My Kid is a Kindergartner

I sat down to write a post about why one of the UX people on my team is also the best tester, but when I opened my "temp" file (the one I use to write posts in offline, so I don't have to type into a Movable Type form, and so I don't accidentally lose everything I've written if there's a connection problem), it contained a post I wrote back in December of last year about what the Beaner was like at age five, which I ended up re-reading. As I mentioned in that post, I often regret these days that I don't write here as often as I used to, and that as a result I'll end up forgetting what different stages of the Beaner's childhood were like. So now I'll blow my blogwad on a post about the Beaner, and you'll probably never find out why I think that UX person is such a great tester.

(I guess this also proves that this blog really is just a personal memory store for me, and not a mechanism for promoting my professional reputation through blowhardery.)

Anyway! On Thursday the Beaner started Kindergarten at his Montessori school. Oh, did I mention... we MOVED over the summer? To an awesome old-but-new-to-us house in a different school district? I didn't? Good LORD I am behind. OK, so, quick recap: We started looking at different options for the Beaner's first grade year at around the same time as parents of other kids he'd started Montessori with, even though we knew the Beaner had one more year of Montessori because of his post-September 1 birthday. I'm glad we started so early, because we had lots of time to check out different schools, get a vibe from each, and figure out the financial consequences of each option.

The school we ended up liking best was public, but required living in a very specific catchment area (not the one we currently lived in). The least expensive option was to stay where we were and send him to the public school whose catchment we were already in (and which some families make an effort to get into), but that we didn't love. The most expensive option was to send him to private school—something we weren't super keen on, but that also wouldn't require a move.

We ended up deciding to look for a house in the catchment area of the school we liked, with the requirement that we had to like it at least as much as the house we already lived in. If we couldn't find a place by the time we had to register the Beaner for first grade (in January 2011, I think), we'd stay put and re-visit the public/private options. This was more than a year ago now; I think we started looking in June of 2009, and we looked at a LOT of houses. Our real estate agent had the patience of a saint (and here I must also credit our cute kid; I think he's really what kept her wanting to keep going out with us). There were two other houses we considered briefly before finally finding this one—we totally could have been on an episode of House Hunters and described our three choices as if they'd been found in the same weekend, even though they were spaced out over about 6 months—but when we walked into the place we now LIVE IN (I still pinch myself), we knew it was The One.

Some interesting things about our choice:

  • It's next door to (literally the twin of) the first house we looked at. That one wasn't right for us, but this one was.
  • We saw this same floor plan over and over, and rejected it each time. I can come up with a long list of justifications for why it was right in this case and wrong in all the others, but the bottom line is that this house was just us.
  • As with our first house in Philly, Al saw it first by himself (I was away at a hockey tournament) and knew it was The One. I concurred as soon as I saw it too. (I love that we're on the same wavelength that way.)
  • This house has neither of (what we thought were) our top two priorities.
  • It does, however, have a built-in light table.

We're now farther away from work and the Beaner's current school (though because his current school is close to our work, it doesn't matter too much), but we love our new place and the new neighborhood. We met more of our new neighbors in the first month than we did in 7 years at the old place, and I often run into work friends and hockey friends here. We're not in Center City anymore, but (a) we still work near our old neighborhood, and so have access to all the same spots we did before, and (b) there are actually many more restaurants and coffee shops within 3 blocks of our new house than our old. At the same time, being here on the weekends feels like we're at our "country house". It's lovely.

Many who knew we'd moved to get into this school area were a little puzzled when we mentioned the Beaner would be staying at his Montessori school for Kindergarten (which is how it occurred to me to mention that we moved in a post about him starting his Kindergarten year), but that was always the plan. Even if we'd been in the new catchment by January, we wouldn't have tried for one of the 50 Kindergarten spots available (and not guaranteed). So here we are back where I started: My kid is now a Kindergartner!

first day of kindergarten

He was really excited about this fact, though after the first day of phase-in (when he was only in the classroom for about 90 minutes), his enthusiasm dimmed a bit. I guess he realized that it wasn't going to be THAT different. However, I reminded him that come Monday, when the real school schedule started, he'd have Kindergarten Time (that is, time to be in the classroom alone with their teachers instead of in the mixed-age environment), field trips, Lunch Around the World celebrations, and art classes. I also explained that this is the first year of Real School: He's not in preschool anymore.

School friend: "One more year, and I'm DONE WITH SCHOOL!"

School friend's Mom: "Well, done with *this* school."

Me: "Right. Only twelve more years to go!"

Beaner: "Don't forget college!"

The Beaner has moments of anxiety about starting first grade at a new school next year, but I remind him to focus on enjoying his Kindergarten year first. Telling him this reminds me not to worry about the transition to a new school (and away from the freedom of Montessori) as well. I'm a pretty "eh, he can handle it" parent, but I remember well my own awkward school days... and this is where I fear public school, even one from which we got such an awesome vibe. I can already anticipate my heart breaking on his behalf, and I hope I'll be able to take it.

Meanwhile, the Beaner is reading more than ever. I got him some audiobooks for his iPod that I thought he might like, and he took to them so thoroughly that he seems to have skipped to a whole new section in the bookstore/library (namely, the Independent Reader section). He's tearing through Beverly Cleary and Angie Sage books, and his godmommy/my best friend sent him some Roald Dahl and Judy Blume books that he's enjoying as well. He's also still reading his old favorites from the Arthur and Berenstain Bears series.

this is me, in miniature
Dear Condescending Pediatrician: Why yes, that IS an ice cream bar in his hand.
You want to make something of it?

Yeah, so as you can probably tell from that photo caption, I have some residual anger from our last "well child" visit. Our normal pediatrician, the one who we love and who has us make appointments for 8am but tells us to come early because she'll see us as soon as we arrive, was on maternity leave, so we had to see some new guy at 11am. (I won't blame all of my woes on him; the office, with its screwy appointment systems, it probably just as much to blame for the one hour wait AFTER we were shown into the exam room.) This dude didn't seem to believe me when I said that the Beaner can read chapter books (at that point, he'd read every book in the basket while waiting), completely ignored the Beaner's "my handwriting's really good!" remark after asking me if he could write his own name, and seemed to think that I was incapable of reading a weight chart or feeding my child a healthy diet. Never mind that the Beaner's been on the same weight curve since birth, and that he has the exact same body type and shape as his father; the dude actually tried to prove I was a liar by asking the Beaner what he ate.

Beaner: "Mostly healthy stuff."

Doctor: "What about pizza? Do you eat pizza?"

Beaner: "I like pizza."

Doctor: [AHA LOOK]

(For the record, the Beaner does eat pizza occasionally. As in maybe once every 3-4 weeks. We also go out for Vietnamese food every week or two, where he eats chicken broken rice and corn pudding. The foods in heaviest rotation at the moment are rice, yogurt, turkey, ham, grapes, melon, peaches, apples, soy milk, multigrain fruit bars, applesauce, corn, kim, avocado sushi, baked beans, TJs spaghetti Os, Annie's mac & cheese, cereal, and oatmeal. Al gives him ice cream for dessert a few nights a week. He could subsist on a diet of 100% fruit for days.)

Me: "What's your favorite cereal?"

Beaner: "Raisin Bran!"

Doctor: [IGNORES]

Incidentally, the Beaner also failed his vision test at this visit, but passed with flying colors at the follow-up with the pediatric ophthalmologist. So far it seems he has inherited my vision and Al's jaw and body type.

Other things about the Beaner that I want to note for my own record:

  • Favorite games: Monopoly (the Jr., Original, and Star Wars versions), the Game of Life (he almost always takes the path that increases his chances of having children)
  • Best friends, according to his list:
  • Demonstrated jump, belly flop, and slide into the pool today, as well as doggy paddle to stairs. Still not really "swimming," but plunging in and getting his face wet without screaming for a towel is a big step forward.
  • Current stuffed buddies: Cuddles (IKEA mouse), Minnie, Mickey
  • Gets "might" and "might as well" confused.
  • Starts many sentences with "apparently," sometimes even appropriately.

my helper

Posted by Lori in parenthood at 12:05 AM on September 12, 2010


See, I couldn't care less about the UX person, but I love to read about the Beaner.

Who looks SO GROWN UP! Unbelievable.

What was that pediatrician smoking? You only have to look at him to know that he's healthy and thriving.

Posted by: ratphooey [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2010 8:44 AM

So the spots at the school aren't guaranteed for K, but you can get in for 1st? Curious.

I love reading these Beaner posts. What a difference a year makes.

Posted by: girlfiend at September 12, 2010 9:45 AM

It always amazes me when kids go from that cute toddler pudge to little whole people. He's so big!

Posted by: schmutzie at September 12, 2010 11:01 AM

Wow - he's grown! That top photo of the two of you (besides being a stunning picture) makes it clear that he's not a little kid any longer. And the bottom photo - I can envision that adult he will become. Really amazing.

Posted by: Megan B at September 12, 2010 8:30 PM

LOVE the photos of the Beaner & this update! His build is a lot like Shmoo's - solid. And, like ratphooey said, healthy. I can't believe that pediatrician; what an asswipe. Was there a "complaint" box?

I'm so glad you're liking the neighborhood.

Posted by: juliloquy at September 12, 2010 10:13 PM

Wow!! What a great post. I haven't checked your site in a while and it was nice to hear about Beaner starting K, the new house and see such fantastic photos of him. He looks so much like you both and has such a great smile. I really love the close-up B&W photo of you two. I'm sorry I've been so out of touch...thanks for this nice update. We are busy over here, our little guy finally started school a few weeks ago so I will have some time to keep in touch more now. Would be nice to catch up with you on phone sometime. Love, Jean

Posted by: Jean at September 22, 2010 1:15 AM

He's so big! Thanks for posting. I'm sure he's going to love school.

Posted by: Sho Kuwamoto at September 22, 2010 12:38 PM

Loved the update! Wished you posted more.

Posted by: Abigail at October 11, 2010 11:07 PM

Thanks for the post. Time flies when you're having fun. We just started our first one in kindergarten this year and it feels like warp factor 3.

Posted by: Chris at October 13, 2010 12:51 AM

Just wanted to wish you an excellent birthday! I've been lax about e-mailing anyone these days...*sigh*! Hope you have a great day with those you love the most!!

Posted by: Jo [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 26, 2010 8:36 PM

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