When to Start?

Hey gang! My old sharing post that I wrote for Circle of Moms/Pop Sugar a few years back has recently been shared again, and also shared on other sites, so all of a sudden I got this big boost of traffic and new followers. Welcome one and all, I’m so glad you’re here!

What I want to talk about today is if and when you sent your little ones off to preschool. I was recently criticized for the fact that Ferris will start preschool literally the day he turns 2. According to this person, there’s no need to send a 2 year old to preschool, and he’s “just too young. You shouldn’t do that.”

We didn’t start Bowie right away at age two, but he was only 2 1/2. His birthday is in May, so when the new school year began in August, he was 2 and 2 months old. We didn’t get a spot at that time, we got one in December, when he was fully 2 1/2. Honestly, it felt like he was developmentally light years away from where Ferris is right now, and will be in September (when he gets to start). But, Ferris has one of those early fall birthdays, we have a spot waiting for him, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Maybe it comes across as me just wanting to get rid of him for a few hours a day. Which, I’m not going to lie to you, is a part of it. But, this kid is really, really ready for preschool.

From what I’ve gathered from all the people I’ve talked to over the years who did not or will not send their children to preschool at all, people have two main visions of preschool.

Some people think it is school, as in where you sit at a desk and a teacher teaches and gives projects and maybe you’ll get a little playtime.

Others think it is more like a daycare. They go off to be taken care of by other people for the whole day, 6 to 8 hours, and there’s little to no emphasis on learning or development.

Our preschool isn’t like that. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of them out there. Ours is play-based, and there’s a bit of learning. That’s mostly for the older children (about to head to Kindergarten), but everyone has a dedicated music time, and stories are always read at snack time. The toys and games and activities chosen for the kids are also chosen to help them with specific types of learning and development for their age. Plus, they’re only there for 3 hours a day.

That’s why I’m ok with sending him there on his second birthday. He will love all the things there are to do there, and he will love the social aspect. But even after I explained all of this, that’s when I was told it’s just not necessary.

Of course it’s not necessary. I didn’t go to preschool. A lot of people my age didn’t go to preschool. But just because you don’t have to send your kids doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from it. And it doesn’t mean you’re slacking on your parenting. It just means you’ve chosen to send them to a place that has way more toys and games and activities than you could possibly ever have at your own house, and you’re allowing professionals to spend a few hours a day giving them some guidance.

All kids are different too. Maybe her kids (who are older now) weren’t ready when they were 2. And that’s ok! There have been kids at our preschool that just weren’t ready either. They will drop out of the program and wait a while, or maybe just decide preschool wasn’t for them and never come back. That’s just something we as parents need to evaluate. For our OWN children, not someone else’s.

What say you, readers? Did you send your child(ren) to preschool? How old were they? Did it work out? Would you choose to do it the same way again if you had it to do over again? Have you ever been criticized for sending your child “too soon”?

By the way, we go to a co-op preschool, where I have to work one day of the week. Until baby siblings are one year of age, they can tag along (in a baby carrier while you work). Here’s a picture of Ferris at school when he was about 10 months old. He’s going to LOVE it.

Glance Back at the Week

1. The preschool director had requested a meeting with me last week, to “discuss Bowie’s progress and where he is now”. And I sort of dreaded it, just unsure of what they’d tell me or expect me to say. I met with them this past Tuesday and, oh you guys. Amazing meeting. The teachers are completely floored by his behavior, and how far he’s come. The director said he’s “a completely different kid.” They applauded us for putting him in therapy and being persistent with him over the summer, and they said it has paid off in a major way. And they’d even like to use us as an example for future families who might be hesitant to seek help. I used to cry in their office out of frustration and embarrassment, and that day I was able to get misty out of pride and relief. I knew there had been a change in him, but I wasn’t sure others would be able to see it too. But, they were so surprised, and so happy.

2. So, if you’re a semi-regular reader, then you know I had a salmonella infection in 2006. It was a little bit traumatic, and I talk about it a lot, using my blog as a therapist (thanks you guys, you’re way cheaper than an actual therapist) and I like to get the word out about recalls and warnings. Because it was hell on earth, and I just don’t want to see anyone else get it. But I have to say that lately, I am pretty freaking overwhelmed with the news stories and warnings and recalls and possible contaminations and outbreaks. They are everywhere I turn. Peanut butter and mangoes and lettuce and spinach and canteloupe and tomatoes and ground turkey and MY GOD MAKE IT STOP. It’s enough to make even the bravest eater among us wonder if anything we ever put in our mouths is safe. And being pregnant makes it even scarier, because it’s not just about me right now, ya know? Funny story (also that you’ve probably already heard)–when I went into labor with Bowie, I actually thought I’d contracted salmonella again. The gastrointestinal distress, the abdominal cramping, it was all so reminiscent of my illness. I told my husband to take me to the hospital because I was sick and I didn’t want to hurt the baby. He could see through the crazy and knew I was in labor, but I was inconsolable, surely I’d somehow gotten salmonella again, and now my baby had it too. Wow, the crazy, looking back.

3. Since Tuesday, I have been having some mild cramping and lots of pelvic pressure. I’m sure I have a ways to go yet, but it’s nice to feel like things are progressing a little bit. I am SO hungry. All the time. It’s nuts. (Mmmm, nuts.) And between the peeing, the sore hips, the sweating to death and the insane dreams, sleep is a thing of the past. I’m trying to learn to cope with it, instead of complain about it, because I know I won’t be getting sleep anytime soon.

4. For your weekly dose of insane cute: Bowie found this outfit in the dress up area at school. It’s a witch’s dress, but some of the trim is green with spiders and spiderwebs on it. And he’s totally latched on to the thing, proclaiming it the “Nice Spiderman Princess” outfit. He wears it all afternoon at school, and the other night I just couldn’t get it off of him, so he wore it out to dinner too. And the the whole next afternoon at school, and following evening. It’s so cute and hilarious, and we can’t wait to show him pictures when he graduates high school.

Discipline, Psychology, Swear Words and Me

So, I’m going to blab at you about kids and swearing again, sorry. If you’re a bit sensitive to swearing, now’s a good time to move on to some better blog reading. The thing is, the swearing preschooler in our house is still going strong, even at school, and I’m kind of perturbed that no one’s advice is working.

Thankfully, the F word seems to have waned a little bit. It still comes out from time to time, but nowhere near as often as “shit”. Shit is probably the word he uses the most on a daily basis. Well, it’s in the running, along with “want” and “juice”.

These are the main things we have tried to combat the swearing:

1. Pretending not to hear the words. This trick is a lot more effective when we are at home. Because when you’re at a preschooler birthday party, packed with other parents and kids, and he yells at top volume, “You’re just a stupid shit mama!” and you try to ignore it, you just look like a loser. Seriously. Like you don’t care, and aren’t trying. But, at home we’ve tried the tactic of seeming unfazed, to take the power out of the words. Because, that’s what it’s really all about, right? He’s somehow learned that particular words hold power. He has power by saying them. And power is all a preschooler really wants out of life, because their opportunities to have any are so few. But, all this tactic seems to have done for him is made the word more accessible, and more a regular part of his daily vocabulary. It’s similar to an adult’s use of swear words in that manner. Have you ever challenged yourself to not swear? Or even to stop saying any word? A college friend and I challenged ourselves to cut out the word “like”, at least in the context of “you know, like, totally awesome” and I think we made it…an hour? Point being, the more regular use a word gets, the more likely it is to pop out at every given chance. So, this isn’t working. At all.

2. Getting super angry when he says the word. We’ve also been known to make threats, like taking toys away, not going somewhere special, even the dreaded Soap in the Mouth (which pre-parenthood I was sooooo against, funny how things change. But, we get organic, plant based soaps so…are we less evil???). But, this comes right back to the power element of it. Us getting angry gives the behavior some pretty big time attention. Negative attention, yes. But when you’re 4, it doesn’t really matter if the attention is negative or positive, as long as it’s there. Hey, when I say “shit”, mom and dad flip out at me, awesome! So, obviously, this isn’t going to work. And in general, it makes all three of us miserable.

3. Replacing the word with other words, or encouraging him to choose words to say in place of swear words. We’ve repeated his own sentences back to him with different words, similar to the preschool teacher from my last post. We have also asked him to choose different words to express his anger and frustration. AND, we have ALSO suggested he choose and/or make up a new word that he can use in the same context he would use a swear word. For instance, “shoot” or “fudge”. So, you can still release the bad feelings by yelling out a word, but that word doesn’t actually have to be a swear word. This suggestion seems to offend him, and he gets angry and refuses. Still hammering home with this one, it seems like it should work so well.

4. Referring to all swear words as bad words that we don’t say. And if he hears it in a movie, or out in public, we will point out that the person saying it is an adult, but he is still just a kid, so it’s not appropriate for him to say it. Now, any fellow parent or child psychologist or anyone really can tell me this method is not effective with any child for any behavior. But, that didn’t really stop us from giving it a go. We are very, very desperate.

We were still seeing the occupational therapist when all of this first started, and her response was that he’s picked up the words, figured out how to use them in context, and refuses to stop using them no matter how much mommy and daddy plead because, “He’s so smart!” Which is a nice and thoughtful thing to say about my son, but really, not so helpful.

And I know my son well enough, and know parenting well enough, to know that eventually it will all pass. It will fade away, the luster will be lost, the words will make their way out of his everyday vocabulary. But, it seems to be taking an awfully long time for this to happen. And, I can’t really do anything about the Shock and Awe he’s causing the general public. All those perfect, do-good parents out there who never allowed these words into their child’s pristine ears. In addition to making a dramatic, taken-aback face at him, they also look to me for some kind of response. Something to the tune of one of the four aforementioned methods, which have all failed miserably for us.

I didn’t get much of a response last time I posted about this. I think simply because you guys just don’t know what to tell me. You probably haven’t had to deal with it (and I hope that you never do!). And that’s fine. But, what are some of your other methods of getting through to your kids about an undesirable, yet very stubborn behavior? How can we get inside their little brains, and make them think curbing their bad behavior was actually their own idea?

Behavior chart? Some version of a “swear jar” that will resonate with a kid? Any advice or idea very welcome at this point.

 

Friday Digest 2

1. So, August. It took forever to get here, but now it’s finally here. This is the last full calendar month I will be pregnant. I mean, even if The Littlest Dude is late, he’ll still be born before the end of September. And if he’s early? He could be born at the end of THIS MONTH. Ecstatic=the only word for how that makes me feel. Here’s some perspective for you: I’ve been pregnant for all of 2012. Yep. Found out right after New Year’s. Think about that for a sec. About ready for this to be over, and the next phase of my life to start. Even though it’s going to be a little bit crazy for a while.

2. After our horrid park experience at the beginning of this week (see last post), we had an amazing experience yesterday. Within minutes of us arriving, Bowie had a small (and I mean small) run-in with another boy around his age, and came up to me and deemed the other kid “mean and stupid.” My heartbeat sped up and I thought, “Here we go again.” And I prepared myself for another embarrassing exit. But, but, but…a few minutes later Bowie was playing alone and the other kid walked up again and pointed out some bird poop. Which they both found completely hilarious. And the other kid says, “Hey, let’s go slide!” Bowie says enthusiastically, “Ok!” And off they went. They went up and down the slide for a solid hour after that, and when I told Bowie it was time to leave, he said, “Not until I’m done sliding with my friend!” This for him was an amazing experience, I’m sure. Especially given that he’d gotten a bad impression of the other boy at first, but was able to overcome that. And given that a couple of times they disagreed on the rules of their sliding game, and they accidentally crashed into each other, and Bowie did fine. In the past, that would have set him off. I can envision him having a great final year at preschool. Which, let me tell you, was NOT what I was thinking just three months ago.

3. Speaking of preschool: 19 days until we’re back. 19 days. 19 days. 19 days.

4.¬†Ran across this quote on Pinterest today: “If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.” Which piqued my curiosity. Not exactly a year ago today, but a year ago Sunday, I was having¬†this conversation. So I have a safe assumption of what was on my mind. And I’m still healing today, but I’m so happy to have come as far as I have, and I’m so, so, so excited for our future, which I surely was not last August.

5. Holla at your girl for being featured on ChatterBlockSF on their list of Best Parenting Blogs in the Bay Area. As always, an honor. Still in complete denial of how many people actually end up here, and actually take a minute to read something. Amazing feeling, and means so much. Thanks to all my readers. And to be included with some of my own favorites (like Using Our Words and Rookie Moms) is so amazing.

And I leave you with probably the cutest dog video I’ve ever seen.

 

Sophomore Year of Preschool

This is Bowie’s second year at preschool. It’s a co-op preschool, so it’s totally run, top to bottom, by the parents. Well, there is a director, an assistant director and two teachers to guide us, but the rest of the stuff: supervising the children with activities, providing and serving snack, cleaning the school, purchasing supplies, fundraising, etc. We, the parents, do all of that.

It’s a tough thing to get used to, having it be YOUR school and all. But, I dig it. All the parents get to know each other, and a solid community is built. It’s great for the kids AND great for the parents. Anyway, whatever, I’m not trying to sell you on the school. It’s just that, there’s a lot to learn. And, we started late (in December) because another family had dropped out (hey, thanks by the way!), so it was even harder to fully fit in, having not gone through the official new-parent orientation and all of that. I felt like the new kid at school. For the entire year.

Dealing with the kids is especially difficult. There’s a whole philosophy and methodology surrounding how we take care of less-than-desirable behaviors. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the right words to say, and to get the children to listen. A lot of times last year, I fumbled it, and a teacher or more seasoned parent had to step in, and it was…well, not embarrassing, but…just frustrating. I felt like a fraud or something. I was afraid they would think I didn’t care, when I really did, very much.

This year, we’re kind of old hat. But, I didn’t expect it to feel that way. I still expected to feel a little out of place, a little nervous, a little unsure. As I started meeting some of the new families, I saw myself in their faces. They were all nervous and unsure, afraid of doing the wrong thing.

My first workday back (we do one workday per week), I fell right back into the routine. Only this time? I knew what to do. I knew what to say. I knew where to find stuff. I knew when to step back, let a teacher handle it, and not beat myself up over it. What is this strange feeling? I think they call it…CONFIDENCE.

I think it’s one part experience, one part of the kids knowing who I am now and respecting me as an adult at the school, and one little part of knowing I’m not the new kid anymore, and I need to step up to help those who are.

Yay for a second year at preschool that so far feels like it will go a whole lot smoother.

I know, I know.

I’ve really been phoning it in lately, sorry about that. This past weekend was the preschool benefit auction, of which I was part of the planning committee, and it was using up a vast majority of the little free time I normally have.

I have also been nursing a sinus/lung thing off and on since New Year’s Eve, so there’s been a bit of napping as well. Finally going to the doctor later this week, and praying that it’s nothing serious that I’ve been passing on to all the kiddos at preschool (I did my work day last week even though I was a hacking, mucousy mess).

But then I stumbled on an old pal’s blog today and she hasn’t posted since last October, so I’m feeling a little better about myself. I post more often that that, at least. I mean, most of the time it’s about the weather, or my health or how I never post but, whatever.

There’s BIG stuff coming this spring, I just have a feeling. So hang in there.

Preschool Petri Dish

We were warned about preschool. About how a preschool (or any school or daycare, for that matter) can bring down even the healthiest of children (which I thought my little bug was) on a weekly basis. I shrugged it off. My kiddo is uber-healthy! Won’t happen to us!

I never made a single sick visit to our pediatrician, save for the sprained ankle and the Diaper Rash From Hell, until a month ago. Not that he never got sick, he did have a couple of minor colds. Just nothing doctor-worthy.

Then, we started preschool last December. And we all got a cold. (The unspoken part of this warning that failed to occur to me is that, when kiddo gets sick, the whole family gets sick.) Then the holidays came and went, and we spent our New Year’s Day nursing cold #2. A month later, we are all sick again, this time kiddo gets his first ear infection. And now, another month later, we’re all sick again, and he’s got a double ear infection.

So basically we’ve been sick all year.

Here’s to Spring, opening up the windows to air out the house, sending those germs packing. I’m so tired of being sick. I guess I can be grateful for all of our healthy years. But seriously, TIRED of the SICK.

Big, Wide World

Nothing can match the curiosity of a toddler. Their thirst for knowledge and seeing new things is insatiable. They are always ready for the excitement that awaits them around every corner.

On nice days, Bowie and I will walk the 10 blocks to his preschool, just a little bit more than a half mile one way. Most days, the would-be 15 minute walk takes us at least 30 minutes, sometimes as long as 45 minutes.

Bowie fills this time with smelling flowers, petting cats, pointing out airplanes, reading letters on signs, waving to neighbors, feeling all the different plants, picking up sticks, walking backwards and a million other things. He really LOVES seeing new things, finding new things, learning new things. I wish we could all keep that thirst for knowledge as adults. But, sadly I think many of us lose it.

Here’s to bringing out our inner curious toddler.

The Pink Stuff

Perhaps a young child being on antibiotics during cold and flu season isn’t exactly newsworthy, but this is the very! first! time! Bowie has ever gotten a prescription, so I was feeling a little…bloggy.

Bowie has been sick off and on since New Year’s Eve, and it all came to a very dramatic head in the past few days, with a 102 fever and coughs so violent that he threw up a little bit. So, we had to get in to see the pediatrician. And I haven’t had to call for a sick appointment, only regular check ups. So, when I talked to the doctor, and she heard his symptoms and asked a little sternly, “You can’t get him in this afternoon?!”, I was a little worried.

Plus, the whole preschool has been sick this week, all the parents frantically asking if other parents can cover their shifts. I went in and worked my shift yesterday without Bowie, just because I knew it was unlikely anyone could cover for us. And all the moms that did manage to make it yesterday were talking about how their kids had just gotten over such ailments as pneumonia, bronchitis, RSV, you name it. GASP.

Thankfully, Bowie’s chest congestion was deemed “mild” by the doc, likely leftover from the first cold at the beginning of the month. And she informed me that the other symptoms were all probably from the raging ear infection in his left ear.

I’m thinking, an ear infection? That’s IT? I have to keep reminding myself that an ear infection is still kind of a big deal, still needs the pink antibiotics, especially since we’re set to board an airplane in two weeks. And also, my brother and my husband have childhood tales of bad ear infections and tubes and hearing loss. So. Still important.

But THANK GOODNESS for dodged bullets. Gotta keep my little man hydrated, well-rested and full of vitamin C. And the pink stuff.

Yes, we let him.

Funny thing happened at preschool today. Funny in that I feel like a moron.

We were singing this fun song at music time: “Wake me, shake me, don’t let me sleep too long. In the morning I …. ” and then the teacher calls on a child and they fill in the blank. I eat breakfast. I put on clothes. I brush my teeth. I say good-bye to my dad. Whatever.

Teacher calls on Bowie. Who is 2 1/2 and off in his own entire universe when this is happening. Teacher says, “What does Bowie do in the morning, mom?”

I say, “Uuuuuuuummmmmmmmmm he watches Curious George.”

The pause in the room was palpable. I mean, GOD LOVE ‘EM but most San Francisco parents are not hip to the half hour of peace you can get from plopping your kiddo in front of a nice television program. (Or, at least they’d never admit to it in the very public manner that I chose.)

The song went on as normal, but LORD, the PAUSE.

I’m here today to admit, yes, I let my son watch television.

At least I said Curious George, he’s on PBS. I could have said Fresh Beat Band or something AMIRITE.