Preschooler No More

My company hosted its annual convention this past week. In addition to presenting at a session and connecting with my clients, I was also the official event photographer (which was wicked fun, by the way). On Thursday, though, I walked out of the cool, dim & artistically decorated rooms and crossed high bridges between crane-risen buildings back to the parking lot, to head home for a rite of passage. Preschool graduation.

Stoneham YMCA Preschool Class of 2014
Stoneham YMCA Preschool Class of 2014

Now, much fun has been made of the proliferation of graduations. I confess to a bit of mirth on my part at the banner strung between the sensory table and block area proudly pronouncing the “Class of 2014”. But when those small, bright faces in pint-sized blue robes came walking through the room to find their chairs, my heart swelled with the pride of the mother of a graduate. The celebration was short. There were readings by two of the emergent readers (including my sweet Thane). The classes sang the songs with Music Jill that I’ve been hearing so much of lately. They called forth the graduates and presented them with both diplomas and “superlatives”. Thane was “Most Likely to be a Scientist” – a role I was heartily glad to hear for him! (I was betting on “Most Likely to be a Pokemon Trainer”)

Thane delivers the keynote
Thane delivers the keynote

I glanced around the room at the kids I knew from playdates and birthday parties. At the parents who shared the 5:59 pickup time with me, and the ones I’d never seen before. We had been together a long time, those of us in that room. Thane has attended the Stoneham YMCA since he was just over a year old, and many of the kids had been in those infant rooms with him. Now they scatter – some to other school districts, some to other elementaries. A handful will find themselves the smallest members of South School in the Fall.

A rare picture of all four Flynns
A rare picture of all four Flynns

Thane is ready for it. He hasn’t napped in like 3 years, so giving up the enforced nap time will be great for him. He has started to read everything around him. Curious and literal-minded, he asks again and again for definitions he knows, trying to ensure he has them just right. His reading is ready. His math is ready. I think – I fear to say it – but his behavior is ready too. He has become amazing amounts more helpful and cooperative over the last year.

He’ll have two more days in the Orange Room, with the beloved Miss Laureen and Miss Jenn. And on Wednesday, when I drop him off at the Y, it will be downstairs at Summer Camp instead of upstairs. A swimsuit will replace the blanket. He’ll be ready for new adventures. And ready he is.

He's ready.
He’s ready.

For more graduation pictures and videos of the kids singing, you can check out the album!

Two notes from billpaying time

First – I got a notification from the Y today for the new preschool price list. I stared at it for quite some time. Then I threw it in the trash. I will never pay for preschool again. I am paying my last right now. It is all summer camp and afterschool from here until it’s time for college tuition.


Second – we put a new floor into our kitchen! Very exciting. The former floor was considerably older than me. It was white. It showed everything. Being so old, it also could not actually ever be clean. We put in Pergo floors. I have some more structural fixes to the house (after Adventures in Roofing last year it will be Fixing Rotting Windows II this year) so I didn’t have a huge budget. When I first saw the floor I was admittedly skeptical, but it’s growing on me. Which – once installed – you really had better like it no matter what.

I like it.



What the floor looked like when clean

The big picture view of the white floor


Definitely different. It took some adjusting.

With the furniture restored

Preschool Graduation

I remember this time last year, when Grey’s then-relatively-new preschool was holding its preschool graduation. I saw the note and thought. Ppfft. Preschool graduation. Call me when we get to a real milestone.

Ah, hubris.

The young graduate, a member of the class of 2011
The young graduate, a member of the class of 2011

I was, shall we say, rather less sanguine when the note arrived in my son’s papers this spring. He was graduating, a proud member of the (I kid you not) Class of 2011. For weeks heading into the event, we began hearing about the big surprise waiting for us. Grey starting singing a new song I hadn’t heard before with a chorus guaranteed to make moms cry. “Seasons come and seasons go. To you it’s fast but to me it’s slow. You’ve helped me learn and you’ve helped me to grow, but now I’m moving on.”

Keynote speech
Keynote speech

Apparently, they practiced their graduation ceremony rigorously, several times over several days leading up to the parental version. Finally, the big day came. The weather was iffy, so we were inside. The room was packed with proud parents – familiar after a year of shared pickups and dropoffs. After a wait, Music Jill began playing ‘Tis a Gift to Be Simple (I was personally extremely grateful it wasn’t Pomp and Circumstance, which I personally loathe after, uh, 7 years in the band that had to play it). The four and five year olds began filing in.

The graduating class making their parents sniffly
The graduating class making their parents sniffly

It was a quick ceremony. The center director said a few words. Grey was nominated to read a selection from “Oh the Places You’ll Go” which he did very well if you could actually hear what he said. They presented flowers to their teachers. Their names were called, and their diplomas presented. Then, they sang their two musical numbers. And with that, it was over. My son was a preschool graduate. He was headed to the grown-up world of summer camp, where there is no nap time, leaving behind the ladies who had taught him for over a year.

Congrats, kiddo.

We're proud of you.
We're proud of you.

See all the pictures, plus three videos: one of Grey reading the poem and two of the kids singing, here:

Now what?

I’m pretty sure I have several posts lined up in my mental list. Sadly, now (45 minutes before bedtime) on Sunday night when I finally have time, I’ll be darned if I can remember any of them. Isn’t that always the way? Ah well.

Easter was lovely. The weather was superb. The kids were incredibly cute and well behaved. I was in some of my finest trumpet form in years, and played some of the hardest repertoire I’ve attempted in quite some time. We went out to dinner tonight at a local restaurant, and then wandered around our local town square in the warm twilight. There was tag, the scent of magnolias, holding sticky sweet little hands, and an evening ending in ice cream. It was a delight.

I’m figuring this is the last time Grey will believe in the bringers of gifts: Santa, Easter Bunny. He wrote the Easter Bunny a note, “How do bunnies go across water?” he asked in it. He asked me if the Easter Bunny was real. I asked him what he thought. He pondered, and said that maybe it wasn’t a bunny, but a person who sneaks into our house to leave the gifts. I don’t invest a tremendous amount of my personal credibility in these myths, nor do I have them well constructed. I’m pretty sure Grey is at the “trying hard not to notice” stage.

Grey has been really awesome lately. I’ve had a lot of fun with him. The other night he decided to make a chocolate cake. He got out a recipe and all the ingredients. He needed some help with some techniques (greasing the pan, measuring fractions), but he did a remarkable amount of it himself. I was really proud of him. So I decided any kid working with flour regularly needs their own apron.

It’s surprisingly hard to find an apron for boys, but I managed:

Awesome apron
Awesome apron

Don’t boys play chef anymore? Sheesh.

We also have had our last swimming lesson of the winter. Grey started them in fall, and ever single Saturday morning has been spent with swimming lessons, followed by lunch, followed by aikido. However, Grey is staring down his first ever graduation: preschool. In July he will go to summer camp instead of preschool. And part of the YMCA summer camp is swimming lessons! So although Grey is not yet 100% independent in water, I figure we might just be able to get our Saturday mornings back. That would rock. I think Thane may be sad, though. He really liked their babysitting. And he has to be potty trained in order to do swimming lessons which… well, we’re nowhere close to that.

This summer camp sounds awesome. They have weekly field trips, go to swimming lessons, go to the town pool on another day, and play play play. I’m totally jealous. I’m also totally ready for him to be starting Kindergarten in the fall. I think we’re all ready and excited.

Thane has a little less going on, being two and all. He’ll move to transitional preschool this summer (yes, the sound you’re hearing is the “kaching!” going off in my head as the boys move to less expensive forms of child care….) His language is totally exploding. He’s putting together complicated sentences with unusual verb forms and complex structures. “You would have done it, mommy.” He likes to mimic his brother, who is remarkably tolerant about it. He has a 24 piece dinosaur puzzle he puts together over and over again, with remarkable dexterity.

My sweet Thane is a natural singer. He sings ALL THE TIME. He sings nursery rhymes. He sings folk songs. He sings while he puts the puzzles together. He sings at night. He sings in the morning. He sings the doxology before dinner (which he will refuse to eat). He sings Ring Around the Rosy. He sings “Star of the County Down” and “These are My Mountains”. I love his singing.

Grey and Thane are the best brothers you could possibly expect them to be … which is to say, not perfect, but they have a lot of fun together.

Fort Fun!
Fort Fun!

So that’s what’s going on over here. Hopefully this week I’ll find some time to remember what I was going to write about and write about it… but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

PS – I do remember one bit. I was actually in California for two days this week. That’s really surprisingly disruptive.


I got Grey’s first formal evaluation from preschool today. I suppose that ranks right up there with first tooth and first words, eh? I hope you enjoyed the hiatus, son, because you’ll be evaluated for the rest of your life. (Like next Friday, when I take you in for our town’s preschool screening. Mauahahah!)

They did not measure his equestrian skills
They did not measure his equestrian skills

I can’t claim that his evaluation holds any huge surprises. Let’s see. He does exceptionally well counting. They only attempt up to 20, and I’ve heard him count to 70 before he gets bored. He can count to 10 in three languages (English, Spanish and Japanese — thank you aikido). He is at “mastered” for shapes, colors, sorting, “one to one correspondence” — what is that?, mathematical concepts and puzzles. With letters, he has the “mastered or exceeds” letter names (exceeds – there are only 26 of them!), speaking clearly, expressing verbal needs, recognizing his own name (which one?), concepts like “more/less, big small”, body parts, repeating rhymes, complete sentences and interest in books. He has “exceeds” in copying letters, knowing letter sounds and printing name. He is at expectations in class discussions, relating sequential events (since he starts nearly every conversation these days with “When I was 2” I’m surprised he did that well), and using sentences to describe a picture.

For fine motor and gross motor skills, he has top marks for all areas analyzed.

With emotional development we have a long list of top marks for the first bit, with stuff like: is confident, is able to wait his/her turn (really?!), uses bathroom independently, has appropriate control over feelings (again, really?!?!), table manners, and has a good self image. Then at the bottom of the page we finally get to Grey’s achilles heel.

Does not disturb others while working: NEVER. That’s a big fat 0 folks.

I can see it now. Everyone is happily tracing their letters and Grey is happily trying to distract each and every one of them. Yup, that rings true. He also gets low marks for “Responds appropriately to discipline”. Wilmary said that he cries every time he’s thwarted. And that he doesn’t sit still for circle time (which jives with his statement that he hates preschool because there’s circle time).

Practicing table manners and social skills at Thanksgiving
Practicing table manners and social skills at Thanksgiving

Finally, they list their goals for him. They include:
1) We’re going to work on how to work during circle time with his classmates.
2) We will be working on reading simple words (Note: he’s already doing this, but it’s good to do it at preschool too)

On the whole, I think this is a pretty accurate evaluation of young Master Grey. And it certainly brings up some areas where his teachers and parents need to focus attention. That’s what an evaluation is supposed to do.

Just one problem. How do you teach your child not to disrupt other people? Especially, how do we teach him that skill at home? I think that his bounciness and distractability is pretty normal for a four year old boy, so I’m not upset about it. But I don’t really know how to teach this very important ability. (And may I add that it would be nice for my home life if Grey was a little less talky at inappropriate times, such as in the morning before it’s time to get up and he’s snuggling.)

Gross motor skills with dad
Gross motor skills with dad

Any advice out there? Mom? How do you teach a child to let other people work and save up questions and comments? Is it possible? Is it worthwhile? Or do we just let him be himself at home and trust to preschool and later kindergarten to begin working on these class behavior issues?

The first first day of school

The first official back to school photo
The first official back to school photo

This time of year is commonly called “Back to School” time. Ah! How I have loved it. I have this mismash of memories: the sharp box of crayons all lined up by color, the cut brown and orange leaves hanging on the wall, the course outline printed next to the computer, the syllabus slipped into the front cover of a blank notebook, the snap of a trapper-keeper with a ream of paper and a pencil holder in front. I loved every bit of it. I loved the newness and the fresh start. I loved the office supplies. I loved school. In college, I loved all parts of it: social, cultural and academic all swirling together in one caffeinated delight.

Perhaps one of the things I miss most in my working life is the ‘back to school’ sense. My job is the same: winter and summer. It is never finished or finishable. It doesn’t change. I miss that fresh trapper, new syllabus feeling.

The older you get, the fewer firsts you have. My first day of school, ever, I do not even recall. My first kiss is a dim memory. My first job, apartment, pregnancy, home purchase and production database mistake are all in my past. Today I have another first.

Grey channels his inner
Grey channels his inner Calvin while Thane squirms

Today is my first first day of school as a parent. Grey started preschool this morning. He’ll be going all day, three days a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he will be a Caterpillar taking his first steps down the path of education. Who knows how far he’ll walk down that path. Will he love it? Take to it like a fish to water? Will he struggle? Will he excel in fields I never considered? He will go into that preschool classroom with a Spongebob blanket for naptime, a command of the alphabet and his own charm. He will fall deeply in love with his teacher, or not. He will make friends. He will make enemies. He will make mistakes. He will make pipe-cleaner art projects we will put proudly on the wall. He will decide he loves school. He will decide he doesn’t. He will go with the flow.

It is too much to say that this is the first step on the path to the rest of his life. He’s already trod down that path. He does know how to read – a little. He knows his alphabet. He can count to sixty before getting bored. He knows how to make friends and play tag. This is just the next step on the path to which his feet have already been set.

But still. This is our first first day of school.

Grey in his classroom with his new TA, Melissa
Grey in his classroom with his new TA, Melissa

What I spend my brain cells on

Usually at lunch I head across the bridge to daycare. It’s maybe a mile and a half. Four stoplights. It takes longer than you think it should, but I get to daycare in under 10 minutes, spend 15 minutes with the boys and head back. It’s a nice interlude in my day.

On Monday, they closed the bridge for repairs. I can’t really argue. It needed it. The bridge was built in the 1800s and is made out of a metal mesh. You can see under your tires to water — by design. It wobbles when you cross it. It’s hardly confidence-inspiring. It will probably be closed for a month. Right now I have a great view of the construction and there is a very large hole in the approach to the bridge. Your stimulus dollars at work.

This is all well and good, but it makes that trip to daycare longer. This is compounded by the fact that the NEXT bridge up the river is ALSO under construction and has been for ages. This I consider to be bad planning. Finish one first THEN move on to the next bridge.

So what do I do at lunch?

My options are:
1) Walk to daycare. Tempting in the nice weather. Will take longer than the budgeted amount of time.
2) Drive to daycare. I’m trying various alternate routes to see which one is least obnoxious.
3) Use lunch to go check out preschools. This is probably what I should do instead of hanging out with my three year old peeps.

I keep deciding to do one. Then changing my mind. Then changing it again. I have half an hour until it’s time to go, and I still have no idea which one I’m going to do!

I’m working on this query that has so far taken 25 minutes and isn’t done yet. (Which would be why I’m working on it.) I wonder if it will be done before it’s time to go! Working on performance always takes forever because every time you test it, by definition it takes a long time!

I walked. It was lovely. It’s about 15 minutes each way. (You can still cross the bridge on foot.)

And the query took 38 minutes and 33 seconds. While it was running I rewrote it. It now takes less than three seconds. I could probably file it down further if I spent some time on it.