Experiencing the Middle

Tomorrow Daphne starts school. This is significant and I have many emotions, but at the same time it feels so different than when we started school with George.

George was our first. We didn’t know what to expect with him. I was overcome with fear and anxiety on how the experience would be for him.

With Daph, we are more familiar with the process, and she will even have the same teacher that George did in preschool. We know that she is in the best hands to bring her into the school atmosphere. She will be just down the hall from George, and there is comfort knowing they will be so close together. He has already said he will watch for her at recess.

But there are still emotions being here in the middle with her.

I don’t have the fear of the unknown like the first time around, but I also know she isn’t my last. I feel excited for her. We all seem more ready for the experience. I don’t feel the hesitation that I did with George, nor the bittersweet that I know will come with Wally being our last.

Do I worry about how the experience will go for her? I mean come on, have you met me? I am always riddled with anxiety, however, I am finding myself at peace much quicker with her. I am so excited to see her go off to school.

She has never been out of our house for any type of school, and one hour of gymnastics once a week for the last year is most social interaction she has gotten outside of our family. So in a sense there is still a lot of unknown of how she will engage with her peers. But I know as soon as she warms up, she is going to make some great connections.

I really feel like she is going to soar. The brain on this child is limitless, and I know we have only tapped into a small portion of her capabilities here at home. She has a heart of gold, and the kindness that she has for others will take her far. She is the type of child who will flourish in a school atmosphere, and I can’t wait to hear all about her experience. This time around all I can think of is all the great things she will have access to and how much she will enjoy things. I am not worried about letting go with her at all.

Which is somewhat weird because I am sad thinking of some day this little girl won’t sneak into my bed and her sweet little voice will be a distant memory. Also you would think being a female, I would be worried about all the social pieces that come down the road with her and school. But I am not worried at all. I am ready to see how she embraces the challenge and confronts the pressure head on. She is so strong-willed and tough as nails. I don’t know what it is about this transition that seems just so natural and normal for her, and again there is so much peace with her going. She is far more a stronger person than I ever was, and she is so smart and capable.

Maybe there is just so much going on around in our lives that I just don’t have time to really wallow in how she is growing as I did with George. Who knows?! But I will take not having a breakdown in front of her teacher because I am so caught up in the ‘what if’ emotions.

She has been living in George’s shadow for most of her life, and now Wally takes up some of the attention that was aimed at her. Again, she is our middle. So I am thankful to see her go off into school where she can start making her own path independent of her brothers.

With George I think we were all scared when this day came because it was all new to us. When it comes to Wally’s time, I know I will be the most emotional parent there because it will be a sign of all the littleness leaving our house. So for now, with Daph, we are able to really sink into this time and enjoy it. It is nice to experience it like this for our middle child.

Here’s to you Daph and all the things you will learn this year, and the person you are becoming.

George Turns Seven

Lucky seven.

I was processing George growing another year older, and I think with every age, there is a different kind of weight to it.

But with seven, it’s like all that was of being little is gone. We have truly entered the big kid years.

George had so many pivotal moments this last year, most notably starting school and becoming a big brother again.

It was so fun, and emotional, to see George becoming a person away from our family unit. He now has a whole life that we are on the periphery of. He has relationships and experiences that we are not instigating, which is hard to let go of, but magical at the same time.

Seeing George this last year has highlighted his strengths, but also reminded me that I have no idea what I am doing as a parent still.

He is a full throttle kind of dude. When he zones in on something, he is all in. He has unwavering commitment to people and ideas. When George is determined to do something, we best be getting out of his way. It has been a challenge to parent him at times to understand where is the line to give him the freedom to be his own boss, but also letting him know when there are limitations. We don’t need to supervise him as much, but he still does need guidance because he is seven. There is definitely a balance that we are working through to expose him to new ideas and tap into his natural curiosity. I want him to have that kind of passion in his life. I want him be able to dedicate himself fully to projects and relationships, but I also want him to do it strategically and in a healthy way.

We have entered a new phase where he questions logic on everything, and the little kid magic is starting to disappear. It was quite the difference watching him react to Disney versus his sister. He wanted to break down the logistics of how rides work, who was behind the costume, and let everyone know that it wasn’t real. We are entering into more intense conversations of real world things especially as he engages with people more outside of our family. It is exciting to see him develop his world-view but also a part of me is sad the days of Christmas Tree Truck guy is gone.

He still loves to play though, his stories and worlds have just evolved. I love watching him create these different scenes and act out his characters. He is so good with details and setting up entire landscapes. If you were to come into our house, his room is constantly a construction zone due to Lego City government and trying to navigate the dinosaurs that have escaped Camp Cretaceous. Our living room is actually a war zone with hundreds of Army men, or squadrons in his terms, that are ready to get on the helicopters he strategically has in safe zones. The sun room is the new wild west with an elaborate train system getting people to and fro. On the driveway, he has his “mud creek” construction team who is always changing the layouts of piping and blocks to help with the rain fall. My new favorite is playing Harry Potter with him where we basically play an elaborate hide and seek game around the yard screaming spells at each other.

George is incredibly smart. He takes in information like a sponge. He loves to give you random facts about things, and he always has something to say about every subject. ALWAYS something to say and a story to tell.

On the flip side though, he is one of those people that if he does not care about the topic, he is not going to put his energy into it. For example, he says he hates reading and writing. However, he loves to make signs for the various worlds he has created with toys, and cataloging his finds in his notebook. But, because he has chosen the topic, he perfects the writing. We have had to navigate some pieces here since at school you don’t always get to choose the topic or activity or timing. So we are constantly trying to be creative on how to refocus his energy and tailor it to him, but also work within other’s expectations.

If he does focus and put his energy towards something, watch out. I truly believe that he is the type of person who is going to invent some thing some day or cure cancer because he doesn’t think in conventional methods. His mind is always going trying to see beyond the simple and dissect things. That’s why it is so hard with academics. I want him to do well and succeed, but at the same time his intelligence cannot be harnessed in the same way that I defined academic success. It’s definitely a humble reminder especially since my job is student success on the college level.

I am in awe of his confidence and passion. While it is sad to leave the littleness behind, I am excited to see what the new year brings and see where his interests continue to take shape.

If you will excuse me, this newly seven year old wants to make a tornado in our kitchen.

George Turns SIX

Every year I have this avoidance to George turning another year older. I mean didn’t we just celebrate one? I ask myself how can this be?

But here we are, six years old.

Not that I am a seasoned parent or by any means an expert at anything with motherhood, however George has taught me a lot by making me a mom.

In honor of his sixth birthday today, here are six things that I have learned from my first born.

  • Imagination is not to be fooled with.

This kid comes up with the most creative creations. He is really good at coming up with storylines and rethinking how to use things. His room is a total mess, which is something I have to let go of because he had dreamed up that he built a fort, a railway, or channels for a boat system. Things are not always what they seem. He has taught me so much about looking beyond the confines of normalcy and not sticking within the lines. I need to be able to let him loose with his ideas and hold on to his plans for creations because that will serve him well later on in life.

  • There is always reason to celebrate.

George is always ready to party. He loves ALL holidays and relishes in decorating our house with all the things. He is always asking what the next holiday is, and you can see his eyes just gleam from the excitement. He also is just so excited about the little things. He loves to create opportunities to rejoice in the day to day things. And he is so appreciative of the celebrations. “Treat yo’ self” is his mantra. And celebrations always bring on sugary treats, which are always necessary!

  • A hug is always a good remedy.

If anyone knows me well, they know that I am not a hugger. These are reserved for very few folks in my life, and I will not usually volunteer to do them. However, this kid has melted me down. He is the best hugger ever. And touch has got to be one of his love languages, because he gives about a million hugs a day. In our embraces we have so many meaningful moments. Sometimes they are breakthroughs from arguments and power struggles. Sometimes they are to comfort us when we are sad to just let someone know we are there. Sometimes they are just to remind each other of our immense love for one another. It is hard to not feel some goodness when you have your arms wrapped around someone else. They have definitely been mood stabilizers for us over the last six years. Hugs are George’s love currency.

  • Plans are not always what they are cracked up to be.

George has been “lovingly” reminding us lately that “sometimes plans change, and that’s ok.” This is honestly one of the biggest lessons for me as someone who loves to have a plan and a list at hand. Plans are my way to control things. If there is anything about parenthood that is constant is that plans are going to change. Literally from the moment George was conceived, things are not as I planned them. I didn’t imagine finding out that I was pregnant at a fertility specialist. I didn’t plan on delivering my baby 3 weeks early and having to deal with the NICU. I didn’t plan on littering my house with Legos. But things happen, and that’s ok. I have had to learn a lot about acceptance and letting things be as they may instead of trying to predict and control it all. George is also not a kid who is easily controlled for he often has plans of his own that do not align with mine…

  • Patience

And that leads us to patience. What parent doesn’t say that they have learned patience with parenting? Or better yet, it has showed me how impatient I really am. Along the same lines as the plans, I have to remember that I cannot make George make the decisions that I want him to. He is becoming his own person. And with that he has to make mistakes and make messes of things so he can learn for the next time. It’s these moments that it could be so easy for me to just swoop in and make things happen or to banish him to his room because I just can’t take it anymore. I have to give him opportunities to make his own decisions even if they aren’t the ones that I think are best. It’s the only way he will learn how to work with others, do chores, or clean up his own mistakes. I cannot be a fixer all the time or just yell at him for not putting away his clothes for the millionth time. Patience and prayer my friends.

  • I have learned the most about love.

I thought I knew a lot about what love should be and could be. But until I had George, I never really knew the magnitude of what love could do to you as a being. I mean I love Tom, but there is something about a kid that changes every piece of who you are. There is more love than I could ever imagine. And a lot of that is because of who George is. He loves so immensely and with his whole little body that it is hard not to want to experience that with him. He has taught me that true love means forgiveness and letting things go. He has taught me that true love sometimes also means tough love and not letting you off the hook when you are wrong. He taught me that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved so fully. He has taught me so much about filling other people’s cups and being thoughtful with my interactions. He has taught me that love is a safe place to snuggle into at the end of the day. George is love through and through. And being loved by him is nothing short of magical.

Y’all this boy is everything that I never knew I needed. He is funny, smart, witty, and just a delight to be around. He is a ray of sunshine that just loves everyone around him so fully. He is confident and unapologetically himself ALL THE TIME. I love how he brings out the goofy in all of us, and the energy he exudes helps you to feel freedom when you are with him.

Although some day I do hope that he stops wearing his clothes inside out and backwards…Just saying.

Yesterday I asked him what he wanted to do on his last day as a five year old. He told me that there wasn’t anything left to do and that he was ready to be six. I responded with asking what he was excited about with being six, and he told me he was ready to go to school. So we have a big year ahead of us with Kindergarten on the horizon, and then becoming a big brother again to our newest little dude. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans he gets us into this year.

Happy Birthday Georgie Man. We love you big kid!

George Gabs

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George is always saying something that either sends us into a fit of laughter, or I am just in shock at how he little brain is working.

Here are just a few I have made note of.

Every night we spend some time processing the day and praying for help. This night we were praying for Jesus to help George as he struggles to share with his sister.

George-I think I hear Jesus.

Me-Oh yea? What is he saying?

George-I don’t know. Where is he?

Me-He lives in your heart, and mommy’s heart.

George. Yes Jesus isn’t a person, he is a present.

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George was cupping is hand weird, so I asked him what he was holding.

George-There is something wrong with my hand. 

Me-Oh yea? 

George-It’s a little tired. 

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Me-What do you want for lunch, George? 

George-Nothing. I don’t want to eat today. 

Me-Well you have to eat to grow. 

George-Well I only grow on Thursdays. 

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We were watching the Daniel Tiger episode where he was getting shots to prepare the kids for their shots.

George-Sometimes those shots hurt. But I just close my eyes and think of you, Mommy. 

Another heart warming moment was with Tom.

George-You fill my tummy with hearts. 

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We have a lot of fun stories of George procrastinating bed time and reading.

George-Mom, I have a hard time going to sleep because I just have so many books around me. I just love to read them all. 

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Another time…

George-I am going to read you a book. 

Me-Ok great. 

George as he looks at me with puppy eyes-Say the words when I turn the page. 

Me-That’s me reading, not you reading. 

George-No that’s sharing, and sharing is kind. 

Kids are gross. I asked George to blow his nose, and he wouldn’t so I lovingly helped him wipe his nose. He was so distraught that I took a booger.

George-I need to put them back. My nose is their home, and they have friends in there to keep them company. 

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Then sometimes they have wisdom. This statement was one of his late night bed time rambles that was out of the blue.

George-Everybody makes mistakes. It’s ok. Everyone makes them. Astronauts, Ava, everybody. They just happen all the time. You just try again, and then you’ll feel happy. 

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This kid also LOVES Christmas. He is the new Buddy the Elf.

Me-Do you know what is after 4th of July? 

George-What?

Me-Your Birthday

George-Then its CHRISTMAS! I love Christmas!

His birthday is in August…

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George-I love the four seasons: Summer, fall, Christmas, and winter. 

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This last summer our area suffered from some severe floods, which is the first time George has seen anything like that. We talked a lot about how floods happened and the affects of them. In our outings we kept seeing the waters change and get farther inland from the river.

George-Is our house going to be ok?

Us-Yes, we live high on a hill. 

George-Is Ms. Kim’s school (his preschool) going to be ok? 

Us-It should be. 

At this point, George is in tears. 

George-Is McDonald’s going to be ok? 

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And I saved my favorite for last.

George-Mommy, I have a big poop. It’s as big as a blue whale, but it might act like a shark whale. 

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Ahhh kids.

 

We’re Going to Be Okay

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This week we sent our little man off to school for the first time. George started preschool, and it was an emotional event for us all.

You see, George has never been in a school setting. He has been at home with my mom for the last two years and in an in-home care setting his first three years.

While we love him being at home, we knew that he needed to have some practice with the structure before he goes to Kindergarten. (In Missouri, the cutoff for Kindergarten is to be five by August 1st. Since he is late August, he will be 6 when he starts Kindergarten. I could write a whole other post why this is completely fine by us that he will have another year to mature before going to a full day of school.)

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My anxiety has been rearing it’s ugly head all week in the anticipation of letting him go.

  • What if he hates school?
  • What if he doesn’t make friends?
  • Will he remember to use his manners?
  • Will he eat food with strangers?
  • Will he remember to tell the teacher if he needs to go the bathroom?
  • Or will he forget he is in public and try to pee outside on the playground?
  • What if he stands in line like he does at gymnastics?
  • What if, what if, what if?

I felt like I was losing control in so many ways.

We read a lot of books about school. We talked about all the fun things he would do. We pumped up all the benefits and rewards of school.

However, I wasn’t the only one with anxiety. George also didn’t feel ready.

Every time we brought up school, he would start crying and say he didn’t want to leave the house. We would drive by the school, and he would tell me he wasn’t going to go.

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Then we went to meet the teacher. Oh boy. I literally had to drag George into the school and then through the halls to the class. He dug in his heels the whole way.

He started breaking down, but eventually we got him into the room with the toy stations. Then I had an emotional breakdown as I was explaining how he has been at home…in front of his teacher.

We are two peas in a pod for sure.

His teacher is a gem, and we couldn’t be luckier to have her help us transition into this.

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I just am really struggling with this age and transition. He isn’t my baby anymore. And it doesn’t make it easier that he is also having a lot of anxiety about it. I guess we are playing off of each other of not wanting to let go.

But here comes the first day of school.

He skipped proudly to the car with his new backpack.

He found his cubby and chair with ease.

He didn’t have any tears until right before Tom and I left.

However there was a moment as we were standing in line waiting for the bell to signal us into the room that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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A little girl came with big alligator tears, bubbling to her mom, “I wanna go home. I don’t wanna be here.” This was the scene I thought we were going to have so I had all the sympathy for this mom.

Then my sweet little five year old, in this very crowded hallway, walked towards this new classmate that he has never met . He says confidently to her, “It’s ok. I was a little shy too. We are gonna be ok.”

My heart exploded, and it was all I could do to not start sobbing myself.

My five year old is ready.

Yes, it is going to be scary.

Yes, there is a lot of unknown.

Yes, it is like my heart is breaking every time we drop him off.

Yes, I have lost some control.

But he is becoming his own little person, and a good little person at that.

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It was a nudge that I needed to look at my what ifs in a different way.

  • What if he makes a forever friend?
  • What if he never wants to leave school because he is having so much fun?
  • What if he learns to try new foods because he sees his friends eating?
  • What if he starts washing his hands regularly instead of just making bubbles in the sink?
  • What if he is the one in class to set an example on kindness?
  • What if, what if, what if?

This was a God moment to remind me we are ready, and we are gonna be ok.

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How did you feel on your kid’s first day of school? Does it get easier as they get older?