This week in Parenthesis, the school year starts for two mom bloggers; Tanis Miller’s kids reenact a scene from her childhood; and Ilana Wiles realizes that nothing about toddlers is absolute.
Circles of life
When Lindsey Mead realized that her daughter's second-grade classroom had been her fourth-grade homeroom nearly three decades ago, she writes on HuffPost, the thought awakened powerful emotions; “past and present collapse[d]” in a “flood” of memories as she saw her little girl following in her footsteps on the first day of school.
On Attack of the Redneck Mommy, Tanis Miller shares a similar, if more whimsical, experience. Miller recalls her 15-year-old self fighting with her brother over the television, and ending up with a bloody nose -- then, “fast forward 21 years,” describes watching her own kids get into a similar argument. Anxious to prevent injury, she resorts to a punishment from "when they were little" that might sound harmless enough in theory -- but is likely worse, in adolescent eyes, than a week’s grounding: a brother-sister hug.
Back to school: Before and after
School is starting, and bloggers from across the country have addressed back-to-the-classroom butterflies by setting out their expectations for the new year -- or waxing poetic about how time flies. On Enjoying the Small Things, Kelle Hampton chimes in with a moving letter to her daughter, Lainey, on the night before kindergarten – and follows up with an honest, blow-by-blow report of a first day that held its fair share of anxiety and tears for everyone. While Hampton frankly admits that it isn’t easy for her or Lainey to let go, her trademark positivity -- what a friend calls her “eyes that find beauty in the little things” -– is bound to reassure other worried parents, too.
There and back again
Kelle Hampton’s daughter may be just starting out on her educational journey, but another blogger’s son is settling back into the school routine as a bona fide first grader. Amalah blogger Amy describes what happened at a start-of-school Open House, when her son Noah “insisted on visiting every former teacher and classroom” to say hello. As Noah caught up with his beloved Preschool Education Program instructor, Amy observed the “nervous”-looking new parents waiting in the classroom, and imagined their first-day apprehensions. While she knew she could have told them “how wonderful this teacher [was], or how happy [she’d been] with the program or something,” her son’s comfort and animation were ultimately worth more than a hundred hasty reassurances -- or in her words, “all the encouragement I could possibly offer to any parent in that room.”
"Kids are complex, curious, constantly developing creatures"
When a boy wears dresses or skirts in public, people tend to notice -- especially if his father joins him. But gender stereotypes are challenged every day in ways that don’t make headlines, and defy our instincts to put children into neat categories like “tomboy” or “girly-girl.” In fact, the truth about kids’ impulses -- their love of trucks, princesses, pink, blue, etc. -- is indescribably nuanced, writes Ilana Wiles at Mommy Shorts:
The interesting thing about "mommy blogging" is that I tend to make bold statements about my child in the interest of telling a more focused story. She's a tomboy. She's a girlie girl. She hates the bath. She loves tomatoes. etc.
Except kids are constantly changing and we can't really label them at the ripe old age of TWO. ... I have now come to understand that Mazzy is neither a tomboy or a girlie girl— she's just a kid. A kid that likes both dresses and firetrucks.
In other words -- to elaborate on a thought articulated by our gender-norm-defying young friend, Riley -- “Some girls like superheroes, some girls like princesses; some boys like superheroes, some boys like princesses.” And lots of kids like a little bit of both.