I’ve been in the business of thinking about “hopes and dreams” ever since I completed my Responsive Classroom training a decade ago. I’ve asked fourth and fifth graders to write about their hopes and dreams. I’ve invited parents/guardians into school and asked them to share their hopes and dreams for their child’s school year with their child. I’ve even written hopes and dreams for my students as they got ready to leave my classroom to move to the next grade.
Tonight, I will share my hopes and dream with Isabelle since she starts Kindergarten tomorrow.
Despite the fact that I was unsettled about Isabelle starting camp back in July, I’m remarkably at peace with the fact she will begin elementary school tomorrow. Her teachers are nurturing people with many years of experience as educators. They’ve taken the time to talk with me on the phone and meet with me in person to discuss my concerns based upon everything she’s overcome in the past few years.
Tonight, in lieu of one of her bedtime books, I will share the following letter with Isabelle. It contains two hopes and a dream I have for her for the upcoming school year. While these aren’t all I hope and dream for, they’re the things that are most important to me when I think about what I want her to get out of Kindergarten. It’s my hope (No pun intended!) that these words stay with her as she closes her eyes and drifts off to sleep tonight.
Isabelle was born with a natal tooth. By the time she was a month old, she had already visited the dentist twice to have it checked. It wasn’t wiggling so we decided not to have it pulled.
Have you ever seen a newborn baby with a tooth? It’s quite a site! Truthfully, It was the bane of my existence for quite awhile (i.e., nursing, teeth brushing). However, once her other teeth came in, I forgot about the natal tooth. Well, most of the time.
Five weeks ago, Isabelle discovered one of her teeth was wiggling. Guess which one it was? HER NATAL TOOTH! I was delighted and couldn’t wait for her to lose it.! All I could think was first-in, first-out!
But it wiggled and wobbled for weeks! By yesterday afternoon, it was hanging on by a thread. It looked gross. Isabelle claimed it hurt too. Therefore, I messaged my husband on the way home from the grocery store, requesting he find some gauze and assist Isabelle with extracting her tooth.
Once we got into the house, I collapsed from exhaustion (A heat wave + third trimester of pregnancy + grocery shopping are not a great combination!) on the couch. Isabelle proceeded to go upstairs to find my husband. There was some
loud talking yelling. But after about five minutes, it got quiet. Next came the footsteps down the stairs. I opened my eyes and saw Isabelle holding a tiny white tooth in her hand. I was so elated it was FINALLY out — after over five and a half years — that I began clapping my hands and singing “Siman Tov u’Mazel Tov,” which is usually reserved for occasions like weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.
I asked my husband to bring a Ziploc bag over to the couch. Next, Isabelle placed her tooth inside and sealed the bag.
“Tape this to the outside of your door. The Tooth Fairy will come tonight and bring you some money while you sleep,” I said.
Isabelle ran to her craft table to find some tape.
“Don’t you have a pillow?” Marc asked.
“No,” I replied. “I don’t want to get caught going in there in the middle of the night to retrieve the tooth and put money under her pillow.”
“C’mon!” he said.
“I’m serious. I’m not getting caught. This Tooth Fairy,” I said pointing to myself, “doesn’t go past the bedroom door.”
Marc looked less than thrilled. However, I hadn’t bought a pillow for Isabelle’s teeth so he had no choice but to go along with my new (and I think improved!) way of doing the middle-of-the-night swap.
A few hours after Isabelle fell asleep, I crafted a note from the Tooth Fairy to her. Just before midnight, I slowly peeled the plastic bag off of her door and affixed the letter from the Tooth Fairy, with the money, to her door. I placed her tooth baggie in her baby book and went to bed.
In the morning, I heard “What’s that on my door?” from down the hall. Marc went to her room and read her the note. Then, they peeled it off the door and brought it in to me. I read the note to Isabelle again and asked, “Are you going to save the money or spend it?”
First she said “save,” but a minute later she declared I’m going to buy a big Hershey bar with it at Chocolate World.”
“Whatever you’d like to do. Just put the money in a safe place.”
Isabelle ran back to her room to put her money away. That’s when Marc brought up the Tooth Fairy again.
“It needs to go under her pillow next time, not on her door,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because… what happens when she goes to school and the kids are talking about the Tooth Fairy? She’ll hear that their Tooth Fairies leave their money under their pillow. It’ll be weird if her Tooth Fairy leaves her money on her door.”
“I don’t care. But if you do, then you can be the Tooth Fairy. That means you’re going to have to accept responsibility for skulking in there at night, not waking her, and doing the exchange every single time. If you can commit to doing that for the next 20 teeth (or however many she has), then go for it. Otherwise, I’m doing the door.”
“I’ll do it,” he chuckled.
“What happens if she catches you?” I asked. “You don’t have wings. And you sure don’t look like the fairy on the letter.”
“I’ll just say ‘I was coming in to see if the Tooth Fairy visited you yet,'” he replied.
I shook my head. “If you want to do it that badly, then the job is all yours.”
My husband, the Tooth Fairy. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!
She knows it gets me
When she wipes off my kisses.
But she still loves me!
Isabelle has been enjoying day camp. Like most kids, she comes home exhausted. There’s no way I could get her to sit with me to do her speech work at 4:00 p.m. after a day in the sun and heat. (And it’s been hot and humid this summer!) Therefore, we’ve been doing her speech work after breakfast, before we leave for camp, every weekday morning.
After breakfast, she asked to sit on my lap (what’s left of it now that I’m on the cusp of my eighth month of pregnancy.) We sat together and sang songs, like “Trot Old Joe,” for a few minutes. Then, it was time to practice. And you know what? This morning, I decided it’s not fair. While she rarely complains about sitting down with me and the iPad at 8:00 a.m., I felt angry. I wished we could sit together and sing songs, but I knew we had to start practicing.
It’s been a little over three years since her Apraxia diagnosis and we still work on her talking EVERY SINGLE DAY. And while she’s made enormous strides and can communicate with others, it struck me this morning that she’s worked harder at the age of five-and-a-half than most kids her age! I know this will serve her well in life. She’s got grit, determination, and a better work ethic than many adults. But it’s still not fair.
This morning, just before we fired up Articulation Station on the iPad, I said to her, “I want to take a picture of you sitting here and working beside me.”
“Because I want you to know, when you get older, how hard you worked for every word you have. I’m so proud of you and how you never quit.”
We’re worked on /s/ blends and initial /th/ sounds this morning. Here’s a listen into part of our practice session.
I’m seven-and-a-half months pregnant, which means there’s a LOT of talk about babies in our house these days. Isabelle has learned where babies come from thanks to The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall and several conversations with us. Isabelle knows that before she was in my belly, she lived in my heart. (See this post from last year for my explanation of where she resided before conception. I must say, my response to her question about “where was I before I was born?” stuck.)
Recently, Isabelle wanted to know how Marc and I met. He told her, “on the computer.” Since that sounded shady to me, I explained JDate to her. Yesterday morning, Isabelle had more questions while we were getting ready for a marathon coloring session.
“Where was me when you and Daddy met on the computer?”
“We met on JDate, Isabelle. That’s a site on the internet where Jews go to meet other Jews who want to have a Jewish family.”
“Oh. Well, where was me?” she asked.
I looked at her and didn’t answer. She smiled. “I was in your heart?!!?”
“Yes, you were in my heart.”
“Was I in Daddy’s heart?”
“Yes, you were in Daddy’s heart too.”
“Where was my brother?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Was my brother in your heart too?” (Keep in mind, even though her brother is still in my belly, she talks about him as if he’s already here.)
“Yes, of course, he was in my heart,” I replied.
Isabelle got quiet for a minute. I could tell a big idea was brewing.
“We were in your heart together, Mommy. We were playing.”
“Aw, that’s so sweet,” I replied. “I like thinking of the two of you playing together in my heart. That makes me happy.”
“Yeah, but it was dark,” she said. I started to worry where she was going to go with this, but she turned it around. “We couldn’t see each other well, but we were playing in your heart together.”
“I love that,” I said drawing her in for a hug.
“Have you gotten any writing done since you got home from the conference?” my husband inquired last night.
I smirked. “Barely! Isabelle only had two school days left after the conference. I’ve had almost no time to myself for over a month. Not that that’s been a bad thing. We’ve had fun, but I have hardly had any time to work on the revisions for my manuscript.”
“Well, at least you’ll have time starting Monday,” Marc said.
“I sure will! Five days a week should be plenty of time to get revisions done and to start on some new writing,” I replied.
Starting tomorrow, Isabelle heads off to day camp for the next four weeks. That’s five days a week for six-and-a-half hours a day. I NEED this time to devote to my writing. However, I’d be lying if I said I’m comfortable about sending her off to day camp tomorrow.
Let’s be honest. I’m worried.
Preschool didn’t have me this concerned. I knew she’d be taken care of by capable teachers.
But day camp is another thing. Day camp is a huge adjustment for any kid. (Maybe that’s why my parents didn’t send me to day camp until I was seven. Hmmm…) There are sunscreen and bug spray she needs have applied. There are swimsuits she needs to be changed into and out of. There are personal belongings she needs to keep track of. There’s staying safe at free swim! All of these are things I’ve either overseen or helped to take care of for the past five-and-a-half years. And tomorrow, my kiddo is on her own. (Yes, I know there are counselors, but they’re teenagers in charge of 15 five-year-olds!)
This afternoon, I spent the day doing what I do best when I am nervous about something. I get organized.
I laid out Isabelle’s clothes. (Normally she picks what she wears, but tomorrow is picture day so I chose.)
I took her on a tour of her backpack so she’d know what she was taking to camp. I explained how she was to get dressed and undressed for swimming. (Sit on a towel, not the ground. Place wet bathing suits into a Ziploc when finished. Let me know if I need to send two towels in the future since tomorrow I’m only sending one.) I showed her a laminated picture chart of the items she was to bring home with her. (She is a people-watcher who will be more interested in what other kids are doing than in packing herself up at the end of the day.)
I pulled her curls into a tight slop-knot tonight so it would be easier for me to put her hair into a ponytail tomorrow. (She was shocked the counselors wouldn’t be willing to remove her bow, which she always wears, and tie her hair up in a ponytail prior to swim.)
I made her lunch.
I even put her socks in her sneakers.
And yet, I am still worried. Thankfully, she seems as cool as a cucumber. (I guess that is good. Either it means I’m doing a good job hiding my nerves or she’s oblivious to how much she’s going to have to do on her own!)
I know she will be less than ten minutes away. She will be fine.
And I will be fine too. Perhaps more than fine. Maybe by Tuesday, I’ll even be productive.
—-Updated at 5:00 p.m. on 7/18.—-
Isabelle had a great day at camp! She came home with all of her belongings (Thanks to the help of one of her counselors!) and ate nearly all of her lunch.
I nearly had a heart attack on the car ride home when Isabelle told me she jumped in a bounce house — after some coaxing from adults — when it rained this afternoon. (We’re a no-bounce house family since they’re one of the leading causes of emergency room visits for American children.) She knew she wasn’t supposed to do it, but she told me, “I was careful.” While I appreciated how careful she was, I reminded her that she didn’t want to spend her summer in a cast (or in a cast after having surgery) so I asked her not to go in it again. Even though she promised she’d be careful, I ended the conversation by asking, “If you get hurt in a bounce house and land up in a cast, whose fault will it be?”
Even though she promised she’d be careful, I ended the conversation by asking, “If you get hurt in a bounce house and land up in a cast, whose fault will it be?”
To which Isabelle responded, “Mine.”
Hopefully, she’ll make a smart decision. But just in case, I emailed the head of the camp to ask that the counselors redirect her to another activity the next time the bounce house is a choice. I already received an email back stating: Not a problem – I will speak to the staff
Not a problem – I will speak to the staff tomorrow and let them know to direct Isabelle to another area in the play room. Whew!
Other than that, it was a great day!
I didn’t cover my eyes for the Shema prayer, which is a declaration that there is one G-d, until I was a freshman in college. I was shocked to see so many people covering their eyes at Hillel during my first Friday night service. Being someone who’s never buckled to peer pressure, I didn’t close mine. Instead, I waited a few weeks to ask someone about the significance of closing the eyes for the Shema. I was told one covers their eyes for the Shema as a way to concentrate fully on the meaning behind the prayer. That wasn’t the custom in the Reform synagogue in which I grew up. However, the reasoning behind covering the eyes made sense to me so I started doing it. However, instead of covering my eyes with my right hand, I opted to close my eyelids.
Fast-forward 21 years. I say the Shema prayer with Isabelle at bedtime. This past year, as part of her first religious school experience, she learned the Shema. We chant it every night using the exact tune and tempo her teacher taught her. Everything was going along swimmingly with our nightly Shema until sometime last week when we were on vacation. Apparently, Isabelle uncovered her eyes one night and found my eyelids were closed, rather than covered by my right hand. She’s been bugging me about covering my eyes ever since. Whatever, I thought. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.
This evening, at bedtime, the prayer police got on my case again. “Mommy, cover your eyes.”
So I did. And it wasn’t because I felt pressured. It’s because I wanted to see what would happen if I did. Would Isabelle notice? Because if she did, that would mean her eyes wouldn’t be closed.
I know I was supposed to be concentrating on the prayer (Hence, the reason for the covered eyes), but just before the final word of the Shema, I peeked through my right hand to see what Isabelle was doing. Not only were her eyes opened, transfixed on the wall, but she had her finger over her lips as she sang. Whaaaat?!?!?
Just before I kissed Isabelle good-night, I asked, “Were your eyes covered for the Shema?”
“Yes,” she said.
While it’s possible they were up until that last moment, I kind of doubt it.
I see a conversation in our future — long before bedtime hits tomorrow — about WHY we’re supposed to close and cover our eyes for the Shema. Clearly, she’s been told to do it. And I’m sure her teacher explained why they’re supposed to cover their eyes. However, I think it’s time for a refresher because no one wants to have the prayer police on their case!
Isabelle’s first dance recital took place last night. If you’ve talked to me lately (or read this blog post I wrote in March), then you know I haven’t been that excited about the recital. Some of my lack of enthusiasm had to do with the emphasis on performance rather than acquisition of discernable ballet and tap skills. Some of my lack of enthusiasm surrounded the fact that the rehearsal and recital went beyond Isabelle’s bedtime. And some of my lack of enthusiasm revolved around the idea of five-year-olds being requested to wear makeup.
So, about the makeup. If you read my March post, you might remember makeup was encouraged, but not required for preschool dancers. Seeing as it was optional, I opted not to put any on Isabelle. I figured I’d cave and allow her to wear lipstick if she really wanted to wear makeup because her peers were. In reality, I felt strongly that she didn’t wear it since she’s only five. (Believe me, I have nothing against makeup. I’m rarely out without it. I just don’t think it is for little girls.)
Isabelle either didn’t care or didn’t notice she was the only kid in her dance class without makeup. None of the other moms questioned me about it. (Note: We changed to a different class in early April.) And you know what? When asked, my husband said Isabelle’s lack of makeup didn’t make a lick of difference to him sitting in the audience. He was able to see her face the same as every other kid in her class. (I was back stage so I was able to see all of the girls exactly the same.)
I’m feeling slightly triumphant now about the makeup thing. But despite all of my disdain for everything that revolved around the recital (which also included the fact that the preschoolers’ moms were required to stay backstage rather than being allowed to watch the performance from the audience), I am pleased Isabelle had the courage to get up on stage, in front of hundreds of people, to perform without stage freight. That is a huge accomplishment!
Isabelle walked into my bedroom while I was watching the first few minutes of “CBS This Morning.” A story about Hillary Clinton being the presumptive nominee was on. The report featured an excerpt of Bernie Sanders speaking in California. Isabelle seemed unimpressed by what she saw.
Shades of gray don’t apply to the preschool brain, do they? In Isabelle’s mind (& I’m sure many other kids’ minds), they see the world in terms of good guys and bad guys. And apparently, if someone is raising their voice — in Isabelle’s world — they aren’t a good guy.
Last week, I encouraged Isabelle to fix herself an after school snack rather than relying on me to do it. While I’d still handle refrigerator items (eg, cheese, veggies, or fruit), she would be in charge of pantry items, like granola bars and crackers.
Things were going along fine until 45 minutes before dinner this evening. She’d showered after returning from the pool. She beat us downstairs. As Marc and I walked downstairs — talking about what was for dinner — Isabelle’s voice called out, “I’m having a snack!”
Whaaaat? No way.
She spoke up again, “I made myself a snack… of Bunnies.”
I glanced at Marc. We snickered & giggled.
Look what I’ve done!
We walked into the kitchen, just 45 minutes before dinnertime, and found Isabelle snacking on not only Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies but on tortilla chips too! Nice pre-dinner snack, eh?