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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bubs and Education

Bubs 1 and his Harvard onsie
The two bubs have their 529 college funds in place. They're mom took care of this after each one was born. Impressive. It was exactly how she was raised. The bubs will be reminded throughout their lives, like she was, that they will have the privilege to attend college. The idea of attending college will likely be ingrained into each of them. His mom and I will remind them of the privilege and opportunity that they can take advantage of after they graduate high school. We will be able to also tell them that not all kids have the opportunity to go to college.

Bubs 2 and his UCLA tshirt
When I was growing up going to college was an opportunity, but never discussed. I only remember my father mentioning it one time. When I was 17, and I just received my driver's license, my father was able to purchase a second car and leave his first car in the driveway for me to use. I remember him saying, "If you change the oil every (3,000 or 6,000 miles), then this car will take you through college."

Bubs 2 on Wilkes U campus
His statement shocked me. I'll never forget the feeling, as I stood there in the kitchen of his house on Layton Road.

I'm not sure if I was more shocked about the fact that I was about to have a car that I could use whenever I needed, or the fact that I was expected to go to college. The reason it was so shocking was because I had never been to a college-campus visit or on a tour. I didn't even take the SAT exam. My high school counselor never said a word to me about college. It wasn't that I never thought I would or wouldn't attend college, but rather it was the simple fact that I was never asked to think about it. When I lived with my mother, she never mentioned it. She never went to college herself. However my father did attend college when I was 8, 9 and 10 years old. He gained his college degree(s) prior to leaving the family and moving to another state for a job. In hindsight, I'm surprised that he never took the lead on getting me prepared for college when I started high school. Needless to say, after he said his statement about using the car through college, it was never discussed again until I graduated high school. I ended up registering for classes (last minute) at a local community college after the summer.

That was the start of my 14-year college career to attain a four-year degree. Better late than never, I say. :)
Savings Jar
I decided to tell Bubs 1 that this was his "savings jar" (pictured left). It was just a large pickle jar where I was collecting loose change of mine. I think that if he has a visual of what a "savings" looks like, then he can begin to grasp the concept more easily (as his mom and I begin reminding him of his college savings).

I can't wait to tell my two little guys the story about how I found out that I was going to college. It's not the best story, but it's going to be a reminder to them that a successful college career should be planned well ahead of the first day of classes. Plus, when it comes to how our society distributes jobs and makes decisions on who gets which job, a college degree is a must.

I'm already thinking about scheduling a campus tour at a nearby university. I wonder if the university tour guide will allow me time to change a diaper or two along the campus walk?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When Its Time to Potty Train

Bubs 1 has been showing signs of aggression at his pre school recently. We receive emails periodically from his teacher informing us on his progress, but recent emails have been hard for bub's mom and me to read. What we're reading is that he is displaying aggressive behavior during the mornings, while at preschool. I'm sure that most three-year-olds have issues since that's a part of their social development.

Bubs 1's mom and I have only taught him to be polite. He says, "thank you," "please," and "I'm sorry" when a situation calls for it. He spends "time outs" when he is not behaving well. At the same time, we are aware that he simply doesn't like being told that something he considers to be fun is coming to an end. Again, not many three-year-olds do. Not many adults do, for that matter. Whenever I give him a five-minute notice that a transition is coming, he tells me, "No. Stop it daddy. Stop it." Or, he'll respond with, "No. I can't do (whatever is coming next). I can't do that." If he's really into what he's doing, it can simply be an all-out meltdown (especially when he's at his friend's house, next door!).

The way I see it is that he's a healthy three-year-old trying to use his words properly to communicate his likes and dislikes. Change is hard at many ages. The meltdowns are just part of the fun.

However, some of the aggressive behavior that Bubs 1 is displaying at school involves hitting classmates. This is not acceptable to his mom or me. We've been told, by friends, that this is also three-year-old behavior, but it doesn't sit well with us. His mom and I, and his preschool teacher, have been racking our brains trying to figure out what's going on with him to cause him to hit others. His mom may have just discovered a reason the other day.

While hiking, Bubs 1 and mom were on a trail in the woods nearby the home. Bubs had to "go poops," but didn't know where to hide and do his business. His environment was unfamiliar. So, he scampered off the path and squatted behind a tree. But before he did this, he charged mom and ran right into her legs. I believe he even was pushing her. She was shocked. She said she was wondering what had came over the Bubs. That's when he ran off behind the tree. She recognized that he had to go poops. He is still in a diaper, but the privacy thing is still important. Perhaps he is aggressive when either he doesn't know the words or doesn't how or when to use them? This is a typical social thing?  He knows the words, "potty," and "poops," but may be embarrassed to use them? Whenever I ask him if he needs to poop, he quickly replies, "no." That's it. Nothing else is said. He even changes the subject most times.

His teacher now knows and also thinks there may be a connection. We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out. His teacher did say that he had a BM shortly after a few of his aggressive acts. Hopefully this is the reason for most of his aggression, directly and indirectly. All the books say to not push a toddler to poop in the potty. "They" say that it has to happen on their time.

It's a challenge to not "buy in" to the mainstream rhetoric about the "proper time" to potty train your child. The social pressure increases when the child is in preschool and "other people" are assumed to be making judgments on your parenting skills.

Maybe all he needs is some solid (no pun intended) reading material to make him comfortable with the whole potty/pooping thing? I'll re-subscribe to Sports Illustrated and get this potty thing taken care of once and for all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reading by Decoding

The Bubs can't read words yet, but he probably can recognize a few. After we read, "Are you my Mother," last night, he asked if we could read it again. So we did. He stopped me half way through the book and flipped the pages back to the start. He then began telling ME the story. So I sat back and listened (with amazement and pride). Bubs 1 went through most of the pages and told me about the story. He probably used his memory of the story combined with the pictures on the pages. Tomorrow, I'll ask him to tell me a story BEFORE he has had a chance to hear it. Early childhood educators call this "picture walking" when they are teaching students to read. Many early education teachers "walk" their students through the book and ask "what is happening" on every page with a picture corresponding to the text.

In Connecticut (maybe many other states?), the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal mandate requires all Kindergarten students to leave Kindergarten with the ability to read 60 words per minute - fluently. In a Kindergarten classroom that I observed recently, the teacher told me that it's not a realistic goal for the students in her classroom, because of the different levels of "knowledge" every student brings with them to school. However, she said that there is a significant difference in Kindergarten students that occurs between September and June.

Bubs 1 is already showing examples of decoding a story through pictures. This tells me that he holds knowledge of the items symbolized by the pictures. He understands what a bird is and therefore has understanding when he sees a picture of a bird, although he may not be able to read or write the word "b-i-r-d." It would be inaccurate of me to conclude that he has less knowledge, or no understanding, of what a bird is simply because he cannot read or write the word in English. However, the methods of measuring student knowledge in most schools, i.e. standardized tests, may assess otherwise. I'm sure that his mom and I will prepare him the best we can before he begins Kindergarten, but not all kids have the resources that the bubs has.

Since a meaningful public education is really just accessible to a portion of school-aged children in our nation and competition is getting more and more fierce for the remaining children, his mom and I may just "redshirt" him a few years before he begins. Maybe starting Kindergarten at age nine will put him at the top of his class each year?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"That Boy Sure Is a Running Fool" - Forest Gump

A small "boardwalk" at the
entrance of the beach area.
When Bubs 1 arrived home on the school bus last Thursday, we all headed for a nearby beach. Once we parked, we had to hike for about 50 minutes through the woods in order to get to the beach's entrance. Along the beaten path, we passed a lot of people walking their dogs. This excited Bubs 1. He greeted every dog with, "Ruff, ruff. Hi doggie."

Bubs 2 slept the entire time. He was tucked inside a sorta reverse-backpack-type-of-thing called an Ergo baby carrier. (not as fancy as the ones in the prior link). He did block the cool ocean breeze for me. Although we could not see the ocean (sound), we could smell the ocean air and feel it's wind as we walked alongside the river in the woods. The multiple land characteristics were pretty cool for traveling such a short distance (about 4 miles total).

Bubs 1 chose to run most of the trail. He walked and ran about three quarters of the hike. His mom and I were surprised by his energy and willingness to continue running once we got to the beach. Although we had the stroller (jogger), Bubs 1 only hitched a ride sparingly.

The beach was wide open space. The bubs just kept running. I was reminded of this movie clip

I'd like to make an early prediction. Bubs 1 is a runner. His dad ran a handful of long distance races including a marathon and multiple half-marathons on the west coast. His grandfather also was a runner. He ran over 70 marathons in his lifetime, including a few 100-mile runs. His uncle is also an experienced runner. Uncle Eric has been running his entire life. He held the national record for the fastest time in a marathon for the 11-13 year-old age category. He's competed in  marathons, triathlons, and even ran an Iron Man (or two?). Not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Talking about all this running has just inspired me to get out and run more regularly. I'll bring the bubs too. We'll bring the jogger for him to sit in and maybe he'll decide to jump out and join me around the track. I know a professor, up on campus, who told me that "nothing is natural." He believes we're taught everything we know - everything. This is sitting in my head right now and has been since I heard him say it. Perhaps a bit too philosophical for this blog post, but nonetheless thought provoking.

Could running also be in Bubs 1's bloodline? I hope so.
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