Tuesday, June 14, 2011

T-ball begins!

I can definitely tell that summer is in full swing.  Although only 10 days since the last day of school, it already seems like a distant memory, routine wise, to get up and hustle the Boy into presentable clothes and shuttle him through rush-hour traffic over to Roseville. 

With the Breadwinner's job winding down for the summer, and with me gainfully unemployed, we are simply - home.  All the time.  Home home home.  And loving every minute of it.

Our day usually begins with the sound of the Boy climbing the stairs from his basement lair and crawling into bed between us, whispering Good Morning.  Not a bad start.  At least, not a bad start when it's 8:30 or 9:00 instead of 5:30 or 6:00.   We slowly exit to the kitchen to share an unpaced breakfast followed by morning news and a cartoon or two.  Our biggest decision to make before Noon is whether or not we're going to get dressed for the day or stay in Jammies. 

Not a bad gig.

The Boy's afternoons have mostly been filled with the highly entertaining and conveniently located NeighborBoy - in and out of both houses, both sandboxes, and up and down both driveways on the bikes. 

Hours of uninterrupted fun.  And I'm sure he's having a good time as well.  (ba-dum-ching!) 

In fact, he's over there right now, allowing me enough time to jot down a few thoughts here.  For three people with no obligatory attendance required anywhere, we've sure been busy!  Swimming lessons have drawn to a close, he made it through all of them (and loved it toward the end, go figure).  Now, the T-Ball lessons have begun.  Yesterday evening was the first.

If you've never seen the Chevy Chase movie Funny Farm, I recommend it.  Towards the end of the film, when Chevy and his wife decide they want to move away from the crazy small town they've grown to hate after moving there from the big city, they bribe all the horrible neighbors and townsfolk to act extra kind and normal, and well, Norman Rockwellian.  That manufactured, artificial old-fashioned Americana wholesomeness is what they use to trick someone into buying their house so they can leave. 

I experienced the real version yesterday at the local ballpark.  Teams playing on every field.  Perfect temperature and humidity level.  Giant playground full of happy children.  Families picnicking on the green grass with genuine checkerboard blankets.  Grandparents holding hands; soccer games and volleyball games and footballs flying around.  Every inch of Commons Park in use, but nothing crowded.  Nothing fake.  Real people.

And as iconic as it gets for an American summer in the suburbs:  T-Ball practice.  Those of you that have parented a child through T-Ball do not need me to explain how ridiculously ridiculous it is to watch 4-6 year olds attempt to catch a baseball-like object with a baseball mitt.  It just doesn't happen, other than phenoms like the one I know named Isaac.  And when these (normal) kids throw the ball - goodness.  The arm is willing, hurling the ball forward, only to see the ball betray the hand's grip at the last minute and fling itself sideways against all laws of physics. 

The Boy loved it, although completely incompetent.  He's at least ignorant of his incompetence.  I won't tell him.  Just lots of high-fives and try-agains from me, thankyouverymuch.

Oh, but the Funny Farm scene wasn't done.  Just as practice was starting, the local Senior Brass Band arrived for a practice session/impromptu concert in preparation for the upcoming Town Parade.  Not even kidding.  Couldn't make it up.  For all of T-Ball practice, we were serenaded from across the field with "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "Marine's Hymn" and "You're a Grand Ol' Flag" and "My Country Tis of Thee" and "Beauty and the Beast theme song".   Yeah, the last one surprised me too. 


Anywho, at the end of this first day of practice, the very proud team of newfound pre-K friends got to each submit an idea (if they wanted to) for their team name.  Of course, the Boy would find a way to make it awkward.  His pronouncement, in a loud enough voice to be heard over the band, was "The White Twins". 

Yes, folks.  He wanted his team to be called the White Twins.  This very multi-ethnic group of 8 children, of which the Boy was one of 3 white kids. 

His T-Ball instructor stared at me. 

I was of course able to very quickly explain the root of his seemingly inappropriate suggestion - you see, the Minnesota Twins wear white jerseys on weekends.  The Boy, slowly getting more interested in baseball but not understanding the game very well, asked me one time "Which team do you want to win dad?" while it was on TV.  I said, "The team wearing white.  They're the Twins.  We like the Twins." 

The White Twins. 

The Boy's team is named the Diamonds, the only other suggestion offered, after a not-so-close vote.

And admit it, you have the Beauty and the Beast song stuck in your head too.  Heh.   "Tale as old as tiiime..."

Friday, June 3, 2011

So it begins...

Summer, that is. 

Earlier this morning the Boy shipped off for his last day of pre-school, a thundery and sticky morning that, once the clouds break, is expected to be a scorcher.  Very appropriate weather to kick-off his vacation season before Kindergarten swings into action in September. 

Last night, Mom and I, along with the full Quartet of Grandparents, watched him graduate in full pomp - the white cap and gown, hair freshly cut, the "dressy pants" underneath. (which took 10 minutes of coaxing to get him changed out of his Army shorts).

And there they were, sixteen jittery 5.5 year olds singing lovely little songs (most with obligatory hand motions) and informing their captive audience what they will be when they grow up.  And considering the circumstances, they did fantastic - a true testament to the amazing teachers.  You see, the whole time, these mature and discerning youngins were within eyesight of a cookie buffet.  There were Paparazzi levels of flashbulbs snapping and video cameras rolling from every corner, and a multi-generational audience beaming from ear to ear at their every twitch and stutter.  But there they stood, hardly ever playing with the cap tassels, nobody wiping boogers on their neighbors or giving random shout outs to their respective families.  (you've all heard the "that's my dad!!!" or "I see grandma!!!" during a Christmas concert, right?)

I'm not sure how the teachers and staff pulled that off, but I want in on the secret.

Really, I shouldn't be surprised though.  From the beginning - when his primary teacher actually came out to our house to meet the Boy two years ago so he would recognize someone on his first day - to today's end, we've been nothing short of amazed at the adults that - on purpose! - spend their entire day surrounded by walking and babbling germ factories.  And love it.  And smile at every child, every morning, regardless of that child's escapades the day before.  Constantly having their personal space invaded by impromptu (and food-encrusted) hugs, sore necks and backs from walking with eyes cast down toward their miniature audience, always stooping to hear the whispered voices or separate the boys before things get serious.  Blessed with the gifts of Short Memory and Second Chance and Quick Smile, all with a gymnast's dexterity.  Wowsers.  I'm not sure how much any of them get paid, but I'm positive it should be more. 

And the Boy.  Ah, this Boy of mine.  At age 3, "visiting" his school for the first time, lip trembling at the noise 20+  kids make when in a room together - more kids than he had ever seen at once.  Such a little guy, still wearing the "I might not remember to stop playing and go potty" underwear.  Barely speaking above a whisper.   And now - confident.  Bold.  Active and smart.  Brave, and excited for Kindergarten.  What a transformation, one that I'm positive couldn't have happened without the gentle, reliable, constant and positive prodding of this group of caring adults. 

So, for this group, the ones that are able to convince 5 year olds that standing still and staying quiet is actually a good idea once and a while, and for the last 2 years have helped the Boy grow into a fine young man, some shout outs from a thankful parent are necessary.

First there's Sandy L, who for what seemed like the entire first year, was the name we used to coax our fearful little 3.5 year old into the van.  "Hurry up, we can't be late, Sandy's waiting for you!"  In the Boy's eyes, she was the safe zone, the comfortable and caring eyes and voice.  If nothing else was right in his school world, Sandy was right.

For the second year, with confidence starting to build, it was all about Marcia.  She was, after all, the one with the food.  "Hurry up, we can't be late, Marcia's waiting for you!", and into the van he'd go, wondering which two cereals he'd get to choose from that morning. 

And no matter who greeted him in the morning - Sandi H or Midge or Ericka or Bev or Adam or a student teacher, it was always a smile and always a greeting by name, and a genuine pleasure in seeing the Boy again.  And throughout the day, simple kindness - naptime with Holly and music with Sonja included, and the same each afternoon at good-bye, sometimes by the same person from earlier that morning, somehow still smiling. 

All wonderful people. Saints.  Ah, but there's one more.  Last but most certainly not least,  what would this Boy be without his Carrie?  Other than Mom and I and maybe a handful of relatives, I don't know that any other adult "gets" our Boy like Carrie does.  She totally knows him and adores his quirky little mind.  That isn't something they teach in Early Childhood education classes, it's just who Carrie is, and we could not have been more fortunate to have her as his primary teacher.  I'm going to miss the notes detailing his daily achievements and/or adventures.  And I'll miss the conferences where we share a group laugh over the peculiar ways the Boy views his world.  Just the thought that someone else delights in him is flat out astounding.  She has definitely set a very high bar for his upcoming teachers and has wildly exceeded even our most unrealistic expectations. 

And so, now summer begins.  I'm sure we'll figure out together, this Boy and I, how to fill our days.  And I'm sure I'll be filling the blogosphere with details of our adventures.   And next fall when Kindergarten starts, I know it will be fine and fun, with a whole new set of memories and things to love and good teachers and new friends. 

But for today, the last day, a huge shout out THANK YOU to everyone at NWC CDC.  You will be greatly missed.