Friday, January 28, 2011

Possibly A Subconscious Effort To Stay Indoors When It's -16

MWF school (both)
T piano (both, optimistically)
W horseback riding (M), also game night
Th dance (B)

Wish list for summer:
Yoga (B, and really, after last summer's success of yoga just before bedtime? I'm nominating M.)
Tennis (both)
Horseback riding (both)
Ballet (B)
Art (M)

Now don't you for a second think this schedule is a reflection of a helicopter, stage or term-of-the-moment mom. Instead, recognize that it's an indication that my kids have already internalized an avoidance of snowsports and a preference for teachers other than their mother. I say that's fair.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

In Brief

It seems both preposterous and appropriate that we have appointments with two kindergarten programs, to see which is a better fit for our almost-5-year-old. It's not that she's practically 5 that carries the most weight in our hearts. Age 6 was hard for me, and I think that's the year that's really going to be heavy on my soul for her - to know how much I grew emotionally and mentally, prematurely and probably in all the wrong directions, between 6 and 7, and to know that she is capable of it as well, will, I'm sure, incur the desperate desire to prevent it, to freeze her in time right at 5.

 But she's so mature already; she holds her own so well in so many situations, that she's always seemed like a 5-year-old to me. As much as she and I differ, in so many ways she reminds me of my need to catch up in number to what I feel in spirit. I've always felt 30 - so when I passed that milestone a few years ago, it was a relief. I feel like Berit, once in kindergarten, will breathe a sigh of relief because, finally, she's there.

The oddity of it all comes with the kindergarten programs we're checking out. On one hand we like the concept behind our area charter school, which includes art, music and dance into every school day. This is Berit's kind of place, and it would mean that we wouldn't have to invest so much time and money into ensuring she gets enough art, music and dance (truly the three major subjects in her life, besides Barbies) to fulfill her soul outside of school. Test scores coming out of the charter school are on par with its area counterparts. Yet just when we hear a rave review about the school, someone else tells us their horror story.

And then there is our parish's Catholic school, of which we are truly fond and in which we know she would flourish as well. For us, the religious aspect of the school is incredibly appealing, as are the teachers, the presence of our priest, and the high values imparted there every minute of every day. It's where both girls attend preschool, and every other day we witness the respect taught there. Now, I know full well that religion and respect are two things that we should teach at home - fine, of course. But I'll tell you what, after experiencing it almost daily this school year, I can say that there really is a difference between the preteens I meet there and the preteens I meet elsewhere. Thing is... it's a lot of money. A LOT. And it's not just Berit who will go there - there are two others following in her footsteps. That's over $7,000 a year, once all three kids are there. That's just too much for us. But some days, it feels really, really worth it.

In other Berit news, while she's usually a sweetheart, she's recently taken on an attitude towards her little sis - impatience, inconvenience, etc. - and it leaves Marta feeling sad, neglected and defensive. I know this is a sibling thing, I know it happens to everyone, and I'm sure I've been lucky enough to have them do so well for so long. It's just heartbreaking to watch it happen.

Marta is in the throes of three. She's having tantrums, nightmares, and is generally feeling confused about what she wants, when she wants it. She's throwing potty training out the window, knowing full well all about it, having already conquered it, being a champ at just being a kid who doesn't wear dipes or pull-ups. And yet the days when she refuses to participate outnumber the dry ones. She throws down a big argument on those days, emotional and worked up, and I don't press her in fear of developing a power struggle out of it.

She's so sweet, so ready to take on the world, otherwise, spelling words and taking over Berit's workbooks, video games and board games, more willing to learn the instructions and lessons than her big sister. Consequently, she's sitting next to me with her handheld video game, typing words like leaf and tree and filling in missing letters and rearranging letters to make words.

Ah, the waiting. After not being the chosen family for the last little one, we're making sure we've got all of our paperwork in perfect order before the next opportunity comes up. We're also filling out stacks of grant requests that pose questions like, "How would you describe your love for Christ?" After Korea raised its fees and new ones came up domestically, we're scrabbling to get the funding we hadn't anticipated. I don't like to lament this too much, as it was our choice to enter this process and we knew it would be expensive. But SHEESH. What a shame it's so prohibitive to bring home your child. It's difficult to describe the place where the money connects the child - it's a sickening feeling, mostly, knowing that if you don't come up with half of your year's income (subject to increase without notice), you can't have your baby. Of course we knew it was this way when we started, and we would do anything to bring our baby home. Of course, of course, of course... we are looking forward to two years from now, when we can say, "Remember when?"

Friday, January 7, 2011

From The Mouth of B

In an effort to hurt my feelings:

"I have the biggest brain, and you have a little baby brain."

How does one handle this? Does one encourage the big brain idea? Does one deny, insisting on having the bigger brain? Does one reference science? One certainly does not, in the moment of insult, have any appropriate parenting ideas to hand.

And so, with one's small baby brain, one only stares, and says, "OK then."