I was tickled when I picked Riley up from school today, because about five little pigtailed girls from his class waved and chimed “Byyyyyyyye Riley” in perfect high-pitched unison as he tossed a “Seeya!” in their direction and manfully strode off with his brother trailing behind (“Are dose your friends, Riley? Dose girls?”).

Then he excitedly told me all about the lockdown drill they’d practiced in school that day, which apparently involved putting black paper over the windows, turning off the lights, hiding against/in their cubbies, and staying silent as the principal walked the halls and jiggled the door handles.

I was still surreptitiously wiping away tears from that last little detail (I know, I know, it’s good they practice it, but aaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuugh) when I discovered he’d been sent home with a report card in his backpack. Did you know kindergarteners get report cards? I did not, and I suppose it would be a little silly to frame it or have it bronzed but damn, this thing is awesome. I don’t mean he’s a some sort of brainiac prodigy—he got 3s in everything (“Meets expectations”)—but the notes at the end gushed about his behavior and how respectful he is of others and how well he’s doing and listen, I know I sound like a complete asshole over here, but I am just so, so happy for him. I was so worried about how this school year would go and he has just been a total rock star.

A rock star who came home, flopped on his back to watch TV, and half-choked to death on a tiny Lego he’d apparently decided to chew.

I swear, this is such a weird age. I love it, but it is just so strange. He’s half teenager, half toddler. He is so big, but so small (so SMART, so DUMB). He’s got one foot out there in the big scary world—and the other is still clad in a pair of feetie pajamas.

Or maybe it’s always strange, as your kids get bigger? Maybe you always see that little baby beneath their skin. If so, I don’t know if that’s a gift or a curse. What do you think?


50 Responses to “Six and counting”

  1. Jas on December 15th, 2011 6:10 pm

    Maybe I’m being naive, but what is a lockdown drill? What are they preparing for?

  2. Linda on December 15th, 2011 6:11 pm

    Well, a shooter in the school, for one. :(

  3. Jas on December 15th, 2011 6:12 pm

    Oh, well in that case I have to echo your sentiment of aaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuugh!

    On the other hand, his five girl fan club: adorable!

  4. Heather on December 15th, 2011 6:14 pm

    Ooof. You just made me tear up. Mostly the last three paragraphs that you wrote made me tear up. My boys are 16, 4, & 2. And YES, YES, AND YES. You summed up perfectly how I feel about each of them.

    So grown up, so independent, wanting so much freedom do be on their own, wanting to do it all themselves, but soooooo needy, so dependent, so reliant on mom to be there. Still such babies, even my big 16 year old, not a boy, not a man, but still my baby.

    Your words are always amazing. :)

  5. Emily on December 15th, 2011 6:15 pm

    Awwww this just about made me cry! I teach grade one and I love my students dearly, but this week I want to throttle half of them (and I’m sure that same half feel like kicking me in the shins) (is it Christmas break yet?)

    I don’t have kids so my not quite regular enough reality check is thinking that each of “my” kids is somebody’s baby. I get so used to interacting with them that six is practically grown up, but it’s amazing to step back and think of them this way.

  6. Aimee on December 15th, 2011 6:18 pm

    It does get weirder, ever year. My [oldest] 11yo son? His feet are almost as big as mine. And, this afternoon? He told me about something that had happened at recess, and he told me in my husband’s voice (albeit a much higher register), and with my husband’s hand motions. And, yet, when I watch him sleep? He’s still the spitting image of that tiny, skinny little preemie in the NICU. He sleeps with his blankie, yet he plays a mean trumpet. How does this happen??

    I think it’s both a gift and a curse. The gift being that, some of us were so out of it during those baby years that they’re all a complete blur, so we do get those nice little reminders. The curse…well, I guess that’s obvious.

  7. Michelle on December 15th, 2011 6:36 pm

    Again, you leave me in tears. As the auntie of a little guy just a few days older than Riley who just started kindergarden too, I look at him and think, God, wasn’t I just rocking you to sleep? How are you reading, and joking, and using sarcasm correctly, and saying adult like things, but still need to be cuddled in bed after stories and prayers? But as the mother of a 9 month old baby girl, I weep knowing all too soon she will be one of those little girls swooning over a little 6 year old boy. It hasn’t even been a year, but my God, wasn’t she just born?! Beatiful. Thanks, Linda.

  8. NancyJ on December 15th, 2011 6:40 pm

    Wahhhhh! My son is 21 and I can still remember him in Kindergarten with his high little voice!
    Every year, every new grade will bring more wondering of “how did we get here?!”

  9. Mariya on December 15th, 2011 6:51 pm

    My son is only 14 months old and I already feel this way. I practically cry every time he shuts the door to his room to get some alone time and “read” quietly. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when he’s 6, which will be here before I know it!

  10. Eric's Mommy on December 15th, 2011 6:52 pm

    I still think of my boy as being a tiny little guy, even though he is 9 and almost as tall as me and weighs 120 pounds. He still is my little guy, he is a momma’s boy and just as snuggly as he was when he was 2. I don’t want him to grow up!

  11. Jennifer on December 15th, 2011 6:59 pm

    Why would you think you sound like an asshole when you are so happy for him! Your readers are probably rooting for him to succeed too!

  12. jamie on December 15th, 2011 7:06 pm

    I swear, I don’t even need to blog anymore. Just point to your posts and say “That. Exactly.”

  13. Tina on December 15th, 2011 7:19 pm

    Our kids had a lock down drill this week as well. The teachers made sure to tell the younger one they’d never needed to use it. And then my 2nd grader said they did it a few years ago when a stray dog got in the school…which is another good use for it. The KG was gleeful to tell me the teacher said if anyone got in the room they could do what ever they had to do. And he asked her if they could kick the person in the wiener. *sigh*

  14. Danell on December 15th, 2011 7:47 pm

    The pig-tailed fan club must have been so adorable…man, I would be grinning from ear to ear for DAYS after witnessing that.

    I am not even going to think about the lock-down scenario. LALALALALALAICANTHEARYOU….

  15. FrostedLemonCarrot on December 15th, 2011 7:50 pm

    Mine is only 4 months old (not even, really – will turn 4 months on the 21st) and I look at him and wonder if I’ll always see this sweet little baby, no matter how old he gets.

    And then I wonder about those who grow up to do bad things or get messed up in the wrong stuff… and how their parents must look at them and still see the babies they once were.

    Okay, who’s crying with me here?

  16. Kirsty on December 15th, 2011 8:23 pm

    Oh yes, this is it exactly! My elder daughter will turn 10 on 27 December and she’ll be starting middle school in September. She’s soooo ready for it, already there in her mind; yet me? Egads. She’ll still only be 10 when she starts going to school with teenagers! She seems so mature, so grown-up nowadays (hasn’t asked for toys for Christmas for the first time; unrealistically hoping someone will buy her a Rihanna CD (over my dead body) or a mobile phone (as if)), but she’s still my baby. My tiny preemie, who struggled like hell for the first few weeks of her life. I’m guessing this never ends… I think this is actually what being a parent really means… It’s tough, but it’s good too. I guess.

  17. mosted on December 15th, 2011 8:37 pm

    Awwww….putting out my Christmas decorations, I have a “wreath” done in my kindergartners handprints….he is now 14! Makes me choke up even more every year…and my almost 18yr old is a Senior…who is waxing nostalgic about his last year in High School…know there are days that sometimes seem like forever, but I am gulping thinking that after this year, things will never be the same…enjoy them as much as possible…

  18. Joanna on December 15th, 2011 9:42 pm

    I teach at a high school in a not-so-great area. We have used a lockdown only three times in seven years: once when a student set a bathroom on fire (and then the lockdown was just to keep the other kids away from the fire truck…the fire was completely contained in the tiled, windowless bathroom), once when a student called in a (fake) bomb threat, and once when police shot a suspect in a nearby neighborhood (lockdown was precautionary). We have never had any real incidents on campus, and we have some rough kids. So the chances of anything happening to your sweet little elementary kids are miniscule.

  19. Beth on December 15th, 2011 9:46 pm

    This makes me cry… the part about half teenager half toddler! I’m a total lurker and have been reading your blog for years. I remember reading it when I was pregnant and thinking that you and your boys made me not just ok with the idea of having a boy but actually hoped I’d get one. I have one, he’s one and already I think he’s half baby and half little man. I hope he turns out like your little guys. They seem like the perfect blend of wild and sweet, just the way they should be. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I hope I can be a mom to my little guy like you are to yours.

  20. Elissa on December 15th, 2011 9:46 pm

    Beautiful post. But…. LOCKDOWN DRILLS????? That scares the hell out of me! How sad that they need to exist.

  21. Amy on December 15th, 2011 10:12 pm

    You should be proud of those comments, Mama! Especially “a pleasure to have in class”. I work in a school and I know teachers don’t throw that one around unless it’s absolutely true. Way to go, Riley! :)

  22. Gwen on December 15th, 2011 11:12 pm

    Mine’s 13 and no, it never changes. I still see flashes of him at 6 months, four, eight, ect. But man, it flies. Too fast, way too fast.

  23. Jen on December 16th, 2011 5:16 am

    Those last two paragraphs… wow. EXACTLY. My son is 5 and in Kindergarten and this post and all of the comments totally had me in tears! They had a lockdown drill at my son’s school last week. We were talking about it after and I was asking him what they had to do etc and making sure he knew it was only a practice and they wouldn’t likely ever have to do it FOR REAL but oh my oh my oh my :(

  24. Cheryl S. on December 16th, 2011 7:13 am

    My daughter is 6 and I totally agree with you. She’s a teenager and a baby all at the same time. She wants to have a sleepover with her BFF, wants her hair to look “cute” all the time, struts around like a model and has already perfected the teenage “God parents are annoying” face. Then, she talks baby talk to the cats, loves her blankie and wants me to snuggle in the bed with her.

    As for lockdown, Jessica’s school got locked down for real last year. Horrible.

  25. josefina on December 16th, 2011 7:18 am

    I agree with everyone else about how it never changes, seeing those glimpses of the baby/toddler. I think of it as a gift, because I think we all have that inside forever, and who else is going to be able to see it but someone who knew us first, even if not best? It’s a gift that needs to be handled VERY carefully, I think :)

  26. josefina on December 16th, 2011 7:20 am

    PS Congratualations about the good report card–super happy for you guys!

  27. Melissa on December 16th, 2011 7:33 am

    Those are the best parts of the report cards. I still don’t understand why my third grader can’t get A, B or Cs..instead of 3s, but whatever. I love the comments and the parent teacher conferences about how cooperative and helpful she is. It makes me so proud and yet at the same time so confused about who comes home and fights with her sister every afternoon. I assume that’s why you suggest the assholery, because the comments on the card don’t show up at home all the time and wondering if they’d show up at school when you weren’t there to help…well I feel like an asshole because I assumed the same. That it might not be as awesome as it turned out to be. Also I agree, so far it never changes. She’s so big and smart and yet parts of her will always be the kid that wanted ‘eeesosebally’ for Christmas (each sold separately).

  28. June on December 16th, 2011 8:11 am

    Congrats on the nice report card. I am reeling at the thought of practicing a lockdown, I guess I never thought about it before.

    Growing up in Illinois, we used to practice tornado drills. You kneel down in a windowless corridor, back facing outward, and (as a friend once phrased it) stick your head between your knees and kiss your ass goodbye.

  29. Maggie on December 16th, 2011 8:22 am

    The lockdown drills are freaky, but I know of a couple schools here in Michigan who have had lockdowns. UGH.

    I am with you on the weirdness of the kids growing up. My baby is 6 (sob!), my oldest is 10 (double digits, WTF?) and sometimes I look at her and she looks like an adult. I can’t get over it.

    Congrats on the stellar behavior! I always get tears when my oldest’s teachers rave about her. Unfortunately, I have tears for other reasons with my 6 year old :( Her behavior is less than stellar and she has social issues. We are working on them though, so when she gets good reviews it is HUGE!

  30. kim on December 16th, 2011 9:17 am

    When I first found out about lockdown drills I was annoyed – who are they to scare my kids with that kind of crap? I do understand why it’s better to be prepared and my kids don’t seem too freaked by it. On the other hand, perhaps this is something they should also practice on college campuses – seems like those are the places most likely to have a need for it.

    I love the image of Riley throwing up a “seeya” at those girls. Such a cool little man. :)


  31. bds on December 16th, 2011 9:23 am

    Love the post! And congrats on the Babble Top 100 Blogs!!!!

  32. MRW on December 16th, 2011 9:30 am

    My son is nearly 9 and so far it hasn’t become less weird as far as seeing him alternate between man and child. There are times when I can see what he’s going to look like in a few years when he becomes a teenager and other times when I so clearly remember what he looked like as a toddler. The overlap is disorienting. This parenting process is such a emotional ride.

    My son’s school had a lock down last year when someone called the police about a man using a gun in the park next to the school. The whole school was locked down until the police figured out the guy was just shooting a really realistic looking BB gun, stupid as hell to do right next to a school, but not deadly. Still, the lockdown freaked me right the hell out.

  33. JMH on December 16th, 2011 9:49 am

    My daughter is in middle school (she is 10) and I now understand the word “tween”. She amazes me with her maturity and then turns around and acts like she is 2….sigh. I love to watch her sleep, because she still looks like she did when she was a newborn (at least to me)

    I teach in an elem. school..we are required to have a specific amount of lockdown drills each year. Nothing has ever happened, but I feel that at least we are better prepared now.

  34. Suzanne on December 16th, 2011 10:14 am

    What’s up with Riley’s school not giving the parents a heads up that such drill would be occurring?! I think that’s the big miss here. My boys’ schools have lockdown drills (although I do not believe to that extent!) and we always hear about it before the children get home from school (usually via the one-call phone system).

    Now, when you get the one-call telling you that your kid’s school had to go in to lockdown mode because a live bullet was found (me, two weeks ago)…that’s a bit of a different story! Although my son’s only concern over that matter was the fact that he wasn’t in gym at the time. Those kids got to have gym for “like 2 hrs!”..while he was stuck in math.

    It’s never easy!

  35. claire on December 16th, 2011 10:18 am

    Lock-down drill? Kindergarten? Whoa, how fucking American/Fear-inducing/Paranoia embedding for those young minds. Can’t believe that. I am truly depressed by it!!!!

    The chances of a school shooting in Kindergarten? NEGLIGIBLE.

    Shocked. But, rant over. Glad Riley is doing well and I am enjoying your blog as usual. Your blog is the only one I read nowadays.

  36. Janet on December 16th, 2011 10:25 am

    My 17 year old daughter’s high school has had 2 lockdowns this year. One was due to a shooting at a nearby Mc Donald’s and the other was due to an altercation between police and a man wielding a gun on the street behind the school. Ugh. Each time my initial reaction was to leave work and run to the school but when they do lockdowns they don’t allow anyone in the vicinity. So scary and really sad that it doesn’t phase the kids. To them it’s kind of normal…

  37. Melissa on December 16th, 2011 10:43 am

    Great post, and you’re right about how they can seem so GROWN one moment, and the next they’re your baby again. My oldest daughter is almost 16, definitely taller than me, and quite mature for her age… And then suddenly she does or says something that reminds me she is still a kid who (even though she may not want to admit it) needs her mother.

    So glad Riley is doing so well in school! You have every right to be very, very proud!

    And, as for the lockdown drills, better that the school and the kids have a plan that they’ve practiced, just in case. Even if it does give us parents the willies.

  38. Sarahviz on December 16th, 2011 10:58 am

    I so hear you on this. My 3 boys are 10, 7, and 6 and you just described it perfectly.

  39. Sunshyn on December 16th, 2011 11:19 am

    My third grader is being bullied by three boys. One of them was suspended yesterday. Mine is being made to miss recess today because the three bullies herded him into the upper grade playground yesterday, and he ran there instead of running to a teacher for help (after being warned the day before that he is not to go to the upper grade playground). He did not fight. He did not explode into profanity. He is autistic. I am furious with the school for allowing this bullying situation to exist, because they have been aware of it and did not let me know. I am furious with myself for not alerting the school that my boy was reporting that there is an issue with one of the boys weeks ago, because I didn’t take it seriously. And I know it is only going to get worse.

  40. bessie.viola on December 16th, 2011 12:24 pm

    Seeing the baby in their skin… YES. You put that so perfectly.

    And the lockdown drill also brought quick tears to my eyes. Was a freshman in hs when Columbine happened, and I’m so sad that our children will never know the “safe” feeling that school used to provide. Smart of his school to practice, though.

  41. Anonymous on December 16th, 2011 12:27 pm

    Where are pictures. We have not seen pictures in forever!

  42. Tracy on December 16th, 2011 2:05 pm

    In the county I live in, during the first grading period, kindergartners get a blank report card because the district feels that their first nine weeks of their first REAL school year should be all about becoming acclimated to school and expectations. I just find that so darned endearing and I have no clue why. AND..my son is 15, just got his learner’s permit to drive and I still the little baby him lurking just under all that teenaged BS.

  43. Amy on December 16th, 2011 3:41 pm

    totally been there! I still see the baby in my 9 year old who is already over 5 feet tall!! One second he’s this totally cool kid with the girls trailing after him and the next he wants to curl up in my lap (which is getting really hard since he’s as big as an adult). and the things that come out of my 7yo’s mouth…he’s sometimes so adult and others just has me rolling over some of the crazy kid shit he says. I love watching/experiencing them growing up, but it also reminds me of something you wrote a long time ago about the change from baby to being a toddler. I just want to yell after them…”Hey wait! Don’t go so fast…stay little for just a little longer.”

  44. Leslie on December 16th, 2011 6:11 pm

    My “baby” is 24 and I sometimes still see the little guy in him….especially when we reminisce about his “younger days”….I know this sounds trite, but cherish this time, it goes by in a flash!

  45. Maura on December 16th, 2011 7:09 pm

    You do always see the baby underneath the toddler, the boy, the teenager and I would guess the man as well.

    It’s a blessing that I’m sure of.

  46. Shawna on December 16th, 2011 10:36 pm

    I know what you mean: my almost-6-year-old now makes breakfast for herself and her little brother before I get downstairs in the morning (well, the toast part of it anyway). And she folds and puts away her own laundry and likes doing it! She’s suddenly so helpful instead of someone who needs to be helped! Whoa!

  47. Shawna on December 16th, 2011 10:40 pm

    Oh and if I may brag a bit here – we were blown away by her report at our parent-teacher meeting. Top in her class! Her French is excellent! She’s independent and not a follower!

    We are so proud!

    I’m glad you’re bragging about Riley! You should – you’re his mom and he’s doing well! You don’t sound like an asshole at all. Or if you do to others, than I’m a worse one if it’s any consolation. :)

  48. Tanya on December 20th, 2011 11:25 am

    I remember when my daughter (now in first grade) told me last year about her lockdown drill. I felt shattered. And the school didn’t give any prior warning either. I still want to cry when I think about it.

  49. Rachel on December 22nd, 2011 12:55 am

    He’s 15 1/2, 6’2″, 170 pounds. A huge help, full of ideas, and yes still that same boy who used to chirp every word of songs from *Annie* in his car seat when he was three years old. (He would disown me if he knew I had told you that.)

  50. Maureen on January 7th, 2012 5:58 pm

    Our school doesn’t give warnings about lockdowns, and I don’t think they should. The whole purpose is for it to be a surprise thing, I don’t even think even the teachers are informed before it happens. My daughter goes to a K-12 school, and they have had them a few times due to problems in the neighborhood. Better to be prepared, and they aren’t just for “shootings” but also for extreme weather conditions, earthquakes, things like that.

    I do think you always see the baby in your child. My daughter is 17, her feet and hands are bigger than mine-yet to me, she is still my baby girl. I still see that in her and I probably always will.

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