Monday, September 18, 2006

My children have started a new ritual.

Every evening after lights out my daughter asks my son to come sleep next to her. They spend the next 20 minutes (yes I eavesdrop) pretending to be Shark Boy and Lava Girl.

I asked my daughter why she keeps insisting on sleeping with her little brother every night.

Her answer:

"Because he's my brother. And I love him. And he needs me."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Kindergarten or Prep School? You tell me.

There was an excellent article in Newsweek this past week on the insane pressure of the new first grade.

Now it's been less than 2 weeks for my 5 year old in her new school but already I'm feeling the pressure (which I hope she's oblivious to) of the new standards. Our school is a NYC Empowerment School which puts added urgency on the principal to have every child perform at a certain level by a certain grade. And while this is an excellent idea in the higher grades it completely ignores the great differences in development in a child's early years. Neurologically some children are simply not equipped to read and write at 4 years old...I say 4 because our system's cut off date is December 31st so there are many 4 year olds and young 5's in our kindergarten classes!

My daughter is part of the extended day "tutoring" program which means she is in school from 8:20-3:30 with no rest time. Now this is when I wonder if I am truly doing the best for her! She adores school and her teacher so I am willing to let her participate fully in whatever programs are presented to us. But inwardly I am shaking my head and wondering what else awaits us in this new drive towards testing and assessments.

I was a slow learner in the early years and even back then, in the low pressure kindergarten of the past, I was asked at age 5 to perform at a level that I was incapable of developmentally. I thank the wise teacher who held me back a year. I'm ready to allow my daughter to go through that same experience.

Even in this short time the excitement I felt for her entering this new chapter has been tempered somewhat by the realities of her developmental shortcomings and the endless bureacracy of the NYC Public School system.

"I love you once, I love you twice, I love you more than beans and rice, I love you more than stars or sun....te amo bebe, Little One"

Those are the words of a book given to me by a very sweet friend when my son was about to turn one. They are about a baby's first year and how quickly he grows up and is soon toddling out the door.

Well today I feel like there are no babies left in this house.

I can't remember the last time I rocked a baby--heavy and warm against me wrapped in that delicious baby smell that can get any woman's biological clock start ticking uncontrollably!

I used to be a stroller aficionado (aficionada?) and I can safely say its been at least 6 months since I last used a stroller.

There are no more onesies here, or receiving blankets, or diapers even. What we do have is backpacks and dirty sneakers. Lots of socks. Everywhere I look there are socks of all sizes and hues!!

I'm ready for this next phase but I do wonder (pardon the cliche) where all the time has gone. Welcome to your third year my love, my son....