In the busyness of the season, blogging has taken a back seat lately. Along with a host of other things in my life, I am guilty of over-promising and under-delivering. It is my own pet peeve. I feel behind at times, like I can’t keep up but yet at other times I thrive in this busy mode. I create the busyness and chaos myself. I always think I can get more done than I really do. I enjoy juggling many activities. But sometimes I drop a ball or two or five.
The most important ball I have focused on to not drop in this stage of life though is being the best hands-on mom I can be. I have dropped that ball before in life. About a year ago, I picked it back up and tried again. Thankfully, my younger two kids have distant memories of when I would fly 100 plus flights a year on business and spends days of each work week away from them. Or days when I left the house at 6 a.m. and returned at 6:30 p.m. I still travel from time to time. I still have long days away from them. But now they are rare instead of routine.
One ball I started juggling last fall was when I purchased FunShine Express pre-school curriculum for Miss A and I to do at home together, a couple of days a week. I am not the early childhood educated teacher my mother is. But after working with other parents in our small town to start our first ever public pre-school and the need for local fundraising to support it, I decided to also try pre-school education at home for Miss A. I was motivated by the questioning of the legislators when our local pre-school teacher, Miss E and I had testified last year in an education committee hearing. I wanted to see the difference I could make as one mom with one ornery child.
Yes, Miss A is ornery. She is spirited. Full of life and ideas. She is both my greatest challenge and she is my greatest rewards on many days over the past year. But we have persevered and become pre-school partners together.
I have been frustrated. Other things I should or could be doing often get put on the back burner so Miss A and I can squeeze in some pre-school time together in our basement “school” area. Funshine Express sends me a box each month with all the lesson plans, activities and even a book. I haven’t used them all and will be supplementing our summer fun with leftovers from this pre-school year. I have often thought when Miss A is complaining that pre-school with me is “borrriiinnngggg” or refuses to write letters or sound out letters with me if I am wasting my time. Am I even making a difference for her?
Last week was the test. Pre-school screening was on Thursday morning at our local public school. The night before Miss A and Miss E were praying before bed. The conversation went like this:
“I pray that I WIN at pre-school screening tomorrow and that I can be REALLY good.” -Miss A
“Anika, you don’t win at pre-school screening. You just do your best.” Miss E, age six, practical and experienced.
“Elizabeth, I win. You lose.” -Miss A
The competitive spirit was brewing in Miss A and she wanted to perform well at pre-school screening. It gave me some hope despite her continuous pushing of my buttons throughout the day.
The next morning at school, Miss A walked away with a teacher, I had to fill out a parent survey and answer scores of questions about Miss A’s development. I was honest about our lively, youngest child who has been at home with me more than our other two older kids. I know her well. I had a choice of three answers. Rarely/ Never, Sometimes or Always.
Does she pick up her toys when she is done playing with them? Sometimes.
Does she bite or hit? Sometimes.
Does she throw tantrums? Sometimes.
Does she listen and respond to directions given? Sometimes.
Does she dress herself? Sometimes.
I answered all of the questions listed honestly and tried to think about each one.
At the end of the testing, Miss A came back to me and we met with a professional in the school that was there for the testing to review the results. I have done this before and know the routine.
But this time the woman said, “Now I want to talk to you about your answers. Because you put her in the 11% percentile for Self-Help Development and 4% percentile for Social-Emotional Development. That is the Potential Delay category. But her test results show her testing very good in the 84% to 96% percentile. Do you have concerns that maybe the test didn’t address?”
I burst out laughing. Miss A has had me fooled. She did indeed “win” at pre-school screening. Her language skills were the highest. When she doesn’t want to sound out letters, I know now she is still listening. When her sister is diligently doing flashcards at the table each evening, Miss A is interrupting but listening.
She exceeded any expectations I had for her. She over-delivered on results.
While I have failed this year at keeping all balls in the air and feel like I have over-promised and under-delivered, particularly in this thing called blogging, I have my youngest daughter to show me how to under-promise and over-deliver.
Miss A is sneaky. She has tricked me into thinking my pre-school time with her at home, along with the time she gets with our home daycare provider Lori a couple days a week, is not working.
But she is soaking it all in, quietly and knows when to deliver results and “win” as she said.
I am not a failure for over-promising that I would get all the laundry clean, folded and put away each week and then under-delivering. I am not a failure for over-promising on my numerous blog features yet to be published and under-delivering.
Miss A made me feel better about right where I am. I am doing my best to navigate this life chapter that is filled with kids’ schedules and their needs first combined with trying to juggle balls with business and volunteering opportunities.
I know now I am capable of over-delivering. At home. With my kids. With a “win”, thanks to Miss A and our pre-school time.
I don’t get it all right. I make mistakes. I fail everyday. I work harder to do better and improve. But the few things that I do get right in this stage have the greatest rewards. Thank you to my youngest, sweet girl for reminding me to deliver on my promises to my family first and to celebrate the little moments in life, like winning at pre-school screening.