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Recruiting an Army of Squeaky Little Aliens

Chauffeuring Alexis around to all of her Very Important 8 Year-Old Dealings is rapidly turning into a full time job, so it's only fair that we required her commit to a minor sacrifice to streamline our evenings. To fill the time between when she gets out of school and when the work day ends, she has previously attended an after-school program at a local elementary school. This year, however, she joins Mila at daycare. It's a relatively minor change in that she just gets on a different bus and hangs out at a different place for an hour every day, but it saves a solid 20 minutes.

There are advantages in addition to the time savings, of course. Want a set of eyes on daycare just to make sure things are going OK? Send in an 8 year-old. They can gather intelligence better than any government spy.

But there is an aspect to the whole thing I didn't consider.

The daycare that we selected for Mila is a small one. It's clean and neat and I didn't have the urge to stab any of the staff when I interrogated them with a list of questions 3 miles long. All good things, of course. But, it happens to be a daycare that doesn't try very hard to make money off of big kids. There are an ever-increasing number of options available for after school programs near us, so the daycare has seemingly pulled their hat out of that ring. It's still a thing they do, obviously, but it's not a thing they try to do.

That means Alexis is the only big kid there after 4:15.

She is definitely the kind of kid who loooooooves smaller kids, so that's mostly a very acceptable thing. She's happy to tie a preschooler's shoes, play Duck Duck Goose with a bunch of toddlers, or just stand there and answer questions. She's baffled by the fact that little kids don't keep their hands to themselves ("Mom, why do they keep hitting each other? They're just so ... violent!"), but mostly she really likes them.

The feeling is mutual.

Every day Alexis tells me about her day. She does a pretty solid job of saying more than just "It was fine," so it's not a surprise that she has given me the play-by-play each evening. Tonight she went through her usual spiel, quickly covering nearly every minute of her day. When she got to the daycare portion of the festivities, however, she paused.

"I finally figured it out," she said.

"What did you figure out?" I asked.

"Daycare. I figured out what it seems like," she said. "You know how in Toy Story there's the claw game and all of the aliens look up to the claw and are all like 'Ooooooh!'?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean," I replied.

"That's what daycare is like. I'm the claw and all of the kids are the aliens worshipping me."

Here's to hoping Alexis uses her power over the daycare minions wisely.


Last Ducktober

So. This happened.

1. I am so very kerfluffled by it all. Thank you, Blogher.

2. I wish I had been there. I wasn't, though, and there are a multitude of reasons for that. The main one is currently sleeping soundly in her crib.

If ever there was a reason that made disappointment worth it, Mila is that reason.

3. That's not the best photo I took last year. I wouldn't even put it in the top 10. It was, however, one of my better Alexis Days.

When a giant rubber duck floats into town, the only reasonable thing to do is to drop everything and go see it. So, Alexis and I did. We rushed downtown on a Friday night with plans to check out the duck and join in the party that was happening on the bridge.

Funny thing, that. It was a good plan. I know it was because ALL OF THE REST OF PITTSBURGH AGREED. There were thousands and thousands of people crowded onto that bridge. It was so crowded that Alexis and I were unable to find any of the friends we were hoping to meet there. Even if we had found them, we wouldn't have been able to get to them because of the sea of humanity.

My plan to take some photos was thwarted by the sea of humanity as well. It was simply too crowded and too chaotic, so Alexis and I bought some cookies from a vendor at the end of the bridge and went for a walk by the river. We walked and we chatted, munching on delicious chocolate chip goodness. There was nothing special about the conversation, but yet everything was special about the conversation. It was just us being us with a backdrop of Pittsburgh and a very loud and huge party carrying on in the distance.

At one point, Alexis looked across the river and commented that the duck looked really cool as it watched the party taking place on the bridge. She told me to take a picture of it.

So I did.

It may seem to be a photo of a duck, but really it's a photo of the little girl who first stole my heart.


Third Freakin' Grade

"Woo hoo!" cut through the morning silence like a evil, evil knife.

What? You don't have a Big Time Rush song as your alarm? You should. It's hard to be angry at knives cutting through the very early morning when they're so bright-eyed and innocent and perky.

Bottles. Clothes. Pacifier. Bottles. Wait. What if the Princess of Not Eating still refuses to eat? Grab more bottles. The mental checklist ran through my head like the closing credits of a movie. Rush. Is Mila awake? Bottles. I scampered all around the house putting together all of the things that had to be put together in preparation for Mila's first day at daycare.

In the midst of my chaos, a curly-haired creature with big eyes and a bit of an attitude appeared. "Mom, can you braid my hair today?"

Busy. So busy. So many things that have to be done. "Sure," I replied as I set everything down.

The curly-haired creature studied herself in the mirror as I quickly French braided her bangs. A million thoughts passed through her mind, each one of them punching from her eyes as they tried to escape.

"What's up, chica?" I asked. "You seem like you've got a lot on your mind."

Alexis paused before answering, likely weighing the pros and cons of giving an honest answer. "I'm nervous," she finally admitted.

The first day of third grade is a very good reason to be nervous, but she knows a lot about this party. For example, she has known for weeks who will be there. That is really the most important thing about a party, isn't it? We talked through all of the knowns, but that led her to start listing the unknowns.

"What if we have swimming today?"

"What if I don't like my teacher?"

"What if someone makes fun of me?"

What if. What if. What if. A million hypothetical unknowns fell from her mouth and plopped into my lap. I grabbed a few of them and threw them back, but I couldn't handle the volume. Finally, I stopped trying.

"Hey. Alexis. What if you decide that today is going to be a good day? Don't you think it will be?" I asked.

She hemmed and she hawed, but then Alexis lobbed back the words I have said to her many times over the years. "If I want to have a good day, I have to choose to have a good day. I know."

And she did.

Bottles. Pacifier. Blanket. Clothes. Bottles ... I choose a good day.