Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Day of School...Again

Where has the summer gone? For that matter, where have our two little guys gone? Was it really so long ago (yes, yes it was) that Hesperos was a Michelin-man style baby with tires around his middle, his arms, his legs, and Helios was a spunky pipsqueak?

Even so recently as this spring things have changed. When last we saw Hesperos, he was a fresh-faced preschool graduate ("A Graduate Is Made"). Now, a few months later, he is an accomplished reader and member of the kindergarten class attending the same school where Helios is the big boy around the second grade town.

Hesperos has been waiting to join kindergarten at his brother's school for two years. He knows the Helios' teachers, the classrooms, the principal, the office administrator. Hesperos knows the routine, the ins-and-outs of the building, the rules (whether or not he chooses to follow them). He even knows about half of his classmates as they are the two-year-younger siblings of Helios' classmates. He's ready.

So probably it's no surprise that on the first day of kindergarten for Hesperos and the first day of second grade for Helios that they both strode in, full of confidence and happiness, not a single tear shed.

Helios entered his second grade room, a little shy and timid, because that's his way. When he's in his element, he's full of ornery spunk but he struggles to connect with other children meaningfully and high activity, high energy situations make him crawl into himself a little bit. Mommy relates.

Hesperos, on the other hand, was full of pride and determined to show that he is in his element. He showed off his full spirit and immediately tackle hugged with boundless enthusiasm a couple of the children he knew before school began -- before sitting down and showing off his sassy face.

It's great to see them together during the day. Helios takes pride in being the authoritative second grader with longer breaks and more friends than Hesperos. Hesperos enjoys the relative freedom of having a bigger pond to swim in as well as finally being able to do all the big kid things his brother does.

It's a good year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saintly Homework Projects

Helios came home a few days ago with a charming project. Inspired by a school mother who had recently traveled to Vatican City and shared her photographs and experiences with the class, the second grade teacher assigned the children a project to choose a saint and study him or her. Each child would turn in a few handwritten sentences about their favorite saint and a crafted representation which would be hung up on November 1, All Saints Day. It's a perfect project for creative, inquisitive Catholic children who are being prepared for First Communication and Reconciliation.

For this project, Helios chose St. Francis de Sales and there were really only two rules for putting it together. First, that this is a parent/child project to be done together. Second, and this one was so important it was stressed in capital letters, was that we should use materials readily available at home. Oooohkay. We have it in writing so there should be NO fear of creating a disrespectful-looking saint.

Before looking at the picture below, we hope you understand two things. First, we followed the letter of the assignment. Second, we're not sacrilegious -- really, we're not! But we have a thread of irreverence running through us. Our only hope for sharing a heavenly hereafter with any deity is that God has a slightly irreverent sense of humor Himself.

So we share with you Helios' interpretation of St. Francis de Sales, complete with Wikki Stix hair, beard, and ears; hippy beaded crucifix necklace; tissue paper robe and stole; puff ball nose; googly eyes; and jazz hands and feet.

St. Francis de Sales was a pretty trendy dude for a 55-year-old 17th century saint. And Helios' reaction? "That saint is simply hi-lar-ious."


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lost Teeth & Fairy Dust

Every child has those milestones he or she looks forward to: turning 21 (legal drinking!), turning 16 (legal driving!), turning 13 (finally a teenager!), and 67 (collect Social Security!). Hm. Maybe not on the last one.

But before any of that, the first real milestone a child eagerly anticipates is losing his or her first tooth. This event happened for the first time in our home tonight, 07/22/2011, around 6:55 p.m. Pacific time. The event almost felt like it deserved its own press release or perhaps a notification in the New York Times: "Mr. & Mrs. of All Trades are pleased to announce the loss of tooth previously occupying residence in the mouth of their son, Helios of All Trades."

Unfortunately, with the suddenly legally allowed increase in New York marriages (with sincere thanks to Mayor Cuomo and the NY legislature), the competition for announcements in the New York Times is even more intense than before. And we're no match for ridiculously well-dressed couples.

So a blog post it is, to announce that Helios is one toothy loss down the pearly white path of shedding his deciduous teeth and gaining his permanent chompers. To say that Helios was excited is a grave understatement. He has been working his two loose teeth for weeks and, at the wise age of nearly 7, has bemoaned the fact that he is the last child in his 2nd grade class to lose any teeth at all. It took the intervention of his dentist, Dr. Anticarie, to remind Helios to not try to force his teeth out before they were ready. (A similar reminder will need to be given to Hesperos soon since he is two years younger and already trying to furtively loosen his little fangs.)

The Tooth Fairy does visit our home in the same way she/he/it visited Mommy and her sisters: The fairy leaves a limerick and a small toy with a coin or two. Tonight's limerick is a shared composition written by Grandpa Wil (verses 2 and 3) and Mommy (verses 1 and 4) and is accompanied by a gold dollar (William Henry Harrison, if you want to know), and a much-desired Beyblade. Mommy would shake her head with incredulity that a Beyblade is a much desired item among the 6-8 year old set, but then she remembers that she desperately hoped for Polly Pocket lockets around that age.

In close, we offer you this first edition Tooth Fairy Poem:

Dear Helios:

It only takes on quick little look
to see that little tooth you've shook
has popped out so clean and quick
that I had to bring you a gift, lickety split.

It came about so very fast
the tooth you had is of the past.
In its place a gaping hole
almost big enough to insert a pole.

But very soon, Helios dear,
a brand new tooth will appear.
You'll look so great, you'll look so grand
which is all part of God's good plan.

Enjoy your money and toy machine
and remember to keep all your teeth very clean.
Because tooth fairies worthy of trust
take only the best teeth for fairy dust.


The Octagon Tooth Fairy
(The tooth fairies in our childhood were always of some kind of shape. Don't ask. It's tradition. Just go with it.)

Hopefully we can find more milestones to celebrate together. Mommy and Daddy are in no rush to see the next milestone of 13 happen any time soon.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Graduate Is Made

Across the nation around the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, graduates are made by the cartload. Naturally, there's the obvious: College graduates, doctors and masters of their specialties, and high school graduates. In recent years, there appears to be a trend for even more types of graduates: junior college graduates, junior high school graduates, middle school graduates, elementary school graduates and kindergarten graduates. I do not come to speak to you of these events. Instead, I speak to you of the very first graduation of all because, yes, graduation can start even younger than kindergarten and age 5. I bring your attention to: preschool graduation.

Mock preschool graduation if you must (go ahead, I do it too), but all the eye rolling in the world doesn't erase the fact that preschool graduates are pretty darn cute. To wit, I offer you Hesperos, preschool graduate (lettered in finger painting, tire swing, and bubble blowing; distinction in letters with high honors in learning how to read; honorable mention in basic arithmetic).

Preschool graduation is about as celebratory as it gets without alcohol (although some parents may indulge after the fact on behalf of their children). There's no cap throwing and I assure you that the children are clothed under their gowns. But there is a lot of cake eating, signing of songs, and even diplomas, not to mention the artfully created construction paper mortar boards complete with Shrinky Dink 2011 on a tassel.

For Hesperos, the celebration was not so much about accomplishments past. Like any bright-eyed child of tomorrow, he was looking forward. Specifically, toward kindergarten where he will finally get to attend the 'big kid school' with his older brother a couple doors away. Hesperos is fully prepared to rush in and embrace his new teachers and classmates with a big chubby-armed hug -- a level of enthusiasm that I certainly didn't display when I started graduate school. But I didn't get a construction paper mortar board either.