Is she ready?

sadbaby

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My last baby is 2 and a half.

A little past the half if truth be told.

Is she ready for preschool?

Am I ready??

The 2 year program is just to get your little ones ready to be apart from you, they do some crafts, sing songs, play, dance, whatever. They learn how to follow directions from their teacher, and how to socialize with classmates. This is a 90 minute program, 2 or 3 days a week-at a center that Sammy really loved. He still misses going there, and misses “Nathan”…the boy he stalked.

I took Sammy because he was so attached to me, I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t do a slow transition into being away from me. There is a monitor outside of the room where you can stand if you want, and watch your child the whole time.

Sammy cried his first day, for a good 5 minutes until he actually threw up into a garbage can that a teacher was holding in front of him. I was trying to resist “saving” him, but just about to race in and scoop him up. Then, after vomiting….he stopped, looked around, and started playing. Never to cry there again.

Jenna is so much more social already, I guess I feel she probably doesn’t need the baby step approach. She already seems wise beyond her years. She even accompanies her big brother to the closet to get socks when he’s afraid of the dark.

And come on… EVERY other kid is transitioning this year. One into college. One into high school. One into kindergarten.

Can’t I just hold onto her for awhile? Is this going to hurt her??

I think I’ll worry about it after she turns 3. For now, she can socialize with me. We can play school at home, and I will keep her all to myself for just a little bit longer.

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The baby will cure cancer….maybe

genius

courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

I find it funny that the almost 22 month old knows ALL of her letters (capital AND lower case) and can name them faster than her big brother, prompting him to either stomp away or try to hurt her without me seeing it.

The 4 year old, like his older brother before him, enjoys running, jumping, playing, hiding, throwing, and HATES to be sat down to practice writing his letters. He never wants to “play school”, yet he does enjoy school while he is there. If I let him watch TV, he begs for sponge-bob. NOT anything educational.

The toddler begs to watch this Youtube video I found about letters, initially meant for the older one. She’s obsessed with it and if allowed, will sit at a kitchen chair and stick her face in my laptop until I force her to go play. She knew her letters before I even  knew she knew…. showing my sister pieces from a letter puzzle and reciting them correctly “A….U….R….”. My sis was shocked….. and I acted of course like it was no big deal, then made her do it for me over and over when we were alone together.

4 year old can count….but often skips important numbers like 15, 18, and it gets pretty shady after 30. Toddler has learned to count to 15…she does not skip numbers. She will also start where you leave off, which is how I found out she could go past 10…when I heard her little voice saying “11….12….13….” I learned this week that she can also count to 10 in Arabic.

She’s a genius, right?

Surely, she will find a cure for cancer….

The fact that she already knows shapes like diamond, triangle, and star, and the difference between an square and rectangle means she is absolutely the smartest toddler on the face of this planet, right??

she speaks in full sentences, makes jokes, expresses herself so well…. There can be no doubt of her greatness, and future of even more greatness….right?

I don’t know, really.

I do know this…. my oldest was a lot like the baby is now, talked early, and amazed me with her abilities. When my second was born… the first boy…. I wondered what was wrong with him. Why didn’t he talk? Where was that breezy recognition of the world, so effortless for the first? He was so different, and we worried….maybe he wouldn’t be as smart??? Is that terrible?

But now, so many years later…. you would not know they ever started out so differently. Both so intelligent, avid readers, and the 13 year old scores impossibly high in math and science. He was not, and is not a dummy. He just took longer to focus, to slow down.

So with the second two…. I’m not so concerned about the 4 year old not reading on his own yet… or still mixing up some letters. I work with him, and play with him too. He’s a smart kid, but right now he would rather wear his Halloween costume all over the house, fighting bad guys and saving the world…it’s more appealing to him than writing out his “R’s” in a nice neat row. he will be fine.

The toddler is just fun right now, and I’m enjoying how much she can absorb. I expect that with the passage of time, she will prove to be a smart little girl, the regular kind, not the genius kind. I won’t lie though, yesterday I was playing a math game with the 4 year old…”If I have 2 apples, and daddy gives me 2 more apples, how many do I have?…. I was seriously expecting the baby to start jumping in with correct answers. That really would have freaked me out.

Now that I am in this parent gig, 4 kids deep…. I’ve learned that things usually have a way of evening out… so I’m not going to plan for the youngest to take over the world just yet…..but I still like to catch her singing her ABC’s on video, and sharing those little moments with my friends.

I hope people don’t find me obnoxious when I post these video’s on Facebook. Because I still can’t help it, I find it so adorable, and I want to catch everything she does and share how happy she makes me. I love that she surprises me so often, and can communicate so well with me.

She’s my last one people!! Let me have that. I am just so happy with her I sometimes want to squeeze her until she pops.

jennaj

My girls, at the beginning and the end.

Today, my first baby turned 17.

myray97

This is when she was just a couple months old…if that.

meandray 5-2014

And this is us today…. she is bigger than me now!

I have one year left at home with this one, before she heads off to college. I know I won’t be close to having an empty nest yet….but she will be sorely missed as a daily presence in my life. She has magically grown into this….person….who I have come to depend on in so many other ways than simply as a child, the first of four.

she is coming to the end of childhood, of her teenage years, and the start of adulthood. REAL adulthood. And all the joys and horrors that come with it.

I am happy for her, terrified for her, but mostly really, really excited for her.

I sat with her at a college visit last week, almost crying as I pictured her maturing and changing into a bona fide grown up during those years away at school. All the opportunities open to her, I can’t wait to see where life takes her, and I can’t BELIEVE we are at this point already…… I just had her. I can relive that day, I still see that purple baby they put on my stomach, me rubbing her foot, not really knowing what else to do, not able to register yet that my life had just changed in an immeasurable way. A wonderful way.

And then I look over here…..

jenna

And see my 17-month old taking her first half-naked selfie…with MY phone!

And I wonder…… am I strong enough to go through this again?

Of course, raising a daughter is difficult. Is it possible for me do as well with this one? And whose to say I had anything to do with the first one turning out so well? (so far!)

I can look back on the times my oldest has hated me, the times I’ve truly disliked her. The lies I’ve caught her in, the “discussions” about why certain things are NOT ok for her to do. The worries, the heartbreaks, and the accomplishments along the way.

The maternal RAGE when my child has been hurt, teased, bullied. Because sadly, it seems to happen to everyone at some point.

Oh, it’s not easy for girls to grow up.

I can say from my own experience, and the collective experience of so many girls and women I know….. the teen years pretty much suck. High school is generally something we would prefer not to go back to. Ever. For so many reasons, much of it due to the fact that it is PAINFUL to be a teen. Transitioning between childhood and adulthood, it is not a great place to be in many ways. We take our uncertainty out on our peers, on ourselves, and of course, on our hapless parents. There is a reason it’s call teen angst.

Talking to my oldest today about how much different life is after the high school drama is over….and looking at my 17 month old, who has no clue what it means to feel unsure of yourself, or worried about what your peers think of you….who could care less if the other tots like her new sundress or not.

I’ve got one daughter at the end of her childhood, and one just beginning. I hope I can be whatever each of them needs, whenever they need it. I hope my oldest will be there to help  guide the youngest, providing sisterly advice that will probably trump my motherly advice.

I hope, I hope, I hope.

And I hope, in the end, that I haven’t screwed up too badly. That my girls remain as close to me as we are now, even closer. I hope they live happily and love deeply….. and grow to be strong, independent women.

And of course, if they are ever blessed with daughters…… I will wish for them the same thing my mom, and millions of moms have wished for their own daughters……

“I hope you have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU!!!”….