Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer update

We're wrapping up the first week of summer, with mixed reviews so far. The kids have been relating to each other in three ways (in more or less equal amounts):
1) fighting like demented ferrets
2) playing together (mostly with small animal/people/houses-type toys) in a peaceful, persistent way
3) happily and manically screeching, laughing, running around, and yelling

States 1 and 3 make me insane, which means I'm insane 2/3rds of the day. I'm getting better about just ignoring both of them, but when I'm tired or in a hurry, I'm pretty incapable of handling it with grace. Something to work on, I guess.

Duchess is participating in the very low-key parks and rec swim team, which means an hour swimming every weekday. She's still warming up to it, but I think she'll soon make some friends and feel more confident. Skipper, after watching the swim team practice for three days, is getting excited for her swim lessons in a few weeks, and has decided that she WILL put her face in the water.

Duchess left school in tears, because she found out on the last day that the Nerd King is, after all, headed off to The School for Smart Kids. Stupid smart kids. Also, in case you're interested, this year's round of budget cuts hit only the disadvantaged kids at Duchess's school. The school will maintain a .5 FTE PE teacher and .5 FTE librarian, and add a .5 FTE music teacher, but will lose a total of 1.0 FTE in reading and ESL assistance. 

What else? There's a lot of stuff going on around here. In the first four days of summer vacation, we had several firsts - Duchess was stung by a bee,* the girls met one of their cousins (and loved him so much they have requested that he become their brother), and the girls drank their first lime rickey. Skipper now substantially overestimates her ability to drive both her bike and her scooter, and keeps her knees scraped up and bruised at all times. We found a candy store that sells a wide variety of gummy candies, which is thrilling. Duchess has read a tall pile of books already. We have THREE exciting trips coming up in the next few weeks, and in general this summer already feels packed with excitement. If I can just come to better terms with states 1 and 2, I think it's shaping up to be an excellent summer.

*She handled this as might be expected, with much sobbing and wailing and general freaking out. Skipper, of course, immediately pitched a fit because I was paying too much attention to Duchess, threw her scooter on the ground, and refused to move. As we were half a mile from home, at the tail end of a long errand-running trip that had involved quite a bit of shitty behavior, this was a pretty maddening episode. Luckily, Duchess pulled herself together admirably (to be fair, this also might have been expected - Duchess is a ridiculous over-reactor, but she usually rises to the occasion when necessary), and Skipper recognized that she was not acting in her own best interest, so after about fifteen minutes of deep unpleasantness, we finally managed to start limping home.

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's the first day of Summer Reading!

Skipper and I are at the library, looking for books in the non-fiction section, in companionable silence. She's looking for books on dinosaur fossils, and I'm looking for anything that might be fodder for Duchess's hungry brain.

Skipper: I wish I was a bee.
Me: Why do you wish you were a bee?
Skipper: So I could sting people.
Me: Who are you going to sting?
Skipper: I don't know. Just somebody.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's not about me.

Yesterday Skipper and I met up with another kid who's going to be attending the preschool program in the fall at the local school. The kid and her parents seemed like lovely people, but I found the meet-up very stressful. I mean, it's always a little stressful meeting new people, particularly in an artificial let's-build-a-relationship-so-we-can-maybe-share-childcare-and-provide-emergency-backup-for-eachother way, but this was particularly exhausting and demoralizing for me because of Skipper's behavior. She refused to interact with the other kid, who kept hopefully inviting her to play, and wouldn't talk or look anybody in the eye. She watched the other kid very carefully, glowering through the curtain of her hair, but that was all she offered.

This is totally normal for Skipper, and I'm confident that she will eventually warm up to this kid (who seems like exactly Skipper's cup of tea, actually). Skipper's behavior is not entirely out of the realm of normal for preschoolers I have met, but she's definitely toward the end of the shyness continuum, and I haven't really figured out a way to handle it. I don't mean helping her handle it - I have no idea how to do that, since nothing I have done so far has made her less shy, and I suspect it's pretty baked in - I just mean handling it myself. I feel like I should apologize for her antisocial behavior, or explain that she's always this way (not a sociopath, I swear!), but I really don't want to be APOLOGIZING for my child's personality, or making public generalizations about who she is. (In front of her, I mean. Obviously, I make public generalizations about her behind her back all the time!) I swing back and forth between these two opposing feelings, and end up feeling like I failed both to help this other family understand the context for her unwelcoming behavior AND to make her feel that it's okay to be shy and that there's nothing wrong with her.

I want to let my kids be themselves, but I also want other people to see them positively, or at least as the complicated, worth-getting-to-know people that they are. I think this tension will get more challenging for me over the next couple of years, as Duchess bounds toward adolescence and Skipper stays shy. I cannot keep up with the kind of strength of character that parenting seems to require, though I swear I'm building it as fast as I can.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Skipper decided last night that she wanted to sleep in the play tent in the back yard. Duchess, who had to get up early for a swim meet, was not allowed to camp, but Skipper decided she would camp by herself. This is her at 7:30 last night.

And this is her at 9 last night, when Duchess announced she was not able to sleep without Skipper in her room, and Cook and I (who had not expected that Skipper would actually fall asleep) determined that because she can't operate the back door, it was probably best to bring Skipper in.

More Science Fair photos

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Duchess has been working on her science fair project. Tantrums have been thrown, and the end product isn't exactly awesome, but Duchess has learned quite a bit about how hard it can be to get your methodology working smoothly, and about the puzzlement of unexpected results. Plus, she's put quite a bit of time into drawing cartoons about the dangers of electricity, because science.