Monday, September 27, 2010

Io Does the Science Center

Sid the Science Kid was at the Science Center this weekend. I was crazy to think that it would be a fun, manageable event. There were HUNDREDS of parent there. Many were stressed out and so were their kids! I feed off this kind of energy so I had to remember to BREATH. It was mayhem in there. Science Kid staff had to do some serious control crowd, asking that everyone they back away from the life-sized Sid. I had no idea he was even that popular. Io and patience do not go well together. There was no way we were going to be able to stand in line long enough to take a picture with Sid. Io was close to eruption as I began to explain her that there were too many people there and we wouldn't be able to see Sid. Io being unmoving and, I, a stealth photographer, gave Io my camera. We got close to the front of the line and I let her loose. In a flash she ran up to the Science Kid and took a picture then ran back to me. What kind of parent am I?! She got her picture and that was enough for her. Crisis averted....this time.

The ice wall.

Broadcasting live from the Science Center.
Inside the climbing tree
Io's Sid picture.
The crowd!
Tess, the giant test dummy. Io's favorite.

Tiny Wrist, Tiny Watch

 "Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life. "
~William Faulkner
Ah, the sadness of a clock. Its constant ticking turns present into past and hurries you into the future. Time to wake up. Time to eat. Time to plan. Time to work. Time to sleep. What a responsibility it is to recognize time! Even as an adult I struggle with my obligations to time and imagine that children must struggle too. This month Io started her 2nd year of pre-K and at four-years-old she too must give recognition to the clock.

Similar to our adult life where we must keep a schedule, in Io's class of four-year-olds there is time to eat, time to line up, time to wash hands, time to play, but mostly time to sit. If you know a 4-year-old, then you know this is a tall order. Now imagine 18 four-year-olds! In my fantasies, there are schools that are compassionate and empathetic. They realize the struggles that each child faces as they are being asked to take on huge responsibilities such as minding the time. They offer children support around the rules and limits they must follow to be successful and safe. They employ strategies that go beyond authoritarianism. Maybe these schools exist, but I'm sure I can't afford them. So Io goes  to a Headstart program where structure is king and flexibility is failure.

A typical school day involves rushing the children through each activity they must complete to meet the school's cirriculum guidelines. The need to control and restrict appears to have more weight than what is actually being taught. Most of the teachers' energies are focused on getting the children to line up and then sit down and then sit down and line up. I realize that this is the way most schools work. And I know most people will agree that the teachers are doing the right thing by preparing them for kindergarten, first grade, and essentially the "real world." I don't write here hoping to change anyone's mind about their parenting approach, but I can say that being supportive as opposed to punitive just feels right. I realize that there is very little I can do to change the school system, but I can support my daughter  by helping her deal with the harsh reality that we can't do what we want whenever we want to. Don't I have a hard time coping with going to work everyday? Don't I have a hard time having to pay the bills? Don't I have a hard time keeping it all together sometimes? 

Io showing off her watch
How do you explain to a 4 year old that it's a tough world out there and when you're big you're going to need to pay rent and get a job? I could stand over my kid and say, "You have to do what your teacher says!" I could punish her by not letting her watch Spongebob until she can follow directions at school. But when I think about the difficulties I face in keeping the schedule I must to survive, I think about how hard it must be for her, a 4-year-old whose brain is still developing, to accept the incredibly heavy responsibility of life. All I can do is empathize with her and tell her that I know it must be so hard and give her some tools to help her along the way.

So to support her in understanding her schedule at school her Dad and I took her to buy her first watch. She picked out a pink Timex equipped with Indiglo, her favorite feature. The salesman said Io was his youngest customer. I was surprised that they even made watches that small. Io was extremely proud, showing her watch off to strangers in the mall. I stood back and looked at her tiny wrist. Although the watch was small, it looked huge and heavy to me. I was saddened to see her wear the weight of time. Such an enormous responsibility for such a little person.

Last week she wore the watch to school and her teachers were very pleased to find that it worked! They were able to explain to her the activities she needed to do and what time she needed to do them. Not only did she understand better what she needed to, but she then even tried to help her friends understand that it was time to clean up and sit. I'm ecstatic that I was able to come up with a solution that didn't involve coerician, punishment, or fear.  I am, however, sad to see her shedding the innocence of her childhood and really feeling her struggle to get by in the world.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


inhale. exhale.
hello all. i have resurfaced here again to take in some air and let you know that i'm alive and well. for those of you that are close to me, you know the depths of my travels. for those just visiting, i can only reveal that i'm on a journey to change my life story. although it's impossible to change what  is already written, i do have the power to start a new chapter.
here i am with open eyes. severed hands begin to grow back.
i know nothing.