Friday, September 23, 2011

morning walk with Little M

The lakes and ponds are dried up, the grass are brown, the trees and little plants are dead because of the severe drought. We suffered through more than 30 days of consecutive 3-digit temperatures so a couple of weeks ago when we finally got a break and it only read in the 80's at 7:30 in the morning, Little M and I took a walk around our street. I was surprised that he could walk the length of our street without being tired. In fact, he kept walking ahead of me. Then he had to stop at every mailboxes, and utility things to touch them all. Then he started lying down on the ground. I have no idea why. :)

connecting with Daddy

On Fridays, Big M can play or watch TV as soon as he gets home. But he needs to quit when we have to pick up his sisters from pre-school. So here he is trying to connect with Daddy to ask him to pick up the girls.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

parenting a bright kid and living in the moment

Daddy and I have always known since Big M was little that he was a bright boy. We knew we had to keep an eye on him and keep in intellectually stimulated. But little did we know that it also takes a slightly different way to parent him. A couple of weeks ago, while upset about having to do his homework, he said "I'm going to my room and die myself!" It's a pretty shocking statement, especially coming from a 6-year old so I did my best to calculate my reaction while suppressing strong emotions. I told him that doing so would make our whole family very sad. In the midst of our heated conversation, he said he didn't know what else to say and do so I told him that there is always things he can do no matter how stressful things get in life. When everything was calm down, he apologized that he really didn't want to do that. I fished it out of him to see if he had any plans, and he said that he heard at school a long time ago that people can die if they don't eat for a certain amount of days.

Daddy and I had a discussion that evening and we agreed that I would talk to the school counselor the next day. I had no idea if I was even talking to the right person in terms of this issue, but our school counselor was excellent. She said while it could be nothing, we do have to take it seriously. She had a chat short chat with Big M that day, as well as a chat with his teacher. The counselor said that Big M got very emotional and that he seemed anxious. While she didn't think he would do anything to harm himself, it's best to keep an eye on things. She also suggested things to try at home with homework, such as frequent breaks.

I think as parents, Daddy and I take full responsibility on our little guy's behavior. Personally, I gladly take more of the blame. While I don't think I'm as uptight as other parents, I do consider myself one and it clearly transfer onto Big M. Daddy and I decided this is a call for change. We need to live in the present. Until very recently, we lived on "survival mode" after the twins were born. It's only within the year that things are becoming manageable as the older 3 kids become very independent and self-sufficient. We no longer have to rush everyone through to get to the next appointment, to nap time, bed time, only to do the exact same thing again. We can relax and be with each other. I find myself doing the cleaning while the kids sit and cuddle with Daddy while they watch TV. I am uptight and it conveys to the children and robs them of close contact with me. Daddy shares the blame too, so we agree we have to change.

I also contacted a friend of ours whose expertise deal with our issue. She said that smart kids learn to be perfectionists at a very young age. They know something has to be done a particular way, and they want to do it perfectly and when it isn't possible, it results in stress, a sense of failure even before attempting. Daddy and I also have this problem. We've discussed this before and definitely do not want this of our children. We don't want them to grow up as underachievers who feel like failure at the get-go. Our dear friend said a lot of things that connected a lot of dots for us and so we are hopeful.

There are a lot of stress facing us in the near future and as parents, we need to be aware and deal with it accordingly. How many times has Daddy and I said that we can handle everything, as long as we stick together. The "we" is not just him and me. It includes the children too. We survived a year of unemployment, of cross-country move, financial hardship and isolation. We know that we can live with the basics and be happy. Wherever life takes us, we can take it as long as we look out for each other.

We need to live in the moment. It's not an easy concept to put in practice, so we're going to have to do baby-steps.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

the little boy who loves to read

This video was from a couple of weeks before 1st grade started. Big M is reading the prayer book that Little M received as a gift. We are amazed at his ability to read and his love of it! He has certainly taken after his Daddy. He may even rival his Daddy's collection of books in a few years.

And lately, his favorite things to read are military books, knights, and anything to do with battles. On his first library day at school, he borrowed WWI and WWII books. On the second week, he brought home another WWII book and Knights book. One of his daily homework is to either read or be read to for at least 15 minutes a day. He surpasses that by as much as 4x on some days.

I know that there are a lot of kids out there who hates reading, so I am very appreciative of my little man's love it. I am also hoping that his sisters take after him. But I don't think it would be a problem. There are plenty of times when both J and K go to bed with a couple of books and "read" them in bed. Daddy loves to encourage all of them, too. Don't even ask how much money he spends on them every time there is a book fair. In fact, Big M has learned that it is better for him to ask his Daddy to take him to the book fair rather than me because he is likelier to come home with more books.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

first week of school

The first week of school has come and gone and everyone seems to be adjusting fairly well. Big M is tired, but he is controlling himself much better nowadays and can avoid a tantrum, or at least recover from a tantrum easily. Time and time again, I tell him that he must recognize that if he is having a tantrum often, that he is tired and must rest. But how can I expect him to learn something that even most adults haven't mastered. 

A few days he came home and said, "Mom, I only got a warning today!" He was very proud of the fact. I've contacted his teacher via email to see how is doing, and I'm told he is an excellent student. He is having fun at school with his friends and that has erased some of his apprehension that 1st Grade is hard. Everyday he has a reading homework. He must either read for at least 15 minutes, or be read to for the same amount of time. Most of the time, I make him read by himself. He has gotten quite good at it and only need help with very difficult words like "through". And there are days where we have asked him to read bed time story to his sisters. By my estimation, he reads in the 2nd grade level at the very least.

We have also curbed his TV time and computer playing time during the week. We did well in the first week, but I once said that he could go back to playing or watching TV once his homework was finished. I may have made a mistake on that one because his homework were fairly short to do. I will have to rethink that last policy.

J and K are also adjusting well. They have the same friends so it makes it easier. There are essentially 2 classes in one classroom and they are always separated. This is something I highly agree with. In fact, I think I may look into getting them separated in 2 different classrooms. The pre-school has essentially 2 pre-k classes, with 2 groups in one class. It may do them good to be in different pre-k classrooms so that they can get used to this. Daddy and I want them to be separated in Kindergarten to avoid competition and criticism.