Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kindergarten Part Deux

Ben is back in Kindergarten, for the second time since "he did so well the first time." At least that's what we're telling him; the real truth being that he has an October birthday and we thought another year of the program could only benefit in the long run.

We were lucky enough this year to land a spot in the coveted Montessori main campus, located in Fair Oaks. Montessori aims to blend grades wherever possible so Ben is in a K/1 combination class this year. Just to be clear, our Montessori is not a private program; rather, it is a charter school with what I like to call "all the benefits of a private school without the tuition." The kids were uniforms, the classes tend to be smaller and there is a huge push, from as early as Kindergarten, to expose children to such subjects as zoology, cultural studies, current events, practical life skills and, my favorite, handwriting. Yes, I feel very blessed to be a part of a school that is not suffering from California's financial hardships. No, I do not like the daily drive which cuts out a full two hours from my day.

I finally feel like we have a sense of community with all the parents and children who have joined us at the new campus. Ben has three friends, two of which he has known since before his first birthday, who are in the program. The mothers of these children are all very dear to me.

As long as I can keep a flexible work schedule and some sanity with all the running around that I'm doing (anyone selling a Prius?) I believe that we can keep Ben in his new school and that he will thrive. And did I mention that it goes through 8th grade? I love that aspect and the added benefit of clustering middle grade children into groups of just 17, who then rotate to the various middle grade subjects.

We have much to look forward to and I'm feeling blessed to be a part of such an amazing and innovative approach to learning. Maria Montessori, in my view, is a saint. And California, despite all its flaws, finally did something right by recognizing the importance of this style of education and making it available to people seeking 21st century learning styles for their children.

Ben's First Day

Ben and longtime friends, L and K

Ben's long-lost pre-school buddy, A (poor A had a very painful elbow fracture just prior to school starting. Ben has designated himself as A's special helper. All good intentions and deeds then derailed on Back to School night when during a race between the boys, Ben reached out and grabbed A by the sling. A good sign that the night was most certainly over!)

Back to School Night (before the sling grabbing incident!)

New friends at Back to School Night

Monday, August 24, 2009

Letting Go

I think I might finally be surrendering. Just a little. Or growing up. Or getting wiser and more mature, or maybe realizing that there is so much beyond my control that I can only sit back and really try and let go.

Case in point:

Ben was with his dad this weekend. Or he was supposed to be. Until K (Ben's dad) got called to work an overtime shift and K handed over parenting responsibilities to Dana, his (relatively new) girlfriend. These were responsibilities of the 24 hour order: playtime all day, dinner, bath, bedtime routine, wake-up, breakfast, the whole drill.

To be clear, K would normally call me under such circumstances but he knew that I had a very important (and expensive) training to attend in San Francisco. Apparently Dana was up for the task.

And to be honest, I was actually OK with the whole idea. Not because Dana is a long-time girlfriend who has been on the scene for months and months (she's not and she hasn't been), nor because I knew that Ben would be easy to take care of for a 24 hour shift (he's definitely not).

For the first time, post-divorce, I realized that K is going to make decisions for Ben that don't involve me and the best that I can do is hope that K is keeping Ben's best interests at heart. I don't like that Ben goes to bed late when he's with K and I don't like it when K runs Ben halfway around the world and back, only to drop him with me, tired and jet-lagged. But I do know that K loves Ben more than life itself and he would never entrust Ben's care to just anyone.

I went about my classes this weekend, not at all concerned with what was happening in Folsom with Dana and Ben. The report is that they had a great time swimming and playing with Dana's nieces and nephews and that Dana stayed the night and Ben was just fine.

Now, I don't know how I'll take the news of Dana moving in or assuming more of a maternal role in Ben's life but I do know that Ben will always have only one mommy and that this mommy is wise enough to let go when it doesn't make sense to hold on any longer.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

How can you complain about anything, anything at all, when your employer is located around the corner from your home, and in addition to paying you well, also includes a full family gym membership with beautifully maintained swimming pools and opportunities to bring friends and family in for swim dates?

Not to mention, flexible scheduling so that you can pick your child up (from the club's day camp, of course) and jump straight into the pool between clients.

This may be the last summer that I'm able to spend the afternoons with Ben and I tried to savor every single minute, even the times when he splashed me in the face, knowing full well that I had to return to work within the hour and the times when he insisted that I swim with him, despite the fact that several children around his age were also swimming.

We started off in the wading pool with the toddlers. I never thought we would make it to the "big" pool, but after two weeks of swim lessons, we did. Ben "practiced" his strokes all summer, even the dreaded back float...

And after a bit of peer pressure, Ben learned that the diving blocks and jumping off the "10" end (as in 10 feet), was kinda fun...

We've had three playgroups there (and as a side note, this playgroup has been meeting since the kids were 9 months old! The mamas are all great friends and three of the five kids will be attending the same school next year. We love our playgroup friends, and moms too!).

DNC has seen countless swim dates. I like these because I can actually sit outside of the pool, preferably in the shade with good reading material, while the kids play under the watchful eye of the very capable lifeguards...

Yes, it has been a good summer, indeed. Thank you, DNC, for providing yet another season of outdoor fun and such a wonderful place to call "our home away from home."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Moving Right Along

Let's move past that last post. It's caused me way more grief than I ever intended.

So, moving along...right into the school year!

School starts one week from today. Holy cow! Where did the summer go?

We had planned to have Ben enrolled back in Kindergarten and we just learned that he has been placed into a K/1 combo class. He'll be moving to the "big" Montessori campus this year, which is significantly further from my home, but is much more "campus-like" than the old school. Two other good friends are also joining us at the new campus. Each child is in a different kindergarten class but they'll all spend time together at lunch and at recess.

Since school and extracurricular activities go hand-in-hand, we're also gearing up (literally and physically) for soccer season. Soccer starts tomorrow night. Ben is excited because not only is he playing with his "best" girl, Lauren, but Lauren's dad is also the coach of the team. Ben gets positively giddy every time we talk about his team.

After a busy summer of day camp, real camp, Ben's trips and unstructured days at home, I'm ready for the school year, long commute and all. Bring it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Life In Hell

I forgot to call my dad on his 70th birthday. I think he's going to disown me, but not before my stepmother slips some cyanide in my Chardonnay.

I'm in deep shit.

There are two ironies here:

The first is the big 70th party that is planned for Saturday. The party that I have had on my calendar for weeks. The party that I have been writing a speech for. The party that has been occupying my thoughts so much lately that I let it take the place of my dad's birthday.

The second irony is the fact that I don't forget birthdays. In fact, I made a special effort to remind my ex-husband of his mother's birthday, just yesterday, to which he replied, "Oh, you are so good with birthdays!" And then my knees went weak (not because of his compliment or his charm) as I remembered that my own father's birthday had come and gone three days ago.

"Wait," I thought. "How could that be? The party isn't until Saturday!"

I tried this argument with my dad on the phone yesterday but I don't think he bought it.

What really stinks is when you can sense the disappointment in someone's voice and you know that you are the reason.

And then it really sucks when his sidekick, or wife, gives you a greeting that is so chilly that you'd swear that the icicles were practically hanging from her mouth. She even tells you to forget about the speech, there probably won't be time for it anyway.

So, you just figure, now's the time to pull out all the stops. Get the tattoo. Mention the new 30-year-old object of your affection. Spend Ben's college fund. Go to town. You're already in hell, anyway.