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Need a Mommy Mulligan

12 Aug

Wow, I feel like I really blew that one. I wish it didn’t matter to me so much. Why does it? Why did I need Nate to wear nicer clothes (polo/khaki shorts, etc.) on the first day of school? I mostly think it’s because I want to take that obligatory first day photo where the kids are all decked out in their new duds. But that’s what I want, not what my kids necessarily want – and that should matter, right? I should let them have a say in how they’ll be dressed in that picture, right?

It’s just, based off the outfit that Nate picked out himself (by himself), his First Grade first day would’ve been captured like this:

  • Gray “fast” shorts (basically, athletic shorts) with a bright orange stripe down the sides
  • His new black sneaks
  • A white graphic t-shirt with a tiger and a monkey rockers in shades
  • Spiderman character socks

I told him that he could for sure wear that on Tuesday, except for the Spidey socks because they really didn’t match, but I wanted him to wear a polo shirt and dress shorts for the first day. He could even wear his new sneaks. He expressed his displeasure in many whines and dramatics, even telling me his new sneaks would look “weird” with the nicer clothes.

That’s when I spoke what I wish I could un-speak. I told him I wondered why that would look weird but the non-matching Spiderman socks with the non-matching shorts and shirt doesn’t look weird to him. He paused, defeated. I felt like a jerk. After all, the little man picked out that band tee outfit all by himself and laid it all out ready to go. It was something he would feel good wearing on the first day. I walked out and told him I’d steam his tee.

He came to me and said, “What about my nice shirt with the guitars?” I hugged him with tears in my eyes and talked to him about why it mattered to me like it did but that I should have considered his feelings more.

We compromised. He’s now wearing his polo shirt that has guitars on the chest with nicer shorts and he plans to wear the shirt he really wanted to wear on the first day – a violent looking doughnut tee that he thinks is funny (forced mom smile) – on the second day. (Turns out, I found a small hole that needs stitched in the band tee. I swear I didn’t put it there.)

The best line of the whole ordeal was Andrew asking me, “Did you tell him, ‘You go to school to learn not for a fashion show’?” (Thank you, Fresh Prince.)

I guess I need to take some of that advice. Besides, I have a feeling uniforms are on the way …


Sharing Her Wealth

26 May

Dragon Dollars: tokens that praise students for being ready, respectful and responsible. Students are awarded them from any teacher during the school day for doing something that falls in line with those three school character traits.

Did you help another student pick up some papers she dropped? Dragon Dollar. Did you turn your complete homework project in on time? Dragon Dollar. Were you following the rules in the hallway? Dragon Dollar.

Each week, the school would offer a store where students could cash in their well-earned paper Dragons for passes to skip a homework assignment, wear sunglasses, get an ice cream treat or bring a critter (stuffed animal) to school. Students could also save up for special events. Nate used some for ice cream and then 40 to attend his principal’s birthday bash. He was so excited for that. Then, there was Nia. She saved hers – wanting to make sure she’d have enough for the big celebration and raffle at the end of the year.

Nia earned more than 100 dollars over her Third Grade days. She was able to buy the $50 ticket to the Luau and a $50 ticket for the raffle. She was so proud and happy to be one of the few in her class who could afford to buy both.

When the day came, she made her purchases and then saw that one of her classmates was very sad when he learned he didn’t have enough for the luau or raffle. She knew what she had leftover wasn’t going to give him enough for those but, instead of spending her surplus on some extra swag for herself, she gave them to her friend. She says she doesn’t know what he “bought” with them, only that he was happy and thankful.

I was moved by what she did but I wanted to know more. Would she be so giving to someone who wasn’t her friend? Why didn’t the boy have enough Dragons? Did he not follow the rules like she did?

She told me she wouldn’t want to give them to someone who was mean to her. I told her I can understand that but it’s best to always be kind to everyone. She didn’t love this idea because she was thinking about one girl in particular who is mean to her and didn’t want to reward her for that. I can understand that and part of me agrees with her, but I want to teach her to be giving without judgement or preference – something many adults, even myself, find difficult at times.

She explained that the boy behaved, he just always spent his dollars each week, never saving them. This kind of ties in with the giving without judging view. A lot of people feel they shouldn’t give their dollars to someone who isn’t as careful with theirs. She didn’t look at it that way. She saw a friend who was sad and wanted to help.

I want her to always have the giving heart she has, but I also don’t want her to be a pushover. Difficult to teach and live out. I am so proud of her though – for saving her well-deserved dollars and for sharing without someone prompting her. That’s a great start.

To Remember

16 May

So many times, I just file away certificates or awards that the kids get. I’ve seen ideas on pinterest about cool ways to display kids’ art so that it doesn’t stay hidden, piled in boxes in closets for years. I’ve framed a few of my favorites and always struggle with what to toss and what to preserve. The words on this certificate made it easy for me though. Cherish.


I don’t know if Nia will always feel or think as she does now about God and/or religion and that’s ok. I still don’t always know if what I’m feeling or the religion I choose to participate in is “right.” I try to be ever-learning, open-minded and respectful to the thoughts and beliefs of others and that’s what I hope for Nia. To have someone write this about our 9-year-old is something to remember though and gives me hope that she will always be a thoughtful student to others.

Dear Sister Note about the Play that Wasn’t

27 Mar

The play was for Literacy Day. Nate’s class had been learning songs about vowel sounds, rhyming words and speckle frogs for weeks. He sang in the shower and at the breakfast table to Nia, rehearsing – complete with finger snaps and an air guitar. He excitedly asked if we could watch him sing. The night before the big day finally arrived. He fell asleep singing, knowing I was going to be in the audience to see him shine with the other Kindergartens. Then, hours later, he woke up with a terrible coughing fit.

Sadly, he would miss his play – too tired from a rough night and too sick to sing on stage. He sang for me at the doctor’s office (white-wall video at the bottom of this post) and wrote Nia a note:

Signed: Sweet, Sicky Boy

Translated: “Nia, sorry I cannot come to school today because I am sick. I can do another play next year. Don’t worry, Nia. I have a bad cough. One thing why I can’t come. Two, I have a cold.”

He later added, “I hope I don’t have it anymore and I wish you don’t have it like me.”

Sweet, sicky boy. I’m glad you are feeling better now.

Today’s Health Lesson Brought to You by Subway

1 Mar

Nia's Note from her Heart

Such treasures can be found in a child’s classwork. This week, Nia’s pile of graded math and spelling tests contained a note to her 30-year-old self. It was a pink heart, decorated with her hand-drawn hearts, and filled with thoughts that range from “aw” to “ha!” and then back to “aw” again.

Because I couldn’t capture all of her words in the picture above, here is what she wrote:

Dear 30-year-old Nia,

You need to take care of me! You can take care of me by getting enough sleep at night. You could also take care of me by eating at Subway (if you go to eat out) and pick out baked chips. You could exercise and go to races and smile for other people and cheer for them as they go by.


Nia’s Heart

I love so much about this. The Subway commercial is hilarious but her thought that cheering on people in races would be good for her heart is so beautiful. Eight-year-old Nia really knows what makes a sweet heart. I hope her 30-year-old self hangs on to it and keeps it safe.

Too Sick for School?

26 Jan

I know who it is as soon as I see the phone number pop up on my phone. I feel like I see it once a week.

The school nurse.

She is wonderful. Truly. I want to bring her gifts with heart-shaped cards and make her sweet treats to show my appreciation for her. I’ve never met her in person but I feel like my family is cared about by an incredibly patient and kind soul. I think it’s one of the many reasons the kids always want to see her for the smallest boo-boo and I don’t blame them. She gives them comfort, care, a bandage or ice and then she calls me, which means they get to talk on the phone – at school – to mommy.

Of course, they also go to her for legitimate reasons. When I get the call that they don’t feel well, Andrew or I will leave work and scoop them up for TLC. Today though, her number appeared and I ended up asking the nurse if she thought it would be ok if Nia stayed. She said yes because Nia didn’t have a fever. Despite her guidance, I felt like I needed the nurse because I felt terrible.

I know Nia wasn’t harming herself or others by being there. She was probably just uncomfortable. She had a cough and said she had a headache but was acting fine otherwise. When the nurse put Nia on the phone, I asked her if she could stick it out. She said yes but her voice was so sad.

I thought to myself, if I was still a stay-at-home mom, I would get her in a second. Pull her out of school and cuddle with her while watching her favorite laugh-track shows. Then I thought, that could be a bad thing because I would always run to rescue them. Even if I didn’t really need to. Even if they should (are well enough to) stick it out.

I am thankful for the nurse to advise me. I also use resources like this and this when I’m not so sure about whether they should be in school. Yes, there is also the motherly instinct, but I think I would use that one too instinctively, for sure.

By the way, if I trusted my instincts today, they would’ve been wrong. When I picked Nia up at the end of the day, she was feeling a-ok. And I’m so glad for that.

*One other resource:
I also thought this has some good info about different kinds of coughs.

Grade A Citizen

1 Nov

I would fail if I was ever quizzed on that Late Show skit “Jaywalking.” I would fail if we were playing a trivia game and the win depended on my answer. I would fail if given a Third Grade test at age 33. Despite my admitted lack of government facts though, I’m happy to say my Third Grader would definitely pass for an outstanding citizen. Especially if it was based on her grade from her first test about the government and her written answer (that I will always cherish).

Nia earned a 97% on the test, missing a question about city council and another about which level of government can declare war. However, she knew what type of democracy was practiced in ancient Athens and which structure in Washington D.C., most shows the influence of Greek architecture as shown in the Parthenon. I also love that she now knows the name of the woman who fought to get women the right to vote. I can’t wait for her to become one of those educated voters. (And help refresh mom on some of the particulars.)

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