School days

The lils very first exposure to formal schooling was at a small primary school in India. Woo entered the equivalent of junior kindergarten, and Goose into a pre-K. It was a very formal setting, especially in contrast to the small, home-based day care they had just left behind in Canada. Woo dove in right away, but Goose struggled. She loved the school, her teachers, the learning, and the structure, but she hated leaving her mama every day. I watched and worried, and it faded in time. Over the course of the year, she continued to hate goodbyes, staying with me for as long as she could, quite often clinging to me. She was a quiet and shy girl who had a great deal of difficulty breaking in with other children.

Things got easier when we returned to Canada. The lils hated the play-based curriculum in Ontario, but they adjusted. We were lucky to have a small school with great teachers and many friends, so they were quickly comfortable. Goose still put up a fight when leaving me in the mornings, which led to a routine where she would hover near me in the yard. She would leave my side to play with friends as long as I was within sight and I gave her the appropriate number of hugs and kisses right before she went into the school.

The fall before we came to California, Goose made great strides towards independence. She would happily run to her friends when we arrived in the schoolyard, shedding her previous hesitation. Then we up and moved. The adjustment in California has been difficult. We assumed that the lils would be in the same school but there was no room for him in her school, and for her in his. Grudgingly, they started last year in different schools. Not what we wanted, not what they wanted.

The first months were rocky at times, the lils not able to break into existing friend groups, dealing with new curriculum and teaching styles, and mostly just missing the comfort of their school at home. Woo came around first, largely because his teacher was excellent and he made a couple of really good friends. He ultimately decided that he wanted to stay at the new school, even though it was far from home and a space had opened up Goose’s school. We were happy and made it work.

Goose’s adjustment took a long time. She had an excellent teacher but she was somewhat afraid of her for the first few months. The other children were nice enough, but it took a really long time for her to find her tribe. School drop-offs were where this was most evident. Goose didn’t want to leave my side until the bell rang, and always looks sad when I left. It wasn’t until the final few weeks of school that she found her people. I knew it was all going to be OK when she came home from school one day talking about the new friends that she ate lunch with. In her own words, they were like her, shy and quiet. I’m not sure anything was ever said in this group during lunches or recess, but she was delighted to have found them. On the second last day of school we arrived in the yard and she freely left my side to go with one of her new friends. I almost cried, because I knew she was happy.

Over the summer she saw some of these new friends, and was delighted to learn that three of them would be in her class this year. We arrived on the first day and she greeted them as excitedly as they greeted her. She went into her new classroom with no hesitation, and didn’t even glance back to make sure I was still there. On the second day she left me in the yard to wander and chat with one of her friends. I let out a small sigh of relief, knowing that it was gonna be OK. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time.

No comments yet


The baby book

When Woo was born, I chronicled almost everything he did for the first year of his life. It was very specific at first; his sleep, his diaper changes, his feedings… This was mostly because he was my first and I didn’t know what I was doing, and I wanted to make sure that I knew what I’d done and what he done.  I quickly saw that most of these notes could be transcribed into a “baby book”, that of course he would want when he was older*. Over time I refined what I recorded and actually included milestones that were noteworthy: the teeth, the words, the steps…

I made a conscious decision to stop at his first birthday.  While I continue to record some developments on the photos I was posting online, one year seemed like the appropriate snapshot to pass on in his baby book. When Goose was born, I recorded her milestones for exactly two days.

It was harder the second time. As much as Goose’s transition into our house was smooth, I just didn’t have the time to record EVERYTHING.  I made a halfhearted attempt by scribbling cryptic notes on whatever scraps of paper were on hand, but they were never transferred to her book, and more often than not lost or recycled as grocery lists. I give up entirely after about a month.

This blog, and my desire to chronicle our California adventure have become my second child’s baby book. I really wanted to record our stories, much like I did with our stories from India. It even seemed to start off well, but dropped off quickly.  Right now I have a pile of cryptic notes reminding me of stories to tell, several half written tales, and one or two completed posts that I just never published.

Then we had rats move in, and I realized that there are some stories that need to be told, that we are going to want to remember (and my memory is already failing me). It’s far too late for Goosie’s baby book, but it’s not for our current adventure. I hope it lasts more than two entries this time.

*while I still have the notebook that I used, these never actually made it into a “baby book”.

No comments yet


Not prepared

In the last decade or so, we have lived in four homes, in three different countries. Every place, every city, every home is different. Each has its own quirks and unique features, and sometimes those come in the form of uninvited guests.  We have had them in every place that we’ve lived. Some of been amazing and added to our lives in ways we never anticipated.

Minerva, the stray who chose us

One of the many Geckos in our house in India.  The lils felt they took care of them.

Two of the foxes that come to our yard in the spring

For the most part the rest have been a giant pain.  We have lived with centipedes, mice, carpenter ants, spider families, and cockroaches. All of these caused me varying degrees of discomfort, but eventually have left me curious and appreciative of how each lives and encroaches on our lives. Each infestation was eventually dealt with, allowing us to resume our “guest” free existence.

When we decide to move to San Jose, I considered the types of pest that we may encounter. I wanted to be prepared. Cockroaches were given; all hot climates have them, but after the giants we faced in Bangalore, I knew that I could handle them.  Same for ants and termites, as we’d dealt with them too.  I even thought we might see a scorpion or two, as they do live in the area. We’ve been lucky so far.  All of the cockroaches have been outside, the ants tiny and easily controlled, and no scorpions yet, though we did see a tarantula!

On Sunday our luck changed. We came home from the market to discover that a plum had been eaten on the kitchen counter. I suspected a gecko or lizard might be the culprit, as I’ve heard that they do this, and have seen gecko poop in the house. I tidied up and didn’t think about it again, until that night, after the lils were in bed. I heard a thump followed by the sound of something rolling in the kitchen and knew a little hadn’t snuck by me, so I sat paralyzed by the questions running through my head.  Had the gecko return for more snack? How big was the gecko, if it was pushing fruit off the counter? Did I want to know?

I gathered my nerve and went into the kitchen to pick up the mangled tomato off the floor. Convincing myself that it was possible it had just rolled out of the bowl and gotten crushed on landing, I made sure all of the other fruit was placed in bowls so that it would not fall out.  Twenty minutes later I heard the same thump and roll sounds, repeated three times in quick succession. Something was up. This time I found three nectarines, each one with a chunk missing. I posted a picture on Facebook stating that I hoped it was a gecko or lizard.

2017-08-06 21.45.23

At this point, a local friend pointed out that fruit rats were known for “sampling” fruit but not eating it, and that our community has a large population of these rats.  I mentally dismissed the suggestion, because I could not accept that there might be a rat in my house.

Time moved slowly and I started to worry that she was right. I sat in the entrance to the kitchen, hypersensitive to any little sound or movement, wanting to see what was eating my fruit. I heard it before I saw it. The noise became a shadow under the counter, climbing the chair. When I came into the light, it was clear we had a rat. No one told me that we might have rats in the house. I was not prepared for this. I held my breath and stood up, not knowing what I was going to do.  In an instant it disappeared back into the dark.

I am terrified of rats. Not in the quaint stand up on a chair and yell “eek” kinda way. In the “I’ve been traumatized by working in a building that had many rats, huge city rats” kinda way.  I kept seeing them alive, and then later discovering their corpses. There were many and it was horrible. It got to the point where I had to go to therapy to stop thinking of them and continue to go in to work. Sunday those feelings came flooding back, and I have spent the past two days on the verge of tears on many occasions, with a horrible pain in my stomach that only goes away during the brief times that we have left the house.

With Willy away, I had to call in professionals. The exterminator came today and left a pile of traps. One rat is dead, and he thinks he’s found where they’re coming in. I hope so this is the end. I need this to be over quickly. I need my house to be free of rats.

1 comment