Holy TK!

The last couple weeks have been intense. Good, bad, highs, lows, happy tears, sad tears, stressed tears, all the tears.

Transitions are so tough.

First, Cam said goodbye to Taproot where he’s been learning and growing for 2+ years with Mrs. Karla and her crew.

Who cried the most? Me. Followed by Mrs. Karla who wished Cam well in English and in Spanish. “Mi Amor! I will miss you. You’re going to do so good and make lots of friends….”

And Cam? So nonchalant. He mostly had a little grin and maybe disregard? I’m not even sure. The best I can really translate, he was ready for change as much as a Cam can be ready. On the way home from his last day of school we discussed how he might be ready for more challenges, new people, new learning, new toys and he firmly said that he was ready. That gave me more hope than I’ve ever had in a Cam transition.

From Thursday at Taproot to Monday at Northmont Elementary, Cam didn’t really have time to think about and process all the change. He said he was excited, but we weren’t holding our breath.

Then, Monday.

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Cam was so excited in the morning that when I asked if he was ready he said “let’s go right now!” So we went outside where neighbor Kaya was also leaving for her first day of school (different school, 1 grade ahead of Cam) so we snagged a pic before going separate ways.

At Northmont, we also snapped a pic with Morgan, the only person Cam knows in his new school and new class… thank goodness for that.

They hung up their backpacks and headed inside the Ms. Labshere’s classroom and assumed their seats at different tables.

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He showed a little trepidation and as I tried to leave, I saw him put the legos he was working with back into his tables’ box and put his head down on his table. At that point, I made things worse because I’d forgotten to hand him his glasses and re-approached him. His wet eyelashes and nervous stare just wrecked me.

I tried to give him a pep-talk and not cry myself. I handed him his glasses, kissed him and left. As soon as I was out the door, I was crying and his head was back on his desk.

Luckily, he had a great day. Ms. Labshere said he was a happy camper the rest of the day. She attached this photo to an email update to Joe and I:

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The next days are a blur… for Cam probably and me too. Tuesday – Thursday were smooth and then Joe encouraged me to drop him off on Friday in part so I could see his progress and excitement to go to school.

Well, Friday was pretty tough. He cried a lot and clung to me. At some point, Ms Labshere pried his little lizard body off of me and I had to leave quickly.

This week (week 2) was about the same level of smooth and rocky. We had a couple good days, then on Wednesday when he wanted to take his “me bag” to school, but it wasn’t ready yet, he lost his mind. He wouldn’t leave for school and was screaming over the me bag, no matter what Joe and I could think of to say. We tried gentle, loving, encouraging, stern, casual, … and then we gave up. We had to force him into the car kicking and screaming. It was awful.

Thursday, we had his “me bag” ready, darn tootin’. Heaven forbid we lag another day and face the angry and sad snot monster that was provoked the day before. And he could NOT wait to go to school. Go figure.

So, here is a pic of him and a few of his classmates presenting their me bags.

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Inside Cam’s bag:

  • A ziploc full of jewels and rocks, of course! This was for his favorite possession.
  • A drawing of a BBQ chicken pizza representing his favorite food.
  • Photos of his family and his Mila dog.
  • His favorite toy, which was his Ironman… I can’t say I really think this is his favorite toy, so I think there was some 5 year old psychology going on when he picked it, like perhaps he thought it would be cool? His real favorite toys are his Angry Birds game, games in general, string/tape/scissors. Here are the pics of his family and Mila that were in the me bag:

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Overall, I thiiiiiink we’re going to survive this transition. But it certainly isn’t easy, even in the moments when I think things are happy I can’t help but worry about my little guy and wonder what he’s thinking, how he’s doing and if he’s making friends.

I am extremely proud of him. He’s being brave and trying hard and bringing home little tokens of success. Gosh I love him.

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Being Brave

CamO is a bit of a worrier. He also doesn’t like change. This combination makes for tough days when we have to conquer something different or new.

To set the stage, there were a couple things going on.

First, for the last 3-4 months, Cam has been squinting one eye to be able to see better, especially at night and especially at things that are close up–when we’re reading books before bed, when he’s coloring, when you hold something up to show him. Here’s a photo of him just trying to focus on the camera (I only noticed this later):

Cam SquintingAt our 4-year checkup at his regular doctor’s office they tested his eyes for distance (which he did fine) and said they weren’t able to assess his close-up vision. So, we made an appointment at a pediatric eye doctor nearby.

Meanwhile, at his pre-school, his teachers were ready to move him up a level. He would be going from “red line” to “blue line” which is basically moving from the second oldest group of kids to the oldest at that preschool. The blue-liners are the ones getting ready for kindergarten. The idea of this had Camden in tears, both at school and at home whenever we talked about it. As a red-liner, he had the company of his friend Benson and he also had recently become close with a girl named Kaya (a different Kaya, not neighbor Kaya) and he really didn’t want to leave them or his known routine.

Here’s a photo from his birthday celebration at school, surrounded by his red-liners:

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As fate would have it, D-day for both of these activities fell on the same day. The night before I told him stories of times I had to be brave as a kid hoping that would help him. I reminded him that at the eye doctor it would be mostly games–no shots, nothing that would hurt, and that daddy wouldn’t leave his side. He still cried.

So, at work last Tuesday I was having a hard time focusing thinking about my little guy.

As reported by Daddy-O, Cam did great. He became a blue-liner with ease. There was really nothing to report on the school front because he simply did as he was told. Neighbor Kaya was already a blue-liner so he had a built-in friend.

The eye appointment took a whopping two hours and required a ton of patience. They also had to put eyedrops in his eyes at some point and surprisingly that wasn’t a big deal. Cam forged through and at the end of it picked out some new glasses. He is farsighted right now, meaning he can see far things clearly, but he can’t see close-up. The glasses should help him in the short-term, but they’re hoping that since his eyes are still developing that if he strengthens his eye muscles (by not squinting and actually using the “bad eye”) his vision will improve.

I hope that as Cam gets over these speed bumps he will recognize his own bravery and that he will be less worried and fearful of other challenges.

Of course Joe and I were very proud of him and very relieved. And, Cam is going to be the cutest glasses-wearing blue-liner in all of La Mesa!

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Cam’s First Friend!!

Cam has many friends, but they are all kids of friends and neighbors. In fact, if you ask him who his friends are, he says “I have 2 friends, Kaya and Morgan. I only have 2 friends, I was just born that way.”

Kaya is our neighbor across the street (she also goes to the same preschool) and Morgan is our friends’ daughter, the one who is just 8 days older than Cam. So, as far as close friends go, those are the ones he gets to play with often and that I think he feels completely comfortable with.

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Cam and Morgan playing dress-up. Note the sparkly shoes!

Cam has been going to preschool for about 8 months now and it hasn’t been easy for him. While he does great in school (his progress report confirms this and his teachers say he’s doing a good job), he still has a very hard time getting excited about school days. He cries or at least whines every school morning and has to be coaxed and urged and bribed to get ready, out the door and into school. It’s tough on us too. Well, let’s be real, mostly Joe. I don’t even witness it most days. But that’s why we’ve been so eager for him to make friends.

Every couple weeks we ask who he played with and who is friends are at school and he always answers that his best friend is Mrs. Karla. Mrs. Karla is the Director and while she’s very sweet, we’ve been waiting for the day he names a classmate.

And it happened!!! Finally!

Last night after stories and before falling asleep, we were talking about his week and I said, “I’m so glad you had a good week at school and now it’s the weekend so you won’t go back for 4 days.”

He replied, “Aww, but I’ll miss River!”

I wanted to shriek and hug him, but I had to play it cool. I said, “Oh, is River a nice person?”

And he said, “Yes, she’s nice and sometimes we play together, but sometimes people are already sitting next to her and she’s blocked. I can’t sit next to her.”

This was the second mention of River this week, so we know she’s real, but I guess we’ll have to wait to find out who this person is and if the friendship is mutual.

I’m hoping hoping hoping that this helps him get into a better place on school days. I’m also hoping River’s a cool girl and she doesn’t crush my little guy’s heart. Because if she does, I’ll have some words to share.

In the meantime, I’ll keep working on his idea of friends and that he can make new friends anytime he wants. I’ve been trying to explain to him what an ‘open mind’ is… I think he kind of gets it. We’ll see.

 

Cam’s Birthday & Open House at Preschool

Cam’s preschool does a celebration for each kid’s birthday. I was out of town with work, but Joe, Demi and the grandmas attended. They reviewed photos of significant events in Cam’s life and had him walk around the sun, one time for each year. Then the kids got to enjoy a special treat. Ralle, Cam and Joe made fruit snakes on silly straws and the kids gobbled them up!

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But you know the saying…. every party has a pooper. Yes, this really happened. The Olanoffs really know how to make an impression.

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Then, on Friday, his preschool hosted an Open House. Since I don’t get to drop off or pick up, I was a little too excited to have him show me everything. We followed clues around the school to visit all the major areas and he showed me his favorite things. I was impressed by the organized way they play with everything. He’d take an activity tray from the shelf, find a desk, play with the activity start to finish, clean it up, push his chair in and return the tray to the shelf.

I was also impressed by his motor skills. The activities required concentration and coordination and he was really good at doing each activity like pouring sand from one small container into another small container.

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Last, but not least, I almost fell over dead of excitement when he DREW 2 LETTERS! Cam hasn’t been very engaged by pens, crayons, pencils in the past. He’ll scribble for about 15 seconds and then move on to the next activity. So I assumed writing the alphabet was many months away. But he was playing with a letter bubble where you push it and the dice pops around. It landed on a lowercase j. Cam said, “Look! J for Joe!” and proceeded to go to his tray, draw a dot (while narrating “first draw a dot”) and then a curved hook underneath it. Then he pushed the bubble again and a lowercase l popped up. A lowercase l isn’t quite as impressive of course, but he drew a straight-ish line in proportion with the j. *Proud mama moment*

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I also loved how I told him I was excited for him to show me things and he took my hand and led me around telling me all about it. Listening to a 3-year-old explain what’s going on is one of my very favorite things.

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Neighbor Kaya was also at Open House so we got a cutie little photo of them together. One funny thing is that during Cam’s birthday celebration he got to pick a person to come up and look at the photos with him. He chose Kaya and Joe said that 2 girls started crying. Then, at Open House, a little nugget named Elizabeth (who informed me she is also 3 years old) exclaimed “Camman” when we arrived. She ran over to hug Cam and he ran from her. Again on the way out Elizabeth came to say goodbye. Turns out Cam isn’t ready to hug Elizabeth. As best we could get him to explain, he just doesn’t know her very well.

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Cam’s First Days of Preschool

It happened and we all survived. Some of us are unscathed.

Seriously though, what a flood of emotions the last week has been.

Cam was on the waitlist at this preschool for a couple months and about 3 weeks ago, they called me to say he would be starting on July 25th. At that moment, everyone started stressing in their own ways. Every time I thought about it, I’d get a shot of adrenaline and anxiety. Grandma Inny lost a ton of sleep the week leading up. Grandma Monkey stocked up on presents. And Joe was a little more sappy over his son than usual (and honestly, he’s already pretty sappy).

We talked about school as much as possible the few days before so it wouldn’t feel like a surprise to him. Some conversations were met with comments like “I don’t want to go” and some were much easier–especially after his new lunchbox came in the mail (Blaze of course). It seemed like he was warming up to the idea.

And then the day was here. We prepped Cam’s backpack with the essentials and packed his very first school lunch. Joe had the onerous task of dropping him off because Tuesdays are commute days for me. When they arrived, Cam immediately hit the playground and Mrs. Karla told Joe he should go. So, he went. And Cam didn’t cry!!

I called Joe about 45 seconds after drop-off because I was on pins and needles. Joe answered the phone and couldn’t talk. He was completely choked up. And that made me cry. Who knew Cam’s first day of preschool would turn us into puddles.

Inny and Monkey drove to daycare promptly at pick-up time. When Monkey walked in, he cried tears of relief and excitement. Mrs. Karla said he did great. They all got in the car and the grandmas asked him about his day. His first comment was, “there are a few too many kids.” Ha! What a ham. The grandmas reported he was a happy talkative kid all afternoon.

Each day since then (there have been 3 more drop-offs) has been teary. Cam has been upset for a few minutes, but has stuck close to Mrs. Karla and then gotten into the groove. And each day, the report has been the same, that he did great, talks a lot and asks a lot of questions.

After day 1 and then reflecting on week 1, I felt sentimental that my little guy is now in school, I felt proud that he’s doing well, I felt grateful that my “village” cares so very much and has helped us both logistically and emotionally with the transition, and I felt excited about the new people Cam would meet and things he would learn. I know there’s so much good stuff ahead for him.

We don’t have a lot of photos because, well, with all the change and anxiety, we’ve been focused on the matter and not really pausing for photos. But hopefully we’ll snag some as it becomes a little more routine.

For now, big exhale. We’re over that hurdle.

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Cam’s Preschool “Tryouts”

I’ve been hustling to find a preschool for Cam and after a lot of research and just a couple tours, I’m pretty set on sending him to Taproot La Mesa. When I visited them, I just had a good feeling about it.

The Director is so warm and sweet and I can see how even the shyest of kids would open up to her. Beyond that, I think it’s the right size to help him socialize, but not so big that it’s overwhelming. I like that there was obvious order to the facility and the daily schedule. I like that it smelled of cleaning products. And lastly, it’s super convenient.

Today was Cam’s “tryout”. He spent one hour of free time where he was paired with one of the teachers and could play with whatever he wanted.

Upon arrival, he was very apprehensive and even teary. But then he saw the playground and got distracted. I told him we would go inside and meet the teachers together and that seemed to quell his anxieties. Once we got inside, I started filling out a form and before I knew it, he was creeping around the corner to see what toys they had. He started playing with his assigned teacher and I quickly said goodbye and that I’d be back very soon. He said “okay!” without looking up.

My mommy heart was pitter pattering, so proud of him for being brave and trusting me.

When I picked him up, the director told me he did great. At one point he asked for me and she said she could call me if he needed her to. But he just asked for a hug and was okay after that. She said she was surprised at how much of their conversations he understood. Smart boy!

We came home and he immediately fell asleep (with his carrot)… and I hung his first preschool painting on the fridge.

Today was a good day!

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