Thursday, August 27, 2009

The wheels on the bus

Climbing up the bus steps without hesitation proved Alena's independence. She didn't waver or second guess herself, she followed the driver's lead back to her assigned seat, sat down and smiled (I cried like a baby as soon as the wheels started turning).

Actually, I'm willing to bet I'll never watch these 20 seconds of video and her little waving hand without crying. Yes, even when she's fifteen and I want to strangle her or when she's thirty and has a baby of her own, I'll still cry at seeing my baby be not quite the baby she once was.

The return ride was just as exciting, and maybe even more so, since she was bursting with tales of classmates and words to new songs and pride in her school bus artwork she had created. And, for the record, the bus driver's name is Gene.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our member of the Class of 2022

If that graduation year doesn't make you feel old, there isn't anything that will. The Class of 2022. Crazy. Alena's now a member of the group.

She went to her first day of kindergarten with dad, smiling and waving goodbye. A parent was to accompany each student for their first day so everyone could learn how and where everything happens, as well as tour a big yellow school bus that will take her for her second and subsequent kindergarten days.

The day seemed to be a success. She "got" the ins and outs of where to go and what to do - an overview of the routine. Apparently she thought it was a little "babyish," hoping, I suppose for a bit more substance. This coming from a child that could hold a discussion with you on the topic of JFK and his assassination. Here's hoping things ramp up quickly.

She did draw a picture of our house, play on the playground and set off the alarm on the bus's emergency door during her tour. We'll consider that a start.

Now, I must spend some much needed time clearing my mind of visions of my throwing myself in front of the school bus as it takes off with my baby; and, per Alena's instruction, put "ask the bus driver his name" on my mental to do list.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The final countdown

The days leading up to school (or preschool) should be spent getting in the last bit of summer fun. Kings Island, maybe? A last trip to the zoo while the weather is warm? The annual visit to Allen County's fair? Those are the things of kids' dreams.

Instead, we've spent the last ten days more like this ...

That picture accurately sums up the fevers, sore throats, whining and sadness which have brought us up to the eve of kindergarten. We managed to crack open four large bottles of Motrin in place of squealing on amusement rides. It's really been the complete opposite of the fun we could have been having.

Sickness in a house with four children is the gift that keeps on giving, as the virus moves rather methodically from one to the next to the next and the next. The sequenced onset of grumpiness followed by fever and rounded out with a lingering cough could all be diagrammed down to the hour by the time the third patient comes crying.

Somewhere between the second and third bottles of Motrin and around the seventy sixth temperature taken, but after two vomiting episodes brought on by the ever-present cough, I began considering a purposeful infection for Alena so as to squeeze her bout in and out before the first day of school. Alas, no worries that very day the germs struck and the fever was upon her, our final patient.

Fast forward five days, and with 24 hours to spare, she is well. Fever free, bus number memorized and backpack waiting at the door. Ready for school, ready for buses, ready for something new.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Say it ain't so

A procrastinator I am not. Given a list of things to do, I start with the task I deem the least desirable and go from there. I'd rather disinfect the toilet before I dust the living room, and change bedsheets prior to putting away laundry. Free yourself of the worst first. This is how I work.

A blocker, however, I am. Given a situation or event I'm not looking forward to, I can virtually convince myself it's not on the horizon. Through denial I can nearly erase a looming date from all thought.

I'm the only woman I know who would choose a trip to the gynecologist over a dentist appointment. As such, I spent years refusing the appointment reminder card issued by the dentist's receptionist, opting to be reminded of my next appointment only the day before it was scheduled when she'd call to say "We'll see you tomorrow at 2 p.m." This gave me only 24 hours to dread the visit, versus the six months it would glare back at me in black ink on the calendar.

My latest venture in blocking out the unanticipated has been kindergarten. Or, rather, Alena's initiation into actual school. I'd actually been doing a great job of not even letting it enter my mind.

Two years of preschool made kindergarten seem decades off. "She's got another year of preschool ahead of her," I told myself after she completed the three-year-old class.

After the end of that four-year-old class, summer made kindergarten seem years off. Three months can sometimes seem like a long time in our world. Thing is, though, January, February and March seem a lot longer in our lives than do three months filled with sunshiny days and trips to the zoo.

August made kindergarten seem months off. And then the letter came.

Mrs. Bonner.

School supplies.

Bus schedule.

Doctor form.

August 26.

Okay, there's still room for denial here, I told myself. The 26th isn't until the end of the month. Then a quick look at the calendar, and a count of the weeks remaining. That's when reality hit.

Alena is going to kindergarten.

My baby. My little peanut who screamed incessantly in her infant car seat. My guinea pig in learning to spoon feed an infant. My first potty training success story. My first taste of what it feels like to send a child to preschool.

No, not my baby.

The thing about blocking out the unwanted is that you always reach the point where the dreaded end can't be ignored any more. The receptionist's reminder call. The kindergarten teacher's parent letter.

Alena is going to kindergarten.

Maybe if I type it a few hundred more times it'll make it all better. Make me less psychotic about putting her on a bus and waving goodbye. Make me less teary when I think about said bus. Make me less worried about the greater role the outside world will play in her life. Make me less concerned about her being sheltered from the unsavory. Make me less sad to think about how much I'll miss her.

The only bit of digging my heels in and refusing to admit that she's going I have left is the actual purchase of school supplies. Somehow not having them yet helps make it still seem a ways off. I'm not sure what I'll have left after visiting Target's crayon and marker aisle.

Maybe, I'll work on pretending next. Pretending I'm happy as I take those first day of school pictures. Pretending I believe she's big enough to hop up those bus steps. Pretending I'm thrilled that Mrs. Bonner gets her Monday through Friday mornings. Pretending it will all be okay when she looks at me with those unsure eyes. It will be, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Queen City for Circle City

A two-hour drive to Indianapolis is a real vacation when you haven't ever stayed away from your home. Going to visit your Aunt Mandy takes the vacation up a notch, aligning it on par with a seven-day cruise in your mother's world. This is no exaggeration.

Alivia kept track of how many days were until we left for the Circle City the entire week prior to our departure. Talk of hotels, two entire days of dining in restaurants, Aunt Mandy's condo and other foreign notions upped the anticipation factor. I don't know that Mickey Mouse could have created more fervor (okay maybe, but not by much).

That's the thing with having home-body, unworldly kids who don't know the ways of hotels and public transportation ... simple things cause quite a hullabaloo. It makes the question "Will the hotel have a washing machine?," totally reasonable.

And what fun they had.

A Saturday lunch at Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek Reservoir watching sailboats from our outdoor table and making pickle-eye faces.

Frolicking inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before taking a bus tour around the historic 2.5 mile track.

A visit to the Indianapolis International Airport for plane gazing and baggage claim carousel watching. The whole suitcases being transported around for travelers to snatch up thing was fascinating.

Checking into the Indianapolis Hilton was much anticipated. Alena dubbed the deluxe room "amazing" upon sight; Trace called dibs on a bed before taking off his shoes; and Alysse set up her own enterprise at the room's desk.

Touring downtown via carriage ride was both thrilling and gave little legs a chance to rest. We were able to see the state house, the city's downtown canal and plenty of Hoosiers willing to wave to Trace.

A true treasure of the city, and perhaps the most entertaining stop, was the Indianapolis Children's Museum. This is one of the coolest places the kids have been, while the number of hands-on activities for even the smallest of kids is impressive.

They loved their trip. I dare not ask when they'd like to return ... I'd be willing to bet they'd have their bags packed before I got the question out of my mouth.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What didn't they do?


Who knew you could pack all of this into one day, along with four hours on the road, more playing in the backyard this evening and a visit with the neighbors?

Photo by Jeanne Scott.

And they had to be corralled for baths and jammies.