Mommy is failing at school

Within the span of his short life, my son has been to two schools. He attended the first school from the extremely tender age of six weeks old and only left it after we moved, right before his fourth birthday. In that first school, he made his first friends, and there was a core group of them that moved from room to room. It became natural for me to know them and for them to know me. I've painted their faces, talked to them upon pickup, and had them over for play dates and birthday parties.

In the second school, I am clearly not paying enough attention. We recently attended a birthday party for one of my son's classmates, who I probably couldn't identify in a lineup. On top of that, there were lots of other mothers there who knew me and knew my son, although I had no idea who they were.

A few weeks ago, my son had some rough, non-listening days and his teacher mentioned him fighting with another boy. I had no idea who that boy was.

Clearly, I'm failing at school. And this is just the tip of the ice burg.

Because I don't know this school as well as the last one, I am unsure of how to navigate conversations with my son's school officials without sounding like a crazy Mommy. I have talked to them in the past about showing him inappropriate movies and recently, I had to talk with his teacher about what they were doing when he was acting out. I felt defensive and prickly in these conversations.

But I shouldn't. Because it's not about me. It's about my son, and we all want what's best for him. As this nationwide study from VitalSmarts illustrates, most parents are not doing a great job of handling school-related issues. To work on that, the study suggests we do the following:
  1. Use non-confrontational language.
  2. Seek facts and information only.
  3. Accept some of the blame.
And for me, I have an additional task: I need to volunteer more at his school and get to know the kids. If I know the environment he is in, then maybe I'll be a better communicator overall.

How well do you know your child's classmates? Tell me in the comments.

Capturing everyday moments

Do me a quick favor: Scroll through your phone and find a picture of an everyday moment. Something unscripted. One where nobody is looking at the camera. It's hard to find, isn't it?

But those are the moments that matter. A Harvard Study posits that it's these ordinary moments that provide more significant context and meaning to people over time. Participants in the study created individualized time capsules based off provided prompts that included writing down a recent conversation with someone, and current thoughts and feelings about a particular day. After several months, participants sorted through their capsules and were able to reconnect with those everyday events on a much more meaningful level than they predicted they would.

I am the keeper of my family's childhood photos, and a lot of them are unscripted. Some of these are accidents - photos taken at the wrong moment which couldn't be deleted from the film but were kept, because we kept every photo at the time. When I look at these pictures, I see furniture that I had forgotten about, favorite toys that were discarded ages ago and even what I looked like crying. It's beautiful because it's normal.

So, how do I capture these everyday moments now?
  • Plan to take candid pictures. Yes, that sounds odd, but look for a moment of an everyday scene in your home - maybe of someone cooking dinner or helping with homework. Don't tell anyone that you have the camera out.
  • Write things down. I keep a journal for my son and write entries even when nothing extraordinary happened that week. It's from re-reading those entries that I can remember what foods he liked as a baby or the way he would sporadically start dancing for me.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings. What is my son doing as I type this? He is plopped on a pillow next to me playing on his LeapPad. It's raining and cold outside and except for my typing and his game, it's very quiet. He yells out "YES!" every time he wins a race, and it makes me laugh.
What steps do you think you'll take to capture the everyday moments in your household? Tell me in the comments.

Coasting in the classroom

There are several people in my office who stand while they work. I admire them. Because although I know I need to stand up more in my day, I'm not yet at the point where I am ready to raise my desk. (I'd have to stop wearing heels to the office, for one thing.)

But my standing co-workers have nothing on the kids in this article: These elementary school children are piloting a program in which they bike while they read. Imagine it: You walk into a classroom and see 30 children on exercise bikes while they are reading books.

In a world where children have less recess time than they used to, the bike-and-ride program is an innovative way to add exercise into an overly structured day. Children burn calories at their own pace. And there is an added benefit - the children who participate in the program actually have better retention rates on what they are reading.

My son likes to read with me. But we have to be selective about our reading times when he is ready to sit still and pay attention to the book. Otherwise, he acts like a little kernel of popcorn next to me - just ready to explode with energy, and I know he is not paying attention.

What if he was on a stationary bike while reading? Would the motion of his legs help him burn off his extra energy and focus more? We've talked before about boys being more restless in the classroom than girls, so maybe this is a good solution.

Would you want your child to bike and ride during reading time? Let me know in the comments.

Sexting as the new first base?

I have a friend with a name very close to my husband's. And I have to keep that in mind, because every time I pull up my husband's name in my phone's contact list, his name appears first. He's a good enough friend, so I've actually given him a fair warning that if he ever receives an inappropriate or confusing text from me to ignore it. (And preferably delete it.) Because when I send messages about being out of soap or a sappy "wish you were here" note, it was definitely meant for my husband.

I don't think I've slipped up too many times. And, happily, I've never sent that friend anything resembling a sext.

This is probably because I don't really send sext messages to my husband. But, according to the latest research, more and more adolescents are sending them.

Based on data from the anonymous survey results of 1,000 adolescents, the research indicates that sexting doesn't necessarily lead to risky sexual behavior later on in life. But, it is an opportunity to have more conversations around sex and promoting healthier behaviors. Basically, sexting is like the new first base, only it's more permanent and can be shared across a wider audience. Which makes it a hard place to start a conversation from.

Better advice would be to start having conversations around sex earlier. Even earlier than you think you need to. A little information goes a long way - as long as it is appropriately addressed for each age.

In the meantime, I need to update my contact list to either change my husband's info to something more unique or alter my friend's name to something that isn't anywhere close to my husband's name.

A girl can't be too careful these days..

Are you worried about your child engaging in sexting? Tell me about it in the comments.