Monday, November 4, 2013

Kindergarten, Growing Up, and the Lanman

I finished Claire's photo book over the weekend (along with cleaning the inside and outside of all our giant windows, cleaning and reorganizing every inch of the kids' room and play room, and reaching 95% completion in my Christmas shopping- I think I was secretly trying to send myself into labor. It didn't work.). The photo book was an epic achievement made possible by my Friday off and a 50% off + $10 off coupon code that was set to expire on Sunday. As I always do when creating a book for the kids, I went back through my blog posts to copy over letters and funny stories from the year I'm trying to capture. Claire, for her "from 2 to 3" year, had many many letters and stories. But as I start Landon's "from 5 to 6" year book, I find I have almost none. A large part of this is due to my growing unwillingness to share as much of him online as he grows into a kid who is very much his own person, and not a baby or toddler who is in large part (or at least the part that I share) an extension of me. Another reason is that the stories of a 5-year-old, awesome as they are, just aren't as pithy as the stories of a just-started-talking 2-year-old. And at 5 and 6 years old, Landon is Landon. He is awesome, smart, funny, athletic, almost shockingly sociable, and still incredibly sweet and generous and caring. While Claire's main traits are still emerging, Landon is the Landon he has been for a while now, so there's less urgency to write it all down. All of which results in a book for Claire with three long, funny, and sappy letters and a book for Landon with none, and I'm concerned that one day my truthful and earnest explanation above is going to be distilled down to, "see, you love her more."

To remedy that, I'm going to make myself write him a letter twice a year, even if I leave it in draft form rather than publish it, and I'm going to try to capture just a little bit of him right now.


Today was our first Parent Teacher Conference with Landon's Kindergarten teacher. I've been looking forward to it for a while (and only in small part because I knew when it came I'd be one week away from baby 3's arrival). I just love conferences. I love teachers and schools in general, and I very specifically love Kindergarten classrooms with their tiny chairs and tiny group tables and their cheerful walls covered in labels and posters and painstakingly created artwork. I smile just walking in the door. And of course, I like hearing about my kid. Landon seems to be enjoying school- he's always happy to go out the door in the morning and happy when we pick him up in the afternoon. He's made friends, refers to his teacher in a tone that is equal parts affection and awe, and tells us random and highly detailed stories about PE, recess, and occasionally science. But I don't really have any idea what he's doing and learning for most of the day. We get lots of art, a few completed/"graded" worksheets, and his weekly "work at home" packet, but I was looking forward to hearing more about the academic side of things from the teacher's mouth.

And what we learned is that Landon LOVES school and is doing great. Ms. C started telling us math is his favorite, no wait science is his favorite, actually writing might be his favorite. He's ahead in most things, an advantage of full-time preschool for the years before Kindergarten, and enjoys his classmates and all the trappings of Kindergarten as much as the actual learning. I think both aspects are important. The academics of Kindergarten aren't particularly rigorous- officially they don't even start addition and subtraction until the end of the year (though Landon can already do it and his teacher weaves it into everything from the beginning), but I think so much of that first year of school is just learning how to be in school. Learning how to be a Kindergartener- one of twenty-four 5-6-year-olds in a classroom with one teacher. I think there's a lot of nuance to that- sitting still, following a schedule, completing work even if you don't find it particularly interesting. Not that I think he should be turned into a drone, but there's aspects of being in school that aren't completely awesome (I will grudgingly admit) and that's part of what you're learning in that first year. And luckily, Landon has yet to come across anything he doesn't find interesting or exciting (that's pretty much true in all aspects of his life- we got a gift in the mail for baby #3 yesterday and he was as thrilled by the existence of that pink fuzzy blanket as he is for any gift for himself), so he doesn't know he's learning that part at all.

And, something that was a relief to a JP who did not love or particularly excel in the early years of school, Ms. C went on and on about how well Landon is doing academically. Again I think a lot of that is due to his preschool education and our very socioeconomically stratified school, but for Landon, who is far more confident socially than he seemed to be academically, I think it's been really good for him to feel pride in knowing answers and getting things right in class. We've noticed the change even at home- when he asks a question of us that we bounce right back at him (like how to spell something we know he can sound out, etc.), rather than sighing or getting frustrated, he tries it- tries it and has the belief that he's likely to get it right. And then even if he gets a few letters wrong, he continues on, and this willingness to try, to not get bogged down if something is wrong, makes my heart happy. If he learns nothing else in Kindergarten, I'm glad he has learned that- that school is fun, that learning is fun, and that trying hard and applying knowledge to new things- things you didn't know you could do before, is fun.

And something that was special for me to hear- he loves writing. He writes, unasked and unprompted by the teacher, little 3-4 sentence stories on the back of his artwork. I almost got teary looking at them. Writing is so laborious at that age, so painstaking with the sounding out and thinking of letters and spelling, and yet every single page in his "portfolio" had something descriptive on the front and something narrative on the back. He loves to draw and makes labeled "books" at home, but I didn't know he was writing as much as I got to see today. I can't wait to get his folder home at the end of the year and add it to his (my) treasure box.

I picked him up from JP's pool at 4 and wanted to squeeze him.


In other bits of Lanman, when I go to make his "year 7" photo book, what I most want to capture about him right now is his increasing element of boyish mischievousness combined with his continued generosity and sweetness. There is nothing, nothing he gets that he doesn't immediately ask to share with Claire. Even as he's running out of air waxing rhapsodic about a piece of candy he won during a game at a birthday party, he's gasping out a request to give Claire a bite. He got two special pencils at his school Fall Festival and he excitedly told Claire he used his tickets to get two so she could have one. Both of those stories happened last week. He gets excited about everything, regardless of whether that thing is for him (or even existent or ever happening). He's not a typical oldest child, but he's a great biggest sibling. He can also run really fast, loves to play outside on our "park" with Claire, and is learning that all things fart and poop-related are hilarious. He is a perfect mix of JP and my little boy and his own self. And that's Landon at 6.33.


  1. Our daughter's first K conference was today as well, and it went similarly to Landon's. Is it completely weird that I want to stalk your blog until it comes time for college so I can send my daughter off to the same school? She is a stereotypical firstborn, type A, and sounds very much like the yin to his yang.

  2. yay Landon! I really like what you say here about the purpose of this first year of school.