Italian Proverb

A friend’s daughter just started kindergarten, and she attempted a courageous escape from the playground back to her house. She made it as far as the parking lot when her mom caught her and dragged her back. I found the breakaway story to be pretty funny, but it also reminded me of how difficult going back to school can be for some kids. And maybe grandparents can help a little.

When a child is going back to school or even starting school is a great time for grandparents to share stories about their own experiences at school. Young kids love to hear stories in general, and a story starring a family member that relates to the child’s own life is especially exciting. Chances are, there are some funny or exciting moments you can use to liven up your story. And a child might be comforted by knowing that others in the family have gone through the same experience, and maybe even have felt some of the same emotions.

Kids and grandparents can get in touch by phone, DoubleScoop, email, Skype and start exchanging their adventures. How did you get to school? What was your favorite part of the day? What did you eat for lunch? Were you nervous about anything? What did you do after school? There is so much to talk about, and kids love to hear about when their grandparents were kids. Kids will be especially thrilled if a grandparent can share an old photograph when they were the same age. Hopefully, these stories will help going back-to-school a little smoother, and a little more fun.

Air Hugs

August 21, 2012

Today was the first day of kindergarten for my littlest girl. With her killer Barbie backpack and panda water bottle, she lined up with the other wee things and bravely started marching into class. Quickly, she turned around and wrapped her arms around her chest. I smiled. She had just sent me an ‘air hug.’ And I sent her a big one back.

I don’t remember exactly when she came up with air hugs. I think it was during her bedtime ritual, when she wasn’t quite ready to say goodnight, but it was time for dad to leave the room. First a real hug, then  a little air hug a few steps away, maybe an extra tight air hug another step back, and a giant air hug before leaving her room. Then, during what turned out to be a thankfully short period of preschool, she struggled with being dropped off. Air hugs saved the day (for me, at least). After one last real hug, I would send her a big air hug from the doorway, and she would send one back.

After she made it into the classroom this morning, I shared some pictures of her through DoubleScoop, with her grandparents, aunt and uncle. I had hoped to catch a shot of her in her air hug stance, but I was too late. She had taught her grandparents about air hugs during our summer visit, and I know they would love a hug. I think I will take a picture this afternoon for them at pick-up. It’s not the same as the real thing, but it’s another fun way to keep them in touch.

‘Honey,’ shouted my husband this morning. ‘I think E got in a bar fight last night.’ Indeed, her left eye was swollen shut and she was miserable. Some type of monster mosquito must have bit my 5-year old. So, she and I are hanging out watching PBS Kids while her left eye recovers, and it’s a perfect time to get back to this blog after a three week vacation with the grandparents.

In short, we made it. All of us. My husband and I survived three days and nights in wine country (Survived is a stretch. The time flew). My parents pulled through. And my kids, a lot tanner and a little plumper, seemed no worse for our absence. This was our first time leaving the kids for an extended time, and I’ll declare it a success. Even though everything went wrong.

Seven days before we left, L commented ‘my throat hurts.’ She’s not a complainer, so we popped over to urgent care. Strep, of course. Deeply disappointed – it’s summer after all, don’t we get a break from these ailments? – we got her antibiotics. I consoled myself that we had plenty of time before we left for California to recover.

Two days later, E seemed a little off and was coughing like crazy. Genius that I am, I took her to the doctor for a strep test. Confirmed. No big deal. Plenty of time and the doctor thinks the cough will quiet down. But the cough actually gets worse. Another doctor blames it on a little post nasal drip from the strep or maybe irritation from the fires in Colorado. My fingers are crossed and I pack our bags.

Finally, we board the plane to Los Angeles. The cough is intense. The stewardess shows kindness and concern, and gently reminds us about the whooping case outbreak in the US. Have we been tested? I reassure her that two doctors confirmed it was not whooping cough or croup. We go through some 20 lollipops (it’s ok – they were organic) during the short flight.

Once in Los Angeles, the cough worsens. Another kind doctor we find confirms it’s not pneumonia and loads us with various inhalant and liquid medications. And to think we were worried about her getting into my parents’ medications. I feel terribly about how much work it is going to be to watch these kids. With a detailed list of do’s, don’ts and doses – remember, the other girl is allergic to peanuts and is taking her own medication for that twice a day – we leave. The grandparents nobly accept the challenge.

The trip was great. And we heard some good news from the grandparents. Even though the younger girl had a rough first day at camp and had to be picked up early, she stayed the whole time the second day. A steady stream of cupcakes and lollipops and a lot of love from the grandparents seem to have worked. We get back to LA, and are thrilled that the girls barely missed us. Of course, the older girl starts her own cough. We pass the remaining two weeks dressing up in grandmother’s shoes, playing at the beach, eating treats and just resting.

Now I am back home, back to work, thinking even more deeply about the amazing relationship between kids and grandparents, and how DoubleScoop can deepen this bond…when I’m not thinking about when E’s eye is going to open up again.

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