We had Cecilia’s parent-teacher conference last week. I really like her teacher this year. I specifically like that she’s open to the new methods but recognizes that the older techniques still have merit. In short, I’m glad I can understand some of the math homework each week without having to lookup and re-learn how to add 2 digit numbers.
After spending the first few months of the year on learning the underlying concepts, third graders are finally moving toward rote memorization. That means flashcards! I love flashcards. Part of my courtship strategy with Michelle was to create flashcards for her in college. It was only during the last house move that I was finally convinced to throw away a box of rubber banded flashcards dating back to freshman year high school biology.
There is this coat. Cecilia wants it. She wants it bad. For the first time, she won’t be put off with vague assertions of waiting until Christmas or her birthday. She needs it. If she doesn’t get it a small piece of her soul will be lost and no matter how long she lives or how much happiness she might find, her life will never be complete. That kind of coat.
Maybe this is more of a girl thing. I don’t remember ever wanting anything to tears. If I did covet anything it was probably an expansion floppy disk for SimCity or an omnibus edition of the complete works of Arthur C. Clarke or something equally and deeply dorky. Nothing worth crying over. Maybe time or self-preservation has dulled my memory.
This started on Wednesday with a brief mention of girls wearing these reversible coats at school, but it built to a crescendo by Friday afternoon and threatened to spiral out of control. Alone with the girls, I hit the panic button and called Michelle at work. She was able to use her Mom superpowers, or maybe her own memories of that bedazzled jean jacket she wanted, and talk Cecilia off the ledge.
We are currently in one of those valleys where piano has gotten more difficult and practices have gotten more laborious and more contentious. It’s ratcheted up the stress level in the household to the point where Michelle and I have to tag in and out during practice to keep our own sanity. You can’t fight frustration with frustration.
I worry sometimes that the girls’ days are so packed that they don’t have enough time to fail before it’s on to the next thing. There’s literally no time for the ‘hard’ thing. There’s no struggle because there is always a new activity.
So I am trying really hard to see these piano battles as an opportunity. It’s not easy. Seeing your child get frustrated, struggle and fail is tough, but I don’t know any other way to teach the girls about the importance of effort, deliberate practice and failure. Perseverance is very much a skill they are going to need.
Maybe piano won’t be her passion. It’s not really fair to expect an eight year old to know their passion, right?. Maybe she gives up on it, but right now, I don’t think a low point should be the end point.
She will learn this minuet if it kills us all.
I just finished my first season as a pee-wee soccer coach. This was my second stint as a coach. I also coached Cecilia’s basketball team last winter and I learned some similar lessons about both myself and the kids.
I think I’m going to really enjoy coaching, but my personality is probably better suited to older kids. At this younger age or with kids just starting an activity, having fun and enjoying the physical exercise is way more important than any strategy or technique.
There are 3 ways that I know fall has truly arrived.
First, I wage a daily game of chicken with myself on whether I can survive another day without turning on the heat. You need your fingers to type, but you don’t need to feel anything below the waist to take a conference call from home.
Second, I get chastising note for not sending the kids into school with anything more than a t-shirt. Not that they would ever think to put one on themselves. This might also take the form of concerned bus stop comments from neighbors, too. One or the other.
Third, the teacher’s conference sign up link is emailed out and four minutes later all the prime spots are gone. I am beginning to believe that I’m missing out on some early access benefits. If I volunteer now for Winter Carnival duties do I get a 24 hour head start and no convenience fee charges?
All three happened this week. It’s definitely fall. We definitely have a bad conference time.