Becoming Dad

I always knew I was going to be a dad some day. I don’t know when exactly I determined that, though. It probably wasn’t until my university days that I entertained that thought. Before that I was just a free spirit. A happy wanderer. A lone wolf looking for a pack.

Because of the parents I had, I thought I knew what kind of dad I would be. I would be the dad who played, the dad who disciplined, the dad who got shit done. It probably wouldn’t get done in a timely manner, mind you, but it would get done.

I was going to parent like my parents did. I would allow my kids to think they were acting on their own when in reality I would be watching from a distance. I wasn’t going to be a helicopter or snow plow, or tiger mom dad. I wasn’t going to be free-range, mind you, but somewhere in the middle. I was going to be involved, too. I wanted to be there to watch them succeed, fail, or just plain try.

I was glad I was a teacher before I became a dad. I learned to discipline other people’s kids before I had to discipline my own. Not that it mattered because discipline comes in as many flavors as there are kids. There is much debate between which consequences work best. Seriously, there is no one size fits all. But that’s for another post, entirely.

Of all the things I was going to be as a dad, the one I nailed is being involved. Not in a helicopter way. I’m just there. When they’re getting ready for school in the morning or ready for bed in the evening I’m there prodding them along. When they’re playing a sport, I’m there to watch. When they have a school performance, I’m there to see them. When there are parent/teacher nights, I go. DW is with me all the way. Or I’m with her all way.

We’re in this gig called parenting together.

However, when I imagined myself being a dad before I was dad, back when I was a clueless twenty something, I didn’t imagine myself being quite as involved as I actually am today. My kids would love school because their parents are teachers. My kids would love helping out around the house because we would include them in such chores from an early age. My kids would be polite, respectful, hard working, smart, and a plethora of spectacular superlatives. Whenever I imagined what my kids would be like, I think God giggled a little bit.

I didn’t imagine I’d have a kid having ADD and needing constant supervision because he’d be a task avoider. He knows what he needs to do, he just doesn’t do it. I didn’t imagine my kid throwing a temper tantrum the size of a Philadelphia Superbowl riot. How dare I make a pancake without chocolate chips? We never imagine that stuff before we become parents. They don’t teach you that stuff in school. They don’t write about that stuff in books, or at least not in the books I read.

What To Expect When You Don’t Expect Your Kid To Be Different From What You Expect.

I learned to be a dad from my Dad. I learned to be a parent from my parents. They set a pretty good example, too. They had awesome kids though, so they had it “easy”. I wish I had it as easy as my parents did. Perhaps I do because I really don’t know their struggles as parents back then because I was just a kid. You can’t imagine #ParentingStruggles when you are a Terrible Two or a Threenager or even a Teenager, for that matter.

The Fresh Prince knew what he was saying when he said “Parents just don’t understand”. Well, neither do kids.

So, to my parents, I want to say thank you for teaching me to parent by example. To my kids, thank you for testing my parenting ability. One day, you two will understand why your mother and I do what we do.

Kids

Lucy At Home

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Wed Nes Day

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There’s a picture of it on the internet therefore I am not the only who does this. I spell it like it sounds. That’s fonetix for you.

Exept fonetiks dusnt werk all the tim

If you can read that, you must be a teacher.

Have you ever watched a blooming reader? I’ve seen it many many times now. Never did it make such an impact on me as watching my own two boys learn that letters have certain sounds associated with them. Put the right letters together and you can make a word. Put the right words together and you can make a sentence. Put the right sentences together an you can make a paragraph. Put the right paragraphs together and you can make book.

Crash has now written 4 or 5 books. Mind you, they are entry level readers he wrote for his 5 year old brother, but still. He wrote books. He, himself, is reading slightly above grade level. His brother is following suit.

But the English language is anything but easy. Bang catches on really quick to word families. He sounds them out one letter at a time to discover the word. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Look and Loot do not sound alike.
Hair and care do sound alike.

Then there’s enough, though, plough, and cough.

WTH?

Ignoring the exceptions, of which there are many, he sounds out new words perfectly. After reading them a few times they become locked away in the sight word vault. I wish I could memorize things as easily.

Alas, I have a photographic memory. I just don’t have an SD card. I have memory like a sieve. It’s on par with that of a goldfish…

I had it a minute ago, I don’t know where it is now.

Anyway, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah. Reading…

Bang comes home with a new book to read from school every day. He’s already progressed three levels since September. Crash reads every night as well. He’ll either read to himself or to his mom or I. Then we’ll ask him about what he read. Lately, he’s into books that take place within the world of Minecraft. But isn’t that the beauty of books? There’s something out there for all of us.

Watching an emerging reader is much like watching butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. That it takes years instead of minutes makes it that much more exciting.

I wonder what kinds of chapter books he’ll like to read?

What kinds of books do your kids enjoy reading?

to-learn-to-read-is-to-light

Teacher’s Kids

What’s it like having two teachers as parents? Kelly over at Bustle knows pretty well it’s like.

Crash and Bang have the advantage (curse?) of having not one teacher parent, but two.  It has its advantages – access to parts of the school other kids don’t get to see, get to be in school when there is no one else there, get to have mom or dad as a teacher (this is both a pro and a con). On the other hand, it also has some disadvantages – you get mom or dad as your teacher, every teacher in the school knows who you are, you have to stay after school when you’d rather go home, and expectations are set a bit higher.

So far Crash is still pretty excited to see me in school. Even as his substitute teacher. I’m hoping it stays this way, but I’m certainly not expecting it to.

Right now I’m only substituting. However, this still gives me access to the school as if I were a full time teacher. I use the teacher’s lounge. I can enter and exit through the staff doors. I am the first one in and last one out of the classroom. This means that Crash can do these things, too. Though, I keep him out of the staff room if there are other teachers in there. It’s not a place for sensitive ears. If I’m subbing for the gym teacher he gets to use the whole gym. To himself. Show me a kid who doesn’t want full run of a gymnasium and I’ll show you a kid who probably doesn’t like gym! This is true of the classroom, too. It’s something different for a kid to be in their teacher’s classroom all by themselves.  The quiet. The empty desks. The cleanliness.

Then there’s being your kid’s teacher. I’m not sure exactly how he feels when hears his classmates tell him “Your dad is our teacher!” He knew this before he even got to school. Now he has to hear it over and over as each classmate realizes this. Over and over. And Over.saint

Then there are the expectations. Stereotypical teacher’s kids are held to slightly higher standards than the general population of the school. Being teachers, we know how students should behave in school and we therefore start teaching this to our own kids at birth. Also, as teachers who love to teach, we begin teaching our own kids while still in the womb. I know I was reading to DW’s baby belly for both of our sons. So teacher’s kids are not only expected to behave, but also be smart.

Every teacher in the school knows who Crash is. Or at least every teacher who knows me and DW (also a teacher). Therefore, there are eyes on him at all times. I know about things he’s done before he knows I know about them. One day he’ll tell me I was always spying on it. S’okay, though, it’s for his own good. And I do spy, by the way. If I’m subbing at his school I will, at least once, peek through his classroom door at him to see what he’s up to.

peeking

It’s not so bad being a teacher’s kid. Except, this evening, Crash was complaining about having to practice math. “I have to do math for like two hours in school. Then, I come home and have to do it for 15 more!” Sorry kiddo. Not everyone gets to have a teacher mom and dad. But you do. So lets get ‘er done and make ya fast at addition and subtraction so we can do some multiplication! HA!

Our Little Geek

Today is report card day. I am always impressed by how much work goes into these things here. In Virginia we simply put the student’s grade and comment or two from a drop down menu. Talks too much. Pleasure to have in class. Needs to turn in more homework. Great job! That kind of thing. Not here. Here, there are paragraphs written about each subject that was studied. It’s a three page report!

Crash’s first report card last November was shining. All A’s and one B. He also nearly had straight C’s (C is for constantly which means he was able to do the task all on his own). Though he did have one P (which would be for prompting. He was able to do what was needed after being asked to do it a couple times. Fortunately, he only had the one P because if he were like me he would have had A LOT more). I wonder what what kind of grades his teacher will give him he will earn this time around? Check back this evening and I’ll let you know.


For those checking back, the report card has arrived. We have tried to set high standards without applying too much pressure. I think we’re succeeding. He doesn’t seem stressed about it at all. Then there’s that consistent B in speaking and listening. He’s 7, he doesn’t listen to much of anything other people tell him unless it involves video games, farts, or the Lego Movie. On the flip side, his interaction with others – being positive, resolving conflicts, and working collaboratively – is outstanding. He’s a people person who strives to please. Room for improvement? Of course. Are we proud? As punch.

A Reptile Adventure

Little Rays Reptile Zoo is a rescue Zoo. You can read their blog here. Most of the animals they have are unwanted pets. Pets that people gave up, had illegally, or were rescued. They have an outreach program where they bring the zoo to you, show you the animals and provide some fascinating facts. Not wanting Crash and Bang to miss this opportunity, we opted for the first show at 6:00 because we figured the second show at 7:15 would be too late for Bang who is usually in bed at 7:30 (as is his brother). It was pretty busy and they were excited. As were all the other kids who were up running around and couldn’t keep their voices to a dull roar so we could hear the presentation. The teacher in me was going berserk! Who brought the monkeys to the reptile show?

Anyway, back to the show. We got to see some animals we wouldn’t otherwise get too see. She began the show with this little furry critter…

Chilli the Chilean Tarantula

Chilli the Chilean Tarantula

It was tough to get a good picture of him because she wouldn’t hold still long enough. But you can see here he’s about the size of the palm of your hand. Poisonous? Yes, but not really to humans. She said Chilli’s bite would ruin your day, but it surely wouldn’t kill you. In our household, we like spiders. But this “little” guy takes it to a whole new level. She then brought out a scorpion. I don’t even have a blurry photo of it let alone a good one. Again, it was poisonous, but not enough to kill you. She told us it would have to sting you ten times to equal one bee sting.

Coaster the Tortoise

Coaster the Tortoise

Afterwards, she showed us Coaster, the tortoise (I forget exactly what kind). He’s named Coaster because when he was born, that’s how big he was, the size of a coaster you would use on a coffee table. When he’s full grown he’ll be the size of the coffee table. He’ll live to be about 100 and weigh 250 pounds. Coaster is currently the size of a soccer ball.

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Mooshi – The bearded dragon

Then she moved on to show us the reptiles. First was a bearded dragon name Mooshi (Mushi?). I love bearded dragons and used to own 2 once upon a time – Shadow and Ezmeralda. *Note: fireflies are toxic to bearded dragons. I learned that first hand.* He was a fair size dragon and, of course, made me want to get another. They are extremely friendly, docile pets. Mine would curl up under my blankets to sleep when I would let her. Mostly, she just loved to hang out on my shoulder. They eat crickets and meal worms and tons of fruit and veggies. If crickets and meal worms were easier to come by, we’d have one!

Things wound up a bit more when she brought out a 6 foot albino rat snake.

Albino Rat Snake

Albino Rat Snake

Normally, these things are black. But being albino, he’s not. Obviously. I didn’t catch much of what she said about it as every kid in the place was oohing and awing. She did bring four kids up front to hold him. *Side note: this is where the teacher in me became frustrated. Did she pick kids who respectfully raising their hand from where they sat? No, she picked the ones who were jumping and shouting.*

Cayman

IMG_0921 Cayman

Lastly, she brought out this little fella, a cousin to the alligator and crocodile, a cayman. He’s only about four feet long at the moment, but full grown he’ll be six feet. When first born they are often preyed upon by anacondas of the Amazon. However, those roles are reversed when the cayman is an adult.

Here, the show ended and the kids were allowed to come touch some of the animals. However, Crash and Bang missed out because instead of letting them rush the presenter with all of the other kids, we held them back in hopes of getting to touch and see them with less frenzy. She put the animals back in their travel containers and announced that the next show would start in about 5 minutes. Nearly everyone from that show had cleared out and seeing a smaller crowd coming in we opted to go ahead and stay for the next show as well as Crash and Bang were fairly well behaved. We are glad we stayed.

The second show had a smaller crowed and Crash and Bang got front row seats. We saw the tarantula, the scorpion and the turtle again. However, this time she brought out a new lizard. Instead of the bearded dragon, she had a green iguana named Izzy.

Izzy the Green Iguana

Izzy the Green Iguana

She said he wasn’t as green as usual because he was looking for a mate. His tail is used as a whip and if used properly will send you to the hospital for stitches.

Lastly, she brought out the snake. Only this time it wasn’t the rat snake from the first show. This snake, when born, was only as long as a pencil and as big around as your finger. Full grown he’ll be 300 – 400 pounds and as long as school bus. A reticulated python. I’m guessing this one was about 8 feet long. But he’s only 3 years old – same as Bang.

Bang petting the python

Bang petting the python