Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Leif update 4 years 10 months

Leif’s 5th birthday is just around the corner. Less than two months and I will have a five year old. It sounds cliché, but I have no idea where the time has gone. No idea whatsoever.

Since Leif was little I have commented on his OCD nature. He gets on one subject/TV show/game/whatever, and he will take it to an extreme. Curious George has gone by the wayside, but soccer has entered the picture. If a child doesn’t play soccer during recess, then Leif isn’t going to be playing with that child. And there is nothing I can do to convince him otherwise. He is fully obsessed with soccer right now, insists on only wearing soccer shirts, must practice soccer daily at home and plays at every recess.

And he is good. He dribbles the soccer ball around the field better than I can.

He starts soccer for 4-5 year olds in two weeks. I am both fearing this and looking forward to it. He will practice once a week and have a game once a week. So twice a week we are going to be hanging out at the soccer field. The aspect of this I am fearing, is Leif’s seriousness about the sport.

When we were signing the kids up for soccer the woman at the YMCA desk indicated that the special training that a parent coach volunteer should have was an ability to keep the kids on the soccer field. Okaaaayyy then. I was suddenly recalibrated.

Oh and did I mention there are no goalies? Right, no goalies. Leif’s favorite position to play. And yes, he knows there are positions in soccer.

I work with a woman who lamented to me when her son was just older than Leif that her son was very annoyed by sports. Annoyed that the other kids didn’t take it as serious as he does. Annoyed that they would hang out and talk on the field instead of focus on winning. I have a feeling I am going to be feeling Mary’s pain soon.

So yeah, Leif likes soccer.

He also likes the computer. We bought a new computer a few months ago and AB happened to find a set of games (free trials) that Leif enjoyed – Polar Golf, Polar Tubing and Polar Bowling. All starring a Polar Bear who announces, “I’m the bear!” at the start. And we have to wait for him to announce this before proceeding to the game. They are fun games that even AB and I enjoy sitting down and playing with Leif. Yes, Leif stomps me at most every game.

Polar Golf has inspired Leif to declare that he wants to learn to play golf for real – he knows what an eagle, birdie, par, bogey and double bogey are and announces which he got on a hole before the narrator announces it. As you may have guessed, unfortunately these games have also morphed into a little bit of an obsession with Leif. However, losing computer privileges is THE most powerful threat ever.

Leif’s interest in movies and TV has taken a back seat to soccer, computer games, his Leapster (which he turns on when he is frequently told he has had enough computer games) and tormenting his sister.

Ok, truth be told, his sister torments him. But he usually starts it, then ends up the one in tears thanks to his sister the brute.

Leif is in a terribly emotional phase right now. He fears being separated from us, hurting himself, dying, loud noises and the unknown. I haven’t figured out if this phase is normal for his age yet. Or if he is just a very emotional little boy. (AB votes for the later.) That’s alright, I will take my mama’s boy. We had to print up a picture of he and I to keep in his locker box at school for the occasions when he gets lonely for me. He cried yesterday in the car as he misses grandma and Bompa. His tears, usually prompt mine, so we have been an interesting pair the past week!

Leif enjoys his works at school and prides himself on his progress. He works at his penmanship, reading and numbers works daily. He can write his name as well as other words when spelled out for him. He can read simple words. He quickly memorizes books and songs – a skill I don’t have, I suck at memorizing. And he is doing basic addition. His fascination with numbers continues and he is constantly asking questions like, “what is 1000 plus 60?” and requests that we quiz him regularly on his addition.

His favorite number is 1021 and he cracks me up when he asks me if I would please count by 71’s (or some other unconventional way to skip count). I am a numbers geek and yes, I can count by 71’s, which thrills Leif to pieces. But it fascinates me that he has chosen prime numbers as the numbers he shows the most interest in.

Leif loves the Mo Willems, Elephant and Piggie early reader books (thanks to Kelley for recommending them). We have read Little House on the Prairie and are looking forward to continuing that series when we get the boxes of books moved out of storage and to the house. For some reason I didn’t pull that set out… kicking myself.

I bought a few other chapter books to read aloud and have been met with mixed success. "Choose Your Own Adventure" books have proven to be a bit hard to comprehend, but the Patrick Carman (from Walla Walla – making him even cooler) books, Elliot’s Park Series are big hits so far. I am looking forward to getting Leif the Land of Elyon series, but I think he may be a touch young for them just yet.

We are at a difficult point with Leif because he is a very intelligent kid (according to his teachers), yet very emotionally immature. By age, just barely, he should go to kindergarten this year. However, it is typical for boys with summer birthdays to not go into kindergarten and to wait a year. We have waffled on this because we also would hate for Leif to eventually be bored in school. However, studies have shown that kids’ ages catch up with them about grade 3. That is the point where the younger kids tend to fall behind and start to struggle. Add into that sports, Leif really enjoys sports and as a smaller, younger child, he may not have the opportunities or positive experiences that he otherwise would. His teachers have encouraged us to not stress about it, he will stay in his same school where he will work at his own pace and we will ignore the lines of “this is kindergarten work” and “this is preschool work”. We will see what happens with the coming year. Leif is not enrolled as a kindergartener, however, he has switched to the group of children who will have the kindergarten teacher as their lead. Confusing and for an analytical person like myself a little disconcerting to not have the quantitative measure. However, I am learning to put aside my need for quantitation in favor of the Montessori approach.

Leif’s 5th birthday will be at the gymnastics gym and he is already making plans. He intends to have a Star Wars birthday (hopefully I will have his bedroom done in Star Wars colors by then also) and he is counting the days.

It should also be a good experience for Skadi… though startling for her to realize that the 4 solid months of it being her birthday everyday will come to an end. I am eager to see how she spins his birthday party to benefit herself!

Leif continues to say funny things and come up with interesting observations. When he is happy - like this afternoon when I told him we would be meeting grandma and Bompa at the cabin this fall - he exclaims, "hooray!" I am not sure where he picked up "hooray", but I like it.

Leif has a list of girls he plans on marrying. It is typically Niranjana and Cate at the top, but occasionally the top tier is toppled by a kindergartener... his heart maybe broken when she moves on later this summer.

Along with the proud moments comes those mortifying moments too... A few weeks ago Leif and I were out and about. We were standing in line and the woman behind us, younger than me and assumably no children, asked Leif how old he was. He told her and said, "but my birthday is coming up". She asked him what he wanted for he birthday?

He didn't even pause before he spit out, "a shotgun".

I could have melted right there. In the house I draw the line at squirt guns. Everyone says, "boys will be boys" and I am starting to believe this. I am even softening a touch at the one thing that Leif really wants for his birthday - a Nerf gun. Sigh. I don't know where my son has ever heard of shotguns, but wow he is attracted to anything that shoots a projectile.

I guess the one positive thing with a Nerf gun is that I will have another item that he can lose privileges with!

Or I can just push for a razor scooter like the kindergartener down the street has. He and Leif have recently (this past weekend) become fast friends after an afternoon of squirt guns and slip and slides.

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