Adventures in First Grade

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2013 by Natalie

So, oops – it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. Well, Teno is just about half way through first grade and compared to kindergarten it’s been a cake walk. He’s only sick once every other month as opposed to every day of his life, which is partially because kindergarten kicked his immune system’s butt and partially because first graders don’t wipe their noses on each other as much as kindergartners do. We lucked out again with the absolute perfect teacher for Teno. Miss Kim in kindergarten was sweet and patient, just what shy little Teno needed and Miss Busch is silly and down-to-earth which is just what you need when you have an almost-seven-year-old who spends his free time mapping out the United States of Poopmerica. 

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First grade has been amazing – Teno reads and writes like some kind of grown up person. His handwriting is sloppy, but getting better. I can’t really blame him, though, because penmanship was the only subject I ever got a “C” in, and I still really could care less if anyone can read my writing. He’s super into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants books. I remember when I finally found a series I loved – my mom was so happy and I thought she was a weirdo for standing in my doorway smiling while I read my book. Now I totally get it. 

It’s just so nice to see Teno come out of his shell. He’s always been a nut at home, but school’s given him a lot of confidence and luckily he has a teacher who appreciates his sense of humor as long as it’s not disruptive. Although sometimes it is… 

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Yeah, so this is Teno’s 2nd note home about his behavior. Not bad considering it’s almost March, really, but if you look close, you will see that on this one he tried to forge our signatures. I knew he was up to something last night when he asked me how to spell my name and gave “just curious” as his reason why. I thought he was trying to guess my Apple password, though – he’s always trying to figure it out so he can buy apps on my phone. Tony found this in his folder when he was getting his homework out. According to my mom (who teaches 2nd grade) and a bunch of my friends with older kids, forging signatures is pretty normal – even for a 6 year old. But we obviously told him it’s not OK. My mom was impressed that he knew to sign our names – she’s had kids sign “mom” on their behavior reports. 

Overall, though, Teno is a good kid – and he’s so smart it freaks us out. You should ask him about Joe Biden sometime, he seriously knows everything about that dude for some reason. Oh, and he was awarded Student of the Quarter a few days ago, so that’s pretty awesome, right?

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So that’s your annual Teno Report. I think he’s having his first birthday party with school friends this year – I’ll report back if anything funny or terrible happens. I can’t believe this kid is almost seven… 

Teno Done Graduated

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 15, 2012 by Natalie

ImageTeno Slater graduated from kindergarten yesterday. In just a few weeks he’ll be in first grade. Real-deal school. No story time, no coloring, just big-kid, first grade stuff.

The ceremony began with a magician, which was amazing because Tony and I bought Teno some beginner magic tricks for graduation, just on a whim. After that each kindergarten class had a mini talent show. Teno’s class preformed a Little Red Hen Rap. The microphone-boombox situation didn’t work out very well, and they were all shouting the words at different times, but Teno got down so it’s alright.

Each kid took home a bag they’d decorated that was filled with examples of their work from the beginning and end of the year. We thought Teno was so smart last fall, but it was shocking to see how far he’d come. From barely being able to write up to the number 20 to writing up to 100 in grown-up penmanship. (Well, bad grown-up penmanship like mine.) He can write complete sentences, read entire books, and he knows almost everything about the planet Venus. There were also photos of the whole class and a DVD his teacher made with photos from the whole year. It’s such a cute school, we’re so happy he’s there.

Anyway, Tony and I have a first grader now. We can’t quite get over it. As Teno would say, “Middle finger that!”

Q&A With Teno

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2012 by Natalie

This morning I was watching some old videos of Teno, which led me back to old blog entries here. I noticed I hadn’t updated since January, and seeing as it’s now May I figured I should probably update. I put the call out on Tumblr for questions for Teno, and we answered a few of them in this video. If you have more questions for Teno leave them in the comments and we’ll do another video soon.

Epically Teno’d

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2012 by Natalie

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^ Rules in this house: 1. No axes. 2. No killing people.

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^ Slightly modified grocery list. (Teno’s toys.)

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^ Birthday wish list.

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^ He claims this is a smiley face. (Turn your head sideways.)

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Teno Goes to Kindergarten

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2011 by Natalie

Self-portrait, hanging outside Teno's classroom. Note the propeller hat and slingshot.

Last year I posted a short, non-fiction story I wrote called Steve’s Going to College. It was my contribution to a book of non-fiction short stories – and the only one about a mom who’s pretty sure she’s going to mess up her kid. In the story I ponder the fact that this kid is going to grow up and be a man someday, and that the kind of man he turns out to be depends heavily on how Tony and I react to his constant attempts to drive us insane.

Well, he isn’t quite in college yet, but Teno has started kindergarten, and I thought that was cause enough for another post. I think I’ll conduct an interview with Teno sometime when it’s not so far past his bedtime, so he can tell you what he thinks of it himself.

From the little bit Tony and I can get out of him, Teno likes P.E., and hates music class. He loves numbers and art, and hates waking up early. He has a friend named Niko that we hear about a lot, and is in love with at least two of the girls in his class. On Monday one of them took his face in both her hands and put her forehead on his forehead. The look of pure joy on his face was all I needed to come to grips with the fact that I’m going to spend the next 15 or so years trying to talk Teno out of falling in love with every girl who snuggles his face.

Teno reminds me so much of my little brother sometimes, and then other times Tony shakes his head at me and says, “Aaron never did this?” Like, when I see him in a crowd of little boys and I can tell how much he wants to play with them, but even at 5 he’s unsure of himself and just kind of plays near them. Kindergarten has definitely helped him get over some of the awkwardness (that I’m sure he gets from me, because Tony is at ease with everyone he meets.) I remember seeing my brother playing with some kids not too long after he started karate and marveling at how much he’d come out of his shell. It’s the same with Teno, every day he’s a little less sad to go to school, and a little more outgoing when we get to the playground.

The Wizard

Then of course there are the times when he’s lying in the bathtub squirting his wiener with a squirt gun and laughing. I absolutely promise you I never saw my brother do that.

My brother also never donned weird outfits at night and called himself The Wizard, which Teno has taken to doing as of late. I can pretty much count on being challenged to a fight by a five year old in a hamburger hat and furry vest right around 6:15pm every day.

His imagination is totally bonkers. This kid builds Angry Birds levels out of cardboard bricks. He makes warp tubes out of anything he can fit inside. One of his favorite things to do is to log onto YouTube and have me look up weird stuff. Tonight we looked up “screaming frog” and “crying animals.” A few days ago he only wanted to watch Japanese Kirby videos.

Lost in Chicago? Just call Teno. He not only knows almost all the stops on EVERY El line, but he can also tell you which stops to transfer to what trains at. All night he asks Tony and me “Which Pink Line stop is the best one? What’s your favorite Green Line stop?” No matter what we answer, we’re always wrong. On slow week ends I take him on long train adventures. A few weeks ago we took the Brown Line to the Red Line to the Yellow Line. We took that all the way to Skokie and back, then switched to the Purple and took it all the way to Linden. I was bored stiff but didn’t want to be one of those shithead parents that just iPhones the whole time they’re with their kid so I stared out the windows alongside Teno. He could not have had a better day.

This entire photo was Teno's idea.

So anyway, everything’s pretty radical in the world of Teno Destructo. He’s still getting over the fact that some of his classmates eat meat, and that some of them actually wanted vanilla cupcakes on their birthdays. He can’t decide what he wants more, a cat or a baby sister and he’s getting neither. He’s really god damn good at Bejeweled. Oh! And he was customer of the month at our favorite pizza place, Ian’s Pizza. Somebody actually recognized him on the street for that, he was pretty stoked.

I’ll try to interview him this week end, but he’s kind of a butthole so I’m not making any promises.

Happy birthday, Teno!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 by Natalie

Five is a big deal. Now that Teno is nearly five (March 17th) I can look back to things that happened directly before he was born and say to myself, “Jesus Christ, that was five years ago!” And in turn, I can also think, “Man, I was stupid then.”

All I remember is being petrified that Tony and I made the biggest mistake of our lives. Not that Teno was a mistake, per say, just that we were signing up for something we really had no clue about. As the big day got closer and closer I started listening to Foo Fighters “Miracle” a lot. Again, not because Teno was a miracle, per say – in fact, he came along pretty darn easy. But rather, it was quite miraculous the way this unborn kid was changing me, changing my relationship with Tony, and changing the way I saw the world.

So as I sit here on the very last night during which my kid is four, I’m listening to this song again. It’s bittersweet, as the thing that stands out to me most in these past five years is the fact that I recently lost my dad and that he won’t be at Teno’s party this year. (In fact, we aren’t having one, because I can’t handle it.) But just like my mom made sure I knew so much about my great-grandpa Teno, despite him having passed before I was ever born, that I wanted to name my child after him, I will make sure Teno knows about his Papa and what a sweet, wonderful man he was.

Anyway, dad wouldn’t want me to cry about him on Teno’s birthday. He’d want to watch Teno open presents and make fun of my hippy food. So here’s that old song again…

Crazy but I’m relieved this time
Begging for sweet relief of blessing in disguise
Dying behind these tired eyes
I’ve been losin’ sleep, please come to me tonight

Hands on a miracle, I got my hands on a miracle
Leave it or not, hands on a miracle
And there ain’t no way, let you take it away

Everything that we survived
It’s gonna be alright, just lucky we’re alive
Got no vision I’ve been blind
Searchin’ everywhere, you’re right here in my sights

Hands on a miracle, I got my hands on a miracle
Leave it or not, hands on a miracle
And there ain’t no way, let you take it away

Hands on a miracle, I got my hands on a miracle
Leave it or not, hands on a miracle
I got my hands on a miracle
And there ain’t no way, let you take it away

Take it away, take it away

Don’t take anyone’s advice. Except mine.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2011 by Natalie

He's fed up.

When we had Teno, Tony and I were the first of our friends to have a kid. This spared us a lot of the advice that our other poor friends who are now starting their families undoubtedly receive non-stop. Decisions like should we immunize (we did), should we raise him vegan (we aren’t) and how long should we breastfeed (I gave up, that shit’s hard) were totally and utterly ours. All things considered I think we did a pretty good job and we have a righteous little kid to show for it.

We did, however, get advice from every nosey old lady on the planet, including homeless ones. One warm summer night we were taking a walk around the neighborhood, pushing Teno around in his stroller. We were letting him air out his chubby little feet and this homeless lady goes “You need to put some socks on that baby!”

Without missing a beat Tony snapped, “Oh weird, are you a homeless doctor?”

That shit happened ALL the time with us for the first two years. Some old lady in Target would spot us and say, “You shouldn’t let him have a pacifier, it’ll ruin his teeth.” and then one of us would have to say, “Are you a pediatrician or just a totally nosey old lady?”

“He can’t be a vegetarian, it’ll stunt his growth.”

“Oh my god, is THAT why there are so many midgets in India?”

I’m not suggesting you sass every old broad that gives you crap about your kids (you should) but I am suggesting that unless you’re driving around without a car seat, addicted to drugs, or you’ve named your child after a character from Twilight (on purpose… accidents do happen) then you’re probably doing just fine.

You can read more about my adventures in parenting in this interview my friend Jason just posted!

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