Monday, October 17, 2011

The Upswing


Things have been good. Very good. Is this a taste of what FIVE is like? Because Finn? Is being a rock star at school lately. And an adorable, can't-hug-him-enough, hysterical cutie pie at home.

OK, so it's not perfect. He doesn't listen ALL the time, he still cries and has emotional little fits every now and then, and he still takes FOREVER to get into his pajamas at night.

But it has been so, so much better. So much better. This summer, M. and I were really at our wits end with Finn. He was causing trouble at school, making us feel like miserable parents, and basically sucking most of the joy out of all aspects of life. Not to be dramatic or anything. I was worried we were doing him a huge disservice by having him in daycare, by parenting him (if what we were doing could be called parenting), by in general, frankly, failing him.

In the last few weeks, though, things have magically turned around. Finn is listening well at school, he's getting those coveted "green cards" (all five days last week!), and he's been much more engaging at home. And the thing is, we're not doing ANYTHING differently.

Which really just hits home that the crappiness that is age 3 and 4 has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether you are a good parent or a bad parent, and EVERYTHING to do with the natural course of development. My take home message is that when kids are 3-4 years old, parents should just focus on providing basic necessities (food, clothes, a place to sleep, a routine) and trying (TRYING) not to lose their shit every day. Anything more is apparently not going to matter anyway, so don't beat yourself up if/when the "more" just doesn't happen.

Now that I've written this, I'm going to go hide somewhere and take cover for the shit storm of parenting woes that will now, karmalike, befall me. But I felt like I had to put this out there, karma be damned, because I have written about the negative, and I want to document the positive, too.

I think a big part of Finn's improved behavior recently has been the return of the "school" curriculum to daycare. This past summer, his main teacher (the one that does the lesson planning) was out of the country helping family. There was no homework, a parade of teachers, and very little structure. Lots of playtime, but not much learning and routine. An unstructured environment for the summer is GREAT if you're 10, but I think not so awesome for a 4-year-old. Finn's teacher is now back, though, and lessons are in full swing. Last week was dinosaur week, something Finn knows a LOT about - he was completely in his element telling his classmates everything he knew, and it made for a really great week, likely because he was very interested in all the lessons.

I just hope that interest continues. My biggest concern with Finn was that, as an October baby, he'd be bored out of his mind spending another year in the same classroom, going through the same themes, and learning the same lessons from last year. So far, though, his teachers have been pushing him - he's learning lots of sight words, working on addition, and practicing writing short sentences. They've been great about working two curricula - one for the kids who recently started in the classroom (reviewing their upper and lower case letters), and a more advanced one for kids like Finn that are on their second time through. He's even napping most days, which might be the best indication of how challenged he is - it's exhausting him.

Now I can switch my worry to whether Finn will be bored once he gets to Kindergarten, instead. During our parent-teacher conference last week, the school director made some comments to us about how she couldn't believe that we didn't try to get Finn into Kindergarten this year. It's not the first time she has said this to me. She thinks he would have had no problem testing into Kindergarten despite the fact the he missed the cutoff date by almost 2 months - in terms of academic ability/knowledge, she feels that he was ready to go. It's a little hard to take, because, a) it makes me feel like we slacked on our job of doing our best for our kids, since we didn't even CONSIDER sending Finn to Kindergarten early. Maybe it would have been better to send him this year! And now it's too late; and b) my entire life I've heard that boys mature slower than girls. EVERYONE has always said that boys benefit from a little more time before starting school. And the way Finn was behaving over the last several months, I saw no reason to disagree with that. My son, spend 6 hours in a classroom doing schoolwork every day? No way. But now it kind of feels like he could have handled it, and I've read a little bit of research that shows that putting kids in school early can actually benefit them. Not a lot of research, but still a bit of a sucker punch to the gut, since it's all new information to me.

I think it probably would suck to put Finn in a situation where he is destined to always be the youngest kid in his class, and I don't really regret not trying to send him to Kindergarten. I guess I'm just pissed that this is one more way where parents can be made to feel like failures. Is it REALLY so awful that we just simply followed the rules, the rules that said that if your kid isn't 5 by September 1st, he can't go to Kindergarten? Isn't it a rule for a REASON?

OK, vent over, this post is about WONDERFUL FINN. Who is celebrating a birthday this very week. And I love him VERY, ACHINGLY, MUCH. He is charming.

Here are a couple of videos of the kids having a dance party. Lucy has made up her own strange dance that involves swinging her arms one at a time over her head. We all imitate it, it is adorable and fun. But you don't get videos of M. and I imitating it, just the kids. Enjoy!

Lucy's funny dance (and Finn's seizure-like take on it):

Coming to a discoteque near you:

Some inappropriate butt-drumming:

Bonus video - Finn cracking himself up with some rogue Humpty Dumpty lyrics:


  1. Go Finn! Don't worry too much - I worry that Ned and Penny will be too young as end of August babies. It's always something. And Lucy - aww... I think I see A in those dance moves. :)

  2. Hurray for good behavior! I've noticed the same thing with my November 2 soon to be five year old. I don't even recognize this helpful, compliant, hilarious kid compared to this summer!

    Don't worry about kindergarten--you followed the rules! That's what we're doing too, even though academically I have no doubt he could handle kindergarten. I think the extra year of maturing socially will do Charlie a lot of good.

  3. So so so much better to not have him be the youngest kid in class. For reals. Age 5 was a wonderland for us too. 5.5, has quite a bit of backtalking and sassing.

  4. just remember your brother would have been among the youngest in his class if not for the readiness class. Most school systems have eliminated that program and that only leaves staying back if his "maturation" skills are not up to par. Of course your Dad was among the youngest in his class but that was a different time with different expectations

  5. I've already stressed so much about when to put them in school, and we are not out of diapers yet. My husband thinks the longer you wait the better - FOR SPORTS. Yeah, that is my priority! I think especially since he is hitting his stride now, you did the right thing to wait. He will be more confident next year for sure. I am so glad that things turned around. When I go through the same thing with my boys, please point me to this blog post.

  6. I completely agree with you on your reaction to the school director's comment. Thanks a lot, but it's too late now! Grrr... Sammy's a December baby (and he's only 2!) and people ask us all the time if we're going to put him in kindergarten early (which is not allowed in NC)! It sounds like Finn is a wonderful kid...and he's going to rock kindergarten. You guys are doing great!!