Walking to school - James's first day of Reception (or so we thought - this was a Monday and he actually started on that Thursday)
James really likes his school. It is a state school, and like at about 100% of the primary schools in Britain, the children there wear uniforms to school. I LOVE how he looks in his school uniform. I feel that there are so many pros and almost no cons to having kids wear them. It simplifies getting ready in the morning, it is an equaliser (no "poor" or "rich" clothes; no trendy or immodest clothes - everyone dresses the same way), and it helps the kids get in the mindset for school. Plus, the kids look so smart! (I mean this in the British sense of the word.) Cons - um... the uniform can be expensive (but really no more so than regular clothes, and is often cheaper than ordinary play clothes). Some people may say that it curbs individualism or freedom of expression in children. And I reply to this, "really? So we want to convey that the best or most important way for our children to express themselves is through fashion?"
So, can we start a movement in the U.S. for uniforms in public schools? Who's with me?
The title is a paraphrase of James's reply to my "Alex is six months old today."
At age 0.5, Alexander weighs 17 pounds, 13 ounces; his length is 29 inches; and his head circumference is 44.5 centimetres. In other words, he is average for his age for weight, and well above average for length and noggin size. This obviously means that I am a better mother than people with puny children.
Things have been busy lately. Thus, little blogging. But have no fear! You can still see a lot of what we've been up to the past couple of months. I just posted a boatload of photos to my Facebook account. Enjoy!
I feel that I am preparing to leave London (we have about three months left) just as I am getting adept at living here. I have, for example, just barely figured out the best way to navigate Liverpool Street station with a buggy - where all the lifts are, where the street exits closest to the buses are, etc. I know all the best places to take James now - his favourite parks, the most kid-friendly museums, the restaurants where the servers don't roll their eyes when he knocks his silverware on the floor for the third time. I have online food shopping down cold.
As I was contemplating these things a few days ago, I realised it has been true of many stages of my life - I get good at doing something just as things are drawing to a close and it's time to move on. It is no different with parenting. In the 4+ years that James and I have lived together, it seems that each
time I feel I finally understand how to interact with him, he enters a different stage of development, and I have to learn everything afresh. The tactics that worked so well (okay, worked sometimes) yesterday are rendered obsolete by the swift and unrelenting passage of time. James is a drastically different person than he was six months ago, and by
extension, I am a different mother than I was then.
One of the ways I've changed my strategy is to let go of the outcome of my labours, or acknowledge that I never had true control over it in the first place. James is not a puppy I am housebreaking, but a human being for whom I have stewardship. Not all his successes will be attributable to my efforts, nor will his mistakes be laid at my feet. This is both comforting and bewildering. It would be simpler to have a straightforward cause-and-effect sort of evaluation system for my work; in its place there is intuition and hope that your best will be good enough.
I guess the point is not to be a perfect mother, or even a great mother, from the get-go, though. I did not expect James to be comfortable and capable with his mortal experience from day one; I should not expect myself to be so in my experience as his guardian. It is difficult, though, for someone with my obsessive personality and my desire to do everything "right" to fully embrace the idea that the process of becoming, the journey, is the objective. James and I are teaching each other how to be children of God and to do His will. And while that journey isn't easy, I appreciate the company.
I know that I'm not the first person to articulate these concepts, but I thought at least many of my readers would be able to relate. It is a thrilling adventure, being a mother. I'm always adjusting, recalibrating, discovering new ways to communicate, discipline, and teach. And new ways to learn. Maybe by the time they move out of the house, I'll feel sure-footed and confident. Maybe.
31-10-09: On the tube, we see a man in a Halloween costume. He is dressed as Vincent Van Gogh, and is wearing sea-green makeup on his face and arms. James says, "Hey, guys, someone is the wrong color on this train!"
26-09-09: As he came out of his room for the umpteenth time at 10:27 p.m., after being threatened with everything we could possibly think of as punishment if he didn't go to sleep, "Daddy, I'm obeying sleeping."
25-09-09: Tat: I don't think your clothes are dirty. James: Yes, they are dirty. Tat: What do they have on them? James: Ants and butterflies and bees and flies.
24-09-09: Micah and James were discussing math story problems. James came up with "If I have 10 babies, and I cuddle one baby, I have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, NINE babies left!"
"When I get bigger, I'm going to have curly hair."
21-09-09: Tat: Thank you for holding the door for me. You're such a gentleman. James: I'm not a gentleman; my name is James.
"These magazines are for big kids. Wait - I'M a big kid!"
03-09-09: We hired a car with a manual transmission while holidaying in Cornwall. Micah was having a little trouble keeping the car from stalling out (we later realised this was because he was trying to start the car in third gear). When Micah got out of the car to go into a store, James said, "I think we need to get some new tyres so the car will work." A bit later, he said to Micah, "I think you need to learn to drive the car."
27-08-09: Tat: James, I need you to put your clothes away now. James (as he continues leaping off the bed): My responsibility is flying.
26-08-09: Tat: Do you want to be a daddy when you grow up? James: No. And I'm not going to get bigger. I'm going to stay small, like this.
23-04-09: Tat: Don't crawl on me while I'm holding Alex. James: I'm not crawling on you. I'm climbing on you.
03-09: "Mommy, you're driving me NUTS!" And a few minutes later, "You're driving me nuts AGAIN!"
11-03-09: Tat flushes the toilet for James. James: Mommy, did you say goodbye to the pee and poo? Tat: (obligingly) Goodbye, pee and poo! James: Goodbye, pee and poo! See you tonight! (To Tat): I gave the pee and poo a nap. Tat: (?)
07-03-09: James, to Daddy: "You have two choices. Play with me, or play with me. No, you have ONE choice: play with me!"
02-09: While babysitting a six-month old girl for some friends, James came in to find me sitting on the living room floor, holding her. He said, "Look, Mommy! The baby came out of your tummy!"
02-09: Tat: Look, James, it's snowing outside. James: Daddy brought the snow!
01-09: James is playing with Play-Doh. James: Mommy! I need pickles! Tat: (Pause.) Do you mean toothpicks? James: Yes. I need picks.
01-09: James knocks on his bedroom door from within. Tat: What is it? James: It's me, James Christensen!
30-12-08: James: You're my mommy. Tat: And you're my son. James: And you're my moon!
18-12-08: Looking out the bus window: "That house looks like a rocket." Tat: "That building is called the Gherkin." James: "That's the Gherkin House Rocket."
12-12-08: We were out to dinner when James heard me say I was going to have Fanta to drink. James says, "You're going to DRINK SANTA?"
11-12-08: "Daddy, you're my favorite drum." Then James starts pounding on Micah's back.
1-12-08: "Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for not to go to bed, for giving James back his Play-Doh, for giving it back to me, Amen."
1-12-08: "Stop eating, Mommy! You need to stop eating and drinking SO MUCH!"
13-11-08: James commented that a picture he was coloring with markers was beautiful. Micah asked, "Is Mommy beautiful?" James replied, "No, Mommy's not beautiful. Mommy's a girl."
7-11-08: "James, what are you thankful for?" "I'm thankful for monsters."
2-11-08: Addressing Tat, as she leaves the kitchen: "Come back here, little fella!"
20-10-08: (Pointing to a construction worker): "Look, Daddy! It's Bob the Builder!" Construction worker replies, in a cockney accent: "I'm not Bob the Builder - I'm Bill the Builder."
17-10-08: "I can't wear these shoes - they're too dirty." Actually, they're brand new. I think he thought if he used the same excuse that I use when he can't wear clothes he wants to wear, his opinion would have more clout.
10-08: While eating french fries: "Mmm, delicious. Yummy in my tummy. Tastes like blueberry muffins." ???? - um, no idea where that comment came from. I'm not even sure whether James has ever tried a blueberry muffin.
10-08: "I have a baby in my tummy." Hmmm.
23-9-08: Micah picked James up, and James protested, "NO! I'm not a toy!"
15-9-08: James was upset, I think because I told him he couldn't have a cookie before breakfast. Micah: "Mommy loves you and she just wants you to be happy." James: (through tears) "She doesn't love me!"
04-9-08: James: "Look, Mommy, a peach!" Tat: "That's an orange." James: "It sounds like a peach to me."
30-6-08: After I counted something at James's request, he said, enthusiastically, "Good counting, everybody!"
24-6-08: I'm reading to James, and I ask him where a character's caps have all gone. James' reply: "They went to church."
19-6-08: I'm changing his diaper, and James is touching his penis. "Is that your penis?" I ask. "No, it's my belly button."
19-6-08: James is wearing his dinosaur pajamas. Suddenly he says, "Ow!" I ask him what happened. "I hurt my... my dinosaur," he replies.
18-6-08: James is taking a bath. Our wolf puppet, Lobo, is "talking" with James. James asks Lobo, "How old are you, Lobo?" Lobo replies, "I'm about three months old. How old are you, James?" James, with excitement in his voice: "I'm three!"
31-5-08: I'm putting James down for his nap, and he puts his arms around my neck and says, "You're my best friend."
15-5-08: Several minutes after an incident in which James got a slap to the face, he was overheard reciting to himself "No, [name of child who slapped him], don't hit James . . ."
12-5-08: James points out the window and says, "It's hot outside!" and then proceeds to blow in the general direction of the outside, as if he's cooling off food he's about to eat.
10-5-08: Micah asks me, from downstairs, if I need anything. I say no, so he replies, "Okay, just stay in bed and stay hot." James echoes, also from downstairs, "Stay hot, Mommy!"
28-4-08: As we were both waking up from our naps, I asked James to get some books for us to read. I watched him go into his room, pick up one of his Thomas-the-Tank-Engine books, and shove it out of sight to the back of his bookshelf. He then returned to my room and declared, "Thomas the Tank Engine book all gone!"
21-4-08: While eating breakfast in his high chair, for no apparent reason, James starts clapping and says, "Good job, James!"
18-4-08: James is hiding under a sheet in the kitchen while I do the dishes. Apparently, I'm not paying him enough attention, because I hear, from under the sheet, "Where's James?"
18-3-08: "I hurt my mustache."
24-2-08: We're in Sacrament Meeting, starting to sing the opening hymn. We sing "I am a child of . . ." and James YELLS to the entire congregation, "Stop singing!"
23-2-08: James is in his high chair eating some Cheerios before bed. He has his dinosaur pajamas on. He puts a Cheerio in the dinosaur's mouth on his jammies and says, "Dinosaur eat Cheerios."
2-08: James is learning to count. So far, he can count thusly: "One, two, one." (As he points haphazardly at whatever he's supposed to be counting.)
12-2-08: Micah walks into the kitchen, where James is in his high chair eating dinner. As he walks in, he sees James whip something in his hand behind his back. Micah gives James the stare-down; James slowly pulls the hand with the contraband measuring cup in it out from behind his back and says, "Not a toy."
9-2-08: James is telling me he wants cookies for breakfast. I keep telling him he has to eat real food first. This goes back and forth for a while. One of my get-his-attention tactics is to whisper to him, so finally I whisper, "Would you like cereal or eggs?" Looking straight in my eyes, he whispers back, "Cookie!"
29-1-08: I'm about to read to James a Curious George book. I read to him the title of the book, "Are You Curious?" And he replies, "I'm not curious, I'm James!"
12-07: James is sitting in the shopping cart as I'm running errands. We pass a cart with a little girl, and he shouts out to her, in passing, "Hi! I'm James!" Yeah. He's an uncontrollable flirt.