I woke up in a panic this past Saturday morning. I had promised my oldest son I'd get him up by 7 a.m. as he needed to be at West High, a 10 minute walk from our house, by 7:45 a.m. for a college admissions test he was signed up to take. But both my electronic and canine alarm clocks failed me -- it was 7:20 when I opened my eyes.
I bounded out of bed and flung open the door to my son's room for reveille. But he was nowhere to be found. I hurried downstairs to find him quietly sitting at the kitchen table eating some toaster waffles. The coffee was made and he had his three perfectly sharpened number two pencils and a graphing calculator with backup batteries sitting neatly on the counter waiting to go. When I apologized for screwing up the alarm, he let me know it was no big deal. "Don't' worry, Mom," he said. "I'm ready."
He got up from the table a few minutes later, packed his supplies into a backpack and gave me a hug. He promised to text when the test was over to let me know his plans for the rest of the day.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
And that, my friends, is what I call a parenting win.
It was the moment we'd been training him for since the day he was born. And it wasn't always easy. There were time-outs for drawing mustaches on his sister's face with permanent magic marker. There were countless, painstaking lessons on how to properly match socks (no, just because both of them are white, does not necessarily mean they are a pair). There were the threats that if he didn't start to aim a little better in the bathroom, I might just make him clean it up.
But all the life coaching seems to have finally paid off. And it couldn't have come at a better time. School's out for summer and next year he'll be a senior. Now seems the time when being "ready" becomes dauntingly necessary. Because in a little over a year from now, he'll be off on his own.
He'll be getting up every day without my prompting. No one, except his conscience, will be asking him if he's done all his homework. He'll be buying his own groceries and doing his own laundry (all those sock-folding lessons will have come in handy). He'll be making his own choices on when to come home at night.
My son's test scores come back in a few weeks. I guess then he'll find out, at least from a numerical standpoint, how ready he really was when it came to math, history and Latin.
But regardless, last Saturday he got up on his own, made waffles and coffee and had his pencils and calculator all set to go.
So I think, in some of the most important ways of all, he is definitely ready.
The question is whether I will be come a year from fall.comments powered by Disqus
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.