Friday, April 29, 2016

Benjamin: 6 years old

Here is my much-delayed post about Benjamin.  Late but not least!  Benjamin is my real constant; where Charlotte and Asher tend to be reactive and sometimes moody, Benjamin is usually predictable and steady.  He has his moments of non-sensical panic (the planetarium at the Franklin Institute is apparently the most frightening thing he has ever experienced), but I can count on him to be calm and quiet when everything around us is going a little crazy.

Benjamin has completely picked up reading- there are words he doesn't know, but he is able to sound most of them out.  He loves to read and is always picking things up to read whenever he can.  If I am texting on my phone, he's reading over my shoulder.  Even spelling words quickly isn't safe anymore!  I love that he has turned into a reader.  Not only does he love reading by himself, he loves being read to. We have been working our way through "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle."  The books remind me of my own childhood, and I enjoy reading it all over again with a sweet boy by my side.

While Benjamin loves to read... he also loves the ipad and computer games. He will sneak electronics whenever he can to play games, and to download new games from the app store.  I know nothing about video games, so I don't know what he is playing (great parental oversight, I know) but he seems to be addicted.  He also got some secondhand Pokemon cards from a classmate, and he takes great pride in them. Again, something I know nothing about.

Benjamin is my good eater.  He eats everything!  Sometimes he will randomly decide there is something he doesn't like, but usually he goes back to eating it at a later point.  He eats meat, vegetables, fruits, cheese, you name it.  He is still willing to try new and adventurous foods if someone else is eating them, too.  The other day he asked me if I would take him out for sushi- so I hope that we get to do that in the near future!  Even though he eats a wide variety of food, he had a small breakdown over Passover, because he wasn't allowed to eat "any foods that I like!"  Strangely, Asher didn't complain at all, despite being deprived of all of the foods he usually eats.

School seems to be going well for Benjamin.  He always talks about his girl friends, but has a few other friends who he seems to play with frequently.  He comes home with awards from his teacher all the time.  We have only had one major incident this year- one day, when his teacher was out and he had a substitute, the principal poked his head into the classroom and found Benjamin and 2 other friends "exploring" each other on the carpet.  The 3 boys got called into the office to talk to the principal, and the principal told Eric about it when Benjamin got out of school at lunch time.  Benjamin's telling of the story was that the boys had been touch him without his permission, and that they do it all the time, and laugh at him!  I was enraged. I walked across the street to the school and the principal saw me right away.  When I told him what Benjamin had told me, he told me that he had witnessed the event with his own eyes, Benjamin was involved, and had never denied his involvement. The teacher also called me, and told me she hasn't seen anything strange happening in class.  Benjamin is always happy to go to school, so I don't think he is being continually harassed there.  We've heard nothing since, but I have continually reiterated to the kids, "Your private parts are private; no one touches them without your permission; don't touch anyone else on their private parts; if someone touches you in a way you don't like, tell a teacher or a parent right away."  The only part of this episode that made me happy was that the principal told me that Benjamin was the only kid in the office who used anatomically correct terms.  Hurray for Mommy and her sex education!

Our biggest frustration with Benjamin is that he is sometimes out to lunch.  He doesn't hear us when we ask him something, and we repeat ourselves, and he still doesn't hear us.  He will sit at the table with a bowl of food in front of him and forget to eat it. He will go upstairs to get himself dressed, and 10 minutes later I will come up to see what happened and find him naked but for his underwear and his pajamas wrapped around one of his feet.

He has given up naps almost completely, which is pretty normal for someone who is now 6. But I have to say, the days where all 3 kids nap in the afternoon are like a little bit of heaven for me.  At night, Benjamin will sleep about 11 hours, which I think is also normal for a kid his age. He is tired at night, and after several days without a nap he is a little cranky, he seems to get enough rest.

Because Benjamin is the most easy-going of the 3 kids, he tends to get bossed around by his siblings- even Charlotte!  Charlotte will tell him what to do because she parrots everything that Asher says.  But Benjamin will just ignore all of it and keep doing whatever he wants.

Even though Asher is more snuggly than Benjamin, Benjamin still needs and loves his cuddles.  He likes to sit on my lap (or any adult's lap!) at mealtimes, or sit close on the couch, or snuggle up together in bed. He is sweet and loves to give kisses and hugs.

Benjamin hasn't yet shown a great deal of athletic prowess.  The one time I watched him play basketball, he looked more like he was doing the hokey-pokey than playing defense and guarding someone. He declined to do the running series that Asher and Charlotte are doing.  He is happily playing t-ball, though!  Even if he isn't a great athlete, he does have fun.

That's my Benjamin- still a sweet, lovable boy.  Smart, curious, and absorbing everything he learns.  He is a goofball and a lovebug.  My middle child who might get lost in the shuffle some days, but deserves all the love in the world.

Friday, April 15, 2016

6 year old well visit

After-doctor frozen yogurt

We had our 6 year old visit yesterday:

Asher is 45 3/4" tall (54th percentile) and 47.8 lbs (61st percentile)

Benjamin is 44.5" tall (30th percentile) and 44.8 lbs (43rd percentile)

The nurse tested their vision and hearing and said it all looked good- Asher's vision was 20/25 instead of 20/20 but she said that is nothing to be concerned about.  The doctor asked questions about what they like to do, how they like school, what they like to eat... At the end of all the questioning, she said that they looked perfect.  She seemed pleased with their general well-being, lack of behavioral problems, and social adjustment.  She agreed with me that we have been incredibly lucky with everything.  And still, even 6 years after their uneventful birth, I am thankful everyday for the way our lives have progressed.  I am so proud of my big, growing boys.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Asher: 6 years old

Here is Asher at 6 years old:

In the past few months, I have started to feel like Asher has an inner life that I know nothing about.  His needs, thoughts, desires are no longer simple and straight forward. I can't solve everything with a hug and a kiss.  Sometimes, at night, he gets quiet and seems sad- he says he feels sad but can't explain why.  One night he cried hysterically and refused to sleep with his beloved Charles Broccoli, and asked me to give it away so that he could "do something nice."  Every time I assured him he was ok to have Broccoli, he would throw Broccoli out of bed. Oh my goodness.  And this morning, I got to the bottom of the lunch problem- for weeks he has been taking barely any food to school with him, and he keeps saying, "Don't put food in there, I'm not going to eat it." While at home, he eats 3-4 things at lunch time, so this strikes me as odd.  Today, he finally told me that at lunch, he chooses to sit at the "Teacher Table" so that he isn't near anyone with fruit in their lunch, but that sometimes the teachers he sits with eat fruit for a snack, and then he feels so sick that he can't eat his lunch.  I have no idea how long this has been going on, but it broke my heart!

Needless to say, his fruit phobia is still going strong. I have become resigned to his not eating a well-rounded diet, and that is ok. He does enjoy a full range of vegetables, and gets excited at broccoli, string beans, and carrots. After refusing string cheese for a long period of time, he now eats Polly-O as a snack. He likes hummus and beans.  His favorite foods, though, are all carbs- cereal, crackers, bread, bagels, noodles.  And desserts.  We have had many discussions about nutrition and eating "real" food to grow strong and have energy, and at time he is amenable to my recommendations.

We have discovered that Asher has a strength in math and numbers.  He loves doing math and will do the optional extra work his teacher sends home for fun.  He is very quick to pick up and understand what he is looking at.  His reading has not progressed as quickly- he doesn't seem to have the patience to read words that aren't instantly familiar to him, and he will look at a word, use the first letter, and make up the rest of the word (yesterday, the word "cure" became "ca-cha-chee," which 1) isn't a word and 2) doesn't have any of the same sounds in it after the initial c).

At school, Asher seems to be doing well. We never hear anything bad from his teacher (we never hear anything at all from his teacher, but that's another story), and he is happy to leave for school in the morning. The morning after spring break, he was dressed with his coat and shoes on 40 minutes before it was time to leave!  He seems to have made some friends, although there was drama when a few other friends were invited to a birthday party and he wasn't. He does all his work well in class, and is proud to show it to us when he comes home.  He loves to draw and color, and can really engage in an arts & crafts project.

At home, Asher can be a sweet and kind big brother.  He and Charlotte seem to have a special relationship, and he really looks out for her.  But, he can also be a little trouble maker- somehow he has ended up with a $5 bill in his bank, but no one has ever given him one. I can only assume it came from a grown-up's wallet!  He is a charmer and knows how to work the Mommy System- things like he will take our initial, low offer for dessert, but then ask for a 2nd dessert while everyone else is eating- and even though I know I am getting swindled, I let him have it.

Of the 3 kids, Asher is the only one I can rely on to do what I ask.  He will help with laundry and table-setting, but also get himself dressed every morning without complaint, get his shoes and coat on the first time I ask, and is also the only one who cleans up toys!  The other day we sent the boys down to the basement to clean up and I heard Asher say, "I'm the only one cleaning up down here! Benjamin is lying on the floor and moaning that he is too tired to help!"  Asher is always quick to come with us on an errand or help out with a task.

He has a kind heart, and often thinks of ways to help other people. After our visit to DC, where we saw many homeless people, Asher asked if there was a way for us to bring a homeless person home with us, and we could make sure he had food and a warm place to live.  I was struck by his concern- and told him that it would be a little complicated to bring someone home from DC, but that we could certainly find other ways to help out people who might be homeless or hungry.

Asher loves being outside.  He will play in the backyard, play at the playground across the street (especially a game called Gaga, which he loves), ride his bike, ride his scooter, or run.  He is solid and strong.  He has natural athletic grace and seems good at every sport he tries, even if he doesn't like doing them. When he did gymnastics, he could really move his body well on the bars and the rings.  He is a super fast runner- and has a long, smooth stride.  Should he ever decide to pick a sport and stick with it, he will probably excel!

Even though he is 6, he is still my snuggle bear.  He will settle in on my lap and just relax. I still love the feeling of his warm, solid body next to mine, and the sound of his soft breathing.  We have snuggled every day of his life (except when I am away on vacation!), and I realize that my snuggle days are finite. 6 years of snuggling, and 6 years from now, no way he will be doing it anymore. He is growing up into this big boy right in front of my eyes.