School Begins

My three year old daughter Soleil began her long journey through school last week. Her first day of Montessori was on Wednesday the 8th, and today completes her first full week.

It’s kind of amazing really.

I am sure most parents feel this way, but the first time you drop your kid off at school just bowls you over. And yes, I teared up.

I am so thrilled for her. Soleil’s meeting new kids, and painting everyday. She even has a friend named Johnny, who’s real name she doesn’t know. But depending on the day she calls him her boyfriend. Today she said, “He’s not for me.” I need to meet this boy.

Her vocabulary is rapidly improving in just a week and a half, and of course, she is picking up some mannerisms from the other kids. For example, Soleil likes to comment on her hair all of the sudden. “It’s so crazy,” she said after her bath earlier this week. Then for the first time, she asked me to brush it. The poor kid has a double cow lick and a small dose of Daddy’s curls (that was before I went bald).

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She cries or whines about going to school most days. Then she comes home and says she had fun!

Soleil’s sense of responsibility is picking up, too. We definitely encouraged her to put away her dishes and clean up beforehand, but the Montesori regimen (and seeing her peers in action) is kicking in. It’s great to have a little helper.

All in all, it’s a magical experience to watch.

Thoughts on New Mexico

This week the country experienced two more school shootings, most notably a 12 year old who opened fire on his fellow students with a 20-gauge shotgun in Roswell, NM. I am sorry to bring it up, but the danger of such an incident occured to me as we helped Soleil through her first days of school. It was not an overriding fear, just a tiny shadow.

It seems like every month there is a school shooting now. It’s hard not to think about this rash of senseless violence.

You probably noticed in the picture Soleil is wearing a private school uniform. There is a lot to say about private versus public school. For starters, the results tend to be better for the kids. But given that some of the public schools in our neighborhood are very good I cannot say that Soleil will always attend a private school.

Certainly, it is more expensive. I suddenly find myself taking my lunch to work. And as someone who went to public school, I have my own preconceived notions about private schools.

Private school also feels safer to me. They rarely experience the type of violence that you read about in the papers at public schools, and in particular the disgusting rash of shootings that are occuring at public schools.

I can’t imagine picking up the phone and having to pick up my child after a school shooting. Then there is the horror that dozens parents across the country have experienced on the past few years: Finding out your child is wounded or dead.

Private school is not a silver bullet to avoid violence, but it does reduce the risk. And I realize that it is impossible to shelter Soleil from everything.

Do we really have to consider our children’s lives are at risk when we send them to school? We live in a country where a school shooting happens almost every month. Yet our lawmakers won’t take the necessary steps to protect children. Insane.

Whatever education path we choose for Soleil, I hope that she and all of the other children across the country never have to face this kind of tragedy.

The odds of it happening are minute yet that tiny gnawing fear remains. May the madness stop.

Welcoming Home Michelle

About three months ago I was reading a book to Soleil that revolved around two siblings. About 2/3 of the way through, Soleil asked me who her brother was.

It was a profound moment. I’m 99 percent sure she’ll never have one given our 40 something status, and the difficulties we experienced having Soleil. She will be an only child.

One thing I have learned over the past year or so is that toddlers and geriatric pets are not a great mix. Our two cats, 18 and 16 respectively, and Junior (an 11 year old pug who may as well be a cat) just don’t have much play in them anymore.

Caitlin and I started discussing the matter. We felt Soleil needed someone more youthful to play with at home, especially given that Daddy “the play guy” is at work during the business week. A slow three month search began for our new dog, someone a little younger who would enjoy Soleil’s attention.

We began working with Homeward Trails, a local rescue organization, which happened to come in second place for most donors during Give to the Max Day. As the GM of that $2 million giving event, I was thrilled to work with this local community rescue.

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At one of their local dog rescue events in Arlington, I walked into the pen. Michelle, an American Fox Hound/Beagle mix, came right up to me. She was as sweet as could be.

We went to a private stall, and introduced her to Soleil. The two got along famously, playing catch, and Michelle tolerating Soleil’s incessant hugging of all things furry. A match was made, and three weeks ago we brought Michelle home.

Things have been awesome, though Mom and Dad are adjusting to a two-year old dog with lots of energy. Michelle is a real dog, unlike Junior, who will counter surf and even consumed a whole loaf of bread. But she is still as sweet as could be. Bonus miles: Because Michelle is a real dog, she actually barks when strangers come to the door, a new thing for us.

Most importantly, Soleil has a playmate now. Michelle will trot around the kitchen table while Soleil chases her, and will sleep with the little girl sometimes. Michelle tolerates Soleil’s rough and tumble nature to a much higher degree than the older pets, who simply run away from her. And yes, we’re actively working with Soleil on respecting animals.

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With the dog comes the poop.

Our third rescue experience has been awesome. There are so many animals out there that need homes. While we considered getting a bred Labradoodle, this seemed to be the more mindful path for our house.

Soleil has her sibling now, and you can hear many more sounds of little feet going pitter patter throughout the house.

Do you have pets? How did you find them?

How a Child Changes You

Soleil at Glen Echo

I’m personally thrilled to participate in two charitable efforts to help children this month because of the incredible impact my daughter Soleil has made in my life.

It’s just amazing how love for a child changes you.

This love eclipses anything you could possibly know beforehand.

For example, I would do anything for Soleil. I would die if it meant she would live, and I’ve never felt that way about anything else. Cliche, but true. It’s just like that.
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