the first day of first grade

Today Everett is officially a first grader. He had his first professional haircut in preparation for this. He got to ride his bicycle to school too, though Christopher had to accompany him because the school insists that first graders have adults with them. I’m hoping to have him confident in getting himself safely to and from school by the end of the year, though. My plan is for us to only give him a cursory accompaniment. Chris will follow behind him and make sure he gets there, but mostly allow him to go it on his own steam. I will pick him up and hang out with him while they play on the playground. But I will start letting him go ahead of us and arrive home before us. Loosening the reigns a bit. Build up his confidence in himself.

I know some people are shocked at the idea of letting a 6 year old get himself to and from school by himself, but I did it and I lived farther from school than he does. Technically my older brother was supposed to walk me, but let’s be real here. My older brother walked with friends and I attempted to keep up as they cut through yards and tried to lose me. Eventually I knew the 3 safe routes; which was better for walking (shorter), which was better for biking (more hills!), and which was to be used in the event of bullies in the area. None of which prevented me from getting on a bus to a community center after-school program I was not a member of because I wanted to see some turtles I’d found at the creek that the center had taken in as pets (but apparently either accidentally killed or released when I was gone). When you aren’t old enough to remember your exact address or phone number that is an adventure, let me tell you. At least we lived on a military base so all I had to do was give them my father’s name for them to sort out where I was supposed to be and call my mom. (Incidentally.. I STILL remember that address and I haven’t lived there in over 22 years.)

My kids have pretty much only one route to school and it has 3-4 crossing guards posted along that route. I think he’ll be okay.

As for school he loved it, of course. His teacher was a PreK teacher before this year so he remembers her from his PreK days at the school. He has several of his Kindergarten classmates in his class and is reacquainting himself with a boy who wasn’t so nice to him last year on the playground but seems to be open to playing with him this year. I told him that sometimes people just need a second chance to be the nice person they really are.

And I believe that to be true. Everyone makes mistakes. Operates under misconceptions. Gets swept up in emotion or the cool crowd or whatever and acts a way they maybe don’t even realize they are until they are too deeply embedded in it. Having a fresh start was always the best thing about the beginning of school for me. As adults we don’t often get those fresh starts because we don’t have those cyclical reintroductions. I try to remember that the next time I run into someone who maybe rubbed me the wrong way or said something that made me bristle or maybe even made me cry in my car. I don’t always succeed in remembering this, but I try.

Here’s to a new year with new friends and new chances to be better people.

a trip to the Lorain County Fair

We’ve visited a few fairs here in Ohio, none of them are quite as enjoyable to us as the Lorain County Fair. The kids ask about the fair all summer. “Is the fair tomorrow?” was heard several dozen times this year.  Part of the excitement came from a new strategy we came up with to get the kids to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees.

This year the kids had a chore chart. For every chore on the chart there was a monetary value ranging from .10¢ for washing their hands after using the bathroom (guess what is now an established habit in their routine!), to .25¢ for clearing their own dishes all day long so I didn’t have to chase, to keep Kimball from grabbing dairy products he can’t have from the table, all the way to $2 for cleaning those messy mini junkyards they call bedrooms. On Tuesday night I counted up all of the stickers and totaled out their earned “Fair Bucks” to spend at the fair. They each got $10, which is 5 rides at the LCF.

I mean, the money was theirs, they could use it for games or rides. But the one time they both wanted to play a game I reminded them that it would mean one less ride and they quickly changed their minds.

Ride junkies.

It’s a little frightening being the parent of a child, or two, that is braver than you are. The rides they wanted to get on ranged from lame (like this bear ride above that Del remembered from last year and kept referring to as the “Funshine Bear ride” all the way to the fair) to horrifyingly frightening.

This one. This one I had to talk them down from. Del wasn’t even big enough for it but Ev just barely was. Can you imagine? I’m not ready to watch my babies whip through the air upside-down just yet.

Chris and I are rather fond of walking through the animal paddocks and looking at the various breeds of everything. The kids like to sneak a few pets of pigs and goats. This year they were bored by the chickens while I was enamored with the tiny pullet versions of everything. Oh man, mini roosters are sooooo adorable.

We even ran into Howard the Duck.

And of course there was fair food. We hadn’t even made it all the way through the animals before Christopher was begging to get something greasy. So he shared onion rings with the boys, while Del chomped on a hot dog and I scouted for something that sounded appealing. I ended up with a pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw. Not as tangy as the NC pork bbq I so love, but tasty none-the-less.

We went to the games from there. Kimball got in his first carousel ride. He loved it so much he cried when it was over. Christopher had to pry him off the zebra.

Luckily he got a second ride while the bigs were taking a rocket ride through space.

I’m not going to lie. My favorite thing about the fair is actually the bee building. It was a little off-putting this year with big displays of graveyards and such in it. I ignored them as I hustled the kids to the far side where the bees were on display in little cases with magnifying glasses. But Christopher reported there were some xenophobic “Chinese honey will kill you” things posted. Like a grave stone that read “____ died because of Chinese honey”. I mean, I totally get that there is a major problem with corn syrup fed bees from China. But, dude. It was like walking through a Halloween corridor on the way to the honey displays.

Still, we got some flavored honey sticks and I purchased a small comb for breakfast toasts. Because local honey is delicious honey.

There were a few more rides and then we hit the sweets for much needed relief from the hot sun before heading home.

One day I look forward to being at the fair at night when the rides are lit up. But the kids are too likely to get lost in the crowd, right now.

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