that Brooklynn would be leaving without her.

I got to the elementary school ten minutes before the bell rang to line up. It’s been a while since I’ve been to K-5 age setting, and longer still since I was there on the first day. Since I didn’t know exactly where Brooklynn would be dropped off, we hadn’t set a firm meeting point to give her a “Wait for me here” direction. As I surveyed the mass of kids, parents, and supervisors on the playground, I regretted that.

I didn’t think Brooklynn would have abandoned her belongings to play, but I swung by the slides and swings to check. I didn’t see her. If nothing else, I knew I could wait by the door and at least wave to her as she went in since I told her I would be there. I was walking back to the school through the people when and opening in the crowd appeared and I spotted her.

She was standing still, clutching her backpack to her chest, looking at all the people swirling around her. Instead of the mature and worldly person we see at home, she seemed very small, timid, and afraid. She saw me as well, came over, and latched on to my leg. I crouch down to be at her level and everything came spilling out. They shuttle dropped her off and there weren’t many other kids riding with her today and she didn’t know where to go and she couldn’t find her teacher and she didn’t know where I was but she knew I should be somewhere and she just didn’t know.

And so I helped her. With the assistance of a playground monitor, we found the tag where her class will line up. And we looked at the other class tags, and saw how others ones had numbers for the grade levels and hers had a K for kindergarten, and the letter of her teachers name. We put her backpack in the line and went to play for a minute. Brand new playground equipment, yes it’s ok to go on it, and yes, I will be here when you’re done.

The whistle blew for everyone to line up, so we went back, found her backpack, and got in line. We talked about where the shuttle from daycare dropped her off, and where it would pick her up at the end of the day. We talked about the fact tomorrow morning, she would need to do this herself and that I can’t come every day with her. She said that she could handle it, and, since her teacher was starting the headcount of the kids in line, I gave her one last hug, got a tighter squeeze back, and I stepped away.

They waited for a minute while a few other classes went in first. Brooklynn motioned for me to come over to her, but I just told her she would be fine, right? She nodded, and it was her turn to file in. One last wave and she was gone. She didn’t even need to look back.

I walked back to my car and headed back to work. The whole point of parenting is to get your kids ready not to need you. We’re doing that. Some steps along the path are bigger than others, and I’d say that this morning was a gigantic one.

Good job, Brooklynn.

Enter the building

ride sally ride

Brooklynn has been riding her bike for the past two years with training wheels. She’s comfortable with them on and rides pretty quickly, but the entire time, she’s been aware that the training wheels are something big kids don’t have. She also hasn’t learned to lean into turns and when she pedals hard up hills, she sometimes lifts the back wheel off the ground leaning entirely onto the small training wheel.

Last month, we told her that maybe this summer would be the year she learned to ride a bike without them. And she immediately demanded that we take the training wheels off. She was FIVE! No balance aides required. Because she’s five. Of course a birthday automatically imparts the ability to balance on two wheels.

I took them off, and since her bike seat was set too high for her to reach the ground, I held on while she climbed up. The first trip to the corner and back I held on tight and kept her upright. I imagine it felt to her much like having the training wheels on. The bike stayed stable and vertical regardless of her body position. The next trip, she informed me that I didn’t have to hold on so much. So I didn’t.

Two seconds later, she was yelling at me because I almost let her fall and how could I do that!? She’s just a little kid.

The training wheels went back on.

We’ve been looking at the strider bikes for Maddi, the kind where there aren’t any pedals and kids learn to balance by walking with their feet and gliding. Brooklynn wanted nothing to do with it, because that was for little kids. She has a pedal bike, don’t you know. But after visiting a store with them and letting the girls ride around the small strider bikes, Brooklynn admitted that maybe it would be ok to try it.

I lowered her bike seat all the way and took off the pedals. She could just reach the ground enough to push along and she started by basically walking. Our bike and walk outings went from a few miles around the hills of the neighborhood to around the block and back home. And little by little, we started to see improvements. She would glide the last 10 feet down the driveway. She would almost come to a complete stop before she put her foot down to catch herself.

Last night, we watched her glide down a slight hill on the sidewalk for almost 100 feet without touching her feet. Her balance wasn’t perfect, and it really looked like she could use someplace to put her feet. Maybe it was time.

I put the pedals back on, and she was immediately more concerned with pedaling and braking than balancing. I helped her by holding on, but it did not go well. She put her bike away, told me I didn’t do a good job for her, and went inside.

Brooklynn will quit on things if she doesn’t immediately succeed. It’s one of the things we are a little worried about her with as she starts school this fall. Rhiannon told her to try one more time. To just push along like she knows how, and if she felt good about it, maybe put her feet on the pedals. And if she still felt good, maybe pedal once around.

She got back on the bike. One more time, she told us. But that was it. And then…

I had to kick her off the bike to get ready for bed. She told me that she’s going to ride all afternoon today.

I’ve never been so proud.

puddle splashing

Puddle splasher

After a pretty dry spring, we’ve finally been getting some rain lately. Tonight, after reassuring Brooklynn that the tornado watch did not mean we should move all the toys from the playroom into the basement shower for safekeeping, I got the girls outside in some nice rain.

If small puddles on the sidewalk are good, then the deeper water in the gutter is better, and that makes the fast moving water on the hill the best. Not to worry, Maddi only brought about a half inch of water in the bottom of each of her boots inside with her.

project family kickoff – all pink edition

Baby3G

It’s a little hard to tell from the profile along, but the title should have given it away. We are adding a little bit more pink to the family. I’m going to start building a man fortress now to ward off the future onslaught of princess toys and prom dresses.

I’d also like to announce, that for the time being, we have a name. Baby 3G has officially joined the family, as about a week ago, I felt her kicking for the first time. Welcome, little girl. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.