Sunday, November 13, 2011

Maybe He's a Vampire?

Fridays are Ethan's kindergarten are seirously fun. The day starts with an all-school sing-along assembly, where the kiddos learn patriot favorites like "This Land is Your Land," holiday favorites like "The Monster Mash," and sometimes, a few Beatles songs (yeah, that's right--All You Need is Love on a Friday morning with coffee and 100 elementary kids--pretty sweet.)

Then Ethan's class pours out of the building to recess, 20 minutes of controlled (more or less) chaos where the boys spin BeyBlades while the girls build fairy forts on the hillside. Apparently this is the age/grade where the genders cootify (Shakespeare invented 10,000 new words, leave me alone) and can no longer bare to socialize with each other--it happens so organically its hard to fight--these days I watch Ethan catch pretend footballs on the lawn, wrestle his way out of a pile up of fellow kindergarten boys and engage in to-the-death light saber battles in the courtyard with his guy friends, after school. Only when we get home does he readily admit that he would still like to go to his girl friend's house and put on Disney Princess dresses and conduct fashion shows for the moms until the sun goes down.

After recess the kindergarteners come in for their enrichment centers--each week revolving between gardening, cooking, art and glass/ceramics. I volunteer on Fridays, which means I spend my Friday mornings in sing-along, recess & then enrichment center. Apparently I garden. This is news to me, although as an aside, I have to say I did in fact not kill any of the garden left behind by the previous tenant AND I seem to be, at least currently, keeping our lettuce and cauliflower alive. So while I'm off digging in the dirt with one group of 5-6 year olds, Ethan is engaged in one of the other activities (except for once a month when we're together).

A couple of weeks ago, his activity was cooking. To make use of the last of the tomatoes growing in the school's gardens, the recipe of choice was bruschetta. Which calls for garlic. Something my child has probably eaten several times without either of us knowing it, but certainly not something he would, at this point in his life, opt for under any circumstances--when asked what he'd like for dinner, I guarantee you Ethan will never say to me, "You know, Mom, I think I'd like a good scampi." Won't happen.

So thinking he could avoid mixing his tomatoes (which he loves) with garlic (which he does not), he decided to tell the teacher in charge that he was actually allergic to garlic. "Allergic" is a new word to Ethan--Daddy appears to be allergic to gluten and dairy, and Ethan's school is rife with kids allergic to nuts, eggs, citrus, dairy and just about any other food product you can think of. All Ethan really gets is that "allergic" seems to mean that you don't have to eat it. So, in Ethan's mind, a garlic allergy? Very convenient.

What he didn't realize is that, as his parent, it is my duty to inform his school of any and all allergies my child might have. He also doesn't realize that allergies can be a deadly serious thing (literally). He knows nothing of anaphylaxis or EPI pens. He's never witnessed anyone having a life-threatening allergic reaction. He knows a couple of kids who have relatively mild allergies, but he's not been briefed on the significance of or the responsibility that comes with a truly serious allergy. Why would he? We're unbelievably lucky that he has none.


To say it was like he shouted "fire" in a crowded room is definitely an overstatement (but you know how I love me some hyperbole). But. The garlic was immediately whisked away and stricken from the recipe. One of the other moms volunteering offered to go check with me and either verify or debunk the claim, since she knew I was out in the garden beds trying to convince a small horde of kids to help me shlep rotting pumpkins from one bed to the other (yeah, that was not so successful. Mostly they just squealed "Ewwwwwww!" and "Cooooool" while the pumpkins disintegrated in my hands--it was really special.) The teacher declined her offer, probably thinking I was a total deadbeat of a mother not to inform the administration of my child's allergy. Apparently they asked him a couple of times if he was sure he had a garlic allergy & he insisted that yes, indeedy, he was not allowed to eat garlic.

At the end of the day, I was approached by the Dean who asked, "Does Ethan have any allergies we don't know about???!!!" Oh my. Never in my life have I done nothing wrong and felt more awful for having done something wrong. I assured her that no, he was absolutely not allergic to ANYthing, and I apologized on Ethan's behalf for making something like this up (I knew this was coming, as the aforementioned mother told me about the situation during lunch recess after the enrichment centers).

I then went in search of the cooking teacher, to offer my apologies for my silly son and his make-believe dietary intolerances. I found her in the midst of a meeting with other teachers regarding---please take a who make allergy claims without any corroborating information from parents. Thank you, Ethan. I assured her that it wouldn't happen again and that she had not, in fact, almost killed my child with her bruschetta.

After all but taking a blood oath that my child has no food allergies, we put the whole thing behind us. Except for the discussion with Ethan about why we don't make stuff up about things that could put us into anaphylactic shock, and how thinking you might not like a food does not equal being allergic to that food.

I am poking fun at the response, but I'm actually really grateful that Ethan's school is so vigilant. Knowing that they are that careful to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their students makes me that much more confident that they are committed to looking after my child when I'm not around the other 4 days of the week. Because even without the vampiric allergy, he's still my special snowflake.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Graduating from Nick, Jr....

Let's just pretend I didn't take a month of off blogging, shall we? I can't sit through another one of my rambling explanations of writer's block and what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life angst, so we'll just gloss over it and spare ourselves, mkay? But as an aside, I'll admit that I am "supposed" to be writing almost 6000 words for NaNoWriMo today, as I am already 3 days behind after a strong start (and by "strong, I mean there are words on the page, even if they don't make sense or reflect anything remotely identifiable as writing--or-thinking--talent). But considering that I realized around word 5000 that I have no discernible plot and I dont' really like my main character (who is based on ME, for the love!), I am thinking I might switch gears entirely, give myself a couple of days to brainstorm and then start from scratch again. super!

So instead of worrying about plot and character development or the existence of a theme, I decided to blather on about Ethan and how he is growing up too damn fast and SLOWTHEHELLDOWNALREADY! He is constantly asking me when his next birthday is--"how many months until May?!!" "How many weeks, days, minutes, seconds until my birthday?!" I am trying to devise plausible ways to slow down the time-space continuum so I can stay 40 for at least the next decade--40, not "in my 40's"--and he is trying to rush headlong into his next birthday so we can have a StarWarsBeatlesTransformer party at ChuckECheese/ourbackyard/PumpItUp/thepark.

He's pointing out words he knows how to spell and rambling off math equations as we drive to the grocery store. It is all very exciting and he's amazing and when I am not feeling just the tiniest bit suffocated by his constant neeeeeeeeed for attention and validation, I am busting with joy and pride at what a fantastic little man Ethan is turning into (and truly its not as though I ever doubted that).

The other day, as Ethan and I were compiling a small army of Luke Skywalkers out of playdough, Ethan heard Moose E Moose talking from the TV (yes, "bad parenting 101" in our home--the TV is on, a lot, even when we're doing other things.) and then heard announcer lady say, "It's like preschool, on TV." He looked up at me & announced, "I think I'm too old for this show; I'm in kindergarten, not preschool."

Now being the peri-menopausal, hyper-sensitive joy to be around that I am lately, these words made me a little weepy and I had to pretend to go to the bathroom because crying around your 5 year old isn't quite as okay as crying around your screaming 8 month old. After I contained myself a bit (seriously, turning 40 is a fabulously complicated blessing--time has taken on a whole new significance for me in the past few weeks; I hope its just a phase and I can soon go back to getting through a day without contemplating my own mortality and being at once crushed with gratitude for my own health and terrified by the passage of time which will surely find a way to steal it away). GAH!!!! Aren't you glad I haven't been blogging?!!! Seriously.

I realized, though, that he's right; Dora and Diego don't really speak to him any longer, aside from the fact that we can basically recite the script of each and every episode. He still loves Dino Dan and, G-d help me, The Fresh Beat Band; but other than that, we have little use for Nick, Jr. And I can't bring myself to turn on regular Nickelodeon or, even worse, live-action Disney shows. Ethan's got a sass streak that does not require him being exposed to smart-mouthed teenagers on TV. (could I sound like a crankier old woman?!) I did show him Husband's and my favorite ever cartoon--The Fairly Odd Parents, on Nick this weekend, and he liked it. Only problem with that is that its on before SpongeBob, which I loathe with the intensity of a billion white hot suns, so I have to be quick with the remote when Fairly Odd Parents is over to avoid falling into that freaking pineapple under the sea.

More than kid shows, though, Ethan has been showing an interest in the Science Channel and Food Network. Yesterday we flipped back and forth between some show on how Super Novas are created & Food Network Challenge: Lego Cakes. Obviously he can't grasp the concepts of density, worm holes and solar wind (um, hi; neither can I), or how these Challenge contestants can call rice-krispie treats "cake" (um, hi; neither can I), but he watches it rapt and full of questions. Hours later he wants to know "why did that star explode, again?" and I wrack my brain to remember something about the heaviness of the iron at its core and how when the star can't take it anymore it does something like imploding and then exploding out from the core. And then there's the whole idea of the black hole---5 year old's mind? Blown. So is back to a discussion of rice-krispie treat as sculpting medium. Far more familiar territory for me.

There's a BIG part of me that is so thrilled to say goodbye to Moose E Moose & Zee. It's been a long and drawn out relationship of convenience with them, and I don't care if Moose likes Candy Corn or if they make it to Frisko the fire ant's birthday party on time. And I won't miss Max and Ruby or Little Bear and I take sheer joy in the idea of never having to sit through another episode of the Backyardigans. But like the end of all relationships, its been a little bittersweet because they have become such a part of our daily life's fabric (again, awesome parenting!!!). And as you know, I bristle at change, even when its welcome and good for me. I'm all rational like that; its how I roll.

I'm sure we'll find our way to Channel 120 every once in awhile to see what's up with the Fresh Beats (like maybe they decide to, oh, I don't know, change clothes once in awhile?!) and Dino Dan (will his mother ever seek professional help for her child who sees extinct prehistoric beings roaming freely throughout the hallways of his school and home? And when will that annoying chubby classmate of his turn into a full-blown Chris Farley?) But for now, we are going to make Science and Food Network our go-to's. Because you know, the family who pretends to understand a damn thing that astrophysicist is saying together, stays together. And maybe if I watch enough of the show about worm-holes and black holes and the like, I'll find a way to stay 40 for the next decade.