A Very Kindergarten Week

It started with Benji laughing hysterically. He wanted to tell me a story about something that had happened at school, but it cracked him up so much he could hardly get the words out.

Finally, he managed to calm down enough to gasp out the facts: When they got their turn with a school iPad, he and a friend took a picture (or pictures?) of Benji’s bottom with the camera app. I laughed, too — and then suddenly a sobering thought struck me.

“You had your pants on, right?”

“Yeah, like this –” …and he proceeds to drop his drawers and give me a full moon. Continue Reading >>

Picture Diary: December 9-14

December 9

Snow Day!

We made a snow man in the back yard and I pulled Benji on a home-made cardboard sled for a little bit. I also went for 90 minutes of walks before the snow went away.

December 11

Sleeping in the  Nest

Only for nap time, and only on the rare occasions nap time actually involves napping, does Benji sleep in his “nest.” He has so many snuggles, plus a half-dozen blankets including one down comforter, that it’s probably similar to his mattress.

December 14

Benji Christmas Program 1

Benji Christmas Program 1

Our Redeemer Christian School’s Christmas program. Benji loved his angel halo, even though he didn’t sing for any of the songs. He’s the one in the turquoise shirt with stripy sleeves in the front row. It was exactly like you expect preschool singing to be: adorable for parents and fun for the kids. I would probably have appreciated it more if I hadn’t spent most of the time struggling not to cough up a lung.

Aaand this is where I confess that I actually wrote this post on the 16th and then back-dated it to fill in some gaps.

A Metaphor for Something

I saw this while dropping Benji off one day, and it made made me smile. Some kind of metaphor for how the Christmas season can feel, perhaps?

Last Day of Preschool, 2016

Yesterday/today were Benji’s last days at Bucky Beaver Preschool. I hedge a bit because Thursday was his official last day, and he ate his “end of the school year Popsicle” on Thursday. But all the T/Th kids were invited to come for an hour on Friday to watch a magician perform. We went to that, which makes today kind of the last day, too. So, Thursday first.

In case it wasn’t clear, this was the silly picture of the Tuesday/Thursday class, comprising mostly the younger kids. Mommies got to come early and eat a special Popsicle; when that was done, most of the kids played, but Benji gave me a comprehensive tour of the school, including his favorite outside toy, the climbing area:

Alas, the interior was pretty much a bare, neutral room since Molly had to sell the house and get rid of all the preschool decorations and equipment in the process. I feel that the biggest loss was the really amazing kid-sized lofts built to give four little discrete areas for a store, a house, a coloring area, and something else I’ve forgotten. The lofts, very sturdy built-in furniture, were ripped out, as were all the toy/storage shelves that had previously lined the walls. Truly agonizing, even though Molly’s retirement is a happy event, to see 30+ years of accumulated preschool decorations and equipment disposed of. Guess Molly isn’t the sentimental type, or she’s found a way to keep mementos that don’t take up an entire downstairs.

But, on the bright side, filed under “get rid of all the preschool equipment,” is this: We inherited the train room carpet. They were going to take it to Goodwill, because nobody wanted it. Well, WE wanted it! Yesterday, our library looked like this:

Today, after some heavy lifting and vacuuming on my part, it looks like this:
Benji spent all afternoon doing train/car races, driving our cars on the roads, and humming/singing made-up theme music to himself when he wasn’t narrating his vehicular activity. It was a pretty tight fit, even in the library, but I’m glad it worked out. This carpet will be much appreciated here.

Where was Benji while I did all that lifting and vacuuming? Because let’s be honest; he would’ve been freaking out to see me demolish our previous, super-cool arachnidaceous track.

Funny thing… He was back at Bucky Beaver watching a magician. Yep, a magician for preschoolers. Lucky for me, they started late, so I got to watch the last 20 minutes or so of the show.

This guy, Kirk Charles, was wonderful. He did tricks that were fun, but his routine was so perfectly age-appropriate for these kids, they followed right along and were amazed without it being far beyond their understanding. Benji literally peed his pants when he saw the first trick (and had to borrow a spare pair for the rest of the show! Oops), and kids were saying “WOW” and “How did he do that?!!” out loud. Almost the entire time I was there, they remained rapt, in their seats. Even the grownups were enthralled.

The tricks were good, too, so it wasn’t completely obvious to the adults how everything worked either. Yet at part of the show, he actually taught the kids how to do tricks with their hands — make their thumbs disappear, pull their thumb off and suck on it, make their thumbs longer, that kind of thing. Benji enjoyed it, and I’m seriously thinking of seeing about hiring this guy for Benji’s birthday party this year.

So we finished at Bucky Beaver and said goodbye to Molly on the porch one last time. My heart feels a little bit sad, I must admit — I wish Benji had two more preschool years with her, and I’m sorry her experience, wisdom, and approach to preschool are being lost. But I’m glad she’s getting to retire and be closer to her family, and that Heidi is moving on. Hopefully they do well.

We’re on to our next adventure, too: A totally open summer schedule, followed by a new school in September.

One, two, free, here we go!

What’s Next?

Benji has been going to a pre-preschool, Stepping Stones, at Kindering since January, receiving early intervention in motor and speech. This is mostly paid for by the state (our taxes at work!) as part of what’s called “early intervention.” The goal is to help kids be ready to succeed when they reach kindergarten by fixing issues while they’re very young. Benji has made huge leaps, especially in language use especially, but somewhat also in physical skills.

This has worked really well for us, but the kids age out of early intervention at age 3, a milestone rapidly approaching for us. The therapists have evaluated Benji and confirmed that he’s within the normal range for motor and speech now — which is great! What a huge improvement! The only area Benji qualifies is in articulation, meaning how well he enunciates what he says. Right now he talks a lot, using relatively complex ideas, but most people can’t understand much of what he’s saying – that is, even less than you’d expect for a kid his age. Little kids do tend to be pretty incomprehensible.

Anyway, this dramatic improvement means that Benji will not qualify for the school district’s preschool program, which would be the next step if he still needed help. Now we’re pondering what to do next.

Option 1: The Kindering teacher invited us to stay at Stepping Stones after Benji turns 3, and Benji already knows and loves those teachers. But I’ve noticed that kids who turn 3 soon outgrow the class activities: The class is geared for 2-year-olds, and much beyond that age, the kids seem to get bored. After age 3, the kids are just ready to move on anyway. So even if we did stay, it would be for maybe 6 months, maximum, and probably much less.

Option 2: Even if we don’t qualify for school district services, we have the potential to send Benji to the school district preschool as a “peer model,” basically a normal kid who shows the early intervention kids age-appropriate normal activities. Tomorrow we have a meeting with the school district to see what our options are, regarding preschool and any other intervention services for Benji. We’ll find out then about the availability of peer model spots in their preschool. Also, this is much cheaper than private preschool.

Option 3: Finally, we do have Benji signed up for a regular preschool starting in September — we set that up before we got involved with Stepping Stones. We’d have to cancel that soon if we decide to not to go there. The caveat of that school is that it’s run by a lady out of her home, and she’s retiring after next year. Only this one year is guaranteed, and it’s likely we would have to find a new preschool for Benji in fall of 2016. Plus, while this isn’t the most expensive preschool by any stretch, it’s going to have a significant (though manageable) impact on our finances.

Until tomorrow’s meeting, we won’t really be able to make any decisions. But right now, I’m feeling that Benji would benefit from going to the school district preschool, with all the specialist teachers, even if he doesn’t receive services specifically. Benji’s speech therapist agrees with this idea. We’ll see.

Never get comfortable. Just when you think you know what’s going on, that you’ve got a routine, it’s time to change again.

For Sale: One Load of Tripe

Lately at Benji’s school, something’s been happening that I’m not sure what to do about. I don’t want to get into too many specifics, but the short story is that this mom has repeatedly told her kid something untrue in front of other kids, including mine, in order to keep her kid from doing something.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that she told her kid not to yell in the hallways because it would make other people go deaf. She’s doing this to curtail an unwanted behavior her kid engages in (one that I actually think it’s that bad in the first place), but it seems manipulative and, besides, it’s simply not true. I avoid lying as much as I can, although I’m as guilty of lying to my kid as any parent. But I’m not going to lie when a perfectly good truth exists and would work just as well.

Since then, Benji has started asking about this. In my example, Benji has started asking if yelling hurts people’s ears. My response (keeping with this hypothetical example) would be to tell Benji separately that no, yelling won’t make people go deaf, but it’s thoughtful to to use your inside voice when inside.

Today, Benji directly asked that mom about yelling. She reiterated to Benji the same untruth she has told her kid. Shortly thereafter, in a related activity, I told Benji that what the other mom had said wasn’t actually true. The other mom apparently heard me (this is where I made at least one error) because when I went to sit in the voyeur-mom room, she confronted me and told me that while I could teach my kid whatever I wanted, would I please refrain from loudly saying she’d lied. I simply apologized and said nothing further, and that was it.

But what’s bugging me is a couple things:

  • Isn’t she doing the exact same thing she just accused me of? She’s telling this lie in front of my son and other kids, and they’re listening and believing it. Should I confront her and ask her to keep her lies to herself, and refrain from telling them where other kids can hear?
  • I shouldn’t have said that to Benji right then, even though it was timely, and I guess although I thought I wasn’t being loud, that mom heard me anyway. But what can I do so my kid doesn’t buy this load of tripe she’s peddling?
  • Continue Reading >>

    Meanwhile, back at Benji school (part 2)

    Remember back in March when we started biking consistently to Benji school, and we got a nasty sign put up telling us not to park in the building? At the time, the wonderful folks at Kindering asked the building manager to put up a bike rack. I appreciated the gesture but figured we wouldn’t be around to benefit whenever the each went up.

    How wrong I was! Today when we arrived at Benji school (in the car, due to thunderstorms periodically drenching our area) we saw a new bike rack! And it was just in the perfect spot, covered and near the front door.

    At left, the new, permanent no bikes sign; at right, the new outside bike rack.

    I’m not sure how we’ll park our trailer there right blocking the door, but we’ll figure something out.

    I’m just really grateful for a positive resolution. Definitely the best outcome I would have hoped for.

    Meanwhile, at Benji School…

    We’ve started consistently riding our bike to Benji school. On Tuesday, I drop Benji off, unhook the trailer, go ride hill repeats for an hour, then hook the trainer back up and ride us home again. It’s a nice system and I get a hard workout in before evening, when my motivation wanes. On Thursdays, we ride, but I bring my laptop and do work while waiting. All this unseasonably dry, warm weather has certainly facilitated this plan.

    Thus far, I’ve parked our rig in the entryway, where it’s dry and a little more secure. I tend to leave things like helmets and extra clothes in there.

    Parked inside at Benji school.

    Today when I pulled up, this sign greeted me.

    "Friendly" sign in our parking spot.
    Hmm, passive-aggressive much?

    In case it’s hard to read, it says, BICYCLES ARE NOT PERMITTED INSIDE THE BUILDING. Very friendly and collaborative, and particularly amusing for a building that doesn’t provide any bike parking whatsoever, not even a rack stuck outside in the rain.

    Here’s what I decided to do:


    My note says, “I would love to use a bike rack, if you would provide one. I would love to discuss it more – covered would be helpful.” And I signed my name and phone number. Not my most eloquent missive, I grant, but hopefully not inflammatory, either. I really would use a rack, especially a covered one, but there are none.

    In fact, there aren’t even any sign posts or other handy stationary objects to lock up to. I can lock my bike to itself and put the brake on the trailer, but that really won’t stop someone from stealing the bike or trailer. I like parking inside because it’s much more secure, just by virtue of having fewer people go through there. In any case, I don’t think requesting a bike rack is unreasonable.

    I mentioned this nasty-gram note to the gal at the front desk of Kindering when I borrowed her sticky note and pen. When I returned an hour later, she said that Kindering would request a bike rack. She pointed out that there are lots of paths around (indeed, our route is probably 75% trails), so it’s not unreasonable to provide parking for bikes. I was touched that they would go out of their way like that for us, and I thanked her profusely.

    For now, when we ride, I may park just outside the front doors and lock my bike to itself. Hopefully that will suffice. It is a tad frustrating to get kicked out of a building when we weren’t even in anyone’s way or making a mess or, in fact, doing anything but using some otherwise empty space. Oh, and we did make lots of kids happy just by the presence of a bike. We’ll see what happens.

    In happier, less whiny bike parking news, my work moved offices and the new place has secure bike parking and lockers. The parking is in the garage, but in a chain-link enclosure that opens with a key card. It has several racks to lock up, and lockers that you claim by putting your own lock on them. I’m going to snag one next week and leave my shoes and helmet and stood in there. Now I’m doing a bus/bike commute for that and it’s working out well. Bus in (to stay clean and presentable), bike home. Good enough!