Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘parenting’


Dear Loch,

Not so long ago you asked us the difference was between a thief and a robber. Your Dad and I both started answering before we simultaneously realized we didn’t know the answer. It’s fun when your children start teaching you things. Even if it’s by simply pointing out there’s more to learn. As it turns out, the difference is this:

Thief: one that steals especially stealthily or secretly
Robber: one who takes money or property from (a person or a place) illegally by using force, violence, or threats

So, one uses force and the other stealth. It goes without saying we’d all rather be theif-ed than robbed but honestly either kinda sucks. We discovered that recently when all our luggage was stolen out of the car we’d secretly packed to surprise you with a trip to Disneyland.*

When bad things happen, especially after getting sick, I often feel like…Did I break a mirror at some point and not notice? Recently it feels more like…Did I break a mirror while walking under a ladder kicking a black cat? This is ridiculous. Was I a hideous person in a past life? Am I being punished for something? As far as I know I’m good, I have no memory of being otherwise, and yet when life rises up and slaps me in the face I think, what is this all about?

Even with those kind of thoughts, which I understand are a bit ridiculous and cause your father to roll his eyes, I recognize our theft could have been much worse. We had only packed for two days (three, as I tend to overpack) and all our electronics and toiletries were still in the house along with the important un-replaceables, like your beloved bluies and stuffed animals. We lost a bunch of clothes for sure, shoes and other sundries that all can eventually be replaced, but the thought of trying to re-cobble together my makeup or face creams, your Dad’s contacts, or having to replace all of our i-everythings, would have been a complete nightmare.

I no longer own any of the clothes I'm wearing in this picture.

I no longer own any of the clothes I’m wearing in this picture.

Aside from one momentary spazz attack (5 seconds max) when I realized our stolen day bag included my driver’s license and large number of my medications, I was pretty calm about the whole thing. Now “pretty calm” may sound unimpressive, but for someone like me who’s prone to dramatic, emotional outbursts, it’s actually saying a lot. When I called to tell my parents, Granddad was astounded I wasn’t hysterical. I think he thought I’d been body snatched, but really, freaking out was a useless endeavor. Yes, being robbed is rotten. Sure, it’s inconvenient. It definitely made me wildly angry, but having a breakdown about it wasn’t going to fix anything. I needed to handle the situation and dissolving into a pile of mush wasn’t going to get my credit card cancelled or our police report filled out.

The most frustrating thing, aside from losing my beloved grey skinny jeans and favorite black boots, is how much of your time is stolen when your things are stolen. On top of taking our stuff, this unknown skeeve has taken hours, probably days, of my time sorting out his mess. It took us three hours of initial callings to police, banks, and insurance companies and two more filling out all the necessary paperwork. I still have to go to the DMV to get a new license, the bank to get a new bank card, the Ford Dealership to replace my Navigation card and to figure out how someone could have acquired access to our locked car in the first place. Letters have to be written to my health insurance company and on-line pharmacy to start the process of reissuing my medication and they’ll be a huge deductible to pay before we can even start replacing what was lost. Factor in the time I will spend on craigslist inanely trying to crack the case myself and you get the picture.



Having things stolen makes you angry. You feel violated. You ask yourself who would do such a thing? I didn’t freak out in the moment but, after the fact, I felt furious. Who breaks into someone’s car and takes suitcases and backpacks not even knowing what’s in them? You don’t need anything specifically, you’re just hoping there’s something in there you want. Who combs through someone’s possessions cherry picking favorites like they’re shopping in a store? Sunglasses? Check. Car seat? Nah. What kind of person feels justified emptying someone’s car into their own? Our thieves had to have brought a vehicle because there was just too much stuff to have carried away without one. An entire bag of coffee table books and novels? Really? You need that? They didn’t even have the time to use my bank card or ID between when the car was loaded at 1:30am and when we found it emptied 5 hours later. Will they try and sell our clothes? They’re not worth much used and yet they’ll cost us at least a couple thousand to replace. What’s the point of it all, other than to increase our sense of distrust and to make security companies more money? It all seems so senseless.

We still made it!

We made it!

Driving to Disney that afternoon (because we were still going damn it!) your Dad and I talked ad nausum about how livid we felt being taken advantage of that way. We discussed how we couldn’t even fathom how hysterical and vengeful we’d feel if it was a person and not stuff that had been taken or violated. In those hours following the robbery we really understood how people find themselves at a place where they feel a visceral need for retribution. A dark place of fury and vengeance. We lost jeans and boots, sweaters and jackets. How do people lose people and ever get past it? And if they do find out who it was, how do they possibly live with that? I imagined how I might behave if I was confronted with our thief and it was alarming. Your Dad wants to put trackers in all our luggage now. I want to chip the both of you for safety.

New matching suits just in time for their night swim!

New matching suits just in time for their night swim!

As horrible and heartbreaking as the whole situation was, our family will come through it virtually unscathed. Terrible things happen to people every day and, in the grand scheme of things, this theft is merely a blip. An expensive, annoying, waste of time blip, but a nothing all the same. Things can be replaced. People can not. We can choose to be mired down by the bad things that happen to us or we can choose to move on. I’m very glad we didn’t let the bad guys ruin our plans. Life goes on. Their are still lots of good people in the world and we chosen to try and focus on that. The lovely folks at Quicksilver in Downtown Disney started that ball rolling by giving Daddy and you the (completely made up) “you had your luggage stolen discount” on your new bathing suits. It was a small thing but it really made us smile. Customers for life!

S*^@ happens and you have to work to not let it change you. Don’t get me wrong, if I saw the SOB that took our stuff I’d be pretty fired up, but I’m not going to waste any more time than I already have to devoted to his actions. Karma, as they say, is a bitch and if it turns out it’s not me she’s after, I hope she takes a real crack at him.

I love you baby.

xo Mom

photo 4

* For the record this is the third time in two years our car has been broken into in our driveway.

A for Effort

Dear Lochie,

Recently we were sitting together while you made a card for your friend’s birthday. You drew a half hearted picture on the front (red stick figure Iron Man turned into Ice Man after you scribbled blue on it) and we worked together on the words inside. There’s no other way to put it, you were phoning it in. You weren’t concentrating. Every letter was a different size. You asked me to repeat myself over and over and I was doing my best to be supportive despite the fact I knew you could do better. There’s a fine line between encouraging you and discouraging you and I was trying not to cross it. So, when you made an M instead of an N in your friend’s name, I helped you fix it. I didn’t lose it. I didn’t say, “if you were paying attention…”. I stayed calm and helpful. However, 10 minutes later, when we finally got to the sign off, Your Pal, and you wrote YOUR PAE because you were completely unfocused it bothered me. There was no way for me to turn an E into an L and with one mistake already on the page the only choice was to start again. I have to admit, it made me crabby. I took away the card, folded another piece of paper and we began for the second time. However, this time when you wrote an R instead of a P in Happy and looked at me with this lazy, little “oops, oh well, who cares” face, I lost it. I picked the card up off the table and ripped it in half.

It wasn’t my finest moment. I find it infuriating when people do subpar work out of sheer laziness, but watching my own child do it made me doubly nuts. Look, I have no desire to be a Tiger Mom. For example, I’m perfectly happy with the fact that, despite your gender, you seem to have no interest in competitive sports. You don’t want to play soccer or baseball. You aren’t interested in riding a bike. You don’t scooter. You don’t do the monkey bars. That’s all ok with me. I get it. You haven’t found your jam. You love swimming. You like skiing. You like costumes and acting and dance. You’ll find your place. I’m not worried or pushing you to do what you’re not interested in. I want you to be you, whoever you turns out to be. But…I want you to be the best version of you, and that lazy, unfocused kid I was hanging out with was not it.

Frankly, I don’t think I was too horrendous. You hadn’t drawn the picture yet, it was just 3 letters (2 right, 1 wrong) drawn on a piece of paper in the shape of a card, but you were pretty shocked when I ripped it. I’m embarrassed to say you started to cry. It made me feel awful. Your mother shouldn’t make you cry and it was a horrible feeling for both of us. I told you if you wanted to take some time in your room you could and, a couple minutes later, I joined you for a talk.

You told me you were mad at me and I understood. You said, “You ripped my card” and I said, “I did. I’m sorry.” Then I asked if you understood why I’d done it, and you said, “because I made the wrong letter”. That devastated me. I don’t want you to EVER feel you can’t make a mistake around me. That I’m going to be mad or cruel if you’re anything less than perfect. That’s not how a mom should make you feel and said as much to you. I said, “Lochie, you can make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s ok. What’s not ok is being lazy. Not doing your best because you can’t be bothered. If you’re doing something, working on something, trying something, always do the best you can. There’s no other way to do things. The world is full of people who don’t try very hard, but that’s not who you are. That’s not how our family is. That’s not good enough.” Then we talked about your Dad (who you worship) and how he works a lot. I explained that when your Dad works he works at 100%. He does the very best he can and sometimes the very best takes longer, but when he’s done he knows there’s nothing else he can do to make whatever he’s working on better, and that’s the only way to approach things.

label on picYou’re going to want things in life Lochie. You’re going to dream of them, and hope for them, but you’re also going to have to work for them. It’s an aggressive, competitive world and the people who rise to the top are those who aren’t afraid of hard work, those who are willing to put in the effort for the things they want. I realize working on your friend’s birthday card and having your future career where you want it are not the same thing, but it’s my job to teach you the skills that’ll help you when you get to that level. It’s my job to push you. Not in a way that makes you unhappy ,but in a way that makes you accountable. So one day, when you’re on your own in college or the job market, and someone gives you an assignment or you want something from your life, you go after it at 100%. I want you to grow into a man who’s natural reaction is to do his best so you never have to force yourself to work harder because that’s the only way you know how to work.

I don’t say this to pressure you. I want you to be happy. Whatever you choose to do in this life – work, play, love – do it at the highest level. Whatever job you decide to pursue – Doctor, DJ, Actor, Politician – pursue it as hard as you can. Those kind of choices may seem far off now, but when you’re there I hope you’ll be grateful I encouraged you think like this way back when.

After our talk we went to the playroom together to do the card again. This time you did it with such focus and concentration it broke my heart. The finished product was amazing. Detailed personalized picture. Same size letters each on their own line. Plenty of color and creativity. We even added stickers. I complimented you on it and you looked so proud. Then I held up your first card beside the new one and asked how you thought they compared. You smiled and said, “This one is much better”. I agreed and asked why you thought so. You looked at me very seriously and said, “Because I tried with this one”.

Always try baby. Always do your best. In School. In Love. In Life. Doing the minimum and just skating by isn’t enough. You’ll always wonder what could have happened if you’d tried just a little harder. Don’t take that chance. If you’ve done all you can and put your best foot forward on all counts, then any dream you have will always be in reach. Isn’t that worth the energy?

As they say, make an effort, not an excuse.

I love you.

xo Mommy

Bossy Bossy Two Socks

Dear Loch,

Years ago I wrote a children’s book called Bossy Bossy Two Socks.  It’s a book about a little girl who, with all best intentions, spends all her time telling people what to do until eventually she discovers she has no one left to play with. It was an autobiography of sorts, a love letter to the lessons an only child must learn. I started thinking about Bossy Bossy Two Socks again recently and wishing I’d had it published. A: because “author” is a pretty good answer to “What do you do?” and B: because I’d have the book to read to you right now. BB2S is a book you should be reading and having it would allow me a way into a discussion about appropriate behavior. I wouldn’t even tell you I wrote it. Frankly, I think it would mean less if I did.

Standing in hosieryYou’re in a mode. A pressing every button, testing every established rule mode. You talk back and act up and push your luck and, if I hadn’t seen it before I’d be nervous about what was happening to you. The thing is, I have seen it before. Every year around your birthday something like this happens. Overnight you seem to morph from the boy I raised to some unknown, attitude coping child I’m unsure of. When you turned three you started ignoring me. You’d stare right at me as I told you not to do something and do it anyway. You pushed hard against my authority. You even tried to swat me once while I was plugging you into the carseat. I was freaking out. What happened to my perfectly behaved boy? Who was this ruffian with his embarrassingly willful behavior? I brought all my anxiety to your wonderfully and amazingly zen teacher Tammy. I didn’t know what to do. What had I done wrong? What made you think this behavior was ok? Teacher Tammy, in her infinite wisdom, told me not to worry, that this was a normal phase. You were growing up, testing your boundaries and seeing, now that you were older, if the rules still applied. You were looking to me for guidance. You wanted to know what being three meant and I should see it as good and normal behavior even if it appeared the complete opposite. Another mother who overheard our conversation told me when her son turned three he started spitting, everywhere, including on her. She was so appalled that – for the one and only time – she’d slapped his hand. She said she felt like “Where did my child go? Who is this kid?” and I totally understood. Teacher Tammy told us both to relax and accept our job was to calmly and firmly remind our children of the rules. To let them know they may be older but the expectations remained the same. She reminded us that even though it was a trying period, it was a short one that would be outgrown provided we stayed firm, and two weeks later just as predicted, the testing stopped and the boy I knew returned to me.

From this....

From this….

When you turned four the behavioral shift arrived in the form of attitude coping. “Mommy, you don’t know.” “Mommy, you got it wrong.” It was eye rolling/teeth gritting/don’t lose it behavior and just when I’d bent down to eye level to “calmly” talk to you more times than I thought I could possibly handle, overnight your sweet disposition came flooding back. Now, you’re five and transitioning again. This time your boundary pushing has arrived resembling what I would call snit fits. If you don’t get what you want, you pout, you badger, you talk my ear off with disappointment and blame and if you’re worked up enough you fall into full fledged, life’s unfair, crying dramatics. I honestly think you’re subconsciously seeing how far you can push me before I lose it. The other day I had to put you in a time out because you became so completely worked up looking at yourself in the mirror. It was as if the more you witnessed your own devastation, the more devastated you became. It would have been hilarious if it hadn’t been so irritating. I understand things can be disappointing and it’s hard when we don’t get our way but life is like that and, if you don’t learn to handle it now, you’ll be more prone to breakdowns later, and there’s nothing worse than a grown man having a hissy.

Back to this.

Back to this.

The other issue five has kindly brought us is bossy, know-it-all behavior. I’m sure it’s partially the product of growing up an only child, though we’ve done our best not to let you run the roost. Your Dad and I make a big effort to encourage you to fall in, to play our game or use your second choice toy. It’s not because we care what placemat we’re using or what Ninjago we get, it’s because we don’t want you going through life expecting everyone to bow to your will. We’ve done you no favors if you think the world revolves around you and reality will be a crushing blow. We’re very sensitive you not grow up with an inflated image of yourself. We don’t want you to fall into a world of righteous entitlement. We want you to feel special. We don’t want you to feel SPECIAL.  It’s important you understand everyone’s ideas have merit and just because you have a captive audience at home doesn’t mean the world will always stop to listen to you. Learning to be flexible, to defer to others, to know when to take the lead and when to give it away are important life skills and ones too often lacking in both children and adults.

Talks about our behavior started early.

Talks about behavior started early…

Up till now, you’ve been great at this kind of behavior. You’ve been a leader without being a dictator and I’ve secretly patted myself on the back for your excellent manners. So now that we’re returning to the post-birthday boundary check, these long established skills have been slipping and we need to reign them in. Recently you were playing at your BFF’s house and from the kitchen I could hear you screaming “No! You don’t do it like that!” “Stop playing until I say it’s time to start!” “NO! Wait for me to say ok!” And, when your friends ignored you and continued playing the way they wanted, you freaked out. “Stop! Stoooop!!!” I came in to find you standing at the side of the room just as livid as can be and I was floored. All your beautiful give and take, “please may I have?”, “that’s ok, I’ll play with it after” had been replaced by an unfamiliar, little tyrant yelling at his exasperated friends. When I asked you why you thought you were in charge you looked at me with irritation and disgust and said, “Because I’m the Director!”. Now, if you’d grown up on sets, or gone to work with your Dad, I might chalk this behavior up to remiss parenting and the need to extricate you from “the business” but you don’t even know what a Director is so the behavior was all you. What you really meant was you were the “Boss” and we needed to address it immediately.

...and has continued every year.

…and has continued every year.

Driving home you explained you were frustrated because no one was playing the game “right” and when you tried to explain the rules no one was listening so you had to scream. I tried to impart parental wisdom by saying that unless a game comes with rules written down on paper, there is no “right” way to play and you have to learn to loosen up on the “rules” because everyone’s ideas were worth the same amount. I tried to explain if you kept telling everyone what to do, yelling that they were wrong and screaming when you didn’t get your way, pretty soon just like Bossy Bossy Two Socks, no one was going to want to play with you. I realize it’s a tough lesson but it’s one you have to understand. At this stage, having friends is infinitely more important than being in charge.

I love his face in this one. Normally it's not caught on camera. Totally classic.

I love his face in this one. Normally it’s not caught on camera. Totally classic.

So, the battle continues. I hope the Post-Five adjustment ends sooner rather than later and I get my easy going boy back. Lochlan, I know you can’t stay the same forever. I know you’ll only continue to grow and change and each phase will test me in different ways. I can only hope I’m always able to rise to the challenge. I think children fail when parents get complacent and tired. Keeping up with the rules is exhausting. There are so many times when it would be easier just to say “eff it, I can’t deal with this” and let you do whatever you want, but high expectations require effort from both sides and we keep at it because we want the best for you. We want you to be the best you can be. We don’t want you to be that kid.

Most of all, we don’t want you to be that adult.

At the end of the day I’ll love you no matter what phase you’re in. Let’s just try and keep it an 80/20 split between my boy and that boy. Deal?

I love you always. Even when you’re a twit.

xo Mom


On the Occasion of your 5th Birthday

Dear Loch

You just turned five. You’re FIVE years old. Half a decade. No longer a baby. A full fledged kid. You don’t toddle or struggle for words. You make yourself and your feelings heard. You are loving and empathetic, kind, funny, popular and cheeky. I am honored to know you and am so proud of who you’re becoming. I adore you with all my heart.

People say it goes so fast. The years fly by and one day your child is grown and you wish you could do it all again. You wish you’d spent more time together, not sweated the small stuff, appreciated every minute. I’ve heard that every time I’m at the end of my rope I should try and transport myself to the future and see my life after Loch’s grown. I should take a look in my rearview mirror and see no carseat, no goldfish, no little face. I should imagine hearing no kid music or little voice talking from the backseat and that should give me the perspective to see all the monotonous activities morphing into lovely memories I’ll surely miss. Though I understand this as a noble exercise that could possibly grant me that extra scrap of patience when I’m steps away from losing it, the truth of the matter is I believe true perspective is only really possible in retrospect. photo 4 copy 2  We can enjoy the company of our children, appreciate the moments of love and affection, revel in our unconditional love for each other, we can kiss their sweet faces and pray over their little sleeping bodies, but we can’t truly appreciate the passage of time until it’s passed. It’s too much to expect of ourselves and just another thing to feel guilty about when we don’t succeed. You can’t see a forest if you’re tied to a tree and the rope only slackens up as our children age and gradually pull away on their own. It’s only with distance that we can see a bigger picture. Yes, childhood goes fast but in many ways it also goes slow. I stayed home with you. I’ve been with you every day of your life.* I was there when you walked and talked and sang and learned and grew. I committed to your well being, your education, your entertainment. I introduced you to everything from manners to live theatre and all the things in between. I’ve been your constant companion, champion, teacher and friend and I’ve loved almost every minute of it.

photo 2 copy 2Being a parent is by far the best thing I’ve ever done. Being your parent is a gift from God I’m grateful for every day. I know I’ll look back on these baby years with longing but I’m also looking forward to the next step. I know there a lot of working parents who feel guilty they’ve missed some milestones but I don’t find myself in that position. I didn’t miss anything in your life. The things I missed were things that belonged to me. As a parent whichever way you choose you’re going to miss out on something. It’s impossible to do it all, be it all. have it all. Something has to give. If you’re at work you’re missing out on your kids. If you’re with your kids you’re missing out on your work. We do the best we can and live with the guilt however it comes.

Hendershott Photography is the best. Working with Adam & Sylvia is such fun!

I’ve been tired lately. Not of you but of me. I’ve been so caught up in the business of being a parent I find I’m less capable of experiencing the joy of being a parent. I watch your Dad play with you and I get down on myself for not being more like him. As you wrestle or play superheroes or legos I feel I should be able to handle more than an hour (or sometimes 15 minutes) of down-on-the-floor-playing but I can’t. I’d rather be out in the world experiencing something with you, or taking you somewhere, or getting some writing done or folding the damn laundry.

photo 1 copy 4I fight to live in the moment when I have so many other things in my mind. On the flip side your Dad’s time with you is more spuratic, more fleeting. He’s able to give himself over to you completely because your time together is finite. Our time together is more extensive and fluid. We’ve experienced so much together. Played for hours at all ages. You’ve grown up in front of my eyes and I’ve decided not to get down on myself for being excited for the next phase. I’ll always treasure our days together but I look forward to having some time belong to me again. Time to find worth in my work and not just your behavior. Time to explore my own happiness and not just live vicariously through yours. You will always be my top priority, my first and most important job, your happiness will always come before mine, but as you grow, so again shall I.

photo 2 copy 3I’ll miss these days. I’ll miss our time together. The concentrated, one-on-one Mommy/Lochie time. I’ll miss your unbridled affection, your devotion to me, your constant desire to be with me. You recently told me you didn’t want to turn 5. When I asked why you said it’s because 5 year olds have to go to kindergarden and you’d rather stay in preschool. You understood it. You liked it. You weren’t ready to move on. I get it. I have moments when I feel exactly the same, both for your life and mine, but I told you no matter what we do we can’t stop time from marching on. We have birthdays, we get older, we transition to the next phase and the best we can do is appreciate each one as it comes.

I have six months until you start kindergarden. Half a year to truly treasure these last days of your first phase before we start celebrating the beginning of the next. Every part of your life is important, every transition exciting, and even though each step will take you further from my side, each one only solidifies you in my heart. I love getting to know you Lochlan. I love the discovery of who you are and who you might be. I am not afraid of you getting older. I will look back on these days as glorious memories. I’m not sad. I’m excited and proud and I only hope I’m around for the many more phases to come.

Happy 5th Birthday Darling boy!!!

xoxox your mommy

Photo credit for all green pictures to the lovely geniuses at Hendershott Photography. We are so lucky they like to use our kid to play around. Yay Adam & Sylvia!

Photo credit for all green pictures to the lovely geniuses at Hendershott Photography. We are so lucky they like to use our kid to play around. Yay Adam & Sylvia!

* Every day except nine. Three, weekend trips with your father and one three night trip to NYC when you were two

It takes a village…

Loch “graduated” this week from the preschool he’s attended for the last two years. I use the term graduated loosely because, unlike his friends, he’s not off to kindergarden next year but a pre-K program reserved for those birthdays that must complete a full three years of preschool. Quite honestly, I’m fine with that. One more year of him being a little is a good thing for me. What I found interesting however, is how emotional I was by the completion of this phase of his life. As I carried him out of the school after the festivities he was keenly aware that his time there was through. He understood (with tears) that his friends were all heading off to new places and he’d never have that wonderful teacher again. Though I know his life will be full of the pain of change and recognize the importance of it, it was still heartbreaking to watch.

My little graduate in his first cap and gown. It only seems ridiculous until you see them in it.

How often do you get the opportunity to cuddle with your kid at school?

Looking back at the last two years I’m struck with what a special experience it was and how much I personally got out of it especially since I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it in the first place. The Sherman Oaks Cooperative Nursery School is situated at the side of a huge local park. It’s essentially a fenced-in dirt lot that over time the co-op members have continued to improve. We now have three little houses for a library, dress up, kitchen, and toys. Five various sized sheds for school supplies, gardening, sports and maintenance equipment. A phenomenal playground with a sea of playhouses, a sandbox and equipment for the kids. A permanent floor and cover for circle time, snacks and activities, a bathroom and tons of sail shades. It’s a childhood oasis run by a marvelous and patient teacher who truly loves children. It’s also a co-op which, before I started, I had absolutely no experience with and, if asked, probably would have said I wasn’t into.

The school is able to function because each family designates a working parent that comes one day a week to do an assigned job that helps the school run. I was personally in charge of the Drama curriculum and worked on Thursdays. We played theatre games and animal charades. We put on a Thanksgiving play and I wrote a song for the graduates to sing at this week’s ceremony. Sean did maintenance, hung sail shades, and traded off with me to work the Thursdays that he could. The working parent is also responsible for assisting with activities, games, cleaning and gardening as well as attending a once a month mandatory meeting and a number of fundraisers throughout the year.

I’m not going to lie. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of personalities, a lot of opinions and a fair amount of eye rolling trying to get everyone to cooperate. Sean and I only decided to be part of a co-op because the private pre-school I chosen wouldn’t take Loch unless he was 2 years 9 months as of September 1st. Being that he was 3 months shy of that number I had to wait another whole year for him to begin. The co-op however, would take a child as soon as they turned 2 years 9 months, which meant Loch could start as early as November instead of having to wait until the following school year. Seeing that Loch really needed the stimulation that would only come from other children and a semi-structured environment, we decided to opt into the co-op until his chosen school was available.

Being dinosaurs with the kids in Drama. I think the roaring is a bit loud for Loch, no?

My first meeting before Loch started was at a members home that was drastically different from mine. It was very hippie, very commune-esque, very un-me. I sat silently listening to people “voice their opinions” hoping against hope I hadn’t made a mistake. When I arrived home that night I was in tears. I told Sean “these are not my people” and I wasn’t sure I could do it. We decided that anything was possible for a year and that the price – one fifth of the other school’s – and the fact that Loch would have something to do 4 days a week was worth making the effort.

All the mom’s that worked this year. I’m in the pink shirt on the left beside wonderful Teacher Tammy.

The first year had it’s rough patches. Just like any freshman experience you have to learn the ropes and get to know the procedures so they don’t feel overwhelming. You have to take the time to make friends so you’re not alienated and alone, and you have to settle into a new environment and accept that not everyone is going to get along. But honestly, until that spring I still believed I was only doing a year.

I changed my mind in March just after the co-op had it’s biggest fundraising event, the Spring Fair. When we arrived I realized what a pleasure it was to enter a space you felt totally comfortable in. An environment where you weren’t worried about where your child was or who they were with because everybody knew him and he knew everybody. A place where if a child was crying there were at least 15 parents he or she was comfortable going to, and another 20 who could take that child to the appropriate parent. I was profoundly affected by that day. I hadn’t realized how isolating parenthood was. How hard it was to raise a child in a city without family. What a pleasure it was to be a part of something bigger than my little family of three.

Wearing our green Co-op T-shirts for my work day and his “helping hand” day.

Loch and some of his best pals.

When my acceptance letter to the private school arrived later that month I was torn. I recognized it would be a mistake to leave such a positive and healthy environment, not just for Loch but for me. The co-op allowed me the opportunity to share in his school experience in a way I would never get again. It also gave me a community of people to draw on for both help and experience. There was someone to ask if I had a parenting question. There were people to turn to if I needed someone to take Loch for a couple of hours. Functioning within a co-op environment I realized how many people are willing to lend a hand if you need it. Not having family in town and being someone who’s sick, it was an amazing relief to find myself with a solid handful of people I could truly count on. When I had the stomach flu and Sean was away, one of the mom’s came to my house to take Loch for the day. When I was sworn in as an American, another mom picked up Loch from school and took him home until I was done. There seemed to always be someone willing to step up. Plus, I’d made a number of truly great friends and I wasn’t sure I wanted to trade that for the abbreviated relationship you get in the allotted drop-off/pick-up window of a traditional pre-school . The co-op was a marvelous and unique environment I knew I wouldn’t readily find again. Modern parents are so conditioned to take everything on that we often end up martyring ourselves at the alter of motherhood. It’s hard to ask for help or let people know we need it. Sometimes it really does take a village to raise a child and if you don’t have a village, what do you do?

Lochie (on crazy hair day) with his picnic buddy and BFF Mia.

I decided to keep my community a little longer and stay at the co-op for another year. Loch would go to the private preschool two afternoons a week so he could acclimatize himself to the school he would attend in his third year, but would stay at the co-op to graduate with his friends. As it turned out, another mother (and close friend) was doing the same thing and, in true co-op fashion, we split the responsibility. Monday’s I’d pick them up, have a picnic lunch and drive them to the other school and Wednesday’s she’d do it. That way, there was one day a week we both had almost a full day to work (9-4). It was a great compromise and a really fun routine for the kids.

My second year at the co-op was marvelous. Not only did we lose the unmanageable children from the year before, we lost most of the unmanageable parents that came with them. The new families were terrific and the co-op mentality really clicked for me. My dear friends were the President, Vice President and Head of Fundraising respectively, and under their leadership the school flourished. Everyone – save a few, there’s always a few – did their job exceptionally well and we were able to raise most money the school’s ever made. Loch had play dates with friends and went home with other people after school. We had dinners out with parents who had become our friends, and there was always someone to talk with and confer when parenting (or life) became overwhelming.

Me and my wonderful pal Michelle. The fundraiser this year was a flower power theme, just to explain the dress…

As I watched our enormous graduating class receive their certificates surrounded by friends, families of friends and spouses of friends, I realized there would never be a time when I knew all those associated with my son as well again. As I thought back to that first meeting, and how I’d determined this wasn’t going to be my kind of place, I could accept that not only was I wrong, I was glad to be. I learned that leaning on and working with others can be a huge source of strength and that taking the time, even when you think you don’t have it, to devote to your child is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

I’ll never get this time with him back, but at least I was able to be around for so much of it.

It’s been an incredible time and I’m moved it’s over.

The little man and his proud parents before he put his graduate leaf on the Co-op Tree for posterity.