4 Year Anniversary

4-year-anniversary

A Guy in Preschool turns 4 years old. I never thought the blog would be going this long. But, hey, it’s still here.

Although I’m proud of this blog, as far as the direction of my writing, I’m not sure where to go from here. Reason being, when I started this blog, I was teaching children. I was a preschool teacher, single, and living in San Francisco. Today, I’m a husband and father with two children, an office worker by day and college professor by night living in Pittsburgh.

The person who started writing this blog is no longer here. I mean, I’m still here. But, I’m no longer living in the context by which this blog was meant to showcase.

Therefore, the content and information on this blog is going to reflect my life changes. Although focused on early childhood, there will be a lot more information and guidance, with the occasional classroom story, fatherhood tale or daily experience. This will allow me to write about what I’m going through currently, rather than pulling tales from the past.

Additionally, I’ll be incorporating some new content by way of multimedia. I love photography and video, and I hope to incorporate more of those mediums into my writings.

Here we go 2017!

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My Day as an Elf

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I looked up at the mountains of gifts. There were well over a hundred. I stood in amazement. None of the gifts were from me, but I was in charge of distribution. This is what an elf must feel like.

Donated from a couple of law offices, there were three gifts for each child in my preschool. There are 51 kiddos at my school. You can do the math. At the moment, the math I was doing was to make sure each child got their box or bag full of gifts before they left for winter break.

It was December 20, 2013.

Earlier, in late October, the children sent out letters requesting what they would like for the holidays (way, way early, I know, but tell that to all of the retail stores). Not all of children would celebrate Christmas, but my supervisor shared that it was an opportunity for children to receive something.

“More about the gesture than celebrating a holiday,” she shared.

Written in crayon (and I use the term “written” very loosely), children finished their letters which were sent to their “Winter Friend” (aka, a lawyer). And, probably as quickly as the next day, the kiddos forgot all about the picture letter they created. But on these letters, children wrote 3 things they would like for “the Winter season”.

You can see all of the careful PR we’re doing here.

A month later, on December 19, a truck load – yes, no exaggeration – of gifts came to my school.

“Cover all of the windows and don’t let the children look at the security monitors,” I told my teachers. I didn’t want the kids to see Teacher Gilbert walking through the door with giant bags of gifts, like I was the Latino Santa.

I packed all of the bags into our parent room and locked the door. A sign on the door said, “Stay out. Stay alive.” Kidding, but I wish I did.

The next day, I found myself standing in front of a mountain of gifts. There were three mountains now, because I had organized each by classroom and name. The parent room door was open. I wedged a small table in the doorway. From the door, you couldn’t see the mountains of gifts. All you could see was the table and a few clipboards with all of the children’s names – checklists to make sure every child got their gifts.

Think Walmart layaway office, minus the register and blue vest… and the layaway sign.

“This is what an elf must feel like”, I thought as I waited for 3:45 – pick-up time. Whenever I have seen a cartoon or movie of an elf, they are really the middleman, which was my position at that moment. I didn’t receive any of the “Winter Friend” letters because they were for the lawyers. I merely passed them along. I didn’t purchase or wrap any of these gifts that I was going to give to the kids. I merely passed them along.

“I’m an elf,” I thought.

But, as I was sitting there thinking about the checklists, assessing the mountains, and making sure all the gifts of there, a thought came into my head… more like a voice…

“More about the gesture than celebrating a holiday.”

Moral of the Story: Whether you celebrate Christmas or any of the end of year holidays, children should experience receiving a gift – and the feeling that goes with it.

Throughout my early childhood career, I’ve worked with children and families who live in poverty. Meals, housing and electricity can all be hardships. So, the thought of their child receiving any kind of gift during the holidays feels like a distant thought and is out of mind.

Or, perhaps not. Maybe it’s always on their mind. Perhaps these families constantly think about the holidays. They think about how they are not able to give their children gifts, a tree, or any sort of anything. They think about how their child will go to school and see other children talking about what they received for Christmas – and their child won’t have anything to share.

Rather than the holidays bringing feelings of happiness, December equates to sadness for these children and families.

So you can imagine that, on my day as an elf, sitting at a small table wedged in a doorway, the shock and surprise on the parent’s faces when I give their child a bag of gifts. And understand this so you can appreciate the rush of emotion in these parents and children – some of these families would not have had any gifts and they are the ones exhibiting this sadness.

“More about the gesture than celebrating a holiday.”

Bag after bag went out of the parent room. Smiling children. Shocked parents. Crying parents. Again and again and again over half an hour. Check after check on my clipboard as I raced back and forth between the door and the mountains. Parents said thank you – in English and in different languages. At the end of the day, most of the gifts were given out. There were two bags left – children who were absent, but they would have their gifts specially delivered to their homes before Christmas.

My work was done. So was everyone else. The teachers cleaned up their rooms, locked the doors, then said their good-byes. We’d see everybody in the new year. I heard the front door slam shut as the last teacher left the building.

I sat by myself in an empty school. Most of the lights were off. It was quiet. To myself, I replayed the last hour in my head.  All of the emotions and faces came flooding back. I teared up a little.

“I did not purchase any of the gifts,” I thought. “None of them were from me. I merely passed them along. But with every gift, I gave joy.”

I thought about the parent’s faces. “The surprise,” I thought. “The complete utter surprise on their faces.” I wiped my tears, then regained composure. I stood up and started locking up the school for winter break. I had to start my own Christmas shopping for family and friends.

I shut off all of the lights. I closed and locked the front door. My day as an elf was done.

Food Fight: Feeding Toddlers

My son sat on his high chair like royalty. On this particular morning, he was displeased with the breakfast offerings from his peasant father.

“Eggs! Peasant please,” I’m sure my son was thinking as he grabbed a fistful of scrambled egg and launched it at the table. Another fistful ended up directly on the floor. Eggs were not on the menu.

This was discouraging. Eggs had been my go-to-breakfast for many, many months. In fact, I had evolved from making eggs in a frying pan to microwaving in a mug in just one minute. It was quick, easy and allowed me to begin coping with the fact that I was awake at 6:30am on a Saturday morning.

But now his majesty was not amused with eggs and required something different. Perhaps an egg Mcmuffin or hotcakes or something else on the McDonald’s all day breakfast menu (which is not completely true because I’ve yet to find a location that serves the egg, bacon and cheese biscuit after 10:45am).

My son whined, complained and demanded something else. But who knew if that wouldn’t end up on the floor as well? Parents and teachers know very well the difficulties of feeding a toddler. It feels like a never-ending meal service, offering up food and seeing if it is worthy of consumption. Eventually, these meals can turn into battles, confrontation, and, if left unattended, routine stress in your day.

Fortunately me dear parents and teachers, there is help and it revolves around control. There are some rules to this battle and, if you know them, this will make the food fight a less stressful experience. Perhaps it will be less of a struggle and more of a, *gasp*, meal.

During meals, both the adult and the toddler have control over portions of the battle, erg… meal.

Adults Control…

The Food Options

I’ll be honest, when I’m feeding my son early in the morning, nutrition and preparation time are the two factors that will determine what HRH (His Royal Highness) will eat. Many times though, prep time wins out. The faster, the better. As I gain meal experience, I’ve expanded the repertoire. And, as I phase out the preparation time aspect (have food prepared in advance, trust me), then I can just focus on adding variety and nutrition. Believe me, when my son doesn’t eat options 1-5, I’m still not worried because I still have options 6-12.

Bottom line: Less stress.

Eating Time

My son has been known to stand by the food pantry and beg for food. Most of the time, I’ll give in because it usually means it’s time for him to eat.

But the times when I’m eating something and he wants to eat it too, I’ll give him a bite, but he won’t be getting a whole meal. Yes, he’ll complain and whine. Perhaps something like this…

“His Royal Highness demands another bite of your egg, bacon and cheese biscuit.”

Perhaps I can go to another room and eat like a scrooge. But the fact is, he should eat according to a schedule or when he’s hungry, not when he sees me eating.

Toddlers should have three main meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also the mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, and, if necessary, a snack before bedtime. They shouldn’t be eating when you eat in addition to their own meals and snacks. They are getting plenty of food.

Toddlers Control…

Which food will be eaten

Over many a sunrise, I’ve acquired options for breakfast that HRH prefers. Here’s a short list:

  • eggs
  • string cheese
  • Cheerios
  • rice crispies
  • oatmeal
  • whole wheat pancakes
  • toast
  • bananas

However, there are days when eggs just won’t cut it. On the other side, there are weeks when my son will just eat bananas in the morning. In fact, I believe there was a stretch when he only ate foods that were yellow: bananas, eggs, and Cheerios (the box).

I can’t control what he eats, but I can be prepared to have a variety of options available so, after I’m done showing him container after container of food, there will be one that unveils a smile on his face.

How much food will be eaten

I’ll make my son a scrambled egg and he nibbles at it. He’ll have a bowl of oatmeal and he’ll consume that and two more bowls. He’ll eat a third of a banana, toss the middle third on the floor, and then reach out with the last third and ask me to eat it. Then he’ll whine, indicating that he’s still hungry. Just like there may be no pattern about which food will be eaten, so to about how much food will be eaten. The toddler is in control.

There may be reasons why the amount of food consumed changes, such as physical growth, teething, taste, or the toddler just wants to eat a little or a lot. Bottom line, as much as we adults want to believe that there is an amount of begging or bartering or commanding we can do to coerce a toddler to eat more food, there isn’t. Accept it.

Hope these rules of engagement helps out at 6:30am in the morning. Coffee and a variety of Coffeemate flavors helps too.

Memorable Posts Update

2014 has been memorable for many reasons: changing jobs, moving from the west to the east, completing graduate school, and becoming a father.  I’m surprised that my hair isn’t turning gray from all the stress…

…actually…wait… lemme take a selfie….

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Is that a reflection glare… nope… dang…

Well, before I head off to Walgreens, for the second year, I chose 10 posts from this past year that, for whatever reason, was memorable.  You can check out the page here.  Working on some new posts for the upcoming year as my journey continues here in Pennsylvania.

Break til Early December

Graduate school is getting into high gear.  Moving to Pittsburgh is picking up speed.  Life has a way of grabbing your attention and saying “Focus on me!”

Well, that’s what I need to do at this time.  Brief break from the World of WordPress until early December.  Hopefully life will be a little tamer.

Adios til then WP!  I leave you with a vacation trip from Yosemite; my family’s farewell California vacation.

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Memorable Posts

When graduate school is in session, my blogging takes a hit.

Well, more like a tail-spinning plummet to terra firma.

However, I’m still thinking about writing and how to make the blog more informational, dynamic, and, well, just darn better.

Enter a new page – and button – to the left called “Memorable Posts”.  These are posts that have stuck with me for one reason or another.  It will get updated from time to time – switching in and out a list of 10 posts.  I hope it adds something to this blog.

The are other ideas cooking, but let’s wait and see.

Until the next post readers, adios!