When I thought about having children, I only really focused on the frivolous things, like what I would name them, how I would decorate the nursery, what clothes they would wear, etc. Also, I never realized that no matter how hard you try, or feel like you are doing all the “right” things, your kids may still not listen to you. Tantrums are the product of emotionally motivated little people that aren’t always rational or reasonable.
So aside from not understanding that sleep would become non-existent, and public outings are a spectacle, there are some other things I didn’t realize would be true. For example, I never considered
- My oldest would spontaneously break into song, much of the time. Favorites have included “Three Little Birds,” by Bob Marley, “Lonely Boy,” by The Black Keys, “Gold on the Ceiling,” TBK, and that nursery rhyme, Miss Mary Mack
- My oldest would be able to lock and unlock the baby gate at will. Sometimes she will lock the cat out of the kitchen just so she can laugh at him.
- My kids would like the things I like, especially sourdough. My oldest LOVES caesar salad, ever since she was old enough to eat lettuce, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we spent an inordinate amount of time at Sweet Tomatoes, a somewhat higher brow place than Fresh Choice. Same with my younger girl, she loves baby carrots, which I ate almost every day of my last trimester during a legal internship. With baby boy I ate tons of cottage cheese (which I had been revolted by most of my life), and yogurt with raspberries. So far he loves raspberry yogurt, and macaroni and cheese (which his older sisters and mama of course love too).
- That my oldest would LOVE vegetables. Seriously, she is way into brussel sprouts, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and celery, in particular. And while I’d like to pretend that it has anything to do with my parenting, I know it’s just the way her tastebuds are. Otherwise her sister would follow suit. Luckily, she’ll sometimes mimic her (see below), and I can get her to eat a vegetable other than carrots or corn.
- My kids would love Barney. I hate Barney. I cannot stand watching Barney. I don’t know why, I just have a negative association with him. I happen to thoroughly enjoy movies like thisone.
- Similarly, Care Bears freak me out. I know I used to love them with a capital L, but now they are borderline creepy. I think it’s the artificial intonation of their voices. Shudder.
- My (now 2 1/2 year old) younger daughter would do every single exact thing her older sister does. Good or bad. Against her interests or not. For example, at dinner time, if older sister declares she doesn’t like something, younger sister does too, even if it’s her favorite thing to eat. Mimicking doesn’t stop at likes and dislikes, it spills over into stealing toys from each other, laughing in a weird pitch, mimicking songs sister is singing (see above), shouting catchphrases at bedtime, etc. On and on. This is actually how she learned to run, almost the day after walking. It’s also how she learned to use a cup, fork, spoon, etc. And how she started talking in complex sentences with a venerable encyclopedia of words by the time she was two. I remember when my oldest was two panicking about how “little” she was talking, eventhough she at the time spoke over 500 words, though not necessarily in sentences. Now, of course, she never stops talking. I even hear her talking in her sleep upon occasion.
- My kids would carry around seemingly random junk and crap, and covet it like treasure. In various containers, bags, etc. Puzzle pieces, rocks, fairies, wooden blocks, and other trinkets abound everywhere.
- Our car would become like a moving toy chest. I really need to clean it out and deep vacuum it, but the baby freaks out at the sound, so I can no longer resort to the vacuuming at the gas station trick. I have become increasingly less motivated to negotiate out of them bringing more things in the car, if it means I will get at least a small amount of quiet in between the music requests, random questions, and overall nonstop talking and general noise.
- It’s almost impossible to concentrate on driving with children who can talk in the car. “Mommy! I want to tell you something. Guess what? I have purple shoes,” etc.
- My kids would put almost anything and everything in their mouths, just to see how it feels or tastes.
- That I would be that mom in the grocery store, or Target, or whatever. Yesterday, when we were leaving a birthday party, and I wasn’t doing whatever it was that big girl wanted that second, she was actually hitting me, pinching me, yelling and screeching, in addition to almost sitting on the ground. As I continued to chuckle to myself at her unreasonableness and tell her that we were leaving, I noticed that everyone in the lobby was staring at us. I let an untrue “someone’s had too much cake,” comment slip out in the direction of the guy behind the desk, and he smiled, as if he believed me.
- How you parent your first child is not the same as how you parent your second or third child. When your first is born you think that everything you are doing is the only way and everyone else doesn’t know what they are talking about, or at least you are incredibly skeptical. But with subsequent babies, you naturally calm down a bit, and change the way you do things. I’ve actually seen a book called how to raise your first child like a second, or something like that. As if reading a book could substitute for the actual hands on experience of rearing a child. Some things you just have to experience.
- That the complete subversion of self into the service of little people, while all consuming, I would still never wish it were any other way. Even during the most challenging and stressful times.
Now that I’ve covered the amorphous “things” part of my post, I’ll move onto the standards. As I often like to plan years in advance, a habit of attempting to finish college early, and scheduling lawschool with two small children, I was looking at the Kindergarten standards for my oldest girl the other night, and I was kind of shocked.
Well, I wasn’t looking that early, since if the state legislature hadn’t changed the cutoff date for K, baby girl would have only been 2 weeks too young to attend, and I have no doubt she would LOVE to go now. So anyway, back to the standards.
I didn’t really look at the Math portion as closely, because as we all know, I am somewhat incapable of Math at this point. Too many years away from studying/actually using it, I rely heavily and embarrassingly on my phone’s calculator, I tend to deny that it actually exists. I’m sure I will look more closely when the relevant time comes.
Some of the things that struck me were that at the end of Kindergarten, kids are expected to:
- Recognize and name all the uppercase and lower case letters of the alphabet
- Know what a rhyming word is, and when given a word, be able to state a word that rhymes with it
- Count the sounds in a syllable and the syllables in a word (I’m not even sure what this one means?)
- And various other things related to reading and writing
In terms of all of the listening and speaking aspects, such as being able to restate a story, etc., girl will have NO problems in that area. She talks all.the.time nonstop about almost everything, and she’s got a memory like no one’s business. Sometimes she will randomly recount things from over a year ago. And she loves to ask questions. Lately, she has asked her friends what kinds of sheets and blankets they have on their beds, or what color their houses or parents’ cars are. She’s got a mind like a steel trap. Anyway, perhaps it’s the thought that my little 5 year old will soon be not only expected to but capable of performing these things that blows my mind.