Charlie’s First Birthday

I can hardly believe that a year has gone by since my niece was born. I am an addicted aunt. She was walking around nine months, already knows how to clap, blow kisses, and is the silliest of kids (most likely thanks to her fun daddy). If only we lived closer.

To Charlie: “We would come and play with you, and take out your favorite red car (stroller), so you can babble and wave to everyone you pass. We would play the synthesizer together, and build with blocks, and make sure there are fun rides on your new cow (toy). Aunt Tami would be loud and make lots of noise to get you to laugh, and Uncle Chris would be the mellow man that he is and sit and play with you (quietly, unlike Aunt Tami).

You have a heart filled with so much love. I know it after hearing the stories about how you hug other kids and do not want to let go. You are so loved — we can tell from your day care pictures of all the kids surrounding you and calling you Char Char. Never a dull moment in your life. You love your cats, and mommy’s iPad and iPhone. Last but not least you are a sassy little one, just like your Aunt. We could never ask for anything more.

Happy 1st Birthday Charlie!”

Here are a few of my favorite photos of the year. You can see how much she has grown. Charlie, cannot wait to see what your next year will bring!

Voracious desire to learn…

What I remember most about my mom was that she loved children and that she was a teacher. From before I even went to school, there were kids and babies underfoot in our house. When I was really little until about second grade, my mom ran a day care in our house. I had a love/hate relationship with her job. I loved the constant and instant access to playdates and friends. I can still remember the names of the children and some of our many adventures on our back porch, quasi above ground pool, outside riding bikes, etc. Even the time when one of the boys proposed to me and gave me a ring, (yes I guess courting starts young doesn’t it?) What I hated – was that I had to share my toys, my bedroom (babies sleeping), and my mom when I came home from school at the end of the day.

A few years later she moved to her main love, teaching elementary school. Again, I had a love/hate relationship. When I was in second grade, she was the secondary teacher in the “other” second grade classroom. For anyone who knows what it was like to have your mom teach in your school, or be highly involved in your school, there were times when you loved that they were nearby, and other times when you were going through growing pains, teased, or gaining your own independence, that you wished you were dropped off at school only to see them at the end of the day.

Either way, we do not get to pick what our parents do for a living or how they are present (or not) in our life. We do eventually have the opportunity to look in hindsight and see what we learn, or how these experiences evolve us into the people we are today. I am grateful to have had those years with my mom, watching her extreme patience (I wish I was granted with such patience). She valued education and learning and even now thinking about it, she got her masters in teaching in her forties, not an easy feat with three growing kids and a job. Maybe that is why I have such a voracious desire to constantly learn new things.

I am not a teacher. I absolutely love children, but I do not think I would have the patience to spend my day in a classroom and then come home sane to my family. I admire, commend, and appreciate each and every individual that teaches in a classroom. You shape the world for so many little (and not so little) beings each and every day. Thank you, mom, for teaching me to solve problems, crave ideas, and to continuously try new things. Miss you.

I Was a Biter

My mom used to have a day care in our home. Mind you this was the early 1980’s and there were not state regulations for day care centers in your home. For the most part I think everything my mom did was fine. I do remember an area in our house where there were rocks for decoration. I do not know why my parents left the rocks there, you would think that would be crack for the babies she took care of, but it must not have been an issue.

I was the issue. I would go to school and come home to babies sleeping in my room, and lots of kids playing with my toys, AND my mom was not mine. Well, she was my mom, but she was mine to share during day care hours. A recap in case that was not clear to you. I had to share my bedroom (even if I already shared it with my sister), my toys, and my mom. It drove me crazy. So did one of the kids my mom watched.

I wish I could remember her name. What I do remember was two distinct memories of her. She would taunt me and tell me that her boyfriend was Michael Jackson. I was naive enough to believe her. She would tell me that Michael was going to come pick her up at the end of the day, and yes I believed her. Not that I ever was interested in dating Michael Jackson, it was the idea that she knew him, (or I believed she did). The second thing that pushed me over the edge (if sharing so much was already not enough), it was that she had butterscotch disks and she would not share them with me. Now to preface this, we only got treats and candy at my grandma’s house, so if someone brought candy to my house and did not share, well that was too much for me.

As you might have guessed by the title of this blog, I took the problem into my own hands. I bit her. I, the daughter of the day care owner, bit one of the kids. I got into so much trouble, not with my mom, but with my dad. You did not want to get in trouble with my dad. It sucked. Nothing changed after my teeth did their thing. I got into trouble, and well the girl, she kept babbling about Michael Jackson and bringing those butterscotch disks to my house. I had to stay away from her, she made me so mad. In hindsight, I can see now what strength and resilience I had (remember I was sharing my toys, bedroom, and mom – she could not even share a butterscotch disk from her stash). I do think she is the one that turned me into a biter though. I have to say I understand kids that bite a bit more.

The moral of the story. If you are going to have kids and a day care in your home, make sure your kids have a space of their own and a few toys that they do not have to share!