Today, my daughter along with 57 third graders did presentations on the United States of America. About a month ago, each student selected a state to investigate and find out facts to share for this special day. Quinn excitedly told me, “I picked Michigan because Daddy went to University of Michigan!”
Though she worked on the project independently in school, my husband and I occasionally asked her random questions about Michigan to make sure she was prepared. We discussed ideas for her outfit, she helped locate images for me to iron on her shirt. Her dad let her borrow his University of Michigan hat and “Michiganopoly” game.
We both proudly came wearing our navy blue and gold to support Quinn, and she did not disappoint. I noticed that quite a few parents stopped by to hear her presentation as I circulated around the room to hear about other states from different children. I’m so proud of Quinn and so glad my husband and I were able to be there for her.
My daughter’s teacher posted a picture of her on Class Dojo earning a certificate of achievement award for successfully completing the division section in the XtraMath program her third grade classroom uses. Quinn was so excited because this means she completed all of the sections, including addition, subtraction and multiplication.
I was very proud of her too, but seeing the picture and her smiling eyes made me appreciate this school year even more. Last year around this time, Quinn was still learning virtually and had not been in the classroom since March 2020. Though she must wear her mask and there are more Covid cases on the rise lately with the Omicron variant causing the number of students physically in the classroom to dwindle, the more direct interaction she gets with her teacher and classmates is all adding up to a different yet wonderful school year.
Of course, I’m all for safety first, but my fingers are crossed that the Covid cases will subside, Quinn will remain in the classroom and getting to add on terrific learning experiences and interactions for the next six months.
At Quinn’s last wellness appointment this past May, she was delighted when the doctor told her, “No shots this time around.” But this past Friday, she was excited and counting down the days. The week prior she even reported that one of her classmates already got his and that she couldn’t wait to get hers. The day before getting her shot, she asked her dad and me how ours felt. We both said it was like a pinch. So she was ready to take it like a champ.
When the day finally arrived, I picked her up from school, and we drive to the vaccination site about twenty minutes away. It was cold outside, so I had the heat on full-blast not realizing that I was “roasting” Quinn. When we were a few minutes away, she started taking off her jacket and telling me she was hot. Upon arriving and having the nurse take her temperature from the car, Quinn had a 100.7 degree temperature, and I was beside myself wondering if she wouldn’t be permitted to get vaccinated.
Both Quinn and I a looked at each other with nervousness, and me with disappointment. Could we make it this far with Quinn being well and then turned away? Luckily, the nurse could feel the extra warmth coming from the car and suggested that Quinn walk around outside for a few minutes before retaking her temperature. For the second reading it was right at 97.6 degrees, and I was bubbling over with joy inside.
Quinn had a little grimace as she got her shot but reported that it was just a little pinch like we said. Then she told me, “I don’t know why, but I feel so happy getting my Covid vaccine shot!” When I asked her what the shot means to her, she said getting back to normal, no masks and getting to have more fun with my family and friends. Then she said, “I guess that’s why I’m happy.” She couldn’t wait to show off her sticker and Tweety Bird bandage to her dad when we got home. No side effects except a little arm soreness, and she’s already talking about the second dose.
Why does seeing my daughter get vaccinated make me even happier and excited than when I did? She’s the future, and I look forward to her having a normal childhood where she can enjoy her family and friends with limited restrictions.
As my husband and I entered our daughter’s third grade classroom with soft classical music playing, I was filled with joy, not only because her teacher reminds me so much of my third grade teacher but because this was the first time I was back in my daughter’s school, let alone classroom for over a year and a half!
Though Quinn did such a wonderful job adapting to virtual learning last year and never complained about not being in the classroom, when I read her “About Me” presentation that she put together for my husband and me, I came to the realization that she missed being in person more than I thought.
There’s something special about being in person. That interaction with classmates and the teacher is needed for most and allows them to thrive and socialize. Though knowing that the vaccine is not available for Quinn’s age group still makes me a bit nervous, I’m grateful that she was not robbed of another year of limited to know socialization with her classmates and teacher.
On top of that, she was selected as the student of the month for her classroom which makes me very proud. This truly is starting off to be a special “back to school” experience for my daughter and me as well.
As I quickly snapped a picture of my eighth year old before she started her skateboarding lesson, it occurred to me that life is a lot like skateboarding.
Some of us may be eager and even excited to embrace all that it offers, but others may be nervous about getting hurt or self conscious if they’re not as skilled to handle the skateboard as others may.
Even still, we kick and push through, learning to balance, to move faster, to take corners and hills. We learn special tricks along the way not to simply show off our skills, but to help us maneuver and get through “life.”
When I arrived a few minutes early to pick up Quinn, I observed her focusing and listening carefully to the instructor just as life often requires us to focus and learn from others. Now, if only I can get up the might to take an actual skateboarding lesson as my daughter hopes I will in the near future.
This past Wednesday, my friends invited my daughter and I to visit their community garden. This was such an exciting experience for Quinn because it was her first time at a garden growing vegetables and fruits in addition to plants and flowers. My mom had a garden when I was a little girl, and seeing Quinn happily harvest tomatoes, green peppers, egg plants and herbs as well has made me want to start a beginners garden for us to grown organic veggies and fruits together.
The fun didn’t stop there though. Quinn immediately wanted to wash the vegetables and begin looking up what we could make. Yesterday, my eight year old couldn’t wait to start cooking. She settled on eggplant parmigiana, and I decided to add a side dish with green peppers and tomatoes from the garden along cauliflower rice and broccoli topped with marinara sauce. Though she asked that I hand,ev the knife while cutting the eggplants, tomatoes and green peppers, she did an awesome job preparing the eggplants with the Italian breadcrumbs and arranging them on the baking sheet.
There’s something special about cooking together, but what’s going to make it extra special is growing and harvesting our own vegetables and fruit next year around this time then preparing a meal together with those fruits and veggies.
As the unofficial end of summer nears, we decided to have an intimate cookout with our family yesterday. Of course, spending time with family is always nice, especially with spending mor time than usual apart as a result of restrictions for over a year.
But what really made cooking out “in” this time around was the eagerness of my eight year old. Without hesitation, she went and grabbed her apron and insisted on helping prepare some of the food. She smiled at me and said, “Mommy, I love baking and cooking food with you. It’s so much fun.” Hearing her say this and want to help without me nudging her really made my day.
I snapped a few pictures of her in action, and she decided to snap a few of me as well. The icing on the cake is feeling like all hope is not lost with our future generation. While many kids of 2021 may not know how nor have interest in cooking, other than popping something in the microwave or air fryer, my Quinn will have baking and cooking skills.
“I don’t know why, but I think this is the most excited I’ve been to start school! Maybe it’s because we weren’t in person when we started school last year,” my third grader told me. A few days ago, I shared with my daughter that third grade was one of my favorite school years. I loved all that we learned and thought my teacher was the best.
Quinn told me that she has a feeling that this year is going to be great for her too. So far, her teacher sent a lovely welcome letter addressed to Quinn, called us at home to speak with my husband and me and to welcome Quinn and had a smile in her voice and eyes when we met her in person today. Though the school is set up for social distancing, I am hopeful that all will go well and that Quinn will come home with a smile on her face and eager to learn and make friends throughout the school year.
Seeing her happy face and excitement has actually helped me feel less nervous as I start my new semester teaching in person for the first time since March 2020.
Here’s to a fun, productive and wonderful school year!
“It’s been over a year and a half, mommy! Do you think she’s taller?” my daughter asked about her little cousin. “Yes, I’m sure she’s taller,” I responded. This past Wednesday, Quinn and her cousin got to spend time together in Sesame Place after being apart for well over a year and a half.
As we waited for my sister-in-law and niece to arrive, Quinn watched closely looking for anyone who resembled them. When she finally spotted them, her smile widened, and she excitedly told me, “Here they come!” When my niece got closer, I could see the happiness on her face as well. Seeing these two reconnect after being apart for what probably felt even longer, considering that they’re both young children, really made my day.
It actually reminded me of the scene in “The Color Purple” when Celie and Nettie reconnected after being separated for years. Though I played it cool, there was this surge of emotions as I took a picture of them with their big, happy smiles. After being under restrictions for so long, I have an even greater appreciation for spending time with family and friends.
It’s officially the last day of school for my second grader, and like many other children, she overcame the many unprecedented changes and hurdles that came with COVID-19 restrictions from virtual learning to hybrid to even receiving her learning materials in a different way. I’m very proud of the way Quinn rose to the challenge and just went with the flow, and I’m grateful that she eventually had an opportunity to interact with her main teacher and the teachers of special classes, like art, gym music and library, and some of her classmates.
While there’s no clear way of knowing what third grade will look like for her, I know if she could make it through this year with a smile on her face and still eager to learn that she’ll be just fine.