Tuesday, September 30, 2008

School Calendars

One thing Alan and I have to start getting used to is anticipating Angelo’s school calendar. Here in New York, we observe some Jewish holidays which are not normally on our radar because they aren’t regular non-working holidays. This week we are observing Rosh Hashanah, and next week, we have Yom Kippur. That is followed by a historical but elective work holiday on the 13th: Columbus Day.

While Alan and I have some flexibility when it comes to working from home, it can be a challenge when you have them coming one after another. Oh, and we forgot about the school’s Halloween event of October on Friday the 31st.

It’s all part of having a school age child in the house. A friend who had a gradeschool son had warned me that we would have to tailor-fit our vacation and travel plans to the school calendar once Angelo starts going to school. We are trying to get into the groove and I am now planning our other trips to coincide with his “free” days. We also have to plan on who can stay home on those days when we aren’t going on a trip. We’ll manage.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Mommy has to go to work

It’s a rainy Friday morning in New York.  It’s 8am but I’m still here, barely beyond the “having my morning cup of coffee” stage.  The boy is insisting that Mommy stay home.  He is a darling but he’s driving me nuts repeating it every 20 seconds.  “Mommy, can you stay home?”  I think he has it in his head that repeating it over and over again will make it happen.  The nebulizer, though, is preventing him from reciting it repeatedly because the fish-face mask is muffling his talk.  Also, I acceded to his request to make the TV volume louder so he can watch his show above the noise. 

I’m trying to explain to him that we grown ups also have rules we must follow.  And for grown ups like Mommy, it is that I have to work.  The boss is going to be in the office, and while it will be a short day ending mid-afternoon in all likelihood, it’s not a day I can afford to miss.

He’s hoping I’ll say yes.  I wish.  But this is one request I can’t grant.  Mommy HAS to go to work.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Passing on the Asthma

I’ve been up since 3am.  The tyke has been having difficulty breathing since he went to bed last night — this after an afternoon running around in the park.  He’s been coughing intermittently since Saturday, but nothing quite as violent or persistent as last night.  He woke me up at 3am saying “Mom, I don’t feel well.”.  So we hied off to the living room and got a glass of water in the kitchen, and although he didn’t register a fever when I checked his temperature, he was warm enough to hint of a possible spike anytime.  I gave him his fever reducer and kept my fingers crossed.  There was a discernible difficulty in breathing as I saw his chest heaving up and down with short breaths that reminded me about my days with asthma.  I crossed my fingers again.  Unlike the previous days when he would request for an early breakfast, he had no appetite.  That told me he was really not feeling well.

I called the school at 8am, half an hour before he was expected to be in school.  The para told me that there were a couple of kids who were out sick.  Now I know where he got it.  He was telling me I couldn’t stay home because he knew my boss was at work.  I told him he was more important than the boss.  I was definitely very concerned about his state as this was one rare occasion when I didn’t even worry about working from home or taking the day off.  I just had to take care of my boy.  I logged on and had the system up and running — but I was focused on Angelo.

By mid-morning, he was very clingy and obviously in great discomfort.  My pediatrician was supposed to be back from a month-long vacation in Manila — what a relief it was to hear her voice answer her line instead of her out-of-office message.  Angel’s difficulty was so apparent she actually heard his labored breathing even as he had his head resting on my shoulder and I was calling from the cell.  She told me to bring him in at the first opportunity.

Big problem.  Alan was at work, and the earliest he could come was after lunch.  We were precisely trying to avoid that as it would mean Angel would have to wait his turn.  The doctor wanted to see him before anyone else.  So I called for car service and brought him in.  Still no fever, but he was obviously in distress.  He still refused his favorite snack or breakfast.  (He was very sick indeed!)

The doctor could not make an outright prognosis that it was asthma — or maybe I just didn’t catch that being explicitly stated, but she was treating it as asthma.  I went home carrying a nebulizer, and we headed straight to the pharmacy to pick up the medication to go with it.  I have a five-day dose of Prednisolone to go with it which I will start tomorrow.

Did I say I have been up since 3am?  The prescription for the first 24 hours is a dose of the nebulizer every 3 hours, through the night.  I have managed a short nap here and there.  I’m just grateful that he dozed off this afternoon, and he’s up and about playing again, still coughing, but the breathing is not as labored as it was before the nebulizer.  I will live. 

As we walked to the bus stop from the doctor’s office, I purposely walked slowly and held his hand.  Part of me felt a tinge of regret that I had passed on to him something I had lived with all my life.  While my asthma is more of an allergy, it has been something that I’ve had to accommodate.  I was really hoping Angelo would be spared.  Alan and I were so relieved that he had perfect eyesight, whereas Alan had started wearing thick eyeglasses from the tender age of three.  (They knew something was wrong with his eyes because he kept stumbling into things.)  I had a false sense of security when the doctor assured me his coughing bouts in the last four years were never anything close to asthma.  My asthma had set in almost right after birth.

He’s had three doses today and he’s all over the place playing again.  He’s started eating.  And he’s intently watching Noggin again.  (“Mommy, can you give me some juice please?  I’m thirsty.”)  Tomorrow we switch intervals to 4-6 hours between doses.  I’ll live.  Anything to help my boy breathe.  As someone who’s lived with asthma all these years, I know how hard it can be.

I know he’ll be able to cope better than I did with all the medical advances.  He’ll be fine.  For all we know, the prognosis might yet be something other than asthma.  Keeping my fingers crossed again.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Victorian Gardens in Central Park

This post comes rather belatedly because the Victorian Gardens in Central Park will be closing for the season but we caught it on its penultimate weekend.  Located at the Wollman Rink during he summer, this year it opened in May and is getting ready to make way for the next season’s attraction.  It’s one of those things that is a regular happening in the Big Apple but which many do not take the time to visit.  We actually passed it a week or two before when we went to find the Bethesda Fountain, but we decided to forego a visit for another time. 

Easily accessible from the 57th street side of the Park, this is a perfect spot to spend time with young ones who will not tire of the rides specifically tailor fit for kids.  Adults and Kids pay an entrance fee but the admission does not include the rides which are two tickets each.  (Each ticket is $1.00)  There is the option of unlimited rides for $12.50 which entitles you to a wristband.  The kids are mostly “kiddie sized”, and while parents are allowed to escort the smaller kids free, they will have to pay to ride with children who are over 42″.  Children who are 36″ and below are free.

The truth is we didn’t really have our heart set on visiting the amusement park but Angel was adamant, remembering we had passed up on stopping by the last time.  Although we stayed for just over an hour, he had his heart’s fill of the rides, Alan accompanying him in some, and Mommy taking the pictures.  He also insisted on playing a game and trying to win a prize (3 tickets/$3 each !) which father eand son managed on the second try.

The place is kid-friendly and all refreshments are healthy.  (Not a sign of a soda around.. they had snowcones and water.)  They also had live entertainment.  We’re definitely coming back next year, and we’re happy we decided to go this time around.  It’s a good way for the kids to have fun with pint sized rides, but not too small for the bigger kids to enjoy. 

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Pre-K Guy

I don’t know who was more excited — I think it was me. Angelo’s first day which was an almost hour-long introduction to his new world was a learning experience for both mother and son. I tried my best to step back and not play the stage mom, even when I felt like encouraging him and making him feel more at home. I have come to realize that sometimes, my presence actually doesn’t help to coax him out of his shell, but instead makes him hold back. I wanted to disappear so he wouldn’t be self-conscious, but this first day was precious. I couldn’t help myself. The other moms took a seat as the teacher gave the three kids a tour of the classroom. I remained standing so I could see him as he roamed each corner.

There were only three students. They had divided the entire class into 6 subgroups so the teacher and her assistant could focus on each one and do a hands-on one-on-one with each child. He colored a teddy bear and they were introduced to the shape and color that will be their ID code for the rest of the year. The good thing is that he can recognize his name visually. He knows the letters that form it, and if he sees it, he knows it’s his name.

He’s learning to color but needs a lot of practice. Just my luck that we were grouped with two girls who obviously had coloring a teddy bear down pat, but my boy tried.

We hit a bit of a snag when I realized they had labeled everything “Salvador” (which is his first name, like his Dad’s), and I had labeled everything we brought on the supply list as “Angelo”. My concern was a confusion as to his things, but the teacher said they wouldn’t want to refer to him as Salvador if he is called Angelo at home. It actually wouldn’t have been a problem because he responds to the same name, and he knows he is Salvador Angelo. In the end, the teacher replaced all the tags with “Salvador” with “Angelo”. So “Angelo” it will be.

I was so proud of him when he sat with his legs crossed in the story telling corner (like a pretzel as the teacher told the other two girls), borne out of training he had at pre-school. He was well mannered and quiet but I know he will eventually crawl out of his shell. We got a getting-to-know-you sheet from the teacher, and a school lunch registration form. (No, we are far from qualified for the reduced lunch, but we were told each child has to be registered with the state.)

Here I am starting my journey with him on his foray into the bigger world. I made Alan read all the circulars and letters, and I taught him about the homework folder I slid into the backpack I needed Angelo to bring Thursday. One of our new routines from now on.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

On His Way

Frame from Miss Mint of Peppermint Creative‘s free kit
Wild Weekend

Angelo starts Pre-K this week and I find myself just sitting back in awe as I watch him hit another milestone.  There are times when he siddles up to me and I literally get a good grasp of how much he has grown.  The doctor said he is now 42 1/2 inches tall, 47 lbs heavy.  (And the Michael Phelps fan in his Mom made me measure his “wingspan” — 43 inches.  Just half an inch longer than his actual height.) 

Yesterday as we walked in the early afternoon sun browsing stores by Old Sound Road, he just blurted “Mama, why do we have shadows?”  He’s started asking those types of questions which make Alan and I smile.  I try to keep my answers simple.  I want him to learn and know he can keep asking his questions, and Mama and Papa will answer

His grandma asks if he has already learned to write his name.  Not quite yet.  I was in a panic a couple of months back, vowing he will learn to write his name before he started Pre-K, but I had a Mom-moment and stepped back when I read that pressure is the last thing my four-year-old needs.  Besides, some of his peers who will be joining him in Pre-K will be going to school for the first time.  They will teach him how to write there.  Then my role is to support that and make sure he follows through.

So I went by what I learned researching online and started him developing his grasp of pencils and crayons.  Now he colors better and can actually hold the crayons, so I think he’s on his way.

We went to the supermarket last Saturday and bought the supplies requested by his teacher.  Funny how the only real school supplies item there were the two stubby pencils and some glue sticks.  The rest were basically pantry supplies.  We got them all and I’ll be labeling them as requested in the letter we received from his teacher weeks back.

An aunt had said we shouldn’t give all the supplies because the teacher was just using it as her own shopping list — but I don’t really care.  This lady will be taking care of my precious one, she will get what she needs to do that.  In fact I intend to donate some of the supplies requested in the same “shopping list” for supplies that the class needs.

His first two days in class on Wednesday and Thursday will be half an hour only.  Just sort of an introduction to his “new world”.  On Friday, it’ll be an hour-long class.  The first full week will be two hours, then he will start his regular 8:30-2:30 class.

The first year in preschool has him more than ready to start school.  He’s used to having his teacher(s) around, and he has a grasp of the concept of homework as well.  I’m not worried about him adjusting to school.  In fact I think it would be perfectly fine for him to just go full-day from day 1, but it’s a new set of future friends, a bigger building, and more independence.  So I welcome the slow introduction of this new world to him.

So yes, I’ll be there on his first day, I’ll sit through his half hour, then bring him home.  We’re both going through this the first time, and I’m having my own butterflies in the stomach to deal with.  My boy is growing up.. I’m there right behind him.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Conversations with my favorite little guy

I woke up when the alarm buzzed a second time just before 6:30 this morning, but Father and Son were fast asleep so I went to the living room and did the routine blackberry check. Then I did the unthinkable and lay down on the sofa, unable to resist the urge to close my eyes again, telling myself I only needed five minutes. And I ended up waking up an hour later.


Instead of stressing myself out over it, I accepted the fact that I was late. I got the boys their breakfast, guzzled my coffee and went on my way. When I start late, everybody else starts later, so I offered to take Angelo to school to save Alan some time.

The conversations I have with my boy during those walks to and from the house to school are truly precious. What else would beat hearing this four-year-old proclaiming he loves me? We talk about people turning into flowers as he gleaned from a story his preschool teachers had read to him, and he asks me if the flowers we pass along the way were people. (I have to find out the title of that book and read it myself.). Although it took a few conversations, he eventually accepted that people turning into flowers is just a storyline and actually isn’t reality.

He’s beginning to show a stubborn streak in him. (A little bit of me and a little bit of his Dad.)  Sometimes it can be quite a struggle trying to keep my cool — but I try to be both firm and patient with him.  I feel a different sense of security when his tiny hand clings to mine.. and I am continually surprised by his innocent utterances which I wish I could record and play over and over again.

They do play over and over again — in my heart and in my head.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This complicated business of being a parent

Parenting can be such a complicated matter.  Others take it too seriously if you ask me.  My personal mantra has always been to “Go with the flow” so to speak.  It’s a hit or miss thing, and the best one can really do is to give it your best shot.  And that’s what Alan and I are doing.  Of course Alan has the advantage of having been a parent before with the stepson — yet he has often told me the things he is experiencing with Angelo are first time experiences he never had with his older boy.  While experience has taught him a lot, there is much more that we are learning together.

I don’t have a perfect son.  His imperfections, though, serve to remind me he is human.  That he has a personality all his own, and that there is a part of him that is so much like his father and myself, but there is so much more that is uniquely him.  And like his Dad and I, he has his moods and quirks.  While his character at this point is malleable and subject to correction, I constantly remind myself he is a work in progress.  A four year old who thinks like a four year old.

I try to be firm and I try to be understanding.  Striking a balance between being patient and consistently teaching.  Is he spoiled?  I won’t mince words and admit he is.  But he has a good heart which knows there are lines that cannot be crossed, not because he fears punishment, but because there are feelings that will be hurt and a Mom and Dad that will be frustrated.  So no, I do not threaten to put him in the dumpster like an aunt had done. I believe that a certain sense of fear is necessary, but not the kind of fear that will not make him see the reason behind the prohibition. 

I’m giving it my best shot although I sometimes wonder if I’m on the right track.  I look at him and I see him growing into his own person.  He makes me smile when he suddenly says “I love you, Mama..”.  He may be able to read the letters of his name and he knows it when he sees it, and although he cannot write his name yet, I see no cause to worry.  We’re taking it a day at a time..

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Our journey begins

Last Friday, I received my first official mail packet from Mrs. C, Angelo’s incoming homeroom teacher in Pre-K.  It was a special day for me because it meant we were on the school’s mailing list now and my son is part of this academic community.

It meant that we were now into the more serious business of preparing him for the real world — although it will be a step at a time, and tiny steps at that.  I felt proud.  And I must admit, I was very excited.  I immediately started putting the letters in a binder.  My little boy is going to pre-k!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Moving on

My 4-year-old is currently in private preschool. We started him off in July of last year and he was put in a “prepper” class, and was promoted to “preschool” in less than 2 months after having been toilet-trained. Alan and I have been very satisfied with hwe his development has progressed despite the cost as he now speaks very fluently, he has started to be more socially adept, and he has become more creatively inclined.

He was recently accepted for Pre-k admission in the public school closest to us and we brought him with us today as we acknowledged acceptance of admission.

He showed some reluctance at the sight of how big the school was. He kept saying he wanted to go to his pre-school class — and yet we could see that part of him wanted to explore the long corridor.

I can only imagine how he is afraid of moving on, and how comfortable and secure he feels in the smaller classroom he’s in right now. But at least he has time to adjust to this bigger world of pre-k. I can’t believe he’s grown up so much.

In the meantime, I’m here to savor guiding him through each day. I know it won’t be long before he let’s go of Mommy’s hand and insists on going at it alone. So here I am clinging to him tightly — not quite ready to let go myself.

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