Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Happy Ending

We had to punish Emelia last week.

At the parent-teacher conference on Monday, Emelia's teacher told us that Emelia wasn't listening to any of the other adults in school, just the teacher.  And even then, it was a struggle.  So we talked to Emelia about it afterwards, while the family was driving me to work.  And I followed up with it on Tuesday, when I walked Emelia to school.

So we were rather surprised when later on Tuesday the teacher called Kathy, and said that Emelia was misbehaving and being disruptive.  And even more surprised when the teacher called Kathy a second time, because Emelia was still acting up.  Kathy spoke with Emelia on the second call.  It didn't matter -- Emelia remained awful for the rest of the day.

We threw the book at her, at least as much as we were willing to do given that she's five.  She wrote an apology (her words, our help with spelling) that she delivered the next day; and was placed on two weeks of no dessert and no video. 

Kathy was the one who set most of the punishment, but it didn't take long before she was contemplating making exceptions.  I wanted us to hold firm -- at the time Kathy handed down the sentence, she had told Emelia that she wouldn't have s'mores while we were camping, even though her friend (and everyone else) would.  I reasoned that if Kathy was going to make that a feature of the punishment, it wouldn't do any good to remove it.  Kathy ultimately agreed, so we didn't make exceptions.

During the first week of punishment, the teacher reported that Emelia was behaving well at school.  At home, Emelia also behaved well, and didn't complain about the punishment.  She even reminded Kathy that she was on punishment a couple of times when Kathy forgot.  During camping, she sat around while everyone else ate s'mores, and didn't complain at all.  

In short, she was great for the whole first week, including Tuesday, her first day back at school after the long weekend that included an overall lack of sleep.

Tuesday evening, we ended the punishment after one week, making clear that we ended it because of her good behavior and because she didn't complain.  The point had been made, and Emelia responded positively.  We didn't see what more a second week of punishment would accomplish.  

On Wednesday, with the punishment lifted, Emelia's teacher said Emelia was excellent during the day, and at home she was great too.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another Letter to Emelia and Hannah

Weekends like this past one will hardly be a blip in the girls' memories when they're older, so I thought it best to try to capture it for them. Because in my mind it truly was a special one -- making a special weekend doesn't require a special trip or (much) special planning. All it requires is special people.

About the girls, May 2012

Emelia. Emelia at five is fiercely independent, except when she isn't. She's engaging, snuggly, and determined, but also she has trouble accepting things that aren't how she wants, be it with her peers or her parents. She has a strong sense of justice, usually centered on how she's being falsely "accused" of misbehaving. In sum, she's very much how she's been for the past two years, except wiser, more stubborn, more eloquent, and more creative. And even more delightful, if that's possible.

Hannah. Hannah is three months past her second birthday, her happiness that never flagged in the past now tinted occasionally by bouts of two-ness. Still, strangers regularly come up and tell us what a happy child she is. She's talking up a storm, loves to jump and do all sorts of physical activity, and she generally can't be left unattended. She's no longer napping every day, and Kathy especially isn't happy about it. She loves balls, dolls, and vehicles.

The weekend

Friday. Kathy, Emelia and Hannah headed up to College Park after school to visit with Shizuka, Kaz and Michiko (Eric was away) -- I Metro'd up there after work to meet you for dinner and a little hanging out, before I took the car back to tend to Nora, leaving the three of you to have a sleepover. I stayed up too late on TurnTable, and from what I hear, Emelia and Kaz also stayed up pretty late, chit-chatting away, best friends just like their Moms. Still, I was up the next morning before Kathy called for me to head up for a bagel breakfast.

Saturday. Up there, play and good times continued around a delicious bagel breakfast. After breakfast, Kathy, Hannah and I made a trip to the nearby REI, then came back to grab Emelia and all of us headed home. Lunch at home was followed by Hannah's (and my) nap. We woke Hannah and
away we went to a Street Art Festival down at Yards Park. Actually, the girls' highlight was less the festival and much more the fountain and little pool, where I think they both would have stayed had I not pulled them away so we could see what we (I) came for. Truth be told, however, there wasn't much that interested us in the festival. The one exception was a troupe of acrobats that Kathy and I enjoyed, but Emelia and Hannah were pretty bored. Emelia eventually turned to performing her own acrobatics, far more impressed by what she could do than could the members of the troupe. After that we headed home for a simple dinner and an early bedtime for the girls.

Rather, an early bedtime for Hannah. After dinner I reminded Emelia that she wanted to make a Mother's Day cake for Sunday, so we set to work on that. Mother's Day is not traditionally known as a cake holiday, but last year we inadvertently started a tradition -- since I had a special grown-up surprise birthday party for Kathy three days earlier, we assuaged Emelia's feeling of being left out by making a Mother's Day cake. She remembered it well this year and wanted to make one again. Both before and during the making, Emelia must have referenced the "surprise" about 100 times, always making sure Kathy didn't know what we were up to. Emelia's bedtime followed the baking.

Sunday. I woke up early, and Emelia followed quickly (as did Hannah when Emelia got up). I got some milk for Hannah while Emelia and I set to work with the frosting and sprinkles.  Being clueless about such things at the time I purchased the cake mix, I quickly discovered that devil's food cake crumbs off very easily if you apply frosting, so I ended up having to do that, even though we both wanted Emelia to have the honors.  Instead, she got to put the sprinkles on.  I left her to spell out "MOMMY" with them, or "MOM" if the letters got too big, but even that was a bit too optimistic.  Let's just say that I was able to perform a salvage job so that the "O" wasn't a solid block of sprinkles.

Kathy came down and opened Emelia's card and my present, a 16x20 canvas collage of the girls using photos from last month's beach trip.  

After poking around for a bit, I was going to suggest we go to the Arboretum, but Kathy beat me to it.  Great minds and all, at least that's what I tell myself (and her).  We enjoyed walking a lot with the girls, and only had to carry Hannah a little bit at the end.  Sadly Hannah didn't want to let us take photos of her, but we snuck a couple in.  And Emelia got a couple of Kathy and me -- she liked taking the photo of us kissing.  

Kathy decided she wanted lunch at Franklin's, so that's where we went.  Again Kathy and I were in harmony, ordering the same beer and meal -- it's like we were celebrating our anniversary a few days early (the 16th).  Back to the house afterwards, for naps for Hannah and me.  I slept, but no luck with Hannah.  Kathy was a bit frazzled when I came downstairs, so I grabbed Emelia and we walked to the grocery store.  When we got back, we got the house ready for the return engagement of Shizuka and the kids, this time with Eric in tow.  A nice dinner was followed by the surprise cake, which was well received by all, much to Emelia's delight.  Our dinner guests didn't stay too late, and we put the girls as soon as the company left.  

A busy weekend gave way to a quiet evening, as Kathy and I relaxed in preparation for the week.  So ended a wonderful Mothers Day weekend.

Caveat.  Were there low points in this amazing weekend?  Of course -- it's too recent to wipe those clean via the nostalgicator.  Still, they were relatively small and insignificant compared to the multitude and intensity of the high points.