4th Grade, Another Mountaintop

Every year brings something different. Ok, every moment with kids, but especially every moment and every school year, just like another mountain to climb.

First Grade was the beginning of the regimented school system. Nothing wrong with that. We weren’t sure how Archibald and Mortimer (not their real names) were going to handle and deal with the structure. But, they came through it unscathed. It was in 1st Grade that Archie was diagnosed with a learning disability. It became prevalent throughout the year and by the end of the year, he was officially diagnosed.

Sergeant Major Mommy (not her real name, either!) and I wanted to get the little buggers into more extracurricular activities in 2nd Grade, so we signed them up for Tae Kwon Do. Morty got into it more than Archie who literally went through the motions, but didn’t have the commitment needed to really progress. Nevertheless, they did get to their Green Belts by the end of the year.

TKD also brought enormous difficulty for SMM and Daddy to get them to their practices two or three times a week. Somehow, we did it. Somehow, we managed to pay for it too.

We knew we had to work extra hard for Archie’s reading ability and somehow, we aided him in that. He did not reach his grade level, but he did progress and did not fall behind any further.

Morty’s reading took off. He found something he liked and pursued it like a bulldog, reading everything he could get his hands on. He loves science fiction-fantasy-adventure.

3rd Grade was different, too. Daddy bought a new car and TKD had to go cause we couldn’t afford both. The boys didn’t seem to miss it though.

Archie continued to make slow, but steady, progress in his reading. Morty sustained his passion for reading, but his writing and math were not keeping up. Archie is better at math than Morty, which is really interesting. His learning disability seems to be focused just on reading.

The little buggers also began to show more signs of independence wanting to do more things around the house on their own, like preparing their breakfast, choosing their clothes for school, etc. Plus, they have been enrolled in swim lessons at the YMCA on Sundays.

One of their proudest moments was when they were tested for swimming at their summer camp and they passed, allowing them to go into the deep end. It was one of my proudest moments, too. Funny how those things work out sometimes.

4th Grade is here and the boys are continually changing. Their independence is growing further. We don’t think that’s a bad thing, but we do have to monitor them on some things, especially Archie, on pouring his own milk and putting toothpaste on his toothbrush. Sometimes, he overdoes it a little.

As parents, we feel our job is to foster their independence, but still provide structure and support for their needs.

Their relationship with each other is also progressing, such as it is. As twins, they’ve had this “love-hate” relationship their whole lives. One moment they will be fighting and the next, literally, the next moment, they are best friends.

But now, they are also getting more competitive and trying to out-do each other. That is not necessarily a bad thing, except when their disagreements get physical. They’ve always wrestled with each other, but now they are bigger and stronger and we must keep them apart for their own safety. I have been trying to teach them about settling their differences peacefully, but I get the feeling it goes in one ear and out the proverbial other.

This year they have also started music lessons at school. Archie chose the trumpet (shoot me now) and Morty chose the kid’s version of the cello, which looks a lot like a small violin. Morty came home from school the other day and almost immediately got his violin out and started practicing what he had learned that day. Archie seems excited about his trumpet, but he has a habit of not sticking with anything that requires a constant commitment, ala TKD above. Time will tell.

SMM and moi, numero uno, the big cheese, Top Dog, DaddyisBest (sometimes) are constantly assessing our parenting needs and skills.   We do the best we can given the resources we have available, time, energy and money. Mommy is sometimes pressured by her job to do and give more and sometimes has to do work at home to prepare for upcoming events at work.

I have started a new job with a new company in a new industry and while the work is manual and physically demanding, it is not very intellectually stimulating. But, I gotta do what I gotta do to bring money in.

I feel I have grown as a Daddy. It is not necessarily something that came easily to me. As I have gotten older, my energy and body are not what they used to be. And neither is my patience, unfortunately. But, I’m working on it. I try not to get upset with the boys when all they want to do is play, except when they have to get ready to go somewhere, like school.

They ask me why I yell and I say it’s because they don’t listen. It’s a vicious cycle. I don’t yell at them like a marine drill sergeant, but loud enough to get their attention. (For the record, SMM has been known to yell, too). I tell them that and, again, it’s hard to tell what they retain or understand and what flows through their ear accounts. I have also seen other parents yell at their kids and think, I am nowhere near that level. It’s been a real learning experience to see how they perceive me vs. how I perceive myself. I can only hope their memoirs will picture me kindly.

I have grown as a person, too. My writing has changed as the little buggers and parenting has changed. My focus on just telling stories or amusing anecdotes of their antics is not as significant as it was when they were younger and everything was new to them and to me. As I’ve grown, I realize more and more the best thing I can do for them is provide the role model of how adults should act. I’m sorry, did I just say that?

It’s not about how adults “should” act. It’s how I can be the best me I can be and hopefully, something will stick somewhere between their ear passageways.

Getting to a mountaintop is not the end. It just provides us with the opportunity to see other mountaintops to climb, explore and conquer. Each grade, each step, each moment is just another mountaintop.