First it was Orange Juice.
A road trip, two moms, three kids, and a stop at a gas station. The kids were thirsty. I grabbed an OJ. And her daughter puked it all up in the back seat. "Don't you know people shouldn't drink orange juice!" Her mom howled at me. Um... no I didn't. My people drink OJ without much of a hitch, so it never occurred to me that OJ would be the ONE thing in a roadside convenience store that would be bad for children. Apparently Skoll would have been preferable. Despite the fact the her people don't do OJ, we continued on as friends.
Now, here comes the reprimanded for NOT drinking OJ every morning. The previous generation is appalled at the lack of it in my fridge. APPALLED! Usually, they bring their own. Here's my perspective: Good OJ is EXPENSIVE and I'm not all that in to it. Perhaps, if your household consists of 2 self-controlled adults, $7 a week on the stuff is peanuts. But here, where children roll and rumble, $7 OJ is absurd. And the frozen stuff sucks. And we've got a gallon-a-day fresh, raw milk machine in our back yard, so I'm not sure that importing OJ from the far corners of the earth, or rather the middle part, is so crucial.
Do you OJ? You suck either way.
The same holds true for our conundrum child, Coyote. His birthday is July 13th and he's always been young...very very very young for his age. I don't think he was ready to be born until he was 6 months old.
They say to hold boys back a year, if at all possible. They're not ready for school at the crack of five years old. They need a whole other year to play and run. Girls: make 'em miserable just as early as possible, but leave the boys alone. Last year, his Montessori teacher was sure he would not be ready for Kindergarten. Our child-psychologist friend agreed.
Decided: wait a year on Kindergarten. Awkward, expensive, odd to me, a girl so young for her grade she could barely walk when others could run.
Then came teacher conferences a week or so ago. And Coyote's teacher (a former NOW president BTW who opted out and has now taught Montessori for 25 years --- wasting HER LIFE!!!! as the "Feminine Mistake" would have us believe.) Anyhoo... she says she hasn't found anything Coyote CAN'T do and she thinks this should be his Kindergarten year (they're flexible like that). First Grade next year.
Well, I had just gotten used to the idea that we'd hold him back. So this was a shock, like telling a mother her child was 18, then breaking the news that she was just four, and a year later telling her she just earned a drivers license and was accepted at the University of Paris. The wonderful teacher assured me that no matter what I decided, I would spend the rest of my life wondering if I did the right thing and blaming all Coyote's foibles and failures on my inability to navigate the basic task of parenthood. As a parent of four, she told me it is the unavoidable fate of all mothers. And then I suddenly realized: my gosh, first grade! I'll probably have to get a job!! And he's my baby. My bambino. My little Jesus in a manger who just learned how to fart on demand. So soon I'll be marching him off for 6 hours a day of blahblahbladdyblahblah. And she says to me, "It sounds like your the one with the issue here. He's ready. Now you need to be." Don't hold him back!
Conferencing with Blue's teacher, I asked what the difference was with summer birthday boys. She was clear that waiting a year would ensure a confident leader and "rushing" in would result in a follower, always a follower.
Weigh that against Coyote's teacher who noted that he really doesn't care about friendships. He's got one good friend and ignores everyone else. I don't think he cares to lead or follow. He's his own little dude. He's way deep into his own head. He's charming and polite and doesn't give a shit.
Something to think about, no? So,I took my usual course of consulting with everyone for their opinions and ideas, the better to shape my own. Oh. How that backfired. Backfired so shockingly, so forcefully, it might shut me up FOREVER.
Well. Over Thanksgiving, I met with someone else who's opinion was strongly in the Hold Him Back Camp. Start Kindergarten next year. It's ALWAYS best for the child.
And this person then said to me, "It sounds like you're the one with the issue here. He's not ready and you need to stop pushing him." Gosh, but just three years ago this same person noted how terribly I was coddling him by breastfeeding "too long."
Yes. It sounds like I'm the one with the issue here. If you don't come into this world born with a staunch opinionated sword, and a closed minded shield, you are the one with the issue. If you're considering the possibilities and you haven't made up your mind yet, it's an "ISSUE". A made-up mind, tight as a drum with hospital corners, always sounds so intelligent, so knowledgeable, so right. And those of us still considering the options appear stupid and slow. I'll admit to having issues, but slowly deliberating upon important, life altering decisions that don't need to be made for nine more months is not one of them.