When Sonja was about 15 months old, she was playing with some foam letters and numbers in the tub. I wanted to use them to spell out “class of…” and stick it to the wall. I had to do some math in my head first. It would be class of 2029 if I could get her in school early, or class of 2030 if I went strictly by the cutoff date. It seemed inevitable that I would push for class of 2029, if only because I also did the math on how old I would be in 2030. Yeesh. I wrote “Go Huskies” instead. Little did I know her school district was a “strictly by the cutoff date” kind of place. So class of 2030 it is.
Or is it? After kvetching for what feels like years about Sonja not being able to go to Kindergarten last year, I figured that once she finally started school, I would feel better. I was really wrong about that. Like, really wrong. As I also may have mentioned, she can read now, and really, really well. And it’s one thing that she knows how to read, but it’s another that she taught herself, with very little assistance from me. She really needs to be challenged in school, and I’m…concerned. It’s early though, so I’ll watch this show a little longer.
It was a week ago Friday that Sonja started Kindergarten. There was the slightest hint of trepidation as the big day approached, but that all melted away after the first day. She loves school. She has made several new friends. She likes to tell stories of the stories she read, all the good behavior rewards she’s gotten, and what she and her friends did on the playground. There are also stories of a classmate or two she has not taking a liking too, and these are both interesting and heartbreaking. She’s only 6 years old, but already she has to deal with kids who push in line and call her names. I dislike these stories but kind of adore the endings, in which she tells said line-pushers to slow their rolls*, ’cause the line isn’t even moving yet. My kid is NOT taking shit from your kid, and for that I am ever so proud.
Since Sonja’s birthday fell on a Monday this year, I was able to have lunch with her at school. I told the front office that the teacher knew I was coming, but the class had a substitute today. This, after the regular school bus was in the shop, and Sonja nearly refused to board the bus this morning because it wasn’t her bus. No matter, apparently. Once I was buzzed in the main doors, no one seemed to care that I was there. Not that they didn’t care, I realize, just that they were too busy. I digress. I brought Sonja some pizza, leftover from yesterday’s big party, and for her whole class, chocolate chip blondies, still warm and melty from the oven.
I’ve heard a few words about a boy in her class named Trent, who is not on Sonja’s list of new friends. I can see why she does not like him, and I could see why Lincoln, a boy that sits next to her at her table, is on her list of favorites. I also got a chance to see the carnival food that still passes the nutrition test at your neighborhood public school. I want to say more about this, but for now, I’ll leave it as a segue into talking about the persistent trouble we have with Sonja’s diet.
I’ve looked up my fair share of internet articles about picky eaters, and I’ve clicked away on every single one of them with the thought, “you don’t know picky.” Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the so-called experts and I have a different definition of picky. Most people advocate things like sneaking vegetables where kids don’t expect them, or cutting food into fun shapes to entice one’s “picky eater.” At this point, I facepalm myself since there’s no one else around to slap. I guess if your child were simply picky – as in avoiding eating things because they are unknown or presented as unpalatable – then some of those solutions might work. But you can’t sneak anything into my child’s diet – SHE CAN TELL. Pureeing carrots into the tomato sauce will shut down her eating of the tomato sauce. So it’s a struggle to get her to try new things and even harder to get her to like them. And it’s difficult for her to understand that home cooking comes out a little bit different sometimes because Mom is not a McDonald’s fry cook. I put a lot of the onus on myself to do better and set a better example and try more things more often with her, but after 20 rounds of “no,” and “yuck” and “ick,” I get discouraged. Then I turn to the internet and I get discouraged again, because every site says the same thing, and I want to shout at them, “you don’t understand what I’m dealing with!” Most things with her are so easy but this is so friggin’ difficult. Suffice it to say, we have an uphill battle ahead of us, and one that it seems I’ll be fighting alone. Maybe my claim to blog fame will be putting out information on how to deal with this specific situation when (or if) I figure it out.
And speaking of school lunches, I’m now responsible for packing her lunch, and though I’ve fed her practically every lunch she’s ever eaten, this just feels different. In an effort to up the nutritional quality of her lunches and improve our overall eating habits, I’ve borrowed my parents bread machine and am baking whole wheat bread for sandwiches. I have to add some white flour to get the bread to rise well (I’m on the hunt for vital wheat gluten, to see what that can do for me), but at least there is more nutrition and much better ingredients than in store-bought bread. It’s a baby step, but Sonja says she loves the bread better than any other bread, and this is most certainly the direction we want to go.
Over the summer we took two trips, perhaps to compensate for last year’s lack of trips. We went for a week to Disneyland, and then an overnight to visit our friends in Vancouver. Those two trips bookended a busy summer of teaching for me. I’m currently between quarters, and now that Sonja is at school, it feels as if someone has said, “we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.” To which I say, “Great! What was I watching again?”
So it’s an adjustment period for everyone. There are afternoon break downs fueled by exhaustion and hunger, and then there’s Sonja. (Ba-dum-dum *crash*) With the beginning of fall quarter (work) looming over my head, I run around panicked that I might waste the precious few hours of of truly free time I have, thereby wasting the precious few hours of free time I have. (I don’t know what I think I should be doing; all I know is that whatever I’m actually doing must be the wrong thing.) Of course, Sonja’s going to get used to the schedule, and I’m going to have other free time that I’ll put to good use, we just have to figure out how. So here’s to all the changes, and all the learning and all the free time that age 6 will bring.
*Not her actual words. Literary license.