School

I was a little more than shocked to get a letter on Saturday morning that my son, Boy B, got most improved for the first quarter of the school year! This is a kid that has struggled in school. Not academically, but he has had issues controlling his emotions and being able to sit still in class.

To say that we have had a struggle with him would be an understatement. The struggles are just as real for him as they are for my wife and I. But, with all of the therapy, both the OT and child psychology are really starting to pay off.

When I got the letter, I was able to make it through the first sentence reading it to him. I was in tears and I rarely cry. But I was just so proud of my son. He has really embraced all that we have asked of him and not once has he asked why? Not once has he asked why does he go to OT and see a psychologist. Not once has he asked why does he take medicine every morning to help him focus?

So as my wife read the letter to him, he just beamed from ear to ear. And his brother, who got an award last year at school, was right there giving him a high five and cheering him on. It was really a great family moment.

So, in a time where most improved would be considered a small accomplishment, I view it as a proud moment. To see that look of accomplishment in my son’s face and for him to see how proud we were of him, is just priceless.

ADHD is not something to be afraid of or ashamed of, but my son, as have we, embraced who is and will continue to get him the help that he needs to overcome his struggles. But today, we celebrate the moment and his ability to overcome something that once caused him to struggle.

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This is strictly a homework rant about how first graders should not be doing homework.

Everything, I spend 10 – 15 minutes working with the boys on learning how to read and work on words that they might not know or missed during school today. And by this, I mean that the take turns, get in my lap and they read and I assist with words that they might not know.

Each and every night, minus Wednesday because on Wednesday we also do Math homework too. So the homework rant is this, why? Why are first graders reading at school and then coming home and doing more and reading more? Kids need to play. They need to be outside, running and getting dirty.

Instead, we take turns reading. The boys ask me questions. They relate the books that they are reading to their lives, like why they still have training wheels on their bikes? That lead to how bikes are balanced with training wheels and how  they have an expressed interest in taking the training wheels off.

Then they asked about pizza, because they each read a book tonight about making pizza.  As they read, they asked why certain topics were on some pizzas. Why some didn’t like bacon on their pizza and for that question, I just had no answer for them.

My point is this, as the boys grow older, they are going to be doing more and more homework. But today as I type out my homework rant, I am so grateful that they want to climb in my lap, put their heads on me and read to me.

Bring on homework, until they get into common core math, then I will have to pay a tutor.

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And just like that, the boys hopped on the bus and were off to their first day of school. No problems. No trying to reassure them of their day, nothing. But in reality, I was hoping that they were going to reassure me about their day.

The first is over, the boys have started first grade, so they know the teachers, were to go, etc. And as the bus pulled away from the stop, my wife and I looked at each other in amazement. Not that we had any doubt that the boys were not going to do great, but because they are growing up so fast.

So as my wife and I walked home and got ready to head over to a local restaurant for breakfast, we talked about the summer, we talked about the day for the boys and realized how much they are growing up.

The summer is officially over! School has started back and we are looking forward to seeing the boys grow up even more.

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The summer is almost over and it is going to be back to school next week. But first, we are going to have a blow out this weekend of fun!

Due to a heavy rain today, it will be a low key day inside today and today starts college football season.  And let’s be honest, football season is really important. But the kids are actually doing a little prep of food for their first week back and they are helping me plan their meals.

Last year, we let the boys buy their food the second half of the school year because let’s be honest, it was easier. But now because we have an official diagnosis of ADHD for my son, we really wanted to try and change up his diet a little.  There has been a overload of reading of diets and things that can help with ADHD, so why not give it a try? And besides, it will be cheaper for us long term in terms of buying food and I can ensure that he will be getting a good lunch.

As I have been told by numerous people, especially teachers, the jump from Kindergarten to First Grade is big in terms of reading more and doing more math, I wanted the boys to have a low key weekend. So, FUN is in on the agenda. We are watching UNC play today on tv and then doing a little grilling. Tomorrow we are going to the Zoo and then on Monday, maybe a movie in the morning and then grilling out again. A good nights sleep and then off to school on Monday.

Summer is almost over and the beginning of a new school year is coming up within just a few days. The boys have had a blast going to camps and learning how to swim. But now, it is time for fun to shift to learning.

 

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The struggle is real or at least, it has been the last few weeks. We have come to the final home stretch of Kindergarten and by all accounts, the boys have exceeded their first year’s grade level expectations by a lot. And, we all survived, which is also important!

I have noticed though that in the last few weeks, Boy B has struggled with a few classes and some of the changes in his schedule. I remember a long time ago, when I was in school, the last few weeks bothered me because of the lack of structure. So the struggle is real with him and the lack of structure of the day and it has reflected in his daily behavior sheets at school.

Speaking of no structure, today was Field Day for the boys and as I made my way onto the campus at school, I stopped for a moment to watch at how far my sons have come in the last year. And the struggle is real for me, as much as it is for them. You see, we all have grown, we all have changed, but we made it. We worked through the changes together and had a lot of talks, but we made it through their Kindergarten year.

So Dad’s, as you embrace your child’s 1st real formal school year, the struggle is real, but you will make it. You will be ok and your children will be ok too. Be there for them. Help them when they have struggles, but let them make mistakes. The struggle is real.

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Where does the time go? I literally just had my son yell down form the bathtub that he had washed himself and his hair at bath time.  It seems like a few days ago, he was calling me to bath him.

My mom and I were talking this morning about when I was my son’s age and things that I went through and did and my mom paused and asked “where does the time go? I remember like it was yesterday you were doing the same thing that your sons are doing.”

Time, it is an important thing and something that we can’t get back and we aren’t promised tomorrow. So enjoy the time that we have today, with our family and our loved ones.

Growing up, my dad didn’t spend a lot of time with me or at least if he did, I really don’t remember it. And that isn’t a knock against him. He was doing what he thought was right for our family. But those things came with a sacrifice. And as a child, I decided that I wouldn’t follow in my father’s footsteps and that I would do something different. So, I choose time. I choose to spend time with my children today, because I am not promised tomorrow.

So, a few weeks ago, we got an email from our teacher and without looking at my work schedule, I hit reply to the email with a quick response of “count me in.” And then I realized what I did. I committed to being a chaperone on my son’s field trip, without asking for time off from work, clearing my work calendar, etc. But, I was able to move my meetings to the next day or the following week, my boss is great and didn’t hesitate to say yes to my request off and tomorrow, I get to spend TIME with my son’s on their class field trip with school.

The lesson that I want my son’s to learn is very simple. I choose time with them over work, things that I wanted to do, etc. I chose time with them over basketball or baseball games. I chose them over everything, because they are the most important people that I want to spend my time with.

So, tomorrow, we goto the zoo, with a lot of little kids.

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Growing up in North Carolina, and granted, we are talking a long time ago, never did we practice a lock down drill in school? We practiced a lot of other drills, tornado drills and yes, even back when I was really young, we did practice for bombs. But not lock down drills.

I really hate that my kids will grow up in a society where they have to practice these things. They have to know where safe rooms are in their house or in their classes. I hate that they have to be on guard for others. And as I was talking about the lock down drill with my sons, they were telling me all the scenarios that could happen as to why they would need to go into hiding at school.

And it was at that moment, for the very first time, I thought about pulling my kids out and home schooling them. The idea of the boys having to hide because of a threat at the school is mind blowing. And no, I’m not going to even go down the road on gun violence, because it is such a polarizing discussion that it wouldn’t be beneficial. But it is scary as a parent to even think of those situations and yet, we all remember Sandy Hook.

I don’t know where in our society that we took a wrong turn? I don’t know what has happened, but as a parent, it is scary as hell! It is scary to think that my sons, the loves of my life, could be put in danger because they are in a school, which is supposed to be a safe environment.

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Homework in Kindergarten? Seriously? What about having fun? Playing? Learning from playing and doing? Heck, I even remember and yes, I’m dating myself, but I remember a nice nap after lunch.

But homework? Seems a little much for me, but who am I to judge?  But now that we are 4 weeks into school, it seems that we are slowly adjusting, even for the school work each night. And yes, I said that correctly, the boys have homework every night, minus Friday night.

It is sad that my boys are basically doing what I did in 1st grade and being forced to grow up even faster than any of us would like. But what are we to do?

So tonight, I’m making tater tots and chicken nuggets for dinner and letting the boys have a hour to relax. They played outside and played with a friend and after dinner, we’ll do homework and take baths.

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The word that I used with my mom tonight when she asked how I was doing, was simply “defeated”. We got another call from Boy B’s teacher, it wasn’t as bad as last weeks, but it still wasn’t great.

This time, he was great in the class room, but not in his special classes, i.e. PE and Media Center. And though she said that he was great in his class, he didn’t make good choices. And I think that when my wife mentioned that the teacher suggested that we contact his Dr. (i.e. subtle for possible need for medication), I hit a low point for the day.

I don’t want my kids to be on medicine for behavior concerns at this age. I have too many resources, but this is part of raising twin boys. The perfect storm of being born early, boys and twins and the 2nd child. And as I took a deep breath and muddled the words “I feel defeated”, my mother, who never raises her voice came down on me like a ton of bricks. She said that I needed to hear. She got on me for the right reason. She got on me because I wasn’t focusing on the right things.

We talked through Boy B’s day. What was different than yesterday and the day before. We talked through his sleep pattern, his eating, etc. And then we figured out that the day was different. There was not a lot of transition time. He didn’t enough breakfast. His schedule was off this morning due to it being a Wednesday and the class schedule changed, etc. it all became the perfect storm.

So as I drove home from work, after a really long day, a few things came to mind.

  1. I’m beyond fortunate that my mom has a background in teaching and that she can help me with these types of issues.
  2. When I call and say that I’m defeated, that she knows exactly what I need to hear and builds me up, instead of letting me tear myself down.
  3. And she gave me the same loving advice, that I hope that I can pass along to my boys one day.

So that feeling of being defeated, some how changed into, how can we make tomorrow better. And I hope that tomorrow will be better and that he make’s better choices.

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The first day of school came and went, mostly without any issues. I say mostly, but it wouldn’t be fun without some problem.

On the night before the boys first day of school, we packed their lunches, got all of their clothes out, read some books and talked about riding the bus and going to school. All good. And it didn’t hurt that they were both exhausted too.

And now that we are 3 weeks into school, I can honestly say that for the most part, the boys have really transitioned nicely into kindergarten. They have taken a great interest into reading and wanting to learn how to read. They are more engaged in learning new things and they have shown an excitement in doing their best at school and even have asked to do chores around the house.

Because my mother taught elementary school for over 4o years, it is easy and also hard for me to watch them goto school.  The days have changed and the expectations have changed. When I grew up, kindergarten was meant to be a transition from preschool and a bridge for 1st grade, but today, that is all changed. Today, kindergarten is what I experienced as 1st grade. And that is really sad in many regards, especially when I see that they only get 15 minutes a day to have recess. And if you ask any teacher, they will tell you that 15 minutes a day of recess isn’t enough and that children, especially little boys, learn better by doing.

All in all, the boys really seem to have transitioned really nicely into a new phase of their life.

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