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The Other Side of the Table

by Miranda on October 16, 2014

The other day (last week? Two weeks ago?) I was scrolling through Facebook and I stumbled across a status update from a mom friend. It was all about how well her son is doing in school. How he’s being praised for good citizenship, behavior, and academics.

She’s so proud of him. She should be proud of him.

But my heart sank a little while I read it because my kid is not that kind of kid.

I talked to many parents when I was teaching and listened to their frustrations about how their child wasn’t doing what so and so was doing. I’ve had mom friends lament the ways their children weren’t meeting milestones at the same pace as their peers. I told all of them not to compare their experiences because people are variables and those can be unpredictable.

We shouldn’t compare our experiences. Truly. We shouldn’t. I believe that. We can’t compare them. They aren’t the same.

But I find myself doing that a lot lately.

We’re just not having a good kindergarten experience. I’m feeling a little sad about that.

Right now, it’s not looking like my son will be the kid who comes home from school having earned a special award or recognition.

We’re sure getting a lot of notes about everything he’s doing wrong, though, and they’re things I need to know about, like hitting his classmates, biting somebody in the lunch line, not completing his work because he’s busy catapulting pencils across the room.

(I definitely smiled a little at his ingenuity with the pencil flipping. It’s physics! Science! Smart stuff! But not the right time or place.)

I don’t know what to do when my kid is thatkid. And right now he’s that kid.

The kid who gets in trouble all the time. Who can’t be tamed or calmed. The one who can’t focus. And I don’t know what to do about it.

He’s so bright and smart and sweet (sometimes) and then he goes to school and the kid he is there isn’t a kid I recognize. Or have I just not been paying attention?

I’ve talked to the teacher. We’re all sitting down next week for a big ol’ powwow with psychologists and special education teachers and principals and counselors on one side and…me. We’ll discuss a behavior plan, intervention strategies, and I will probably cry.

I’m on the other side of the table and it’s a really uncomfortable place to be.

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Kindergarten Mom

by Miranda on October 1, 2014

Let’s just get a few things cleared up before I begin my little vent here about being a kindergarten mom feels like I’m always flying blind. (Always.)

1. I’ve had wine tonight. Not so much that I’m incapable of forming a complete thought but just enough so that I’m feeling saucy.
2. I love school and believe in education and want to see my child succeed.
3. I have no idea WTF is going on and I am more than a little frustrated about it.

I know the easiest way to know what, exactly, is going on at his school is to go over there and find out what, exactly, is going on. I’m working on it. In order to volunteer, you have to have a background check and be approved by the principal so what I’m saying is it’s not as easy as walking in the front door and saying “hey, I’d like to shelve books in the library or read to some kids today, cool?” and being sent wherever to do that.

So until then, I’m kind of left in the lurch about what’s happening every day and it’s making me understand how helicopter parents come to exist.

I’m trying not to hover. I’m trying not to email every single day and ask what this note meant or what they did about that. I’m fighting the urge to call and say “Can you just, you know, wear a GoPro for an entire day start to finish because I really need to understand what’s happening when I’m not around?”

The way his notes read every day, my kid is shaping up to be “that” kid. The difficult child. The one whose name shows up on a roster and other teachers gasp and pat the new teacher on the shoulder in one of those “there, there” ways reserved for people for whom we have nothing but pity.

It is completely freaking me out and making my anxiety go bananas. There’s a What If hurricane happening in my brain almost all the time.

Joshua has come home nearly every day since he started at his new school with a note about some sort of behavioral issue his teachers have experienced, ranging from the egregious, like hitting his classmates, to the asinine–and I quote–“making gross noises in art.”

That it. That’s all I get. No context. No follow-up. No here’s what we did today and here’s what we need you to do.

Just a report of this quirky (and sometimes jerk-ish) behavior that leaves me scratching my head and wondering what’s being expected of five year olds for 6.5 hours a day, particularly one who’s only been at that school for about a month and has met some of the teachers and staff members there enough times to count on one hand.

Is that sort of reporting really normal? (How is that normal??)

I can’t fix what I don’t see and what he doesn’t remember. Or pretends not to remember. I can say “don’t, don’t, don’t fight your friends!” and watch him jump out of the car the next morning crossing my heart that he heeds my reminders.

Then there’s today.

We ran into one of his classmates at the grocery store and after the two of them had an adorable conversation and then stared at the RedBox like they were two high schoolers on a date, she informed me that he is a naughty little boy who has to go to time out. Mouths of babes and all, you know?

Can someone please give me more than a one sentence summary of my kid’s terrible, horrible, no good, really bad every day before he grows to hate school and refuses to get out of bed in the morning?

I get that Joshua has the potential to be difficult. I live with him. Every day. And night. I’m awakened by him bright and early at 6:00 in the morning (or earlier). I put him to bed and tuck him in and tell him to have a good sleep.

And all those hours when he’s not at school are spent with me asking him to do this or that or begging him to stop doing that thing or the other (hitting his sister, squealing like a Banshee in the car, throwing balls inside the house when there’s a perfectly good yard outside) and for the love of god please pick up the Legos and YES YOU WENT A WHOLE THIRTY MINUTES WITHOUT SCREAMING AT YOUR SISTER! LET’S HAVE A HIGH FIVE PARTY!

But something–anything–good about his day would be GREAT. Literally anything.

On second thought, maybe that GoPro isn’t such a bad idea. Then I could just see for myself.

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Mabel’s Labels: A Must Have for Moms!

by Miranda on September 17, 2014

School has brought about more than one change in our life, and considering Joshua has now been enrolled in two schools so far since we moved, we’ve had more changes than most.

All of these changes, most specifically starting school, are the reason why Mabel’s Labels are a must have for moms like me. And you. Because suddenly I have a 5-year old who has to be responsible for his own stuff all day long and, well, he’s 5. So HAHAHAHAH to that. ‘

So, we’re six weeks into school here, which I know is jaw-dropping for those of you whose littles just went back last week, but we’ve (and really I mean Joshua) lost Joshua’s water bottle 5 times already.

And his lunch box. Actually two lunch boxes, but the second one was retrieved, which is great because it’s actually MY lunch box.

Thankfully, Mabel’s Labels saved the day with the water bottle. Five times. (The lunch box, however, we’ve determined found its way itno a trash can.)

How have we recovered the water bottle five times? Because of this guy:

Mabel's Labels Review

This, dear friends, is a Tag Mate that came as part of the Mabel’s Labels Stylish Scholars Combo. It has ensured that Joshua’s water bottle has been returned it its rightful Kindergartener every time he’s lost it.

(HOW DOES HE LOSE IT!? OMG!)

The Tag Mate, which is made for clothes, and which is washer and dryer safe, will be AMAZING this winter when it’s time to send in hats, gloves, and coats. Plural.

In Georgia, layers are a daily requirement. Some mornings it’s 30 degrees, which might necessitate heavier coats, and by afternoon it’s 55, which means a fleece pullover. I cannot even begin to imagine how many times I will visit Lost and Found this winter.

Or maybe I won’t have to visit Lost and Found at all because I’ll have labels on EV.ER.Y.THING.

The Stylish Scholars Combo pack also comes with tags called Skinny Minis, which are dishwasher safe, which makes them great for labeling food containersm and the Round Labels are perfect for the insides of shoes.

Because if anyone is going to lose ONE shoe, it’s going to be a kid. And I know this not from experience with my own children but from teaching in a school where we put the Lost and Found out twice a year and marveled at the number of single, partner-less shoes we found.

I got one sock…looking for the other…one sock…looking for its brother…when I find that sock, I’ll tell you what I’ll do…

(If you know what book that song is from, speak up!)

I have a Round Label on the inside of Joshua’s backpack. And a Skinny Mini on the outside. I’m determined not to lose it.

Mabel's Labels Review

If you or someone you know is a constant loser-of-things, Mabel’s Labels are for you. They go on and they don’t come off unless you want them to.

Right now you can enjoy free shipping and your order will leave within 24 hours of being placed, which means you could be ready to stop losing things pretty quickly.

Depending on how you use them, you’ll get enough labels in your Mabel’s Labels pack to last you all year. Maybe even longer.

I cannot recommend these enough to moms, teachers, grandmothers, basically anybody who will listen. These are definitely must-haves!

Disclosure: Mabel’s Labels sent me a Scholars Combo in exchange for this review. Having met them at several conferences, I was eager to work with them because of the nature of their company and the quality of their products. Mabel’s Labels were created by moms, for moms to help us solve our lost-stuff dilemmas. All opinions are my own.

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Signing Our Life Away

by Miranda on September 6, 2014

When you buy a house, you sign your life away at the closing. The joke you’ll hear before mountains of papers start flying your direction is that you better get your hand good and warmed up because it’s about to be put to work.

You’ll spend the next 45 minutes to an hour, maybe longer, promising a bank everything from your regular monthly payment to your first born son and then at the end of all that signing a lawyer will shake your hand and congratulate you on your purchase.

Welcome to home ownership!

But when you sell a house? That’s when you’re REALLY signing your life away.

It’s been an emotional few days around here as we’ve prepared to pack the last decade of our lives into a storage unit until we’re settled in our forever home sometime next year. We’ve cried while reminiscing about what the last ten years have held, and most of those memories have taken place right here.

We started our life together, put down roots, and made this town we didn’t know our place. It’s familiar. Comfortable.

It’s home.

Our children took their first steps on these floors which we put in ourselves during a summer renovation project that ended up lasting into the fall. This is the only home they’ve ever known.

We spoke their names for the first time in these rooms.

I’ve kissed boo boos and sung songs and hoped beyond hope for nothing but happiness for the both of them while rocking them to sleep at night in nurseries chosen and designed before they were born.

We’ve baked cakes and celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and life and death and we’ve done it here. Together. As a family.

It’s funny, and I know I’ve said this before, but for a long time this place didn’t feel like home. It was just the where we lived. That is, until it wasn’t ours anymore. Now all the stories tucked away in these walls are suddenly crying out, begging to be told again and again. Begging to be heard and remembered forever. Scared we’ll forget about them.

Even though the memories are ours, it’s like they don’t belong to us anymore. They’re trapped within these walls and we’ll be leaving them here forever in just a couple of days. It feels like we can’t take them with us.

How do you pack a memory into a cardboard box?

Of course there are new memories to be made. One day I’m sure we’ll look back on this as just another leg of our journey together, but for right now as I lay here unable to sleep on what is our last night in this house, it feels like we’re closing a book and not just turning a corner to see what’s coming up ahead.

Turns out we made this place a home after all and we didn’t even know it.

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When Mom Guilt Strikes

by Miranda on August 26, 2014

I don’t have a catchy title for this. I can’t give a shit about SEO. I just have a metric ton of Mom Guilt sitting on my chest and I desperately need to get it off because I can’t breathe with it there weighing me down.

We’re moving. In 12 days.

Yes, that’s right. We sold our house. This summer’s hard work and my home staging skills paid off and after being on the market for 6 weeks, it will no longer be ours.

That’s the amazing part, really. We’ve dreamed of the day we could sell our house for quite a while, never expecting the housing market to rebound here so that it would be possible. And now the market has rebounded and the house is sold and we’re moving. Officially.

But the Mom Guilt is eating me alive.

Moving now means switching schools. And then switching again. I knew this would be a possibility, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard.

“He’ll only be a month into school! No big deal! He’s adaptable!”

He is adaptable. I, as it turns out, am not.

See, we’re not going from here to our forever home. We’re going from here to living with family to our forever home. Because that’s what happens when you want to build a home of your dreams and you have people who graciously open their doors to you and the timing for everything is all weird like this.

I cried this afternoon when I realized that my son probably might not exist in a yearbook.

I know this is more for me than it is for him right now, but one day, it’ll be for him. School pictures at his current school were today. They’re probably taking place soon at his new school if they haven’t already. There’s a good chance I’ve missed the boat and the only record that he attended in either place will be in whatever I can cobble together.

I cried at Joshua’s curriculum night on Monday when I told his teacher that he only had 8 more days with her. I wiped my eyes as she talked about the times she needed classroom volunteers when I realized the available times are perfect for me to have been there, helping with the art center, or working on reading, or doing whatever she needs done.

I know there’s a chance I’ll have this same opportunity at his new school, but I also know there’s a chance I won’t.

I cried when she talked about the ways she engages the kids in activity to help them work off excess energy throughout the day and when she relayed some funny stories about their interactions with one another and the ways she sees the class coming together.

I know there’s a chance he’ll have that elsewhere, but I also know there’s a chance he won’t.

I cried when I listened to the PTA president talk about the school and community they have there and how they help one another and are able to do the things they’re able to do not because they’re the fanciest school but because they’re a family.

I know we’ll have many, many years to become part of a school community when he gets to his final destination, but it seems like so far away before we get there.

I feel stuck.

We’re stuck. Moving, but stuck.

I’m worried and I’m sad and all these little things are piling up and I feel like the entire first year of school is a wash with all the moving. We can’t put down roots and get comfortable. He’s going to be spending the next however long adjusting while the rest of his classmates are established.

All of this just means a lot of change. And a lot of feeling like I’m not doing the right thing right now while simultaneously doing the best thing for the future.

I just don’t want to screw up.

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Just a White Girl

August 19, 2014

I remember the very first time I realized I was just a white girl. And I don’t mean in the sense that I became aware of my skin color and how it differed from that of my darker skinned friends.  I mean the first time I became aware that I was JUST a white girl. […]

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Be The Light

August 12, 2014

Some of you know that one of my freelance jobs is as an entertainment news writer. By now you’ve probably heard that Robin Williams died yesterday. He took his own life following a serious and prolonged battle with depression. When my professional and personal worlds collide like this, it’s hard for me not to stand […]

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Invisible Loss

August 6, 2014

It’s been a year since we said goodbye to my dad. A year ago today. I dreamed about him on Sunday. He was only there for a second, but he was there, greeting someone with a smile on his face, introducing himself, hunched over slightly to mask his height. And then I woke up and […]

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Dear Joshua, On Your First Day of Kindergarten

August 4, 2014

Dear Joshua, Today you started Kindergarten. I always fret and worry about you and big changes in your life, and man, this year is going to bring a few of those. Kindergarten feels like such a big deal, a much bigger deal than any change we’ve weathered so far. You feel so big and yet […]

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First Day of Kindergarten (Free Printable!)

August 3, 2014

You guys. My baby boy, the pioneer child, the one who taught me what it means to be a mom is starting Kindergarten. Tomorrow. (It won’t bother me one bit if you pin this. Nope. Not one bit.) Tomorrow I will have pictures and a letter/wishes for him to post here, because parts of this […]

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