Double Aces

Dear Eddie,

You are eleven!

I think I start each of your birthday letters this way, but it’s always amazing to me how much you have grown and how far you have come since my last letter. Eleven has proven to be a BIG deal.

This year you finished cub scouts, elementary school, swimming lessons (that you didn’t even have to actually go to because Coronavirus), and all things “little kid”.

You got a real watch for elementary graduation, had to suffer through the “sex” talk given by your awkward, but well-meaning mother, and committed to becoming a trombone player in middle school.

Middle school!

You are a mix of excited and nervous for middle school, and if I am honest, I am too. I am super excited for you to try new things like band and art classes that are not just once-a-week specials like in middle school. I think you will enjoy making new friends, having a variety of teachers and classes, and finding activities that you want to be a part of outside of the school day since you love being social and you love to learn. I also happen to know some of the staff at your middle school and know that you will have some great learning opportunities.

I have anxiety for you too. Middle school is a tough time of your life even when school goes smoothly. You are growing up and your body is pretty objective about what it has to do: grow hair and smell bad–among other things.

But your brain and heart are more subjective. You will lose childhood friends as you realize you aren’t actually interested in the same things. Those losses will hurt and confuse you. You have already started noticing girls, but it’s going to get a little out of hand in the next few years, as in you will find yourself thinking about about them, being confused by them, and being hurt by them.

Your brain will tell you to do one thing, your heart another, and your body will do whatever it wants. That will confuse and hurt you too.

You will hurt others with your words or lack of words.

You will probably make your mother cry more than once.

You and I are already noticing it. In the past few months you have told me, “I don’t know why I acted like that. I am sorry.” We talk it out, hug it out, and love each other through it.

You are almost as tall as I am, your feet are larger than mine, bu you are still the kindhearted, helpful, little bit naive kid you’ve always been. I know we have to nurture those traits in you and remind both of us of them when adolescence steals your sense and joy.

I told you as I tucked you in on your birthday that I like you even more now than I did that very first day, and it’s true. We struggled when you were a newborn to find our way together. But now we have great conversations, enjoy reading together, and both laugh at the word “nut”.

I’ve always been a bit of an 11-year old boy, and you’ve always had a bit of an old soul. We make a really good team.

We can also annoy the shit out of each other, but that’s part of loving someone with all your being, right?

I hope you always remember that you are my best Eddie, my rainbow baby, my Hufflepuff who wishes he was a Gryffindor, my partner is ridiculousness.

The next few years are going to have some rough times, but it is my goal to also make space to create fun, joyful memories together too.

I love you, Eddie. I am so very proud of the kid you are and the young adult you are growing up to be.

Love you forever and ever,

Mom

An Odd Ending

The school year is officially over for all four of us who are academically involved in schooling.

It was…odd.

First, Alice finished pre-school with a drive-thru celebration and one final Zoom with her teachers and her Fish Room Friends.

Certificate that proves she did it!

Honestly, I think Cortney, all the grandparents, and I were more bummed about not getting the cute little pre-school “graduation” celebration than she was. She didn’t know what normally happens. She was all-caps THRILLED to drive-thru the back parking lot and see her teachers and get her art projects and certificate.

This kid is ready for Kindergarten!

I was next. My classes unceremoniously ended on May 29. We did a drive-thru exchange where kids could pick up locker stuff and their yearbook and/or drop off any school/teacher stuff. I volunteered to help at one of the two times we did this. It was fun to see some of my students, but it definitely did not make up for our regular last week of school fun.

The boys ended their school year on Friday, June 5, although to be fair we were pretty much done with school work on May 29. They did a little field day and had some final zoom moments, but they had been done.

On the 5th, however, they put a fork in it. Their elementary school had a drive through summer send off first for 5th grade advancement, and then for the whole school. Well, of course we had to drive through twice–once for each kid!

The 5th grade t-shirt. Also…remember when he was just born? Sigh.
and the back of the shirt
Cars driving through with staff cheering and holding signs. 5th graders got their certificate of advancement and a treat from the PTO
He ate the tassel before realizing his name was on it!
Best 5th grade teacher ever!

Of course we had to drive through a second time so Charlie could sit in the front and be celebrated. It’s only fair. But first I got a couple selfies–one with the newly minted 3rd grader, and one with the rising Kindergartner.

Ready for summer! Then 3rd grade! Look out Upper-El!
Along for the ride…and getting a sneak peek at the awesome staff at her future elementary school!

It wasn’t the 5th grade “graduation” that is normally held, but I asked family and friends to send Eddie a note in the mail and they did NOT disappoint! He got dozens of cards throughout the week, and said, “I am still sad that 5th grade didn’t go how it was supposed to, but this probably wouldn’t have happened if it did, so I am pretty happy.”

We also had a tiny celebration at home that evening.

He picked pizza for dinner and asked to make a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips and homemade chocolate ice cream with me. So we did. And then topped it with chocolate syrup.

That is a LOT of chocolate!

We also gave him a watch as a “graduation” gift. I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be. We wanted it to be something that showed he was growing up and becoming more responsible.

He loved it.

And so, the 2019-2020 school year is over. Summer is here.

A Decade of Edward

Dear Eddie,

You are TEN!

I was told not to blink. When you were screaming for hours for no purpose, I was told, “this will pass, and you will miss that little baby.”

They were right, it passed. And while not all of the experiences over the past ten years felt like a blink, it went much quicker than I anticipated, even with all the warnings.

Dad and I are incredibly proud of you.

Cub Scout Christmas caroling at Great Gram Sluiter’s.

When Dad and I decided to become parents, we had the goal of helping all of you develop into good people. Being athletic or creative or intelligent was all secondary to just being a good human. You, son, are a good person.

You have a kind heart and a giving nature. You regularly think about how others would feel. You don’t want people to be sad or hurt. You ask lots of questions…you’ve always asked lots of questions.

This summer for one day a week you have been helping me out in my new classroom. I enjoy our time together. Before Alice was born you had your own room and bedtime was our chance to read books, cuddle, and talk about all the questions in your head. Since Charlie moved in to your room, we still read books, but our one-on-one time has pretty much disappeared. We still have great conversations, just the three of us. But it’s different.

This summer we have been able to get those Mom-and-Eddie conversations back. The 30-minute drive to my school gives us time to talk about books and movies and all the things of the world that are on your mind. While you work in my classroom you tell me what you’re thinking about and ask more questions. The drive home is usually pretty quiet while you ponder all the the conversations of the day. I really love it.

This school year you finished your 4th year as a cub scout, played basketball for the first time, and did a class called “theater games” through Zeeland Rec. You are finding what you love and who you are.

This fall you will be going into 5th grade–the last year of elementary school. Being 10 and heading into 5th grade have me feeling very nostalgic for my little toddler Eddie. You’ve always loved school though, and have excelled in all the subjects. The couple times you’ve gotten in trouble have broken your heart because you knew you disappointed your teachers and us. You are always so willing to apologize and make things right. You are very social and love seeing your friends, which is a blessing and a curse.

Ms. Holwerda, your 4th grade teacher and you

You make friends very, very easily. You can walk into a room and find someone to hang out with. I admire that because you make it look so easy. The problem with that is that you love to chat. You often don’t even think about whether or not you should start talking, you just do. This is a bit of a problem in school. It’s the only negative thing your teachers ever have to say at parent teacher conferences. And it’s only negative because you do it when you shouldn’t…and that distracts YOU from what you should be doing, and it distracts others.

You still love Legos. In fact, you are trying to save up $400 to buy the Lego Hogwarts. You’ve already saved $30 this summer!

You like to ride your bike and shoot hoops. You love to swim and wrestle with Charlie. You enjoy doing things like fish and take walks with Grandpa. But your current favorite thing is to play your Nintendo 2DS. Actually, you love all screens. You love to play math games on my computer, apps on the ipad, and games on the Wii. You love to watch movies and TV. We often joke that you’re best at sitting on the couch. But really, you do like to play and do active things…just not as much as you like sitting around.

You LOVE to read and write. When screens aren’t an option (because sometimes you all need a break…because you get rude with each other), you can be found reading through piles of books or creating comics. You have many notebooks filled with drawings and doodles of stories and characters you have created. When we ask you what you want to do when you grow up, you never really know. You like the idea of becoming an author/comic book creator, but you also like the idea of writing and creating for video games. I definitely think you will go into a creative field someday even though you have strong math and reasoning skills too.

Whatever you choose in life, we want you to choose joy. We want you to choose kindness and love and acceptance. We want you to continue to be YOU.

Ten is a big deal. You are no longer a little kid (although, adorably, you still sleep with your Lamby and your “monkey pillow” from when you were a wee one). You’re a big kid. You’re entering the “tween” zone. I admit I am a bit nervous about the adolescent years, but I am also very excited.

Happy birthday, my first born–my Eddie Bear. I love you to the moon and stars.

Love,
Mom

Life Lessons

As parents, we want to teach our kids many things. We want them to be good people who are kind and think of others’ feelings and needs. We want them to be respectful, but assertive. We want them to speak up, but to also listen. We want them to be aware and active.

We can tell them all the the things we want, but we all know that experience is the best teacher.

Eddie loves fun. He loves to be social and try new things. He has eagerly tried soccer, baseball, swimming, discovery camps, scouts, and this year he wanted to try basketball.

Eddie is also not a natural athlete. Thankfully he is not like me–a complete disaster when it comes to any sort of sport that requires coordination (so everything but running). He could be good if he practiced and stuck with something, but he really just wants to be good enough to not suck and to have fun.

And that is about where he is, but when things get competitive and tough rather than just fun, he tends to quit.

Soccer got too serious–and had way too much running for his liking. He really loved baseball (and had an excellent coach one season), but once he was in Little League and not just rec ball where everyone got a chance to do everything, his interest waned. Swimming was fun until he got to the point where he had to work on strokes and do laps.

The past couple summers we have had a basketball hoop in our driveway, and Eddie enjoyed shooting hoops. He mentioned interested in learning how to play on a team, so we signed him up for 4 on 4 rec basketball this winter.

From the start it seemed like a good fit for him: there was lots of running, but only for 5 minutes of a 10 minute quarter because then they would sub out. He was willing to go hard for 5 minutes knowing he would get to rest after.

He admitted that he was not the best on the team, but that the drills were fun and he liked the kids on his team as well as his coaches.

His coaches pushed Eddie to learn the game and get better.

After the first game, it was evident than most of the boys needed some more practice, and that Eddie didn’t know much about the rules of basketball. Let’s just say there were a LOT of calls for double dribbling.

Each game after, though, we watched the team come together. They encouraged each other. They passed to each other. They dominated the court not because they were miles better than every team, but because they truly learned to work together and include all four boys on the court.

Eddie continued to do his best, but he was not the most talented on the team. Nonetheless, the coaches and team continued to included him so he could get the practice he needed.

Last week, after leaving Eddie in a little extra long after subs were called, he finally got his first basket. Everyone in the gym realized what was going on: the team continued to pass to him over and over. And when the ball went through the hoop, you would have thought he got the game-winning shot!

The gym erupted.

My eyes teared up not just because Eddie’s dimples were showing all the way from the court, but because everyone–the coaches, the team, the parents–were on Eddie’s side. The players were slapping him on the back like he won them the game.

After the game came another surprise to all of us.

The head ref gave out a “character” award for the most improved player on both teams playing that morning, and Eddie was the recipient for the yellow team.

Again, when his name was called, the gym went crazy. And I openly cried.

Eddie learned more about teamwork and supporting people from his basketball team than anything Cortney and I could ever tell him. Experiencing what it feels like to work hard and be recognized for doing your best and improving–even if you aren’t the star of the team–is something only experience could teach him.

I’m proud of Eddie because he is so willing to try new things. It’s not ever without whining that he wishes he didn’t sign up for it (he is a bit of a homebody and doesn’t love to have to give up couch time to go to practice or a game). Once he gets to practice or the game, though, his mood usually changes and he gets into it.

Basketball taught Eddie that he can do hard things. He can grow and improve with practice. And just because you are not the best on the team, does not mean that you are not an important part of the team.

This is what youth sport and activities are all about.

The Names We Give Them

Edward Steven
Eddie
Ed
Edward Bear
Eddie Bear
Eduardo
Eduarlito
Edster
Bud
Buddy
Budsey
Edinator
Number One
Brother Bear

Charles Thomas
Charlie
Charlie Bird
Bird
Birdie
Bird Dog
Charlie Tom
Buddy boo
Budster
Chuck
Number Two
Birdie Boo
Brother Bird
Middle Child

Alice Katherine
Alice
Alicita
Alice Beans
Beans
Bean Dip
B
Beezus
Beansy Girl
Beanie Boo
Biz
Business
B Girl
Allie Buckets
Pickles
Pickle Pants
Little Sister
Sister Bear

Sluiter Sibs
Sluiter kids
Team Sluiter
Sluiter Crew
Cortney Sluiter Family

Whatever we call them, they are our favorite three people on this Earth.

Photographs by Erin Barkel Photography

Nine is Just Fine

My dear, sweet Eddie, how are you possibly nine already?

showing off your fishing badge you earned with grandpa

This past year has been maybe the moodiest since your colicky days as a baby. I can tell you are starting to grow out of little kidness in some ways, but not in others.

You are getting “too cool” for things your brother and sister still love like watching Curious George before bed or Paw Patrol at lunch time. You get a little bossy with your siblings and we have to remind you that while yes, you are their big brother, you are not their parent. You would LOVE if you were able to hand out consequences to them for various infractions. The problem is they–Charlie especially–rage against you as a machine.

 

 

 

In other ways you are still my little dude. You love to snuggle at bedtime and read Harry Potter with me (we are currently in the home stretch of The Goblet of Fire). Your stuffed animals and toddler pillow still have a prominent place in your bed, and you love to be wrapped up in a blanket (who doesn’t!?!).

Speaking of Harry Potter, that is probably the biggest thing that happened this year: you (and ok, I too) became obsessed! One of my most favorite things is our bedtime reading sessions and discussions. I love that you think about the books all the time and bring up plot points and theories out of the blue. We have been watching the movies after each book, and hearing you compare them critically is…man, I don’t know how to do describe it. I’ll say this: when my students really get something we are doing and they start taking off on their own with the learning and connecting and analyzing, I am known to get welled up and tears fall. It’s about a million times bigger watching it happen with you.

You conquered third grade this year. It was by FAR your best school year since Kindergarten. You’ve never had a rough year, but you loved your teacher this year, you made really close friends, and you learned so much. You’re still working on your social control (you tend to interrupt and chat rather than get work done), but you come by those things naturally (sorry, not sorry?) and you are kind and respectful when redirected. That is important.

Your classmates voted you to get the LOL (laugh out loud) award, and none of us were surprised. A girl your age at church once commented, “Everything is fun when Eddie is there!” It makes my heart smile to know you bring joy to those around you.

3rd Grade Folk Dance Night

This year you were a Bear Scout. You did a ton of work this year and earned a couple elective badges. One was your fishing badge with grandpa. You found out you enjoy doing badge work on your own, so when you crossed over and got your Webelos book, we dug in to see which badges would be fun to do this summer and next. And of course, you even crossed from Bear to Webelos scout with your own personal flair.

This year you played both soccer and baseball. You didn’t really love either. Soccer was too early on Saturdays for you and baseball this year was Little League and you felt you were bad at it. I’ll tell you what your dad and I have told you over and over: you are actually quite good…if you practice. You can pitch and hit and field, but you don’t practice. When you don’t get something right 100% of the time, you feel you are bad at it. This could be a good, motivating trait, except rather than use it to want to be better, you quit.

I was the same way at your age, but I don’t want to tell you that right now. I don’t want that to be an excuse. I want you to do better than I did. You are more interested than I was in sports. You like being part of the team. You just have to learn that you can’t be good at things without a lot of practice.

You still love Pokemon cards, drawing comic strips (your own original character, Sargent Socks, which to be fair is really just Captain Underpants meats Dogman fan fiction, but whatever), and watching all the TV you can (which we have had to pull the plug on, so to speak because it was getting clear you couldn’t manage yourself).

Your relationships with your siblings are, shall we say, passionate. Especially with Charlie. You guys can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies. You play nicely together, plot together, and even have after bedtime chats about school and bullies. He looks up to you and wants to be like you. You often say Charlie is stronger and better at things than you, but when I ask Charlie who he wants for a teacher he says, “whoever Eddie had.” And when I ask him what sports he wants to play, he answers, “whatever Eddie does.” He thinks you are the coolest. He sees that people love you at school, and he wants a part of that too.

Most of the time, he goes about it wrong by tackling you or picking fights. We are working on that. But behind all of it, he just sees how confident you are and wants to feel that way too.

Alice loves you unconditionally. You two rarely bicker. Sometimes she is a little annoying–she is three and you are nine and you don’t always want to have a tiny tot watching your every move. But mostly she knows you will help her or read to her or play with her.  You two have very similar personalities, so she is drawn to your silliness. This keeps us all chuckling pretty much nonstop.

My Eddie, my Bear, I can’t believe you’ve been here for 9 years already. I look at your adorable freckles, your almond-shaped blue eyes, your long lashes, and your crooked smile and wonder where did you come from? How did I make you in my body? Where were you before you were here? Your long legs and expanding feet are proof that you are growing from baby to little boy to now that weird tweener age that will soon geek-a-fy your whole body until you burst into adolescence and puberty to becoming a man.

It’s wonderfully weird to watch.

I’m so thankful you ask me all the questions that come to your head from who gets to have a godfather? How does 911 know which emergency service to send when you call? and what is suicide? I love that you still trust me to have answers and to be truthful with you. I promise to always be as truthful as I can with you.

I hope you will continue to show kindness and compassion to others. As you get older, it will be easier to just be sassy and whiney and ignore those who are in need. It’s easier to think about your own wants and what people think of you. Don’t give in to that. Think about the feelings of others. Be generous with your thank you’s and your let me help’s.

I love you, my dear boy.

Happy 9th birthday.

Love,

Mom

Santa’s Magic

The other night after Charlie had fallen asleep, Eddie turned to me and said the words I knew had to be coming soon, “Mom. Some kids at school say Santa is not real.”

Eddie is eight and in the third grade. I knew very well that kids talk and it wouldn’t be much longer before my super inquisitive buddy would have questions about the validity of Santa Claus.

“Well, Eddie, what do you think is true?” I asked him, a bit nervous of the answer.

“I think,” he said slowly, “that he is real because you and dad would never lie to us.”

A part of me winced, but I said, “It’s true, daddy and I will never lie to you. And Santa’s magic is very real. Do you know how I know that?”

“How,” he whispered with wonder.

“Because,” I said, “I can see it in you and your brother and sister. I can see the magic twinkle in your eyes when you think about Santa and when you love each other.”

“Why would kids say he’s not real then?”

“I don’t know. There are always going to be people who say this or that is not real. There are people who will say stuff we know to be true–like science–is  not real. And there will be people who have a hard time believing things they can’t see like God or Jesus are not real too. We just have to decide for ourselves.”

“And you think Santa is real?”

“I think Santa’s magic is very real.”

“Me too, Mom. Me too.”

This may be the last year that Eddie believes in the actual man, Santa. And that is Ok. As long as he never loses the Christmas magic that is love and gratitude and joy.

Stockings made by Great Gram Sluiter: Charles, Alice, Edward

Snippets of Time

My favorite part of life is catching a little one-on-one time with each of my kids.

Eddie wants me to be happy. He wants to make me laugh. He loves identifying as a book and writing nerd just like I do. Tonight we cuddled up on the couch to finish a chapter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before he had to go to scouts. He likes to sit close–it’s the only time he wants to snuggle.

At nearly eight-and-a-half he is getting to be so much fun to have discussions with. He is the perfect mix of innocent naivety and old soul. He asks really, really good questions, and he has amazingly wise theories on things.

Tonight, after Alice was in bed, but before Cortney got home from scouts with Eddie, Charlie and I curled up on the couch and watch cat videos together for a half hour.  He wants to be warm, cozy, and safe. At five-and-a-half he still likes to be carried and held. He is fiercely independent, but desperate to remain my baby boy.

Charlie choose me to read his nightly Just Right Library book to each night. Learning to read delights him in ways that fill my heart. Words are beginning to come alive for him, and even though I went through the same thing with Eddie, it’s like Charlie and I now share a secret of some sort.

He watches and sees all. And knows more than you think he does.

Alice is so girly, I almost do not know how to mother her. She loves pink and flowers and twirling and baby dolls. She is my most affectionate child by far with her hugs and “I love you’s”.  She is also incredibly possessive and bossy.

The other morning, though, she was playing “bad guys Legos” with Charlie’s batman action figure and small Lego vehicles making up stories as she went. She is girly, but not afraid to demand everything her brothers have and do.

She hears every word you say. And will repeat it in context and correctly.

Most of the time they are together in some capacity. Most of the time I am refereeing arguments and breaking up fisticuffs.

But the thing is, these three are amazing little people who really love each other more than anything. And I am thankful for each one of them and their individual personalities.

Bedtime

I’m going to miss bedtime over the next five nights.

It can often times get pretty frustrating. We give the kids an hour of wind-down time starting at 6:30pm to get jammies on and watch a couple of shows as a family. Usually we watch Curious George and one other choice. There is often the battle of calming down after a full day.

But then sometimes they do cute things like set up a back-scratching chain in front of Word World, and I am reminded that this time is so fleeting.

And as hard to settle down as they can be, our three goobers are some of the best snuggly relaxers we could ask for.  While they love being wild, they also love being close and cozy.

And it’s that before-bed time routine I will miss over the next five days because as calming as it is for them, it’s a vital part of my day too. I get to just sit, many times with a child plastered to me, but without work or any other distraction from my day.

Cortney and I take turns putting either the boys to bed or Alice. Two nights of each and then switch. When I put the boys to bed, we cuddle into Eddie’s bottom bunk and read books. Charlie generally chooses a book, then we read Harry Potter after that. And then, even though they are eight and five, they still ask me to lay by them, which means I tuck them both in and then I curl up in Eddie’s bottom bunk next to him until they both drift off to sleep.

Is it necessary? No. But I am almost certain our days of this are numbered and I can’t bear to be the one that ends it.

On my nights with Alice, we cuddle up in the glider in her room while her glow worm, Glowie, plays for 10 minutes. In that time she chats and chats and chats about everything. Sometimes she sings to me. Sometimes I sing to her. I always nuzzle my nose into her hair to sniff in the remnants of baby that are left. After Glowie “goes to sleep,” I tell her “two more minutes means two more songs.” Tonight she picked to sing a made up song of Loo Loo Loo’s and La La La’s followed by “Jesus Loves Me” three times.

Then I pick her up, rub noses Daniel Tiger style and say, “I love you, Alice. God Bless you, Alice.” And she smiles and says, “Love you mommy. God Bless Alice.”

I tell her that her daddy will get her in the morning and to have sweet dreams. She rolls to her side and pushes her glow bear’s tummy on.

Yes, my kids have stall tactics and fight bedtime. Yes, Charlie throws major tantrums about brushing his teeth. Yes, Eddie worries and bites his nails about things when he should be sleeping. Yes, Alice thinks she needs one more drink, one more hug, and one more cuddle with one of her babies. It’s rarely perfect.

But it’s ours.

Watching Them Learn

We had parent teacher conferences for both boys this week. I get nervous before parent teacher conferences, I admit it. I’ve been on the teacher side for fifteen years and I never get anxious for that even though I know that I will have to have difficult conversations sometimes. Sitting on the parents side of the conference is a whole different feeling though.

We have not had to have any hard discussions with teachers about our kids, and for that I am thankful. Yes, Eddie has been known to have impulse control issues, and we had a bit of a rough start to Kindergarten with Charlie learning the routine and learning respectful behavior with all adults, but we have been lucky to have two kids who have not had any academic concerns.

That said, I walked out of conferences this year with a whole new respect for elementary teachers.

I’ve always laughed when people have said they think middle school would be the toughest. Yes, it’s a tricky age, but I don’t have the same kids all day teaching them ALL the subjects. I worry about the ELA standards, not ALL the content area standards. Plus I get a guaranteed planning hour every day. I don’t have to work around specials teachers who don’t have their own classroom or recess duty.

As Charlie’s teacher handed us writing, drawing, and math samples from the first term compared to current assessing, I was no less amazed than when we went through this with Eddie. The vast improvement is almost unbelievable at that age. In less than a year, Charlie went from a non-reading little kid, to someone who is reading a little above level and writing words by himself. It’s astounding to me to watch that learning take place.

Then we walked to Eddie’s teacher where we saw social studies scores and math scores and writing samples. He, too, is reading a little above level, and has a fierce love of learning.

Holding a salt dough map of Michigan with all the geography terms labeled smacked me in the face with how much kids learn and grow at this age.

Elementary teachers must be magicians of sort. They literally mold and shape our children’s minds into something totally new throughout the year.

I realize that I probably know more about standards and laws and proficiency and the research about whether to retain or not to retain, about whether homework is actually good for kids than the average parent because it is my job to know these things. However, knowing that stuff and watching it in action with your own children is very, very different.

I know, for instance, that a child’s success in school and college is linked to their ability to read at grade level by third grade and if they are behind then, they may stay behind. I also know that retention solves nothing without intervention. I know a good early childhood education is key and that third grade is the pivotal year.

I know these facts, but I am watching them in motion with my own children and it’s amazing.

 

One of my most favorite parts of being a mom–that I did not foresee when we were in the baby stage–is watching my children learn.

Eddie asks so many questions! Just tonight, he mused, “When I spin my water bottle, why does the water always go down?”

(Of course,  I was tired, so I said, “physics.”)

We went to my district’s fall theater production of Freak the Mighty and he was FULL of questions about language and acting and bullies and books and writing.

Charlie wants to sound out every word! Today he eagerly did all his homework that was supposed to take until Wednesday because he feels so accomplished and proud when he writes whole sentences (with punc-shay-shon, mom mom!) by himself.

He reads his Just Right Library book over and over to anyone who will listen, and almost every night he reads Brown Bear, Brown Bear because he can.

His current favorite game is chess because he loves strategy. HE’S FIVE. HE LOVES STRATEGY.

I would like to say I am proud of my kids–because I am. But here’s the thing: I am actually amazed by them. The things they learn and know and say. The way they think.

Getting to have a front-row seat to that and cheer them on is an honor. It’s an honor to have these small people call me mom.



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