Saturday, November 06, 2004

I compose mental notes to my blog quite often. Too bad I don’t get around to typing them up!

Tonite I went to a Day of the Dead exhibit downtown with a friend. A friend from school was doing a performance piece on pregnancy loss. She with 2 others were doing about a 7 minute repeating piece. There were quite a number of other artists’ installations ranging from very personal traditional alters to one with tens of white shirts hung down each with the name and location of death of a local man to a moving one of the dead in Iraq on a video – the faces just flew by in the one corner of it. Some were quite beautiful. Nice to be out and doing something not school related! I put in quite a few hours helping my friend Val do the environment for their piece – we glued feathers from down pillows onto two 8’ x 10’ walls and did a variety of other things including nailing branches to the walls and gluing handmade birds nest to the branches. It was great to see how it all came together with the performance. When they weren’t there Val had a repeating audio of women telling of their miscarriages. I had helped out with that and also recognized quite a few of the voices – some their stories, others just reading from quotes Val gave us.

Since I finished helping Val I’ve moved on to spending the 3 mornings Quincy is at school without me looking at Kindergartens for Aidan. SF is a lottery system and theoretically we could go to any school in the city. The reality is that we wouldn’t want to – either school isn’t any good, location isn’t any good, or it is a good school and only 6% of the people who apply get in. We all get to put down up to 7 choices – and 84% of folks last year got one of those choices. Sounds good until I realize that out of about 20 people I knew 4 or 5 got assigned either nothing or something that wasn’t on their list. They all ended up in schools that worked out for their kids in the end – just a few anxious weeks or months while they waited.

I have been thrilled with Aidan’s new school Eureka Learning Center. He is in their Transitional Kindergarten program – 8 boys and 8 girls with birthdays ranging from March of ’99 to Jan of ’00. Some kids are in it because they have fall birthdays and will go onto private schools that have summer or Sept 1 cut offs. Others are their as they have social, emotional or academic reasons to not be ready for kindergarten. It is a really diverse group in terms of abilities. One little boy has some real anger management problems (and others) and yet reads at the 3rd grade level. He can be a really sweet kid – or scary. Aidan had 3 others from his preschool join him there. Twins Henry & Zoe and friend Sashi. None of them were particularly close friends at Miraloma but Henry to my shock immediately became his new best friend. Henry is much louder and more boy than Aidan and Aidan has been reveling in it to some degree. Aidan is slow to classify kids as friends and only invited one other child to his party in late October – his little girlfriend Ellie. She is a really nice girl and teacher Laura tells me that they have really elaborate imaginary world play that they enjoy together. Apparently both with her and Henry the play is really verbal which is great for all of them.

We have had concerns about how Aidan can get so “wiggy” as I like to call it with new situations or large groups sometimes. But he has just dived into these new experiences at school. He so clearly was ready for the challenge of something new and the academic component. We just had our teacher conference and I was surprised to hear that he was very good in “math”. She said he has been really strong in the pre-math skills such as patterning and he has great attention to detail and good retention of what he learns. All good to hear. She said when they were sorting keys most of the kids were sorting into silver vs brass – but Aidan went at it by different size holes etc. Says he notices a lot. They do a lot of different kind of projects to capture all the different kind of learning styles. Most work comes home but several pieces make it on the wall at school too and it is nice to see that Aidan tends to be one of the better performers although not really a surprise – he is good at doing what he is told and he has pretty good small motor skills.

Thursdays Quincy & I pick up Aidan at noon and we head out for a nice Vietnamese or Thai lunch before heading down to Redwood City for soccer class. Soccer 30 miles away may seem crazed but it works for us. Aidan did 12 weeks last fall of soccer. I spent the first 4 running around the field holding onto his hand. Not fun! Then he got into it and once he forgot he was scared or whatever and got engaged he did great. He has some natural ability and is competitive enough that he gets in the pack and goes after the ball with relish. But he told me enough was enough and he didn’t like running after the ball so we put away our shin pads. This summer he was counting down the classes until he didn’t have to do Acrosports any more – Thomas stopped coming this summer and he was in a different coaches class – someone he knew (and was better IMO) but different. He always acted so scared to start class but then once he got running he forgot and was clearly having a good time although he wouldn’t really admit to it. Anyway – Thursdays are our day for the kids to spend some extra time together and for us to see Thomas for the last regular time probably ever. In the morning after we drop Aidan off, Quincy & I head to Acrosports. He is at the stage when he loves it. He is one of the older kids now and clearly ready to move on to the next class – which he will do in January when he is 3 years old. He is so eager to do it all and actually works on making things harder or more challenging as we go. One day he decided to do his rolling up hill. Other times he’ll take things backwards. He is such a happy little guy that it is really fun to take him.

Quincy started school mid- September. I had assumed that since he knew Miraloma so well and always loved going there that school would be an easy transition for him. HA! He was so sad the first couple of weeks and didn’t understand on my teaching days why I couldn’t be at his side. It was really rather heartbreaking. He spent at least 45 minutes one day on the ladder by the fence just watching after I left. Fortunately like Aidan he is a pretty winsome kid. The teachers all tell me how they really like having him in their group / do their project / how much they like him etc. And now he is back to his normal happy self, singing to himself, starting to interact a bit more with other kids. The Director Moira was really happy this week that he finally wanted to sit on her lap at circle time. He is getting comfortable. It is nice too that his friend Lillian is there MWFs too. She misses her mom and has really sad moments – but she used to when I babysat her too but always snapped out of them quickly – she doesn’t bounce back as fast now. But she and Quincy do pal around some. Quincy surprises me how well he knows everyone’s name – Aidan didn’t. But so far Lillian is the only one he will acknowledge as a friend. He does the daily project most days now. I am glad to see that as I know from past experience that often the boys especially won’t do the project unless directed to. – and the morning program doesn’t direct kids toward projects like the afternoon used to. Despite how incredibly well I thought I knew the school, the morning program was a transition for me too. Funny enough but I have now been paired with Anna Scanlon – my first teaching partner my 1st year there – Friday afternoons and new we do Monday mornings. I enjoy her company quite a bit so it is nice to be with her although we both have pretty similar artsy/crafty interests and sometimes it is nice to teach with someone pretty different from you (ie who likes to play ball with the kids outside).

At a mid-July Board mtg this summer the Enrollment Coordinator was talking about how many families were pulling out due to lack of potty training. I began to get nervous – here these folks were pulling out and I hadn’t started with Quincy! Yikes! I won’t go into TOO much detail. I had started Quincy in the spring with some potty awareness stuff – reading some books (he liked), buying a little potty he could sit on (a couple of times), standing him at potty occasionally etc. So one Saturday late in July I decided we had to force the issue. Pete & Aidan headed off to a party. Quincy and I got on with it. After about 4 hours and 6 changes of clothing I was beginning to despair. He didn’t seem to have any control or time between piddling in his pants – and I knew he went several hours typically in the morning with dry pull-ups so how could this be?! So at one point I remember just deciding naked on the wood floor was the way to go. And him begging me to put on his diapers! Later in the day he was washing his hands after some pee accident. I was reading a book out in the hallway. He was in there a LONG time – but he likes to play with the water. Then I see him running out with a cup full of water in his hands – not OK. I go in to check on things. Uh oh!! He had done a poop on the wooden puzzle stool. He proudly told me that he was trying to clean it up. And he was. Too bad our sink barely drains and he was trying to stuff it down the sink and also to wipe it up with the bath towels. WHAT a mess! I couldn’t yell at him though because he really was trying hard to do the right thing and clean it up. It was a pretty awful day. It actually did seem to work pretty well however and within a week or 2 he was down to just 3 changes of clothes or so a day. I was aiming for pee training as he usually pooped in the evening and I figured I could get away w/out the poop training. Of course today is November 6, 20004 and he had at least 3 accidents in his pants. Normally however he is pretty dry. He actually poop trained himself when we were traveling back east in late August. Before he would tell me that it wouldn’t come out on the potty etc – he was scared about it or something. He is much more private than Aidan – who always wanted company when he was going (still does). Quincy would have me put him on the toilet in public restrooms then tell me to go outside the stall and shut the door. He takes a while so it wasn’t the most fun but could have been worse! He’s only come home with different pants on 2 or 3 times from school. Not bad. In general (although not today) he only gets a tiny bit of pee in his pants then runs to the bathroom. Lillian I remember all summer had no idea how to stop it when she had an accident – what a mess! Quincy may get a bit soggy at times but rarely do you have any puddles to deal with. OK – enough of that topic!
We had Aidan’s birthday at Miraloma this year. He informed me that next year’s should be there too – so I think he liked it! It was actually a soggy day so we were just inside. We actually had a bit too much scheduled. I had made a ghost and the kids helped me glue napkins to it and I cut out eyes & mouth for a ball toss game. I also had some fish I had cut out and put paperclips on for a project I did once at school (and kept afterwards). So we had a little “fishing” going on. The kids were all so happy to see each other (mostly ex-Miralomans) that interestingly they didn’t play with the school toys. We did a little blindfolded “pin the leg on the spider”. Pete was down on “pin the” games but I know the kids always seem to like them (and perhaps expect them) and it was popular as usual. Pete did a little “magic” show for the kids – he did a great job but they were a tough (and numerous) crowd. Val really helped us out with the party (thank goodness!). I had a nice variety of food and the very decorated homemade white on white train cake per Aidan’s request. We also had Aidan’s first train piñata. As usual it took an adult whacking at it to get it to give up the goods but was enjoyed by the kids. Pete is a good ringleader and had all the kids nicely sitting down on the mat waiting their turn at bat. Our finale was to hand out “treasure maps” where they had to find their goodie bag treasure in 4 different locations (oh yeah – when they arrived they picked out their goodie bags and colored them). Aidan had also wanted to open his presents at the party – and with him at the helm even moving really fast (for him) it took a long time to get through half of them. Quincy is quite eager for his birthday to come and has been busy telling me which of Aidan’s presents he wants one of etc. He is having a joint party with cousin Ellie at Acrosports and is quite excited about the idea. Ellie on the other hand has yet to even hear about it. The difference when you have an older sibling!

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