Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Space We're In

In the blink of an eye. Expectant parents hear it over and over from those who have gone before them. And it rings true for every stage from the nighttime feedings through college. Never have I been made more aware of that than this fall. While I've noticed Eli and Maddux growing up, and I've seen some 'stage-passing', I suddenly find that we are in a stage that I didn't even realize was so close.

In the last 4-6 weeks Maddux has started 4th grade which has proven to be a pivotal year in our house. She has more homework (not necessarily in a bad way) than before, her classroom responsibilities (independent of family support) has increased, she has freedoms at school that she didn't before (pre-school day activities and recess activities that foster some Independence and choice), and she is staying after school two days each week for various activities. All of that in addition to soccer, which we were overjoyed to find out she wanted to try again.
At the same time, Eli started middle school and its obvious new stage. He's got way more work than before, and I don't even know about most of it, he carries a laptop throughout his day (heavily monitored by the school), he participates in two after school activities meaning Friday is the only day he comes home before 5, he is involved in baseball again, but in the second to last tier of the league (aka BIG kid ball), and he is participating in band.

Sound like a lot? It is! We didn't intentionally get to this 'lot' place...Maddux has been less than enthusiastic about a sport or extracurricular for the last few years, so this fall we decided to not push a team, but instead to try two 'FAST' programs so she could try something on for size with very short commitment. She opted for a running club and a chemistry program. Then, after those had started, she started speaking up about soccer. We did what we could to get her on a team, but this now meant two day/week practices in addition to FAST. The girl is handling it like a champ so far. She is LOVING soccer and thriving at it, and she seems to have a flair for running; she currently holds the #4 fastest girl in the school title for the mile run.
Our rule has always been one activity at a time for each kid, but with Middle School comes school teams and activities that require less commitment from the parents. And I wanted to encourage Eli to try all of this cool new stuff that was available to him. He is always up for that kind of thing, so he hopped into Cross Country two weeks before school started. He runs 2-3 days each week for practice and has 1-2 meets a week. The meets require driving, but the practices are right after school on campus, so it's 'easy'. Robotics just opened up and Eli signed up. Only one meeting each week, but again, it's easy. Now he's talking baseball (for the school) or swim. And of course he's playing a team at the same league he's been involved with since he was 4. But this baseball team is so different. The boys are so big and the rules are getting very 'real' is amazing to watch! Oh yeah, and Eli needs a ride to and from school each day.
So this 'lot' requires much coordination on our part. My logistical gymnastic ability (or lack there of) is being tested daily, and I am ever grateful of the village around me that allows for carpooling and kid shuffling. This fosters some Independence from my kids as they are in and out of other families' cars often now, hopefully being gracious and courteous. All of this 'lot' of school work and activities has quickly become the new norm and I couldn't be more proud of Maddux and Eli for how they are handling it. Grades are not perfect but really good, and through minimal nagging and/or assistance from us. These kids are growing up and becoming responsible in ways I didn't even know I could expect of them yet. God is good.

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