Aug 31 2013


So where were we? I think in my last post about UMCS I said that Robin was having a tough time with the transition to a UMCS “lower elementary” classroom. The Montessori lower elementary classes are mixed-age, first through third graders, and Robin was the youngest in the class by quite a bit. His teacher thought that he was prepared for the work academically, but she also said that “Robin doesn’t really have a peer group in this classroom.”

And Robin himself was really, really clear that he wanted to move. “I want to be with the little kids and do little kid things,” he said. “I want to be in a different classroom. I want to go to kindergarten.” He said the same thing over and over in different ways. So I thought, you know, my kid is telling me as clearly as he possibly can what he wants for himself.

And here’s what I think. In Nature’s justice system, Robin has not been guaranteed a jury of his peers, nor has he been vouchsafed an impartial judge. The universe is cruel and it can be very quick to render a verdict. There are no indivisible rights. But in this system Robin has been outfitted with an advocate—one person who will put his needs above literally anything else in the cosmos. And that’s me.

I think he needs to learn that the world won’t always rearrange itself to suit him. But you know what? Sometimes—if he’s clear about his terms and he sticks to his guns—it will.

So I decided to fight this one for him. I scheduled another meeting with his teacher, and then a meeting with the administration, and basically it came down to everybody agreeing: Robin is an edge case. If he “stuck it out” in the lower-el classroom he would probably learn a lot, and the older kids would mentor him…but it would be a rough transition. If he moves to the kindergarten classroom, he probably won’t make a lot of progress academically over the course of the year, but he’ll get a lot more social and emotional support.

And I said: Robin knows what he wants. I don’t think he should get the only vote in this decision, but I think he should get a vote, and in this case probably the deciding vote.

So it’s agreed! Robin moves to kindergarten, starting next week. He’s really happy with the news, especially since one of his friends from preschool is already in that class. I think it’s going to make everything much happier for him. And I’m very pleased with UMCS for being so flexible and for sincerely doing their best to meet Robin’s developmental needs.

Aug 30 2013


I took a picture of Davy tonight for use as his “cubby photo” this year at preschool. I had to catch him right out of the bath to get a clean face!


Aug 28 2013


Robin is having kind of a hard time with the transition to elementary school. He says his days are “bad” and he’s started asking to stay home instead of going to school. This is heartbreaking because he loved preschool so much, and that enthusiasm and delight was something I really wanted him to be able to hold on to.

We talked to his teacher a little bit, specifically floating the idea that maybe he would be better suited to a kindergarten classroom. She says from her perspective he’s doing fine—she thinks he’s going through some normal transition anxiety and that he will settle in within a couple of weeks. She also said that, academically speaking, he is at a first-grade level. (I thought that was true, because I looked up the state standards and did those lessons with him to get him up to grade level, but I was rather pleased to hear her confirm it.)

I told Robin that if he gives it six weeks and still hates school, we’ll make some sort of a change. I hope his teacher is right and that it’s ultimately not necessary.

Aug 26 2013

Need-to-Know Basis

Me: “So Robin, how was your first day of school?”
Robin: “Long.”
Me: “It is a long day, isn’t it?”
Robin: “The teacher got fustalated.”
Me: “Frustrated? Why?”
Robin: “Because my friends did a bad thing.”
Me: “Really. What did ‘your friends’ do?”
Robin: “Hmm. I’m not going to tell you. You don’t need to know.”

Aug 26 2013

First Day of First Grade


It’s a mixed-age classroom, which I like very much, but when I saw my little guy sitting there flanked by older and bigger boys my tummy knotted up. I wanted to grab each person in that classroom, child and adult, by the shoulders and hiss “That is my heart sitting there on that rug in an orange polo shirt, do you understand? He is my naked, beating heart. Be kind to him.”

But instead I gave him a high five and I walked away.

Aug 23 2013


Robin had an orientation period at his new school this morning—he got to go in, meet his teachers and find his classroom, and stay for about an hour before we all gathered for food and socialization. It went really well. On our way into school we recognized a couple of families from Peter Pan (our co-op preschool), so Robin had a little bit of interaction with friendly, familiar faces to bolster him as he entered this new school environment.

I’m feeling really good about UMCS. There’s a new principal this year but I got a great vibe off both her and the rest of the administration. I didn’t get so much of a sense of Robin’s teachers (his classroom has two) yet, but I’m sure we’ll have lots of time to build rapport. The facilities have a nice “feel,” and there’s a bunch of things about the Montessori model that I really like (multi-age classrooms, team teaching, and an emphasis on cross-disciplinary projects and self-directed learning). So we’re excited about the upcoming year at UMCS.

After our orientation this morning, Robin and I walked over to meet up with Sam and Davy and Sol at Peter Pan, which also had a potluck brunch going on. I ran into another Peter Pan parent on the walk over, and when we got there I was flooded with happiness to see all the folks we’ve been working with over the past couple of years, and to catch up with their kids, who all seem to have sprouted up six inches over the summer vacation. It was just nice.

There are some things about our neighborhood that are not so great. There’s been some awful crime stories lately. But walking from the elementary school to the preschool, greeting our neighbors and friends, I realized that we have made some wonderful connections here.

Aug 19 2013

Baby Yoga


Aug 17 2013


Oh wow! We just got a call from Urban Montessori Charter School—Robin has been offered a spot in their first-grade class!

And we accepted it. We weighed out the pros and cons of going with UCMS versus Kaiser: the only real drawback is that Robin will be skipping kindergarten, and that’s a disadvantage that is mitigated by the mixed-age classrooms and individualized instruction under the Montessori model. Robin’s still not a fully proficient reader, but I spent some time going through the Common Core standards and Robin does meet the language goals for a graduating kindergartner. I don’t think he’ll be too far behind the curve.

Everything else weighs in favor of UMCS. They’re located within walking distance of our house so dropoffs and pickups will be easy. Their program goes to eighth grade so we won’t have to go through a lottery for junior high. And the most important factor by far: we were impressed with the school during our visits and think the program will be a good fit for Robin.

So, this is really good news, even if it does mean some last-minute scrambling and readjustment of plans!

Aug 17 2013

Happy Saturday

Here is a chubby chortling baby!



Aug 14 2013

Writing Circle?

When I was working on The Millennial Sword, I posted chapters as I completed them to LiveJournal, and my friends who were reading would give me feedback and constructive criticism. (Shoutout to Molly Price and Dom Camus, who stuck with me till the end and were incredibly, unspeakably important to my writing process.)

I don’t have a lot of time to write these days, but I do have a couple of works-in-progress that I’m juggling. One is a fantasy novel heavily influenced by Beowulf and The Kalevala, and the other is a science-fiction project—basically my attempt to create a swashbuckling interplanetary femme gunslinger as a genre answer to Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. If anyone reading this blog would be interested in seeing first-draft chapters as they come out, please let me know? I am more than willing to reciprocate by reading and commenting on your own works in progress.