Thursday, April 21, 2011

M is for Middle

There are a lot of theories out there about birth order and the stereotypical characteristics of children born first, last or somewhere in the middle. I’m not sure if birth order has anything to do with how successful a child will be or how confident they are, but I do know as a mom of three I see certain characteristics that are hard to ignore.

 Daniel is the one stuck in the middle. He was born just a little over two years after his older brother Mikey and 6 years before his youngest brother Patrick. He had a good chunk of time getting to be the youngest so when Patrick was born I think it threw him for a loop. I’m not sure he ever really got over it!

I remember Daniel’s reaction the day his baby brother was born. He walked into my hospital room and said, “hi mom.” His voice was shaky and he had tears in his eyes. I’m pretty sure it was because he was worried about me and relieved to see I was okay, and not because he was so happy to have a new baby brother. He was also not happy to know that he wasn’t as welcome to come trotting into our bed in the middle of the night now that there was a nursing baby in the bed too.

Daniel’s never been the child who got to do things first. His older brother was our guinea pig, so when Daniel was a baby, we were already pretty good at being parents. We were definitely more confident anyway. He had the benefit of getting parents with experience, and with experience comes a more relaxed attitude about a lot of things. He got to eat chocolate way before I ever considered giving it to his older brother!

Because Mikey is the oldest we are still experiencing things for the first time with him. Most recently learning to drive, graduating from high school, and now attending college. In many ways Daniel benefits from this experience not only because we are more relaxed about it, but because we now know what to do.
But I can’t help but wonder if he sometimes feels like he’s not as important because we don’t make as big a deal out of these things.

If that’s the case, he couldn’t be more wrong. He’s always been the kind of kid who quietly goes about his business without making a lot of noise. He is an excellent student, but you wouldn’t know it, because he doesn’t talk about it. He just does it because he knows it’s important.
On the soccer field or on the track he works hard and his hard work pays off, but he works hard quietly. Taking it all in, doing what he’s supposed to do because he knows it’s the right thing to do, he doesn’t do it for the recognition, he just does it.

I rarely get to hang out with just Daniel because most times I have Patrick with me too, but yesterday I took him on his first college visit. It was nice to hang out with him just the two of us. He still has another year of high school, which I am very thankful for, but the search for just the right fit has definitely begun.

As we walked around the University of Connecticut yesterday I watched his reaction as we went from building to building. We saw the library, some classrooms, dorms, dining hall, and student union. What I didn’t expect was the smile on his face when we walked into the stadium where the Huskies play. The UCONN Huskies, 2011 NCAA champions. Daniel is a sports guy, one who truly appreciated the fact that he was standing in a stadium of champions. The names were plastered around the walls, names most people would recognize even if they aren’t college hoop fans.

I’m not sure if UCONN is the place for him, but because he’s the kind of kid he is, he’ll find the place that fits.

I suspect Daniel has always felt a bit overshadowed by his older brother and he really has no reason to be. He’s smart, he’s funny and well rounded. He’s a good person with a good heart even though his little brother would argue that point.
I am insanely proud of the young man Daniel has become and I expect big things from him.

It’s your turn to shine Daniel, show the world what you’ve got.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

R is for Run

Tomorrow is a holiday here in Massachusetts. It's Patriot's Day. A day that celebrates the anniversary of the Battles of Concord and Lexington. The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising on Lexington Green and so began the American Revolutionary War.
So, I sit here and drink my tea, tea I can drink tax free mind you thanks to those patriots of long ago that decided dumping box after box of the stuff into Boston Harbor was a good idea.
Patriot's Day is also special around here because runners come from all over the world to run the Boston Marathon.

I live in a family of runners.

My husband has run eight Boston Marathons, and a whole host of others from Florida to Washington, D.C. He is a real runner and he loves it.

My two oldest kids are runners. Both have had successful high school running careers winning race after race. My oldest is now training to compete in tri-athalons.

My little one is not a runner in the runner sense of the word, but he will be. He's got those long skinny runner legs. He pretty much already runs where ever he goes. Upstairs to brush his teeth....he runs. To get an oreo...he runs. He runs to get to school, to go to bed, to get up in the morning. He has one speed and that's fast. It's the little boy in him.

I watch the kids at school, running across the room, down the hall, outside at recess. Always running.

Makes me wonder...
When did running for me become "exericise" and no longer fun. Running for the sheer joy of it. The joy of getting somewhere as fast as you can even if it's just to brush your teeth!

I know why...because running hurts!

 I ran today, 2.5 miles, or something like that. I would have run longer, but when I stepped off the curb, my knee went one way, my body the other. Ouch! I sat on the sidewalk and cried. I called the runner in the family, reported my location and told him to come pick me up because not only could I not run home, I wasn't walking very well either.
So I won't be lined up in Hopkinton tomorrow waiting for the shot that signals the start of the 2011 Boston Marathon, but I will be cheering from the comfort of my couch, ice bag on my knee.

Ready! Set! Go!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A is for Author

This year I have the distinct pleasure of being the teacher of an amazing bunch of budding authors. I am surprised each and every day by their ability as readers and writers. I love to write myself so whenever I see a child showing real interest in writing I do my best to encourage him or her.

During choice time, my kids have been wanting me to put together "books" for them. I just fold and staple a few pieces of paper together for them to use to play author. Since it's been occurring at choice time, I've tried to stay out of it and just let them create for creativity sake.
Most of our serious writing happens in their "serious writing" journal during writer's workshop. This is where we pay close attention to our writing. Topic, punctuation, editing, spacing is all part of our serious writing time.
One little cherub came to me last week with a book she had created titled"Mrs Colins Fafrit Gob" biy Tinkerbell (obviously  not her real name, although these days you never know!)

Now unless you're really good at reading kindergarten writing you might not know the real title of this book is Mrs. Collins' Favorite Job.

Kindergarteners, because they are just learning about letters, sounds and how words work, spell phonetically. Reading kindergarten writing is not always an easy task and I often have to have the kids read their writing back to me, but in Tinkerbell's case, I've seen enough of her writing to know what she's trying to spell.

She worked on this little masterpiece for the better part of a week. This book was so good, and so carefully illustrated, I had to encourage more. It didn't hurt that it was all about ME!

So Tinkerbell and I sat down together as she read each page. I was teary listening to her. She was so excited about her accomplishment. We talked about "book spelling" and how real authors edit their work to make sure things are spelled correctly and that they've use punctuation in all the right places.
After carefully checking the spelling of each word, we made our way to the computer lab where together we typed and printed the words.

I cut out the sentences and carefully glued them to the pages of a new book. Over the next week she re-illustrated her story. I let her choose her medium, paint, crayons, markers or colored pencils. She chose the pencils, took her time and came up with some amazing illustrations.
She is so proud of her book she asked me to make multiple copies for her Granny in England and her grandparents in "Vreemont".

I couldn't be more flattered that I was the subject of her book and more proud of the effort she put in to writing and illustrating it.

The end.