He writes adventure on his chest

wild_man_henry

Segundo has a clothes problem at preschool. This manifests itself in a number of ways from getting his regular clothes wet or dirty, to struggling with his pants during emergencies. Lately he has managed to keep most of the clothes on that he shows up to school in. Most but not all. When I show up at 3 to pick him up he is usually missing his shirt and socks. “I get hot daddy, and I need to get some freeze on me!” His teachers have been keeping track of when his shirt comes off and the nicer the day the earlier it happens. Here is one of the many reasons I love Trillium Preschool, their willingness to let Segundo be himself. They make sure he is safe but allow tons of space for him to navigate safety and danger on his own terms.

Yesterday when I rounded the corner into the school grounds I could see in the window of the preschool where the kids were getting one last story before heading home. there was Segundo in his bright yellow pants, no shirt, no socks, and covered in dirt. His pants were rolled up just below his knee and he looked like some hipster hillbilly wild man. A modern-day lord of the flies in skinny jeans. I just smiled as I walked past to pick Primo up first. I knew that this was a great day, that there was a story written in all that dirt on his chest and back. I knew I would get versions from each of the teachers and some impromptu reenactment  from Segundo and his friends. He is the Oscar to Primo’s Felix and I am so thankful that he has the space to himself.

Segundo versus the fire drill

Punk Rock Preschool

Punk Rock Preschool

Yesterday when I went to pick Segundo up from preschool his teacher pulled me aside to tell me a story. They had a fire drill that day but when it started Segundo was busy on the toilette. Since he likes his freedom while sitting on the throne he as sans pants and chonies. Just a t-shirt and socks and singing songs while the bell went off. Fast forward to the kids lined up outside and Segundo’s teacher came up because it looked like he needed a little help. He was holding his pants up as she came over to help him button up but she noticed he needed to pull up his chonies. Problem was he didn’t have them, he got right out of the building like he was taught to and didn’t have time to load the boys back up. He just grabbed his pants and hopped out of the classroom. When they got back in she went to help him get dressed but ran into another problem, he hadn’t wiped. She was fighting back laughter as she told him to wipe, wash his hands, put on his underwear, put his pants back on, and come out so she could help button up. The great take away here is that he knows what to do in an emergency situation, but we may need to work on his bathroom routine a little more.

Raising money while lowering expectations

Now that I am on the board at the preschool and trying to take a more active role in the boys education I figured it was time to take the fund raising part a little more serious. Last year there was zero participation until the auction and we came well short of our fundraising goals as a family. Well this year is going to be different and it’s already off to a great start. The first racket is selling local coupons called chinook books. These are all over the place with coupons to all the local restaurants and stores and have a good margin for fund raising. We sell the books for $20 and the school gets $10 off of each sale.

So when we got our books this year I got started hitting up all the right family members in the area and they came through. Then we sent Primo door to door in the neighborhood hitting up all the neighbors with kids. He knocked on the door and asked “Would you like to buy a Chinook Book for $20 to help keep me off drugs?” It was amazing the success rate he had with that line and I knew he would. I fancy myself a master seller who just never had a chance to flex his muscles. Some of the neighbors thought it was funny and bought a book, and others thought he was dead serious and bought two. Anything they could do to keep that cute little kid of the smack, they were going to do it. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that I am a stay at home dad so the boys get knowing nods whenever they pull stuff like this. “It’s that unemployed fellow, their dad, that makes them do this!” Just like letting them dress crazy, this is part of the fun of being a stay at home dad, and the fun we are having has us meeting our fundraising goal with the first offering. I should probably keep this up to help the school prosper but I’m goal oriented and once we meet our goal it’s on to new ways of terrorizing the neighborhood with my bad parenting. What would they have to talk about if I didn’t?

Changing roles with changing adresses

Now that we no longer live with The Charge’s parents I am really watching this kid and not just having him hang around us while his mom works upstairs. There isn’t any real difference semantically but some how this feels a lot different to me. His dad drops him off early in the morning, usually while my boys are eating breakfast, and his mom picks him up after she is off at noon. In between we explore the space of the new house and get out on the bike to check out the local parks and I play the role of day care. I like that role, the role of nanny. Now that we aren’t living together it seems like a different arrangement and more formal.

Now I feel like I need to be doing more to get him and Segundo ready for pre-school. Since I am not just hanging out with him at the house I feel like I need to justify our day to his parents when they come. “We learned about the letter K, counted to 12, and discussed doubling the high post to beat a soft zone.” Again I don’t think much changes from his parents stand point. They don’t expect me to send him home with seasonal art projects and pamphlets on head lice, so the change is more internal. Looking after another kid, one that is not yours, helps bring certain parental decisions to light. If I am wanting to do this more with The Charge why am I not doing it with Segundo. He’s less than a year away from pre-school too so he needs to get cracking on his multiplication tables so he can keep up with the other baby einsteins.

So we are incorporating more songs and pointing out the letters we have learned. I write their names on top of the art projects and have them pick it out so that they all have one trick they can show their moms. We only have two more weeks left with The Charge before he stays home with his mom and new baby brother so I need to pick up the pace. Make sure that his time with us really does benefit him in the future. Honestly I don’t think there is anything I can try to do that would make that more true. The time that these three kids have spent together is invaluable and they have all benefited from being together. I just need him to learn a few more tricks for my living resume.

Some days are inspired, others are endured

It was day two of being a parent helper at Primo’s school and the effects of moving, recovering from being sick, and having Segundo and the Charge in the room with me meant a much tougher time in the class. I still had a lot of fun playing with the kids and talking to them about which shapes would roll down the ramp we created but it was a labored time of watching the clock. Out on the playground I couldn’t run around and lift the kids because my back was killing me from the move.

Friday was time of enjoyment and Monday was a time of endurance and that is so true of parenting in general. There are times when you are super dad and your patience is infinite, your creativity unending, and you are able to turn a walk to the park into a lesson in life science. Then there are the days when you snap at little things, have no patience and have to rely solely on the video to give you any sort of break. We hope for more of the previous but sadly I get more of the tough days. I still love those tough days though, I mean as opposed to not having kids or working in the marketplace instead of at home. The whole bad day golfing analogy is true of parenting for me.

The next parent helper day isn’t till next month, but next month is Friday. Beautiful will be helping that day to get a sense of the school. I didn’t realize when filling out the schedule that we signed up for three days in a matter of a week but it worked out great. Helping two days in a row (Friday and Monday) helped me pick up more names and build an acceptance with the kids. I now know 13 out of the 19 kid’s names and a couple more parents. One of the moms talked to me about how much fun her son had on Friday with me. He couldn’t remember my name by said he was the big guy with a beard. As the only dad that has been in the classroom so far it was pretty easy to narrow it down.

The Cliche First day of school post

Today was the day. Primo started pre-school today and he was fired up from the time he opened his eyes this morning, until well after we were home and had finished lunch. He has catted with every afternoon walker from the near by medical center and filled them in on his new school attending status. If he had Facebook his status would read: “You wanna come at somebody, come at me, I’m a man, I’m 4!” because he loves sports rants turned into preschool humor.

We also had our first bike ride to school and that went almost as well. The good news is I made it the four and half miles each way, but I do smell horrendous and feel like I might need to nap for a couple of days. It will get easier, at least that is what I tell myself but the rain hasn’t come yet. The ride was great really, and it took us 27 minutes there and 30 minutes back. We made it there early and Primo was bouncing off the walls with excitement. For most of the kids this was old hat, their second year and all but Primo was soaking it in. When the teacher came up and brought the kids down I got a little teary. It was either dusty over by me or I have a gland problem because none of the other parents were remotely moved. Like their kids this process was old hat so I can understand them not acting like Archie Manning watching his other son win a Super bowl in New York.

Primo was cool with us not sticking around and even told me that Segundo and I could leave now when he went down to his class. I don’t know if I have done a good job raising a kid with little to no separation anxiety, or if my son is genuinely ashamed of me. I’m cool with either one. I got a tour of the place and basked in praise of co-op moms who were super impressed with a dad doing the co-op thing. There were more dads there today then the parents meeting, wait that’s not true, there were the same amount but the ratio was better. 4 out of 18 instead of 4 out of 31. Progress! I think there a bunch of dads involved and I can’t wait to meet them and all the parents as it seems this is our life now. We are Co-op parents and part of a bigger educational family and I can’t wait to find out which one is the embarrassing uncle that drinks to much and tries to hit wives.

Co-op preschools and the missing fathers

Last night Beautiful and I went to the first parents meeting for Primo’s new preschool. We met the teacher earlier in the day with all three boys in tow but at this meeting it was just her and I and the other parents. There were thirty one parents present and I was one of four dads in the room. That’s it, just four of us there for the meeting to get the school year started off. There can be a number of reasons for this, one of which being since there were no kids at the meeting I assume most of the dads were on kid duty but I am interested to see how this plays out moving forward. Being the at ome parent I will be the one in the class two out of the three days a month that we get to be there helping out. Beautiful wants to take one of the days so she can be an active part of the learning process and not miss out on this dynamic time in Primo’s life. I’m sure that is a sentiment held by the other parents too, but I doubt many of the dads will go to the lengths that my wife will to make that a reality. I understand having to work and not having the time for this sort of thing but as a family we have all chosen a Co-op preschool so there is some assumed co-operation. For a little more on what a Co-op is here is an explanation from Parent Child Preschools of Oregon:

A cooperative preschool is a program that is operated by a group of parents who take an active interest in their children’s first educational experience. Parents help the teacher in the classroom, are given opportunities for education, and are involved in decision-making.
Benefits a Co-op Preschool Offers Children:
  • New experiences and a wider world to explore and enjoy
  • A teacher who encourages their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Parents in the classroom which insures an above average adult to child ratio
  • Children of similar ages with whom to play and learn respect for the differences and rights of others
  • A positive attitude toward future school attendance
Benefits a Co-op Preschool Offers Parents:
  • Participation in their children’s education away from home
  • A better understanding of their children’s individuality through observing them with other children the same age
  • A voice in school decisions and policy-making
  • Education in child development and parenting skills at parent meetings, PCPO Conferences, and through publications
  • Mutual understanding and moral support from other parents with the same concerns, interests, and problems

By choosing this type of school there is an assumption that you would like to be more involved in the learning process of your child. From the first meeting I can see that is true for all of the moms. They were all there. But it remains to be seen if that is true for the dads, and I have to say I don’t hold out a lot of hope. I want to be proven wrong, and that can still happen. This is just the first meeting, there will be more chances to step up.