Where to start? Week 24 feels like a month ago, since it was the week leading up to our Zoe 10th birthday celebration! Figuring out how to make a little girl feel super special when she can’t have any birthday hugs from friends and the world is still upside down is a great amount of pressure.
I’m proud to say, we pulled it off!
But before we get to that, last week was also the first full week of homeschooling… OMG. Ever been in a room full of kindergarteners? If not, don’t do it. On the one hand, I’m sure this week had fewer tears from being left at school for the first time by mom and dad… On the less bright side? Everything else.
Bart has had the worst of it, choosing to set Ella up in his office, since she literally cannot be trusted alone. But in reality, she doesn’t seem to mind an audience to her bad deeds. At first, the kid music and chatter was so loud that we gave her headphones, which the school recommends. They don’t want OUR background noise.
Then, after I walked up behind her desk several times to find her playing with pencil erasers or find that she had turned her camera off, I decided to reach out to her teacher. He told me that she was regularly turning off her camera, but that when she WAS engaged, she was great and contributed with good answers. Of course she did.
I told him she could READ. So letter sounds and rhyming weren’t going to keep her interested for long. Unfortunately, teachers aren’t allowed to have 1on1 Zoom calls with students, which prevents them from doing the assessment of skills they might be able to see in a live classroom. He was thrilled to hear that she’d spent 2-3 hours a week over the summer reading with my mom, and he offered to give her extra assignments – and allow her to record herself reading books to him on SeeSaw. Great teacher!
Ella was thrilled! I also talked to her about her distraction. She said, “But Mom, I know this stuff.” Hard to hear. I said, “Of course you do, honey. But the skill you don’t have yet is focus, and that’s what we need to learn by practicing it during school, even when we know the answers.” We’ll see how it goes. I don’t envy these teachers.
Zoe, on the other hand, is doing just fine. Her teacher is quite digital, and her class basically thinks they’re teenagers and loves that he told them they’re not babies anymore. I’m hopeful. Plus, she’s smart. We’ve only caught her twice with two screens up: 1) Chromebook with the class in little Zoom squares, and 2) her iPad watching a show. Not kidding.
We spent a chunk of our evenings preparing for Zoe’s “drive-by birthday party” on Sunday. She really wanted to give party favors to her friends, like a real party, and had come up with a few good ideas. First, Hand Sanitizer from Bath and Body Works–the little scented ones that hang on backpacks. Second, she wanted to give a tiny live cactus with a sign on it:
I ordered a dozen tiny cacti from San Diego, and the delivery time said they would arrive just in time – or 2 days late. So we paid extra to show up FOR SURE just in time. They showed up 1 week early… Guess what that meant? I had to keep them alive!
We were clear with our invitees that we’d be in masks, social distancing, and offering optional party favors. We encouraged air hugs. We put up a pop-up tent on the front lawn with a small table beneath, on which we arranged the favors with enough space for easy, safe access. We also had a cooler with individually wrapped cake pops. He will kill me for sharing this, but the Bart did a test-run for homemade unicorn cake pops… No luck. I’ve shamed him into a birthday cake every year, but this year, I let it slide.
Then he found a local bakery that even made honey lavender pops, Zoe’s favorite. A win-win-win-win! We also decorated that pop-up tent with a rainbow theme, and 15 minutes before guests were to drive by, Zoe said, “Oh yeah, Mom, we need a sign”. Thank goodness I was a cheerleader:
My favorite quote from the day? When the first guests arrived just after 1 pm, Zoe said of our tent setup, “This may not look like much, but we’ve been working on it since 10 am.” Out of the mouths of babes. I personally think it was pretty awesome, considering:
As a bonus, our friends’ sweetheart daughters made a homemade red velvet cake! Zoe felt so special! May our own children grow up to be so kind.
The best part was all the friends that came by, in small family groups, to make Zoe’s day wonderful. While Zoe was not keen on allowing me to put socially distant circles on the sidewalk, she DID let me draw hearts, 6 feet apart, on our driveway. Here are 4 cute girls giving those hearts a try:
Zoe told me repeatedly, and unsolicited, “Mom, thank you for working so hard to make my birthday great.” And for that, Bart and I will do whatever ridiculous thing we need to do every single year to repeat our success.
Next week I’ll post about her ACTUAL birthday, which was today (Sept 1), and before you know it, we’ll be celebrating Ella on September 16. She can barely stand to see Zoe open the LEGO sets she’s gotten for her special day. Oh, sisters.
It’s not as awesome as the cute girls above, but I took some more flower pictures on my walks last week. Hope you are all well and taking the time to find some beauty, some kindness and some friends as often as possible.