It’s becoming clear as we work our way through fourth grade that while in many ways Cecilia is very similar to me (mostly reserved, easily embarrassed, great hair), she definitely does not learn like me.
This realization, simple as it may seem, has led to more peaceful parenting when she gets home after school. It’s up to me to adapt and let her know that one, her way is legit and acceptable and two, that no matter what, I’m on team Ce and will be there to help her even if it means new math, taking the long way around, or listening to endless facts about Canada.
My #1 job is not to force a certain way or take delight only in accomplishments but to value and love her for the nutty young woman she is becoming, no strings attached.
Neither of us is perfect, but starting from a place of compassion and support and not right versus wrong will hopefully have an impact on us long past fourth grade.
I have a race later today. 10 miles. In February. In New England. Can’t wait.
One the biggest challenges I had with my Addison’s diagnosis and then the knee arthritis was being forced to slow down, and then, stop for a bit. I know many people have a tough time, for various reasons, calling them themselves an athlete. I had a really hard time not seeing myself as an athlete. For as long as I can remember sports and fitness were a daily part of my life. It was a huge piece of how I viewed myself, viewed the world, and approached my place in it. It wasn’t the only way, of course, but it was a big part to suddenly be missing.
I’m trying to teach the girls, or at least show, them that confidence is born out of doing hard things. So a 10-miler on a brisk February morning should be a good example. Their thing might not be sports, but the principles still apply. Rise to meet a challenge, don’t bring a misery mindset. I think we often mistake needing courage, confidence or self-esteem in order to try hard things. This feels backwards to me. We need to embrace a challenge and seek out difficult tasks to explore our own psychology and how we respond. Would I have the courage to take on fourth grade math, glitter slime, or the self-esteem for kitchen karaoke without it? I’m not sure I want to find out.
When the girls get sick, I get stressed. I will lie in bed and hear one of the girls coughing down the hall and I wonder why we can’t just have a simple, quiet night. Why do I always have to end the day worrying about fevers, coughs, math facts, reading comprehension, screen time, or how to navigate some new, twisted social scenario I never pondered as a kid.
The fact is that we have a lot of quiet nights. They just pile up and slip by unnoticed while Dash warms my feet and I fall asleep reading a book. This past week was a whole string of perfectly banal and quiet days. Math facts were tossed off. Vocab tests were aced. The brassy sound of Hot Cross Buns filled the air. The worst thing that happened was Ally being convinced, despite ample contrary evidence, that the number three really should be written backwards.
Too often I can get lost in the darker corners of the parenting maze. This week I’m celebrating mediocrity. Without the quiet, ordinary weeks, you can’t have the extraordinary ones.
When the kids are babies you play the game with their features: Whose nose is that? That is definitely your elbow.
When they get a little older, you start to do it more with personality. Her piano tantrums must come from your side of the gene pool! Her dance moves definitely favor the Donohues.
One trait we have little doubt over is Cecilia’s ability to be alone. That definitely comes from me and is something that often confounds my more socially-adept wife. She sometimes worries about it. I just remember many happy hours playing computer games or reading alone in the basement.
I don’t think Cecilia’s lonely. Being alone and lonely are not the same. She is quite happy to play with other kids. She has friends. She just doesn’t mind being alone. I can relate. Society can often make the act of being alone feel like a stigma or a negative. As if it’s imposed rather than a choice.
So much of parenting today revolves around being involved all the time that kids are rarely left without an organized activity, never mind actually being left by themselves. I think learning to be alone was a critical skill for me to acquire as a kid. It allowed me to listen to and trust my own instincts without outside influence.
She may still be working on her math facts and trombone scales, but I think Cecilia is well on her way to confidently knowing herself.
This spring we won a raffle for a round of golf and a hotel stay on the Cape. Ironically, it’s about a mile from Grammie and Poppy’s place in Brewster. It also couldn’t be used during the summer or during holidays….so, welcome to the Cape in the offseason!
The great thing about visiting the Cape in the off-season is there are no waits, no crowds, and very little traffic. Dash is allowed on the beach. Lobster rolls are $2. The sharks have moved on. The bike path becomes a moving escalator. I’m kidding about the lobster rolls.
On the other hand, visiting the Cape in that vacation wasteland between Labor Day and Memorial Day means a whole lot of things are closed. If you’re not into visiting organic cranberry bogs, you might have a hard time finding something to do. Luckily for the girls, the hotel gave us access to an indoor pool or they might have been new temporary Ocean Spray employees for the weekend
If you ask Ally, her Dad doesn’t like Christmas. For the record, I do like Christmas. I am not particularly fond of Christmas music and I’m really not fond of Christmas music in early November. I’ve had a ‘No Christmas Music Until after Thanksgiving’ rule in our house dating back to ’02. I like to enjoy one holiday at a time. The girls and their enabler of a mother like to try to find opportunities to sneak carols in, but I hold the line. The turkey has to be cool and the mashed potatoes covered in foil before I let those holiday playlists ring.
Of course, we have now crossed the Rubicon and the girls are delighting in assaulting my ears at every opportunity. I can only grin and bear and occasionally threaten to write Santa about their deviant behavior.
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.