A Golf Ball Goes To Kindergarten: Fall 2021

Have you ever lived in a city and had to ride the subway? And have you ever been running late, racing for your train, making it to the platform just as the train was taking off?

And you’re standing there as it charges by with the most powerful “whoosh” and you just can’t believe you missed it?

That’s what it feels like to watch your child grow. You want time to stop, to stand still, to wait until you’re ready. But time does the opposite. It picks up speed – faster and faster – whooshing by in a flash. And you’re just standing there with your hands on your head – helpless against its power – watching the train gain momentum as it speeds further away…

That’s the image that comes to mind each time I ask myself how my little baby boy – once so tiny in my ams – could possibly be in kindergarten! It’s impossible to process. The best I can do is try to fully appreciate these moments I have with him here and now, all while coping with the truth that none last.

Trevor’s Road To Kindergarten

Back when Tru was barely two, I started him in a Montessori school because it was one of the only places I could find that would take him for just a few hours in the morning, a couple days a week (the others had only full-time daycare schedules). All throughout his preschool years, he loved that school and really thrived under the Montessori program. So we entered Tru into a lottery for enrollment in a charter Montessori elementary school. His name was selected to be part of the 2021-22 kinderhaus class.

Chris and I weren’t sure if we should keep him in the preschool he loved for one more year, send him to the public elementary school, or send him to the charter school. We felt very torn and unsure, but decided on the charter school in the end. The Montessori method encourages children to independently choose work according to their current interests. It’s not as rigidly structured as traditional school. Children aren’t assigned desks. Instead, they choose work projects from shelves lines with various options. And they work at group tables or sit on mats on the floor. The charter school also places a strong emphasis on what they call “specials:” music, art, gym, library, and engineering are all a part of his weekly schedule. The school supports a lot of field trips and community and outdoor engagement. Montessori also brings children of different ages together. For example, Tru sometimes is paired with a middle school “buddy” for certain activities. He’s absolutely in awe of his buddy and really looks up to her. If Tru continues with the charter school, his class next year will include a mix of children in first, second, and third grade.

Trevor Shines at Kindergarten

I’m happy to report that – so far – Trevor has loved his new school and thrived, just like at his preschool. He likes his two teachers, Mary and Morgan. And he seems to love the classroom environment. Mary is an artist, so she encourages the kids to be creative and helps them produce paintings in similar styles to famous artists. The Monet painting of water lilies that he did recently, for example, is really beautiful!

He doesn’t usually tell me much about his school day (he never has), but sometimes he has a few stories about things he learned, things he enjoyed, things he found interesting. When I pick him up and ask him, “how was school,” he’ll usually respond with frustration and anger and yell, “don’t ask me that!” It feels like what I’d expect from a teenager! I guess he’s drained after a long day. So I’ve learned to just quietly wait for his cues and let him bring up the topic of school.

Here’s one amazing thing: Trevor is a reader now!

Within a week of starting school, Trevor was bringing home beginner reader booklets and reading them to us! I couldn’t believe it. Trevor wasn’t reading at all before he started school. But just like that, he was! I remember spending kindergarten studying the letters of the alphabet with the blow-up “Letter People” dolls. I wasn’t expecting to have a full-blown reader in September!

Trevor says his favorite class is gym, which is no surprise! He seems to love all of the “specials” though. He also talks a lot about his math work. This fall, he’s working on addition and multiplication and frequently gives me math problems to solve at home. For example, he’ll ask me, “what’s 2 times 3 plus 12?” And he can solve that type of equation! He brings his competitive spirit to school too. Montessori projects are designed so that they become more challenging as children work their way through. Trevor is really focused and determined to move quickly through each work project, his teacher reports. He’s never said this, but I’m starting to wonder if he’s trying to get “ahead” of other children. The other day, for example, Tru was so excited to tell me that a girl in his class was wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh shirt. Tru watches Winnie-the-Pooh every morning before school. I asked him if he told the girl how much he loves Pooh and he said, “I didn’t have the time because I have to do my work.” So it’ll be interesting to see if he continues to be a very serious student moving forward!

My Struggles With Kindergarten

It’s tough to be a parent of a school-aged child in this world. I always have countless worries running through my mind. There’s the overwhelm of having my little baby in kindergarten. And the worry about whether I’ve made the right choice of school for Tru. And the sort of underlying, repressed fear of sending an innocent child to school amidst endless news headlines of shootings and mask debates and pandemic outbreaks. My anxiety can feel overwhelming at times. It’s no wonder I’ve turned to spiritual practice to cope.

There are the minor stressors too. Since Tru goes to a charter school, there isn’t a school bus option for us. So I drive Tru to and from school each day (Chris helps on certain days). Our drop-off/pick-up routine takes close to two hours out of the day each day (more on that later…). I do sometimes wonder if it’s worth it!

I’ve worried about the length of Tru’s school day. The kinderhaus program is Monday through Friday – five days a week – from 8:15 am (drop-off is between 8:10 and 8:30) to 3:10 pm. When I first heard the schedule I thought, “isn’t that way too much for such little kids?” I went to school for just half a day in kindergarten! The good news on this front, though, is that Tru has endless energy. He rarely gets tired until Chris and I force him into bed at night! So far, the schedule hasn’t phased him. I do notice that he’s sometimes pretty emotionally turbulent and cranky by dinnertime. But that’s always been the case though. Those evening “witching hours” have been a part of our lives since Tru was a baby!

I also struggle with packing food for Tru to eat at school. He’s such a picky eater and – combined with Covid protocols – it’s nearly impossible to pack him healthy lunches. More on that later also…

At the start of the year, I also worried endlessly about Tru’s transition to a new school. Trevor had developed a really strong bond with another boy in his preschool, and one of my biggest fears was that he was going to feel really lonely without his best friend. But I guess Trevor is still so young, he just doesn’t have those strong attachments like an older kid might have. He seemed to jump right into his new school and routine with open arms. His teacher has said that all of the children seem to enjoy interacting with all of the other children – there aren’t pairs or cliques forming. And we agreed how much better that is for Tru and all of the kids – just for everyone to be friends with everyone else.

Our School Day Routine

Tru usually pops out of bed at 6am. If I’m unlucky, he’ll wake as early as 5:30. If I’m lucky, he’ll sleep until 6:30. So he’s my alarm clock every day. If I had my own way, I’d get up at 7:15. I always feel like I’m just not ready to crawl out of bed for another day! I need Trevor to bottle about half of his energy – he’d still have more than enough – and share it with me. He immediately runs into my bedroom for cuddles. After several minutes of chatting and cuddling, we’ll head downstairs. Tru is in a Winnie-the-Pooh phase at the moment, so I’ll turn on one of the Pooh movies on Disney+. Then I’ll give Tru a sippy cup of orange juice and set out a muffin cup (a microwavable protein muffin), a fruit smoothie, and a yogurt with Oreo crumbles. That’s Tru’s breakfast almost always. After he eats, Tru will typically go into his playroom and throw bean bags or bouncy balls around the room. He’s very active and on-the-go right out of the gate in the morning. Meanwhile, I’ll get Calvin out and fed and get myself ready and pick out Tru’s clothes. This is all while dealing with Tru’s frequent questions and requests like, “Mama come play ball with me!” or a tearful, “Mama I bumped my knee, I need ice.” Tru doesn’t care about clothing or getting dressed so he’ll usually put on whatever I bring him. I like dressing him up in nice outfits when I can. But sometimes he’ll complain that he only wants comfy clothes, which means a long-sleeve tee or sweatshirt with sweatpants. Then I pack his lunch.

My goal each morning is to try to head downstairs to the garage by about 7:50. I get a coat and shoes and a mask and lanyard on Tru and then we drive to the school for drop-off. I get home by about 8:30 or 8:40 most mornings and definitely breathe a little sigh of relief when I step into a peaceful house. 

I get ready to pick up Tru at 2:40. Typically, I’ll park in the lot across from the school and walk over to Tru’s school to pick him up at his door. He loves to play on the school playground every day after school. He has a few school friends he likes to play with, including Annie and August. He never wants to leave, and sometimes we’re two of the last ones on that playground. We’re usually home by about 4pm. Then we’ll do an art project or play soccer outside or corn hole in the playroom. I’ll make dinner for Chris and I. Tru never eats anything I cook, so he’ll usually eat a peanut butter sandwich with yogurt or a smoothie. Tru takes a shower as part of his bedtime routine, and then we’ll curl up together on his bed to read books. Chris and I will typically read him a few sports books and – now that he’s bringing home easy readers from school – he’ll sometimes read to us too! The globe in Tru’s room lights up, so I’ll turn that on before tucking him in. He’s developed a little bit of a fear of the dark, so he likes for his globe to remain on all through the night. Then by 7:30, Chris and I tuck him in, give him kisses, and tell him how much we love him. It’s a challenge to get him into that bed every night. He says to me, “the only thing I don’t like in this world is going to bed at night.”

This fall, Trevor is playing soccer and loving it. He’s part of the local outdoor team and an indoor team. He also plays golf at the course or range whenever he gets the chance. And he’s doing swimming lessons. Hockey also started up in October. I also signed Tru up for children’s yoga, and he likes that too. So yes, our days are busy!

Kindergarten During a Pandemic

What can I say? Sending your child to kindergarten during a pandemic is sad and hard to process. Trevor is required to wear a mask all day every day at school. Kids are allowed to remove their masks only when they go outside. Last year, Tru asked for outer space masks that have a clear window (so you can see his mouth and facial expressions). Those have been his favorite masks, and those are what he continues to wear. A few times he’s said, “I wish I didn’t have to wear a mask.” Or, “when we will be able to stop wearing them?” I keep my answer simple and say, “the school has a rule about masks and all the children and teachers in the school have to follow the rule.” I’ve tried to keep my answers as basic and clear-cut as possible.

While the weather was warm, all of the children ate outside. But the weather eventually turned cold. So now the children eat inside the classroom, but only one at a time. So Tru gets just a few minutes to eat his lunch (since there are 16 children in the class who need a turn). Combine his short lunch time with the fact that Tru continues to be very picky, and you have a mom who finds it completely impossible to pack a healthy lunch! The only things Tru will eat at school are simple, easy snack foods: fruit snacks, NutriGrain or other granola bars, veggie sticks, graham crackers or WheatThins crackers. He’s never able to finish. Needless to say, he typically comes home from school hungry and asking for a snack.

The school also does frequent random/group Covid testing. They believe this helps to keep the school from having to shut down due to a sudden outbreak. Vaccines were also made available to kids as young as five this fall. So the season also featured Tru getting both rounds of Covid shots. He didn’t really get upset over the shots or resist too much. He knew Chris and I had also gotten shots and he’d heard other children in his class talk about it. So I think he just figured, “this is something we all have to go through.” Speaking of Chris and I, we’ve never seen the inside of Tru’s school. Parents are completely forbidden from entering. Tru’s teachers post photos weekly to an online board, so I always love to see what the kids are up to. The classroom looks really inviting and full of interesting projects. The children always look content and engaged. But it’s definitely hard to feel so excluded.

It breaks my heart when I think about what this generation of children is living through. Of course. Who knows what the long-term effects will be for our children: social distancing, masks, and fixation on/obsession with sickness. But I do see in Trevor (and his friends and classmates) that they are very unshakable and adaptable and resilient. I look at Tru and I think, “he is fearless and strong enough to handle this.” 

The Halloween Where Trevor Was a Golf Ball

Since he was two years old, Tru has known his own mind when it comes to Halloween costumes! This year was no exception. By late September, Tru made the announcement that he was going to be a golf ball for Halloween. And he stuck with that choice straight through until the end of October! I couldn’t find any kid’s golf ball costumes online. Luckily, Tru’s Grammy wanted to sew one for him. I found a golf ball fabric and she stuffed the costume so it was big and round and definitely very warm for a chilly fall night. Chris’s parents live in a retirement community where they organize trick-or-treating for the grandkids. It’s a quiet dead-end street, so it’s perfect for trick-or-treating. And since they don’t get more than a handful of children, Tru always makes out like a bandit!  After that first round of trick-or-treating, we met up at our neighbor’s house for a bonfire and pizza. As a group, all the kids went trick-or-treating through the neighborhood, working our way down the street. Tru had so much fun running through the neighborhood with his friends. I’m always happy when we get together with neighborhood friends, since Tru doesn’t have any siblings or first cousins. 

Speaking of golf balls, by the way, Trevor is obviously still in love with golf. He asks to go to mini golf courses or the driving range after school. He loves when Chris offers to take him to the real course. He tells me about his plans to be a professional golfer. Chris introduced him to an old Wii Golf video game where you swing the controller like a golf club. That was a huge mistake! Tru became obsessed with the game. He asks to play when he wakes up in the morning and when he gets home from school. Tru doesn’t want to put down the game controller for dinner. And when he doesn’t get the score or shot he wants, he’ll have huge meltdowns. Screaming, crying, throwing the controller. When I tell you he’s passionate about golf, I’m not kidding! Anyway, that Wii Golf game is the bane of my existence. I put my foot down and said “no” to Wii Golf before school. That helps our mornings to run slightly more peacefully!

Fall Fun 2021

We did a couple of fun fall outings. I love this age with Tru where he’s so enthusiastic and happy to fully engage in every activity. He brings so much joy to our days.

We went to the sunflower fields, which has been our annual tradition since Tru was a baby.  

I love this picture of Tru so much. This sums up the bright Light he shines into my world!

The fields included a giant tractor that Tru was so excited to climb on.

We visited a pumpkin patch, Tru went in search of the biggest pumpkin he could possibly find, and we ate cider donuts.

Tru did a school field trip to an apple orchard. All the kids were so excited about that! Tru learned the correct way to pick an apple and he taught me: first twist, then pull gently.

And I got Tru and I matching pumpkin pajamas.

One of my favorite things is to get dressed up and take family photos. And it’s also one of Trevor’s least favorite things. He tells me he hates to dress up. And he hates to take pictures. Many times he has let me know, in no uncertain terms. So I don’t take out my camera very often. It takes a lot of inventiveness from Chris to get him laughing like this!

Mount Major 2021

We did a hike to the peak of Mount Major. It’s not an easy hike, and it’s not a short hike either. I definitely feel breathless and sweaty by the end. But Tru did great! He’s getting too big for Chris to carry him up a mountain, but Trevor was able to do the trail all on his own. I love the incredible views from the top when the foliage is at its peak. I mentioned how Tru hates to take photos. But he had fun doing all of the jumping photos – all of those were his idea! And the one where Tru and I have our arms outstretched – that was his clever idea too. If I want to get family pics, it helps to let Tru take the lead!

We got to the top near sunset – which was absolutely beautiful. But the downside, though, was that the end of our hike was in the dark. We could barely see a few feet in front of us for the last half mile. I’ve mentioned Tru likes to hike at a very leisurely pace because he’s looking for big sticks and rocks and wandering away from the trail to check out a tree or a stream. So Chris scooped him up and put him on his shoulders and we made our way to the end of the trail as quickly as possible. It seemed to take forever to get back to the car!

When we finally got out into the open parking lot, we saw the most enormous full moon. It was a bright orange color and really breathtaking. We had sandwiches at a picnic table on Lake Winnipesaukee. Then Tru begged us to stop and get ice cream before we headed home.

So many sweet memories from fall 2021!

 

 

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