Friday, June 27, 2008

We're Getting into the Really Hard Questions Here

A few months ago we gave Hannah an old radio/CD player for her room. We figured that since she had all of her Hannah Montana and High School Musical CD's that we should give her something to listen to them with. Bill even made her a special CD with other songs that she liked on it. It was mostly songs from movies like Alvin and the Chipmunks, Enchanted and Chicken Little. She thought that having her own radio was the greatest thing ever and now listens to music in her room almost everyday. She has even gotten Alexander into it and most days you can find them in her room dancing around and singing along to whatever's they happen to put on.

A couple of weeks ago Hannah watched Hairspray (the new one with John Travolta) with me and absolutely loved it. She enjoyed it so much that she batted her eyelashes and asked Bill to make her a CD with the soundtrack on it. Since Bill rarely says no to anything this child wants (she has SO got him wrapped around her little finger) he quickly downloaded it and made it for her and it is now her favorite CD. She and Alexander listen to it ALL the time and they are starting to sing along more and more. It's really cute to see them so into the music.

Well anyone that knows Hannah or has heard anything about her knows that she's full of questions and last night was no exception. As I was putting dinner on the table Hannah comes out of her room and is sitting down when askes up "What's negro day?" One of the songs is about the Corney Collins (dance show) and makes a comment about one day a month being "Negro Day" on the show. Bill and I looked at eachother with that Oh Crap look and tried to figure out how to explain segregation to a 5 1/2 year old. We were speechless for a second or two and I was a little surprised at the question. I don't know why I was surprised - she asks surprising stuff like this all of the time but it's usually about babies or death or the differences between boys and girls or things like that. I didn't expect to have to answer things like this until she learned about them in school. Shame on me for underestimating my smart little girl!!

I guess that Bill and I did an okay job of explaining it. We told her that negro was a term used a long time ago and that while it wasn't a bad word it isn't a word that's used anymore because it's rude. We told her about how whites and blacks weren't allowed to do things together and how people who thought that everyone should be treated the same fought to stop the separation and eventually won. Then we reminded her that we shouldn't judge people by the color of their skin or where they live or how much money they have, etc. and how God created us all equally and that we are all the same on the inside.

Other then the talk I had with Hannah about love and why some people are married and some are divorced (yes, she asked about that too) and the death talk, I think that this is one of the most serious talk we've had with her. As usual, once it was over she looked at us and said "Okay". I made sure that she didn't have anymore questions and that was that. I'd like to say that this is the end of the conversation but I know that she's just procssing what we said and she will bring it up again when she is ready or when she thinks of a question about it. Then it will start all over again. Hopefully we will be able to help her understand more once that time comes. But I'm not going to worry about that just yet. For now I am just trying to prepare myself for the next outrageous question that she throws our way!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Little Tree Hugger

When I was about 13, my parents took me to an Earth Day fair at Grant Park. I'm still not sure why they took me there - maybe they got mixed up and thought that it was some other fair that they actually wanted to be at or maybe we were already downtown for some reason and they just decided to walk over to see what was gong on or maybe they were just bored that day and decided to head downtown in hopes of finding something to do. Either way, there we were wandering from stand to stand and listening to everyone talk about how important it was to save the planet. It was something that I had never really thought about and it made my young and impressionable mind reel. I got a "Save Endangered Animals" t-shirt and I tried my first vegetarian hot dog that day and I was transformed!! I suddenly had a purpose in my life - I was going to SAVE THE PLANET!!!

After that day I constantly preached about the evils of aerosol cans and styrofoam and about the CFC's that were destroying the ozone and how fur was murder. I raged when I would see aluminum cans in the garbage can instead of in a separate recycling bag. I begged my parents to only buy recycled anything - toilet paper, napkins you name it and I asked for it!! I also tried to get them to be better at recycling in general (which was near impossible in the early 90's)!! At first they tried to do some of the things that I was asking but after a few weeks they just ignored me. I think they thought that I would lose interest in the planet but I held strong - at least for a while.

By the middle of high school I had pretty much stopped the constant lecturing and begging. I still didn't use aerosol cans or styrofoam and I recycled when I could, I still believed that wearing fur was wrong (and nearly "killed" my mother when she heard that I turned down the fur coat that my grandma offered to me because of my "beliefs") but I had lost the urge to push everyone else to change. Now that I am older, I still believe in all of those things and I try to live as "cleanly" as possible but I am a far cry from what I was all those years ago. I hadn't thought of any of these things in a really long time but Hannah has brought all of these memories rushing back.

Back in April Hannah celebrated Earth Day in school with her class. they talked about recycling and wasting water and littering. She came home full of questions and looking for answers. Since I was the only adult home at the time, I had to explain why wasting water was bad and how garbage can hurt the earth and loads of other things. When we were done talking about everthing she ran off to play and I thought that I had probably confused the poor girl or that it was in one ear and out the other like normal. Boy was I wrong. Hannah remembered everything that I told her. When we were brushing her teeth while getting ready for bed that night I had left the water on and she turned it off and scolded me for leaving it running. When we were outside a few days later she reminded me to throw away our garbage instead of throwing it on the ground and "hurting the earth".

Since then her love of the earth had grown by leaps and bounds. She has asked me if leaving her toys in the back yard will hurt the planet like garbage does and she is doing a better job of putting things away now for fear of it. She is constantly reminding all of us to turn off the water if we are not using it so that we are not "wasting it". She has even started picking up random garbage that she sees while we are out (and we've had to put a stop to it) and is getting upset that people are littering.

I am glad that she has taken an interest in cleaning up the planet. It is nice to see that she takes this very seriously and it shows me that she is paying attention to what is going on around her. I know that she is still young and as time goes on there will be other things that interest her but I hope that she hangs on to this one - but I hope that she isn't comsumed with it like I was. I don't think I could handle a "Melissa Jr." harassing me every five seconds. I don't know how may parents did it because thinking back on it now I'm sure I wold have smacked myself!!

Monday, June 2, 2008


Both Hannah and Xander are officially on summer vacation now. They each had their own graduation ceremony and they were so darn cute!! They are now happy to be home and that summer is here and they cannot wait to go swimming.

Alexander "graduated" on May 22nd from his park district class. They had a small ceremony where they got to show off how much they knew about shapes and colors and also got to show everyone how well they could sit still and listen (which is a HUGE accomplishment for my little guy!). All of the kids in the class got diplomas too. The teacher took turns calling out their names and let them stand under a crayon arch for each parent to take pictures.

Xander and his teacher under the "arch"

Kiddie Krayons Class of 2008

After the ceremony we all went back to his classroom for snacks. The kids had each drawn a picture on the chalkboard to help decorate the room and so there was this huge mural up on one wall. Some of the kids got really creative too. There was a ceiling fan, Superman, a dinosaur, a lamp, a truck and quite a few more.

Xander's contribution to the mural was Tyrone from the Backyardigans - I think he did a pretty good job!!

Class ended with singing the rainbow song (which was sung at the end of every class) and a final goodbye to everyone. I had tried to explain to Xander that this was the last class and that there were not going to be anymore classes but he didn't quite understand. He's still occasionally asking me if we're going back to "Mrs. Jacky's" but I think he's slowly getting it. We keep talking about how he's going to go the the "Big Kid" school next school year with Hannah and now he's getting excited about that. I just hope he's this happy and excited about it come August!

Hannah graduated on the 29th from 4 year old preschool. Their ceremony was a little more organized then Alexander's but it was just as cute. They sang 4 songs for us, which included Yankee Doodle and a hip hop version of the ABC's (that I am still laughing about). After that all of the kids went to the back of the hall to wait for their name to be called so that they could walk up the isle to get their diploma. Some of the kids had to be coaxed down the isle and some of them ran, but Hannah did neither. She calmly walked down to get her diploma and quietly walked back around to wait with the rest of her class.

Shaking Hands with Father Mark

Getting her diploma from Miss Gross, the principal

Our new Kindergartener

The ceremony ended with the teachers saying a few words and then it was time for refreshments. It was a nice little celebration for the kids and they were all happy to be together. Hannah and her friends posed for lots of pictures and had a good time running around together, some for the last time. Some of her friends will not be back next year so we gave her some extra time with them before heading home. All in all, it was a good day.

I am still a little amazed at how fast the school year went. I'm even more amazed that both kids will be in the same school next year. I mean, Alexander will only go for a half a day for 5 days so he'll still be home with me some of the time but Hannah will be there all day AND she'll wear a uniform! They are getting too big too fast. Next school year will be an adjustment for all of us but that is still a few months away so I'm not going to dwell on it now. For now I am going to try and enjoy as much time as I can with them this summer and just worry about having fun!