- When I was ten years old, my parents bought a Siberian Husky dog. We weren’t the best dog owners. Huskies are bred to run 20 miles a day, and are very intelligent and require intellectual stimulation as well as vigorous exercise. Without both, the dogs tend to go a little crazy and get into mischief. Which is what happened to our dog. Which is also a good description of Katie before she went to kindergarten.
- Katie LOVES kindergarten. She has Ms. Smullin, who also taught William for kindergarten. However, Katie likes talking about her school day more than my other children. She frequently sings the songs she learns, “reads” me the little stapled-together books she brings home, and demonstrated every movement in the “Zoophonics” program (there’s an animal for every letter sound in the alphabet)
- The age gap between Kate and her siblings seems unsurmountable at times; she can’t read, ride a bike, or play the same games. But she wants to do the same things they do, and sometimes gets desperate for their attention and drives them crazy (see husky dog story, above). Pushing, hitting, and tears often ensue. Too often in these conflicts, I am accused of taking her side, but if I don’t stick up for her, who will?
- She is a bigger fan of doll play than any of my other children. Her teddy bear has been rechristened “Katie Jr.” and I am its grandmother. Katie Jr. shares Katie’s bed every night, along with a gang of a dozen-odd other stuffies. She insists on carefully placing them in a row-just-so before consenting to climb under the covers herself. There is often hardly any room for her on the pillow.
- She is the tallest girl in her class, but not whip-thin like my other kids. However she isn’t overweight for her size. She has the heartiest appetite of my children and is always asking for snacks — which is probably caused by her rapid growth. I am always fearful of giving her more food, and I know this is centered around my own body-image insecurities. Sometimes she points out the differences between her physical build and Eleanor’s by using the terms “skinny” and “fat” and it makes me want to scream. Hence, I tend to overreact and get a tad hysterical when she asks me for more food, or when I catch her raiding the box of Honey-Nut Cheerios. This isn’t good.
- I think I’m letting her watch too much television. She has started to refer to individual books in a series as “seasons.” As in, “I’m reading Season 2 of ‘Princess in Black!'”
- Katie took a pre-ballet class over the summer but didn’t take to it. “I’m taking a break from ballet” she cheerfully chirped, and was pleased when I signed her up for karate at the rec center. I found a ghi at D.I for $2, and it is the cutest thing ever.
- I’ve also started a Daisy Girl Scout troop for Katie with other girls from her preschool days. This pleases me immensely.
- William’s 4th grade teacher described his behavior in class as “it’s like he’s a quiet genius or something,” which is funny because “the quiet, brilliant one” is how Brian and I have often described him to ourselves.
- He’s at the age where it’s difficult to get him to open up and talk about his internal self; so it’s difficult to say what kind of a person he is right now. Conversations about Pokemon Go and Star Wars or any kind of project he’s working on is easy, but conversations about his fears or hopes or dislikes causes him to curl in a ball, grin and say “stuff.” As in, he literally says the word “stuff” in response to those questions.
- In terms of mood, he is still my summer boy: 90% sunshine, 10% thunderstorm. When he gets angry, he tends to pout, ducking his head down and refusing to say anything except a terse “No!” It’s really difficult not to burst out laughing when this happens.
- He’s the snuggliest of my kids right now. Unlike Katie, he is very small and slight for his size and is easy to pick up and curl into a ball on my lap. It’s like having an elf crossed with a kitten for a son.
- He spent the spring and summer reading a string of Roald Dahl books, and has now moved onto The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but is taking forever to read it. He has an unfortunate habit of getting halfway through a book and then misplacing it.
- William is the most list and calendar-oriented child I’ve ever seen. He loves routines and checklists, and follows through on completing a list of tasks without getting distracted. Therefore he is making faster progress on piano than Eleanor did at his age. Eventually, he may surpass her.
- “Snuggy pants” are still his preferred pants to wear (that is, sweatpants), but it’s difficult to find ones in his size that don’t fall right off his hips. The only time he deigns to wear jeans is on Cub Scout nights, when he prefers jeans because the belt loops allow him to wear his Cub Scout belt. (He is particular about his uniform, and likes it as complete as possible, down to the neckerchief and hat.)
- Eleanor is the most day-dream prone of my children; she likes to spend time moving slowly through her day, taking time to think. But unfortunately this has morphed into a procrastination habit that I find very frustrating. Her piano skills have suffered over the years; she’s talented but has no desire to work hard and I can’t think of a way to motivate her. Most recently she was busted by her 6th grade teacher for drawing in her notebook during math lessons. Fortunately, Eleanor responds well to other adults better than me, and she’s working to change her math-class behavior.
- To tell the truth, the reason she wanted to draw in the first place is that she’s done it for several years without being caught. I unknowingly recycled her 5th grade math notebook, and she was devastated to lose all of her drawings! I’ve since given her a dedicated notebook just for art (she prefers the lined paper to plain) and is trying hard to resist doodling during math.
- I’m thankful that I have so many good adults in Eleanor’s life. Her Primary teachers adore her; Eleanor really enjoys Primary and I know she will be sad to leave in six months.
- That said, she always wants me to have a “chat” at bedtime. I admit that I am often exhausted at that point but I try to rally. Too often I lapse into a lecture. I need to work harder at speaking with her like a friend.
- Her new dance studio has yet to open (it’s still under construction) but it excited to start the modern dance classes on Wednesday afternoons. Ballet was okay, but not her favorite. She and William are taking skating lessons together as well, which is adorable.
- She has a group of female friends that she enjoys hanging out with, but most of them are in middle school this year, and deeply enmeshed in the world of phones and social media. I invited them over last Friday evening for waffles and a movie, and they spent a long time taking selfies and waffle pics for Instagram, then singing a pop song together. Our family policy is no cell phones until 10th grade, and Elle couldn’t care less about pop songs. I know that she feels a bit left out, though. She’s becoming a bit of a loner at school, although she enjoys participating in different clubs.
- Such as student council! She went for it and won the class election. Her teacher is now holding it over her head to stop procrastinating in class, for which I am grateful.
- Eleanor is a Cadette Girl Scout this year, and has designated herself the official mentor for Katie’s Daisy troop. This is one of the best things ever — she’s the perfect age to enjoy being a leader for younger girls, and I love it.
- Jeff is in 8th grade this year, and all of a sudden I am surrounded by adults who are complimenting me on his behavior. His English teacher and case worker, Mr. Maschman, is especially happy that Jeff has joined the cross country team this year. I admit that I miss having Jeff home early in the afternoons (we always got some one-on-one time before the other kids arrived home) but it’s been good for Jeff to be on the team. The photo above was taken by another parent at the most recent meet. Whew — I need to sneak more protein powder in his food.
- He’s starting to detach himself from the usual child behavior in our family. During the last visit from Uncle Sven & Aunt Kristen, the other kids jumped up and down and begged for piggyback rides, but Jeff stood back and observed instead. He sometimes prefers to sit and read in another room when we’re watching movies, and has chosen not to trick-or-treat this year. (It was a bit of a stretch last year, to tell the truth. But now that his voice has lowered it’s a done deal.)
- Brian and I work hard to give him social opportunities. This summer his best friend, Solomon, moved away, and he’s distanced himself from most of his elementary school buddies (although he still sits with them at lunch). He won’t say why he’s edged away from his school friends, but I imagine that the LDS/non-LDS behavior standards might have something to do with it.
- So, this summer Brian took care to schedule Edge of the Empire game nights every few weeks. It was effective — the group of boys from church are much more comfortable around each other and with Jeff. His birthday party this year wasn’t nearly the awkward affair it was last year.
- He still has a lot of his Asperger quirks; he spends a lot of time talking to himself and nibbling on plastic tidbits. Every time I think he’s maturing, I see him with his peers and realize how untypical he is. I love him for who he is, but I worry that nobody else will ever see him that way.
- The latest good news is that his English teacher says that he is ready to transfer into a mainstream English class! This same teacher took time to compliment me on all the hard work I’ve done, tutoring Jeff on his handwriting at home. I accepted the compliment, but felt a little sheepish, considering that we haven’t done much writing lately.
- He was ordained as a Teacher today. I took time to snap a photo afterwards. What a cutie.