⭐️ A Star Is Born ⭐️

The time has finally come. That time that every parent fears: their child’s school performance/play. I’ve seen so many of them as a teacher and principal and they, from that side are amazing. An opportunity to see 300 students whom you work with each day, who’ve you’ve seen grow abs improve each day, put it all together and show off their growth.  

Growth mindset, that’s what it’s all about as an educator. But as a parent. We want to see the end product. We want to see an end product from start to finish and then get the heck out of there. I don’t want to watch everyone else’s kids spin around in circles, or cry on stage. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. You feel bad for the teachers who have to don the kindergarten Three Little Pigs costume and be the only ones up on the stage to know the lyrics and Dane moves. There’s the parents who are standing just off to the side yelling stage directions to their child who they feel should be acting on the next Nick Jr. Hit show and you as the parent who’s just happy your kid hasn’t run off stage and peed in the bushes.  

Then there is the fact that you’ve worked a full day and have nothing in your stomach but a granola bar and three cups of coffee. All you want is every performance to last just long enough to snap a few pictures to stick on Instagram and time it so perfectly that it looks like your child knew every part of the play. Then you can set it as your profile picture on Facebook so it looks like you have the next Robert Deniro on your hands. The worst part though… the transition time in between class performances. Class A runs around the stage, the poor teachers looking like Rocky chasing that chicken. They might as well be herding cats. Poor Class B is having kids who are screaming and crying dragged onto stage so their parents can clap and wave. It’s painful to watch as 17 hours pass in between songs when all the audience wants is a smooths and quick transition like when Netflix only makes you only wait five seconds to watch the next episode. No time wasted, no one hurt, one class off… the next one on… everyone’s happy.  

However, there’s always that one child. The show-stealer, the ray of light, the savior. You know right away that they are meant to be on that stage… to bring entertainment to the masses. To bring joy and happiness to the masses as soon he/she takes the stage. It usually happens after a lull in the show. Maybe a few classes performed a nursery rhyme or too… maybe they just stood still and smiled. But then it happens… a child comes from the clouds and struts his stuff right to center stage. You can tell from that twinkle in their eyes that something special is about to happen. Then you hear the intro. The beat drops like your at an old school Notorious BIG concert. It’s the Lion King… you instantaneously know that child is going to put on a show like no other. “I just can’t wait to be king…” the perfect metaphor for what is about to go down. The king of the Pre-School Play is about to dominate the make shift stage in the center of the parking lot. 

… and that’s just what happens. It just so happens that the new king of the stage was my little boy. Jackson “Fred Astaire” Fragola. It started off slowly, and I could hear the crowd starting to chat amongst themselves. Then it happened, Jax sensing the crowd was in need of something to cheer for, stepped forward and put on a show for the ages. 


The slow clap to get the crowd going, followed by the slow spin into the toe-tap (trip over his own feet) was stunning. The crowd began to buzz and you could see the adrenaline coursing through our new star’s veins. Our savior was here. The clouds parted. The bass seemed to get louder and the energy in the crowd was equal to a stadium full of tween girls at a Justin Bieber concert. 

A few more moves brought ohhhs and ahhhs… and then it happened. The half turn, the look-back smile… and the then… THE RUMP SHAKER! It was over, right then and there. He had officially taken over. The crowd lost their collective minds. It was pandemonium… 

…And then… just as quickly as it started, it all came to an end. With Jazz Hands and a smile… it was at that moment a true star was born. 

Survey Says…

Everyday is a sunny day because of you.

Those of you that read this blog religiously (hell let’s face it, those of you who have read this blog once or twice) know that my take here isn’t to publicize my opinions on the rights or wrongs on raising a child, nor is it for me to take a stand on recent events or political ideologies currently in the media… I’m more of a “can you believe this actually happened” kind of writer… a mediocre story teller if you will.

With that in mind, I recently read an article that was sent to me about the relationship between parenting and happiness. The article was based on two schools of thought. The first based in part on a 2004 study by Nobel prize-winning economist Danny Kahneman in which he stated that academia has long believed that parenting “is a driver of unhappiness.” The studies conducted and reviewed don’t necessarily say that parenting makes you unhappy, but that parenting doesn’t actually make you happier. Part of the study surveyed almost 1000 parents and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among things they preferred to parenting: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework).  HOUSEWORK!!!!!!

I mean don’t get me wrong there are times where I wish I could just binge watch an entire season of The Wire without having to hear my son tell me he wants to watch Bubble Guppies or that he wants some more apple juice. But to say that my life hasn’t been improved by having my son around would be ludicrous.

Maybe it’s not perfect every second, but as a whole, evaluating what my son has ADDED to my life is immeasurable. In a 2013 interview NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, says “there’s a difference between happiness measured on a moment-to-moment level and happiness measured at a larger level”. No cleaning puke and potty training does not rank up there with seeing your favorite band live in concert and certainly pales in comparison to eating ice cream out of the container and watching a whole movie on Netflix without interruption. But, according to Vedantam, parents report “significantly more meaning in their lives than non-parents even though on a day-to-day basis parenting may be a grind.”

I guess for me, I really don’t need any scientific research or studies to tell me my life is infinitely better since my son was born. Then again it’s nice to know that there is some consensus of how stressful parenting can be… but overall how absolutely rewarding it can be as well.

Elton John said it perfectly: “I hope you don’t mind… That I put down in words… How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

Credit: NPR.org. Does Having Children Make You Happier? February 2013.

What I Want You to Know

As we consider the possibility of sending Jackson to daycare here the four questions that were asked of us:

What are the 3 things you want your child to learn from our center:  Compassion, inquiry, problem solving

What are your child’s favorite things: His Blankie and his brothers Buster and Max

What is the one thing about your child we should know?:   He probably won’t ever know who takes care of him when he is 19 months old… He might not remember you by name… But he will remember you none the less. He will remember how you act, your body language and the tone of your voice. He won’t ever forget how you make him feel. 

What do you expect from your child care center? Communication, Positive role models, and not sending him home with the wrong parent

The Only Thing we Have to Fear is Fear Itself- (Not True)

There was this feeling of dread, like one of those deep pits in your stomach as you take your first few steps into a haunted house. Even if it’s only for a second, its still there. That feeling like you know something is might go wrong, but you just can’t figure out what it is. 
Only I new what was wrong… I knew exactly why I felt that way. I knew I hated the idea and yet knew it was in his best interest. Even still, walking though the door and having to be buzzed in, put me on the other side of the fear that goes through every parent’s mind as they leave their child in the care of someone else. 

My mind slowly began to shift from dad mode to administrative mode… The words flowed from my lips like water from a hose… “What is your security procedure for entering the building?” “Do you practice fire drills and lock down drills.” How often do you check that your doors are locked?” “Are your staff members trained in CPR/First Aid?”  

A reassuring look from the wife told me I needed to take a deep breath and listen to what the woman had to say. Problem is, I didn’t care what she had to say. I could find fault with Mother Theresa if she was sitting across from me explaining how she would care for my child.  

I wasn’t happy with the “curriculum” (he’s one), I didn’t like knowing he had to nap later than he usual does (kids at my school learn to do it without any problem), I was completely enraged when I saw the back door wide open (mistakes happen and become a learning experience). Again, I wasn’t happy because I don’t think I wanted to be happy.  

You’ve heard the horror stories… Kids getting fed mass quantities of NyQuil to shut them up, people picking up the wrong kids, kids being abused… Hell I work in a school named after a student who was tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I know the dangers, I work tirelessly everyday to ensure the safety of the children in my building as if they were my own. 

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I know too much; I’ve seen too much on my end to allow myself to relax. Then again, I don’t want to think I’ve left any stone unturned when it comes to Jackson.  

Im an educator of young children; I have been my entire life. I have convinced numerous parents the benefits of early childhood education, if not for the academics than simply for the social skills and language development that is gained from being surrounded by peers. I have studied research on the brain and philosophies of how young children learn. I can rattle off the increased background knowledge and character development that students gain from structured social interactions away from their parents. I’ve seen first hand parents who are were just like me before the school year started and convinced them we would take care of their most precious possession in the world. 

Yet still…

That feeling of dread that permeated throughout my entire body that day, only increases as the we creep closer to the possibility of leaving Jackson at a daycare facility. (Even just typing that caused a knot in my stomach). It could be for 1/2 a day once a week… I’m still not sure I’m going to be OK with this. 

Weird is the New Normal

 

Like father, like son

Being a parent is so interesting. I consider myself one of the weirdest people I know… besides my group of friends… Between Miguel, Adam, Eli and especially the oddest one of them all RFizzle you would expect nothing would be able surprise me anymore.

We’ve dealt with a variety of odd situations… Cambodian cages, mini golf swimming hole, grenade whistles, randomly yelling, “LET’S STAY FOCUSED HERE!”  Then there was a bunch of crazy Santa’s taking over Danbury…  somewhere in there was a friend getting yelled at for not being able work their cell phone and a few of us being scolded by Kimbo Slice.  I actually witnessed someone pay for a round of drinks in pennies… his response…”Isn’t this AMERICA?!!!”  Its evident that the people I associate with should have prepared me for the things I would witness, hear and say now that I am a parent.  

 Yet, I still sit here today in awe of the things that I find myself involved with when it comes to this kid… this wonderful, amazing and just plain weird kid!  I find myself witnessing things that I know no other human being has witnessed before; I also find myself saying things out loud and then thinking to myself, “I cant believe I just said that to another member of my own species.

The other day I watched my son, walk waddle as quickly as his knobby little knees would take him over to Buster.  It was as close to a run as a wobbly one year old can get.  Then I watched in horror as he took a full on swan dive on top of the dog.  I am talking a dive that would have won him a drunk belly flop contest at any Sandals Resort in the world!  As he turned slowly a smile formed and at the corners of his lips a witnessed a little drool form and then fall on poor Buster’s head.  An absolutely aggressive move.  Not even so much the long jump knocking all the air from Buster’s little puppy lungs, but the drool.  Nothing says I own you more than getting your saliva on someone.  Spitting is disrespectful and hateful, but drooling on them says “I OWN YOU!”

Last night I found myself saying, and I quote: “Jackson, DO NOT try to balance your sippy cup in between your chest and the coffee table!  Jackson… DO NOT WALK AROUND THE COFFEE TABLE WITH THE SIPPY CUP BALANCED BETWEEN YOUR CHEST AND THE COFFEE TABLE!”  How did my brain even formulate this sentence… how did my mouth even form the letters needed to sound this sentence out? Just picturing a half naked baby with his little chubby arms in the air as he navigates his way around the coffee table in a death-defying feat of balance.  Smile as big as the Grand Canyon, giggling like a school girl and just as carefree as lion in the Serengeti.

I’ve witnessed many weird things in my life, hell I’ve done many things in my life that you would categorize as weird.  Which is expected with the company I keep.