Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An Egg Hunt Already

This week is Spring Break for all of the schoolkids of Podunkville, so I invited some of DS's preschool classmates and their older siblings to join us at the park for an Egg Hunt this morning. It was actually a lot of fun, but I had been dreading it. The invite consisted of an email from me with the instruction to "bring 10 eggs for each child you're bringing." Turns out that was not clear enough, apparently, because I got several emails and calls asking questions like:

"What kind of eggs do I bring? Hard-boiled and dyed, right?" (A: Any colorful round thing we could hide somewhere outdoors and a little kid could find would be acceptable.)

"Do we put candy in them? Or are we trying to avoid sugar." (A: Feel free to put candy, or anything, or nothing at all in them.)

"Is there going to be any chocolate? Because my kid can't have dairy! And by the way I'm not even sure we can make it, but I definitely know we can't come if people will be bringing chocolate." (If you've been reading my blog long enough, this particular parent ought to sound a little familiar... A: I asked people not to include chocolate, and no one did. And then the anti-cow protein lady's kid got sick last night so they couldn't even make it today anyway.)

"Are you worried about salmonella poisoning if the kids eat real eggs that have been sitting out for so long?" (A: Um, not really. But if you are, maybe, don't let your kid pick up any real eggs? Just an idea.)

I showed all of the emails to DH, and he wrote a really funny set of "Egg Hunt F.A.Q.'s" that I loved, but ultimately did not send. It included snarky gems like the definitions of the words "egg" and "hunt," along with a description of the way the Easter season is currently celebrated in the U.S. including "chocolate rabbits and eggs, etc." Too bad I didn't send it, but I don't think they would have gotten the joke.

But you know, what this all really boils down to is that I am actually the problem. I really, truly feel that in this context, I totally am. So I chose to take all of those emails as constructive feedback about me and my relationship with the people of my little community. The emails in my inbox were trying to tell me that I tend to make way too many assumptions about the tendencies of the people of Podunkville to want to do something crazy like use their best judgment, or do their own parenting. People here are very, very literal. Yes, a few of them love to feel like people are catering to their "specialness" but most of them seem to like to be told exactly what to do, in the form of brightline rules about things as seemingly obvious as a children's egg hunt in the park. So I just need to accept it. That is how things are in Podunkville. I just need to get better at taking life as it comes, and accepting people for who they are - not some fairytale version of the "reasonable people" I sometimes wish they'd be.

However, I also realized there were several people who didn't email me with any odd questions and passive-aggressive, unnecessary requests. People who simply read the email, showed up, helped me hide eggs, and contributed to the fun. Those are the people I need to focus on in the future and ask on playdates (hate that term.)

Interestingly, like the local egg hunt DS was invited to last year, the real eggs one of the moms brought were the big hit of the morning - all of the older siblings were trying to get them. Luckily, the younger ones, like my DS, were more than happy to trade their real ones with a bigger kid for a "Soy Glory 3" egg containing "fun dough." That totally made DS's day.

In other news, my kids are growing up too fast. DD is 18 months old, is about to get her first salon haircut (BTW, we always go to the beauty school, where it's cheap, the students are young and hip, and they won't give you a mullet); and is finally saying a lot of words that people in the outside world can usually also understand. DD says "hold me" and raises her arms toward the nearest adult (in case "hold me" wasn't clear enough). She is finally sitting through an entire board book and also demanding them to be read to her over and over. Last night she kept saying "Brown Bear Brown Bear" as clear as a bell, leaving no doubt as to which nighttime story she wanted. Coincidentally, the books in that series were also big time favorites of DS's at the same age - something about the catchy colors and the rhythm of the words, maybe?

DS finally started learning the alphabet and has been writing his first name - in all caps - and always asks to borrow my pen anytime he sees me writing something. Behaviorally, DS is in a really good place right now. He's been using words a lot more instead of screeching, and we've been reacting a lot less. And for that we sincerely thank thee, Sharon Silver. Oddly enough, since purchasing one of those popular handheld portable devices that allow you to download books, DH has actually read 2 other parenting books and has even been giving me some tips! I'm really enjoying the parenting conversations DH and I have been having, now that he actually knows what is going on with the research. I'd better pinch myself.


NK: Style-ING w/ Children said...

you're so great putting up with ppl like that. i would have no patience! This is what scares me about daycare and school. Parents that would make me want to quit my kid from any extra curricular activities.
And nothing makes me happier these days than finding like minded parents. Hang in there, for every high maintenance parent, there are normal ones out there.

paola said...

Hey, I would be one of those parents with the million questions ( although I probably wouldn't expose my ignorance with an e-mail) I have never been on an 'egg hunt' before and just assumed you used chocolate eggs seeing it is for Easter and all.

Wow, I am amazed that your not even 4 year old, knows the alphabet. I mean, my 6 year old, copies words, writes his name and that of his sister, sings the alphabet sing, but does not otherwise know the alphabet. I know we have talked about the differences between the European Education System and the American one ( how the former leaves literacy and numeracy till Elementary School, which also starts later than in North America), but one can't help thinking things are a tad too slow here.

hush said...

@NK, Don't be scared of the daycare/preschool parental socializing, but please don't raise your hand and take on any leadership roles!! That's where you see the crazy and where I totally messed up.

@Paola - You're correct that chocolate is synonymous with Easter, and is part and parcel of the typical American egg hunt! Which is why anti-cow protein lady's demands that no one bring any milk chocolate threw everyone into a tizzy, and got them questioning themselves; then some emailed me.

Ugh, I didn't mean to make it sound like my DS is some supergenius! Sorry! He knows a few letters thanks to my dad sitting down with him coloring and drawing a lot of the alphabet for hours recently, including the 5 letters that make up his name. I actually think the delayed approach is better. In Finland they apparently wait until age 7 to start hardcore academic stuff, and I can see the wisdom in that.

Cloud said...

Oh, you HAVE to post the egg hunt FAQ. PLEASE! I need a laugh.

@Paola, I think some kids pick up the alphabet earlier than others and no doubt the emphasis on it here means that more pick it up early than not- but as far as I know, there is not indication that this has any predictive power at all for more meaningful skills down the road (like reading). I'm fascinated by how different brains learn in different ways and at different paces.

mom2boy said...

No peanuts are one thing but no chocolate? At Easter? (the bunny holiday not the church one obviously) Who knew small town America was so tolerant. :)

the milliner said...

'and they won't give you a mullet' HA! That's exactly when I know it's time to get DS' haircut...when the mullet starts developing on it's own. DH likes to let DS' hair grow long so he looks more like an elf and less like a little boy. But all I see is mullet (the back grows faster than the front).

Hmmm...maybe I need to get DH one of those new fangled book's a thought.

And I'm with @Cloud, post that Egg Hunt FAQ!! We're doing an egg hunt at my parents this year. But, it should be less complicated as we're just inviting the little girl, the same age as DS, that lives across the street from my parents.

I think all those questions kind of lend themselves to any group kid/parent thing, especially when the parents may not know each other that well. Even if you're not in podunkville (as we aren't). It's like group mentality / follow the herd kicks in. Often it seems that things have a way of getting extra complicated.

As for the alphabet thing, it's interesting to see the differences between the countries. We're in Canada and I do see much more of an emphasis on learning earlier on (as compared to when I was that age. Definitely freaks me out a bit).

But that being said, I agree with @Cloud that every kid is different and it doesn't really indicate future performance. DS is one of the early adopters of the alphabet - not because we wanted him to learn it, but he just had an interest in it from early on, so we went with his lead. I actually said at dinner last night 'OK, enough spelling (DS likes to repeat the spelling of words), please finish your ice cream.' Uh, yeah. Less learning, more sugar!!

But then, when we have a playdate with a close friend of mine and her son who is 3 mos younger than DS, I'm floored by how more physically capable her DS is. So, you know, the usual things of kids learning different things at different times. I'm just trying to keep DS exposed to different things so we don't neglect the things he has a harder time with and focus only on the things that are easier for him.

Wow, that was long. Sorry for the novel!