Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

Kindergarten – To Go or Not To Go?

Apparently I blinked. And suddenly, my sixth child will be starting Junior Kindergarten in September.

Six kids in elementary school. There was a time I never thought I’d see the day, and now I feel like I don’t want to see the day.

My other five children attended kindergarten for half days every day. It suited us perfectly. We established a nice daily routine. On the days I worked, Nanny Hazel was there for them, so I never had daycare issues or logistics to juggle.

Next year, our school is providing full day kindergarten – every single day. I’m just not sure how I feel about this.

My teacher friends assure me that it’s play-based and kid-directed. Children move at individual levels and are free to let their own interests guide their learning.

But then I’m left wondering:

-          If I don’t have to send my kid, should he go? He’ll be in the “system” for a heck of a long time. Do I need my four-year old to be gone all day, every day?

-          If I don’t send him, is he going to somehow fall behind or not be as stimulated as the other children?

Look at how things are done in Finland. Finnish kids start school at 7-years old, get 75 minutes of recess a day and don’t have exams or homework until they are teens. Yet Finland’s schools get top ranking for international education systems.

Then sometimes I think that I’m just in denial that my baby is growing up. When you’ve had babies at home as long as I have, it feels just plain weird to think about an empty house with no more daytime play dates, walks, or Mommy and Me gymnastics.

So, what do you think? Full-day kindergarten – yes or no?

Wanted: Good Neighbors

Earlier this week, a mom in the autism community reached out to me for some ideas or suggestions for dealing with a difficult neighbor. Her son, who is quite severely affected by autism, has recently developed a verbal tic/stim. Often verbal tics/stims present as loud, unusual, and random sounds.

Apparently this neighbor finds the verbal tic annoying to listen to when the little guy is playing in his backyard or swimming in the pool with his family. So annoying, in fact, that he regularly calls the police to report the child. When the police arrived the other night, they actually suggested the parents try to restrict the time their son spends outside—to keep their neighbor happy.

Yes, you read that correctly—his parents were asked to keep their son inside so he doesn’t make noises that upset his neighbors. Needless to say, their young daughter was left crying inconsolably because the police were at her home to deal with an issue her brother is unable to change.

It is nothing short of disgusting that a neighbor would be so intolerant of a child’s disability that he feels compelled to call the police. Equally disturbing is that the police found it appropriate to suggest keeping a young boy confined to his house, because his disability is an “annoyance” to the neighbors.

My first question was whether the mom had spoken to the neighbors about the issue. She told me they weren’t interested in listening. Whenever she has made an attempt to explain her son’s behavior, she is shut down and met with, “Yes, yes…we KNOW he’s autistic!” How’s that for empathy? I wonder how this guy would go living next to us—with six kids, our backyard noise levels are off the chart.

But this is about more than a cranky neighbor; this is about intolerance for disability. And for that, I’ve got two dozen eggs in my fridge that are looking for a good home on the outside of an idiot’s house. Anyone care to join me?

How would you respond if this was your neighbor? Have you experienced, or even heard of  anything like this? 

How Many Kids? Is There a Magic Number?

According to a recent study, the most stressful number of kids to have is three.

I remember being a mom of one—though it wasn’t for long—and finding it difficult. Truthfully, I didn’t find it exciting enough, and there were times it could be quite boring. When I look back now, and think of how I was juggling a baby and law school, I wonder how the word boredom ever factored in. These days, I’d jump for a warm serving of boring.

I was a happier mom once my second child arrived, 15 months after my first. Even after suffering a miscarriage after we had our first baby, there was still a very small age gap. It goes without saying, our third baby came not all that longer after the second.

And yes, three was stressful, but I found it was more about the circumstances than it was about the numbers. I was living far away from my family, had three babies under three, and my eldest was well on his way to an autism diagnosis. There were no fancy three-kid strollers back in those days, so Daddy-o had to create a make-shift triple stroller that involved a child’s plastic lawn chair with a harness—those were not glamorous days.

If I were to offer a theory on family size and stress, it’s less about the numbers and more about closeness in age and how much support someone has at the time.

Saying that, I can see how three would be considered the most stressful number of children for some families:

  1. It’s a parent personality thing. Kids don’t stress me out the way they do many parents. If I had been stressed at three, I would have stopped. So, yeah—people with more than three kids are probably less likely to stress out about kids. You have to be tolerant of a certain chaos levels when you have a big family. It can absolutely be too much to take.
  2. Maybe some people with three kids like the “idea” of a big family, but two really was enough —so that third stresses them out. With kids, you have to like more than the “idea” of it, because the reality can be bigger than you ever imagined.

Did you have a “perfect” number in mind when you started your family? Is there a number of children you found particularly stressful?

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