Things in flight, and the boots under the table

It’s been, uh, let’s say rather full around here.

Kindergarten is big. It is about as demanding a shift on a little guy as it gets. A thousand new things to learn how to do well. Add a a zillion hundred new names of your new friends. Take away your mom and brother’s easing, reassuring words, looks, and hugs all day and you are setting up a little person for hard patch.  He’s handling it beautifully at school. His teacher has nothing but great things to say. He is smiling when I pick him up.

getting away as fast as he can…

Then we get home. Two words: OVERWHELMED EMOTIONS.  This looks like outbursts of the vocal and physical variety. Things in flight: toys, fists, demands. Often his entire four year old self racing as fast as he can (which is FAST) in the opposite direction from me. Shrek and I have had some great conversations about how to best support him. Reasoning wasn’t working. Time outs were turning into complete mayhem. Then we reached out to other circles as well. What we’ve come up with that seems to be really helping-more connection-more hugging-less time outs-and lots of reassurance that these are BIG EMOTIONS and they are OK and that he is DOING GREAT.

An example of a successful switch it up intervention was last night. He and Sam were watching a movie. He lost track of the plot because one of the characters spoke in a heavy accent. He stands up right in front of the television screaming; “I HATE THIS. IT MAKES NO SENSE. I AM GOING TO TURN IT OFF NOW!!!” Asking him to please sit down, or count to three with the promise of a time out would lead him strait to Melt Down Avenue before you could say; “Don’t throw that remote!”. Instead Shrek suggested that I stop folding the laundry in the other room, and offer to sit with him in my lap, and explain the narrative when necessary. He was cuddled in my lap, quietly watching and laughing in seconds. When the dishes were done, Shrek joined us too. Maybe this seems completely obvious to you. But to me–who was so into CONSEQUENCES for everything, it has been a great reminder to switch it up, CONNECT MORE and find what works better.  It has also been great to realize that what works for one fantastic kid, is not necessarily working for the other fantastic kid. Why this was an ah-ha this late in the game?

What is the parable about the rabbi who tells the man that if his home feels crowded and overwhelming it is time to buy a goat, a cow, a horse and so on and so on?

Establishing trust with the new bird.

Yesterday we welcomed “Friendly” or “Sky” or “Bird” depending on who you ask into our home. Sam in particular is thrilled to have a parakeet. I’m enjoying it too. Lots of opportunity for literacy; “Read to us what he can’t eat again Sam?” and “Parakeets really need quiet in the house to adjust.” It was really sweet to have this be a FAMILY decision, including Shrek, to get the bird or not after a student’s family asked us if we’d be interested in the bird, cage and all. Having a pet is a big deal, and this felt like a great place to start. A bird requires daily attention, and care, but it doesn’t poop on your floor, or bark.

So, why did they want to part with such a beauty?  SHE’S ANNOYING according to the daughter. Huh. To be discovered?

Now to some seeing a large pair of industrial strength boots under your kitchen table might be annoying too. Or perhaps it just a sign of a welcomed change, a growing family, and wait what was that parable getting at?

Shrek’s boots on my, I mean, our kitchen floor.

So although I still feel a rather palpable feeling of loss when I walk around the community pool near the skate park and see this:

in a few steps I have the pleasure of watching Sam leaping into his own in magical ways, that remind me how precious it all is, and not just in the summer time.

I hope your new starts and transitions are not all feeling like “dropping into the big bowl”, but if so, remember that once you leap, you do reach the bottom, with another chance to climb up, up, up, and try it again!


  1. I love how you parent with such love and tenderness! I understand the post school melt down. My kids did that a lot in preschool. They use up all their emotional energy keeping it together at school and need to lose it once they are done coupled with being hungry and tired.

    We had a pretty smooth start to school but always new adjustments from reconnecting with friends — always a transition figuring who they want to play with and making that happen, to new schedules to lots and lots of soccer. My kids want to get better; they are really motivated but it’s such a huge time commitment for us to drive them around. I am about to do a 7 hour stint of soccer right now for my middle child. Good times.

  2. I can so relate to the good kid at school who turns into a mess at home. Getting her to fall asleep at nap time turned out to be the trick for us, but of course that took a few weeks. I’ll write about that later this week. Glad you were able to figure out your little guy too. Such fun being a parent, right?

  3. Last October I happened to bring Jupiter to school one morning and on my way out of the building ran into her 504 coordinator, who promptly informed me what a wonderful year Jupiter was having. And my reply was “Yes. AT SCHOOL.” Because home invariably turned into a flying pencil ripped up homework rude defiant argumentative mess. And consequences (other than the natural consequences type) are next to useless with her. But she also seems to respond favorably to “time in” as we call it around here. Which isn’t always easy to fit into the afterschool “dinner homework shower pack tomorrows lunch find tomorrows clothes” schedule. But generally, the harder she’s pushing me away, the more she needs that time of closeness.

  4. Our evenings after school and daycare can go like this as well. Particularly Mondays, getting back into the swing of the new week, and Tuesdays (gymnastics right after school) are so hard.

    Between just being tired from recovering from the weekend, and being tired from school plus an hour of gymnastics my girl is toast. She is also a kid who needs to do everything NOW. Her homework bag comes home on Monday nights, and she is so insistant that it all be done right away. It’s not due until Thursday.

    Getting into the right rhythm of it all can be a bit overwhelming.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story here! I love reading and getting the updates. I’ve also been trying the “time in” approach with my daughter and it’s working as well.

    Do you also think that having Shrek move in, combined with your brother moving out and the new school environment might all be contributing factors?

    Please DO NOT misunderstand my comment – I personally wish I had a strong male role model (and person with whom to emulate a positive adult / romantic / partner relationship with) for my daughter, but these are all huge changes (although positive ones!).

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