Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Silas at Eighteen Months (and One Day)

What can I tell you about Silas? He is little Mr. Sunshine, sweetness perrsonified. Sure, he's learned the word "no," and he's not afraid to use it, particularly when he's getting his diaper changed or being strapped into his carseat. But he also blows kisses, hugs people around their legs (includung an elderly woman at Sears -- it totally made her day), and brightly says "O-KHAY!" in response to every question.

His feet are (not so) little loaves of bread. His hair actually forms boing-boing curls in the back when it's humid outside. His eyes are bluer than blue. His thighs are chunky and oh-so-squishable. He's ticklish, particularly under his chin, and I love to hear him giggle. He reminds me of an Eloise Wilkins illustration.

He splashes in the bath with such enthusiasm that the entire floor gets soaked (and cries like his heart is breaking when it's time to get out). He's starting to bring us books to read (though his attention span isn't super long), and he laughed really hard the first time I read him Sandra Boynton's "Blue Hat, Green Hat" ("Blue hat, green hat, red hat, oops!"). When you ask him, "How big is Silas?" his arms automatically fly straight up over his head.

He is thrilled to play outside with the big kids, and so far his favorite things to do are throw and chase balls, and sit in the playhouse with Henry and the neighbor girls. He likes to hand people things -- while we're waiting for Henry to come out of school at the end of the day, he keeps himself busy picking up pebbles and giving them to all the moms.

He's getting braver with Venus, patting her occasionally but often touching her with a toy instead. But he's completely uninterested in dogs that pass by outside. (I may turn out to be the only one in the family who likes animals.)

He never really picked up any sign language, but he makes his needs known anyway. He's added a few words to his speech -- down, shoe, Daddy (dy-ee) and oh, man! He often mimics words or sounds with perfect inflection. And every time a phone rings (or he hears a noise that could be a phone ringing) he says, "Ha-woe!" So.damn.adorable.

Man, I love this age.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Journey to School, Part II

After my husband and I made the decision to send Henry to school, we needed to fill out a packet of paperwork. One of the sheets contained a list of questions and another asked us to write a paragraph about Henry. This is what we wrote:

What are your child's strengths? Creativity. Ability to grasp abstract concepts. Advanced vocabulary. Insatiable appetite for learning new things.

At this age, children are still learning to play cooperatively. Please tell about your child and how he/she plays. He prefers interacting with older children. He prefers creative and pretend play over structured games and sports.

What does your child like to do best at home? Art. Building. Pretending. Being read to.

How easily does your child separate from you? Individual parent separation is easy. He has had very little experience with separation from both parents. He says he does not want to go to school because he does not want to be without Mommy.

What situations might frustrate your child? In what ways does he respond to frustration? He is sometimes unable to realize visions without adult interaction, which isn’t always available. He seeks attention often and has a need to share every observation. When someone says something he does not want to hear, he covers his ears and shuts down.

Does your child have any special fears or has he had any significant traumatic experiences? Please explain: No traumatic experiences. Sensitive to sad, fearful, perilous or otherwise tense situations in books and videos. Also terrified of dogs, even obviously gentle ones, though he has never had a bad experience with one.

For what is your child most often disciplined? What is the most effective method of disciplining your child? Verbal defiance. Refusal to cooperate. Discipline is verbal only and does not include physical punishment or solitary “time-outs.” We often reprimand him and wait for him to comply or make amends. We also try to use appropriate consequences for poor behavior.

Describe any additional behaviors that are of concern to you: Despite the desire to learn, he’s against the idea of school. He often won't take part in group activities; for instance, instead of doing the project in art class he will make up his own crafts.

Have there been any changes in your family situation recently (i.e. illness, change in family structure, move, etc)? Birth of younger brother in November 2010.

Have you noticed any reaction in your child? Please explain. He does not like to discuss it or be told that he’ll appreciate it one day. Verbal negativity notwithstanding, his actions toward his baby brother are appropriate and safe.

In what ways do you anticipate that your child will react to school routines and expectations? Do you foresee any areas of concern (i.e. occasional tantrums, anxiety, extreme shyness, restlessness, etc.)? We anticipate a tough transition. He has been encouraged to be independent and learning has been self-directed, with no expectation of joining group activities or doing any specific schoolwork.

What else would you like your child's teacher to know about your child? He has food intolerances to wheat/gluten and corn and we would like to be notified if food will be served in the classroom.

Henry's birthday is August 3, 2005. He has a younger brother Silas (3.5 months old) and three older half-siblings -- Harrison (22), Simon (20) and Madeleine (17). He doesn't see his older brothers often but spends time with Madeleine, who has Down Syndrome, every other weekend. For the most part he gets along well with all his siblings, though he was not happy about becoming a big brother and does not like to talk about it.

Henry has the typical territorial tendencies and can be very protective of everything his. He likes to save scraps of anything he can find for use in a future "project." Creating and pretending are some of his favorite activities. Henry's strength is his ability to grasp subtle and deep concepts. He has received a lot of attention from both parents so far.

His mother is a stay-at-home-mom and has a high level of interaction with him. She reads to him often and they have a ritual of reading a few chapters out of a chapter book every night before bed. They are currently working through the "Little House" series. His father is an engineer and musician and often discusses scientific concepts with him.

We have concerns with Henry's transition to school life, namely his learning to follow directions promptly and exactly as given, to do things in a group setting and to do activities he may not be interested in doing. Our expectations are that he be given opportunities and directions for learning and socialization, as we think he may have outgrown such opportunities in the home environment.