Category Archives: Family

A slice of swimming lessons

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

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Melancholy has taken over E, and I blame the steroids he’s on right now. This sadness can come to play all through the day, but for sure on the way to school, on the way to karate, and during swimming lessons.

Tip of the day. Don’t start your 7 year old in any fun extracurriculars at the same time he starts a 12 week course of prednisolone! 

Today as I walked E and H into the YMCA for their swimming lessons, the difference between how each boy viewed this activity was clear.

H: I don’t know if I should move up a level, or just stay in this. I mean, it’s easy, but it’s good practice. How many more classes do we have left?
Me: Well, this is your third class, and there are 8 total .
H: 5! We only have 5 left?
E: 5! We have 5 more?
Me: You can take another round of classes after this if you want —
H: Yes! Please? Please?
E: NO! Do we have to? I don’t want to!

Once in the building, we hurry into the pool lobby. H and E walk through the men’s locker room, and I meet them via the women’s. E looks worried and says, “What if they make me go under water? Last time they just expected everyone to go under, and I can’t!” Then he tells me that the other kids splash, and that really bothers him. “If I hold two fingers up like this, that means they are splashing! That’s what I was trying to tell you last time!”

“How about 1 finger up means ‘I love you?'” I ask him.

I’m so glad to make this signalling system, because the first time I took the boys to swimming lessons, E kept looking at me and mouthing whole sentences that I couldn’t understand. If you have ever been on the other side of windows looking into an indoor pool where your 7 year old is scared of swimming lessons and is dramatically mouthing his concerns about drowning, you know what I’m talking about.

The classes are called to the pool, and I walk to the plastic pool chairs that parents sit in to watch. I’m not going to lie. Trying to watch 2 kids in 2 pools…not my favorite thing.

E is getting splashed. 2 fingers up from him, and I mirror his signal while mouthing, “It’s okay. You’ll be okay.”

Every few minutes, E mouths, “How many minutes left?” and I flash the number on my fingers.

25 minutes left.

E is so mad about the kid next to him acting crazy. His 2 fingers are up, his eyes are rolling. I give what I hope is an empathetic and encouraging look.

“What if I drown?” he mouths.

“You’ll be okay.” I mouth back, gesturing to his 2 teachers and the lifeguards nearby.

“How many minutes left?”

I look over at H, who is diving for rings and swimming back and forth in his class’ lane.

E does a front float, and a  doggy paddle to his teacher who keeps moving farther away. He looks at me, and I give another encouraging smile, with 2 thumbs up.  His teacher pushes him away, off towards the side of the pool and he is doing great. Until he’s not. And I see the mini panic as he loses steam, and goes under. His teacher is there in a second, and helps him to the side, and he seems fine. But when I mouth, “Are you okay?” with questioning eyebrows, and one thumb up, he shakes his head no. He rests, arms on the side of the pool, looking sad.

He swims again, and this time mouths, “Was I good?”  Thumbs up buddy.

H is diving off the diving board.

“How many minutes left?”

The kids in E’s class are taking turns jumping into the water. Last time, E jumped into his teacher’s arms. But today, he jumps straight into the pool, submerging himself.

“Was I good?”

“So good, honey!”

“How many minutes left?”

One more jump, and then I am handing the boys towels, talking to H’s teacher about moving up a level, and reassuring E that he did indeed do a good job.

I meet them on the other side of the locker rooms, and we walk out…Swimming lessons are done…until Thursday.

 

#sol17 March 27 A slice of not making sense.

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

It doesn’t make sense. 

I’m not sure why I’m helping my daughter pick out classes for High School.

She was just a baby.  How could a baby be expected to take Geometry? How could a baby decide between English 9, and Advanced English?

I’m not sure why I’m helping my daughter pick out classes for High School.

It doesn’t make sense.

 

#sol17 March 17 A few slices of St. Patrick’s Day

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

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In the car on the way home from picking up the big kids from school, the conversation turns to St. Patrick’s Day and leprechaun traps.

“I know you’re the leprechaun, Mommy.” H says, and I laugh.

“I’m not a leprechaun! I’m not that short! I don’t have red hair! I have no magic!”

L and H roll their eyes at me. “You always say that. We know you aren’t a leprechaun, or Santa, but you always say, ‘How could I have time to give presents out all over the world?'” L complains.

“We just mean it’s you who takes the gold and leaves us green candy.” H explains.

I just laugh. Then I ask them, “What would you do if you came downstairs, opened your trap and there was a tiny little mean spirited elf screaming at you and throwing magic spells your way? ‘ARGH!!!!! ACHHH!!!!'”

They look surprised and laugh.

“I think you are all the things. Except for Christmas. Christmas is real. It has to be. Also, I think leprechauns are real. Teacher Mary said she saw one” H tells me. L agrees.

Teacher Mary has retired, but her magic lives on!

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Later, I drop L off at her play rehearsal and run to Target.

I am on the hunt for something small and green or shiny. Something to leave just for fun. I am late for this errand, I know. A woman walks up next to me looking at the same leftover St. Patrick’s Day tchotchkes.

“I think those 4 leaf clover necklaces are all broken.” I tell her. She stares at them a little bit.

“I’m actually Irish,” she says, and I nod. I’m about to explain that I am part Irish when she continues, “Like, actually born in Ireland…We don’t do this there… This leprechaun trap thing.” She laughed. “But, my daughter came home from school saying, ‘Mommy! We have to set a trap for the leprechaun and he will come and leave us something tricky!’ So, here I am.”

We stare at the green headbands and four leaf clover socks together for a moment, before she walks away, saying ironically, “Well, good luck!”

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The kids are finally all asleep. My sub plans are done for tomorrow. I look at the traps that the boys have set. One is a cardboard drink holder, decorated with puffy paint and plastic gold coins, set precariously on top of the puffy paint containers. That’s the one I made with E. Rushing him a bit because, you know… bedtime! The other is the one that H made on his own. He filled a pot with water, floating some gold coins and duct taping others to the bottom of the pot.A piece of chalk keeps the pot’s lid on, ready to close. Before he went to bed, he explained that he didn’t want the leprechaun to drown. So, he left a lifesaver (mint, but with sharpied on stripes) and a short note.

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Years ago, I found the leprechaun trap idea online. It looked like a fun thing to try with the kids. I didn’t really realize I was starting a tradition that would last for so long. I know this isn’t what St. Patrick’s Day is really about. I know it’s a silly pinterest fad gone crazy. But, I’m okay with the little bit of March Magic.

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We didn’t catch any leprechaun’s last night. (Thank goodness… can you even imagine how scary that would be?) But, the kids did enjoy a few window gel rainbows, and just a couple of green candies for breakfast.

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#sol17 March 16 A slice of silence

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

I’ve been reflecting lately about time. What do you do with the time you have? What do you do with the silence? What choices do you make? This poem feels unfinished, but for some reason I like the shape of it on the screen. I’m sure it will look different on a mobile version, but it swoops in a way here on my screen… so I’m calling it done. For now. 

It is silent in my house.
E is still sleeping upstairs,
Finn is sleeping on the couch,
Mr. Thought is working downstairs.

I have a pile of should do’s.
I got my grading out: I graded one paper.
I’m looking at the basket of laundry: I’ll fold it later.
The dishwasher needs to be emptied, and filled: You get the picture.

It is silent in my house.
E is still sleeping upstairs,
Finn is sleeping on the couch,
Mr. Thought is working downstairs.

 

 

 

 

#sol17 March 15 A slice of mama worry

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

All day a voice in the back of my head has told me that E is not feeling good enough to go to school tomorrow. Maybe it’s his puffy face, his slow walk, or his pink-is-it-a-rash? face. It could be how hard it has been to wake him up in the morning, how many times he stopped playing and just sat on the couch, almost napping. But, I think it’s mostly the way he has walked over to me more than a dozen times, put his head on my shoulder and said, “I  love you, Mama. I just want to snuggle you.” A few times he has been even more dramatic, mouthing “I love you, Mama” from across the room, or saying in a sweet voice, “I love you, Mama. I’ll love you until the day you die, and then even when you’re dead.” Seven year old boys, in my experience, are very specific and honest with their love.

So, after getting him to sleep, all cozy in my bed, I took another look at his sweet, puffy, red-cheeked face. I walked downstairs and I put in for a guest teacher tomorrow.

I feel guilty of course, another day of sub plans, another day away from my classroom… but sometimes a mama has to do what a mama has to do. And I think if you saw E today, you’d understand.

 

 

 

#sol17 March 14 A slice of a snow day: Dreams vs. Reality

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

Snow Day Dreams
Maybe you will read your book,
and snuggle in to watch a movie.
There could be fun crafts!
Everyone will work together to clear the driveway.
No worries, you’ll be home so the house will stay clean,
the dishes will be done!
You will get caught up on your work.
The dog will be chill and
you will read some more by the fire.

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Snow Day Reality
Have you ever tried to teach a 7 year old to swallow a pill?
Have you ever tried to crush prednisone into applesauce just like the doctor did at the hospital?
How many times does a kid need to throw up their medicine before you call the doctor?
Is the pharmacy open during this winter storm?
Is that rash related to the already known condition?
How much coffee is too much coffee?
Will anyone else play with the dog?
How many people will complain about the fireplace heat?
Is puffy paint a fun craft?
How much slime can 3 kids make?
How many slime batches can get messed up and thrown away?
Who will make dinner?
How much bickering can 3 kids do in one day?
When will you do your work?
Will you be able to read your book later?
Will tomorrow be a snow day?

#sol17 March 13 A grateful slice, a not great day.

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

Not such a great day. Swollen son, rushed to ER, there so late, lots of praying. Diagnosis, we think. Off to drive to the specialist in the next 20 minutes. So a Grateful slice…

Thank goodness for…

Good doctors, nice nurses
Close hospitals,
Ultrasounds, IVs,
Quick thinking doctors.

Brave boys, cooperative kids, helpful grandpas,
E says, “Nice mammas too.”

Lots of snuggles, own bed,
helpful team at school.

Quick appointment making
working car, family to watch the dog and kids.

 

#sol17 March 12 A Slice of a surprise

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

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I’m also Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres!

A month or so ago, we started planning: My sister, Alex would drive in from the midwest to surprise our parents. This was a hard secret to keep! On Facebook I kept almost writing things like “Bring that when you come to PA!” When my mom said she was going to send Alex a cookie care package, I bit my tongue to stop from saying, “Just give her the cookies when she gets here!”

Last night, a few hours before Alex arrived, I texted my folks. “I have something to show you, can you come over after the kids go to bed around 9?” This was a very suspicious and odd text to send, and I hoped that they wouldn’t call me back because I didn’t know what else I would say. Somehow it worked – they were curious but agreeable.

At 7:30, I told the kids. This should have been videotaped. There aren’t words to describe how much my children love their Aunt Alex. There was screaming, jumping, and even motivation to get all ready for bed quickly.

At 8:30, Alex arrived. Of course the kids weren’t actually in bed, so after they all talked at once and jumped on her,  they hid in the basement with their Aunt waiting for my parents to get here.

At 9:00 on the dot, my always-on-time parents came to the door.

“This gets curiouser and curiouser,” My mom said.

We offered decaf, and then Mr. Thought said the code sentence. While my mom looked at him trying to understand what he was saying, my sister walked out the basement door. This we have on video: Both parents with their mouths open in shock. There were tears of joy, hugs and exclamations, and in the background of the video you just see me, holding the dog back, my mouth stuck open in a huge goofy smile.

 

 

#sol17 March 11 A slice of this one time

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

This one time today, I had a peaceful moment. The kids were busy with their own stuff. The house was quiet. The soup was made and cooking on the stove. The dishes were done. The dog was sleeping on the his couch.  The fire was burning in the fireplace. So, I grabbed my water bottle, and my daughter’s kindle. I sat on the couch and read. My eyes got heavy, so I put my head down, and the dog snuggled up. I fell asleep. In the middle of the —

“MOMMY!!!!”