Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kai's First Election

There is a Student Council at Kai's elementary school.  Most of the positions are for kids in 4th - 8th grade (President, Vice President, Secretary, Spirit Commissioner, etc) but, starting in 2nd grade, each class elects a class representative.  Kailey's class is full of big personalities.  Each of the kids is Type A, wants to be a leader, expects everyone to listen to him/her... together, they are an exhausting bunch!  We were talking to Kai's teacher this year, and he was saying - in the most politic of ways - that this class is high energy and full of kids that like to take charge.  Poor Mr. Cunningham! 

He is doing a great job with them, though.  He's been modifying his behavior system to fit the needs of the class -- what he had in place last year that worked wonderfully for the now 3rd graders was not working for Kai's class.  That is, he has a system of writing a name on the board if a kid is acting up, and then there is a check mark if the child continues to act out, and finally - if it doesn't stop - the student writes a reflection paper.  This wasn't working for Kailey's class as a way to stop and reflect on the behavior and switch directions.  They tend to get going on something and, consequences be damned, they continue to go.  So, now, Mr. Cunningham has moments during the day where he stops the whole class and has them reflect on their behavior.  Kai came home with a sheet that wrote that at each interval she was on task, learning, and he name was NOT on the board.  She was so proud.  And, pausing for a little self-reflection instead of catching it in the moment seems to be working better -- at least for Kai. 

Anyway -- when the class got the pitch about running for class representative, they were all in.  Seriously, all but 3 of them decided to run.  Because there was such high interest among the 2nd graders, the teacher who leads student council decided to have three kids be elected, each to serve one trimester. 

Kai came home from the meeting bursting at the seams -- she told us she was running for class representative.  She wasn't sure what she was supposed to do or when anything was due -- but, she was running.  I thought I heard her say something about Friday.  But, it was only Monday and we had a full week ahead of us. 

Then, Friday morning, I woke up at my usual hour of about 5 AM (ugh) and was looking at Facebook and saw that the mother of one of Kai's classmates had posted a picture of her daughter's campaign poster.  I panicked a little -- were those due?  At 5:30 I woke Eric up and told him I thought that the campaign posters might be due that day.  Kai had been so excited -- but, who knew whether she would continue to be excited at 6 AM when we woke her up to make the poster.  But, we also didn't want her to miss out since she had been so excited about it.  So, we woke her up.  She was none too excited to get out of bed and make a poster.  But, she rallied.  And soon we were all sitting around the dining room table brainstorming about her campaign slogans. 

We asked Kai what some of the things were that they were working on in class -- in terms of class goals.  We were just trying to get her thinking about what it was they were supposed to be doing at school and how she could contribute.  She told us that they had goals like being helpful, being kind, and don't panic.  "Don't panic?" we asked.  Kai explained that Mr. Cunningham had noticed that the class panicked a lot, so the last class goal was "don't panic."  We laughed and then someone said, "that should be your campaign promise -- you'll stop the panic!"  Kai laughed but then said no -- she didn't want to write that because people would laugh at her. 

It took some convincing her that making people laugh was not a bad thing -- it's how you get remembered.  And, when trying to get elected, you wanted people to remember you.  Kai wasn't too sure, but eventually she went with us, designing a poster with 4 campaign promises:

-- make 2nd grade fun
-- keep the school clean
-- keep spirit high
-- Stop the Panic!

Kai was nervous about sharing the poster with her class -- and she reported back that night that everyone had laughed, but that it was OK.  She laughed too. 

Mr. Cunningham later told us that he started a little joke with her -- walking over to her desk during an activity and saying, "Kailey, we really need to make second grade fun.  It's no fun in here."  Kai looked at him bewildered and said, "it's fun!"  And he pointed at her poster and Kai laughed.  And then, that became their inside joke a bit. 

The next week, each student gave a speech to the class.  Kai reiterated her campaign promises during her speech and she said everyone laughed at the stop the panic part.  But, it seemed to work.  Kai was one of the 3 students who was elected! 

She came home from school Friday so proud -- and we were proud of her.  Kailey Schwartz Wesselman -- 2nd Grade Class Representative!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Second Child

For me, adjusting to a second child has been waaayyyy easier than adjusting to a first.  Before we had two, I heard many warnings that two wasn't just twice the work -- that it was exponential.  This gave us some pause.  But, as is obvious at this point, we took the plunge.  And, for me at least, the transition has been a lot easier than I anticipated.

The are several reasons for this.  I'm an older parent... so the first child was a big shift in lifestyle.  I was used to working whenever I wanted and being fully dedicated to my job. Not to say there weren't other things in my life, but the work life balance just wasn't really something I ever thought about.  Eric and I both worked and had jobs we were absolutely devoted to.  But having a child made me learn efficiencies in my time I never knew possible.  You know the saying, "if you want something done find a busy person to do it" -- that is so true.  I've learned how to cram 80 hours of work into 35 and keep a million balls in the air at once.

But, it isn't just learning the balance and routine and creating those efficiencies.  Moving to Sacramento has helped immensely.  Those hours of driving that I no longer have to do have been a life saver.  And a bonus that I didn't anticipate was that we have developed a real community here -- one that we never had to the same degree in the Bay Area. I always felt I didn't have time to socialize -- but, that time is so well spent in terms of happier children, feeling more connected to our community, and having people that you can call on when we need a little help. 

I've reflected a lot this last year on how these changes have come about.  In Kailey's second year of life, I was on edge.  This time is totally different.  I feel like we've landed somewhere really good for us.  I feel more seasoned as a parent.  I'm much better at rolling with the punches and being flexible.  I'm better at reaching out to others.  I'm better at talking to people and learning from them.  I'm more open to admitting my shortcomings as a parent and being ok with them (ie I'm not a crafter.  I don't make things for my kids.  And, that's OK.)

I've found that this time I am more aware of what's coming and better able to relax and enjoy the ages.  Maybe it's the age gap and having some distance from a one year old that makes me more patient with this one year old -- and more aware of how fleeting the time really is.  For every aggravation that comes with the age, I now know that those things shall pass, and pass quickly, along with all the sweetness and cuddles and nose rubs and discoveries and excitement that only a one year old can possess. 

My job is more settled now -- and I love my job.  Not having aggravation at work makes a big difference.

And, I've learned some tricks of the trade.  Alden goes to bed in his crib on his own!  I can scarcely believe I can write those words, given the years of trouble we've had with getting Kai to transition to her own bed.  But, with Alden, I give him some night time milk while reading stories (man, he LOVES stories.  He says "bok" "bok" and points at the pile of books.  He wants to read them all.  And he anticipates the pages.  In Goodnight Moon as we come to the page about the old lady who was whispering hush, Alden puts his finger to his lips and says, "shhhhh".  It is the cutest thing on the planet).  Anyway, after we finish reading, I brush his teeth, give him a long hug, put him in his crib and HE GOES TO SLEEP.  I mean, he doesn't stay in his bed all night. Let's not get crazy.  He's usually in our bed by 2 AM.  But, not having to lay next to him until he falls asleep means that I have an extra hour every evening to catch up on things, spend some time with Kai, or just relax.  It makes a big difference. 

I also think that having two has countless benefits -- and maybe this is the age difference again. But, Kai is a huge help.  She plays with Alden and entertains him.  They crack each other up and spend hours together on silly games.  She helps to look after him and is very mindful of his needs.  And, having a little brother means that she has someone to play with and to keep her occupied -- which reduces the amount of time that she spends wandering around after us claiming to be bored (which still happens sometimes, but not as much). The two of them are such an amazing pair -- and I feel like they needed each other.

Alden has been such a joyful baby -- and has really completed our family.  I think his first year of life was such a blur, that I didn't get to reflect on that much.  But, I really feel it now.  I love watching him saunter around, his hands trailing behind him, his goofy looks on his face.  He has such strong opinions and is a skilled communicator for one who only says about a dozen words.  He's just passed the 18 month mark -- I can't believe he's 18 months already. Although, he's the size of a two and a half year old and would like to be treated like a full-on adult.  Don't grow up too fast, little one.  We love you so.