We were somewhat less concerned about Maddy generally. The girl has really flourished in the past couple years and overcome nearly every obstacle that prematurity has sent her way. That said, she is still highly sensory seeking, which causes her to have fairly limited social boundaries. She likes to hug people a lot (even strangers). She's kind of a close talker which is caused by a mixture of her quiet voice and high level of enthusiasm. She is very active (ok, hyperactive), and God bless her little heart, she can be just a touch on the pushy side. Some kids can find Maddy a little overwhelming and she is also at an age where kids have really started to take notice of her Joplinesque voice. Mix it all together and the fat stinky kid buried deep in my psyche begins stuttering with neurotic anxiety -- and yes, I had a bad stutter too.
It's fair to say we were most worried about Milo (me especially). After all, the kid is between the 14th and 20th percentile on height and weight; he can be a bit impulsive and emotional due to his IVH (yes, more than the typical 5-year-old); he often played alone at the Coast Guard Island (CGI) preschool unless younger kids or Maddy was around; he frequently conveys his feelings by acting out scenes from various stories, TV shows, and movies he likes - which can be a little confusing to other kids and folks who don't know him. Harkening back to my miserable experience as a chubby stinky kid with a bad stutter and terrible temper (yeah, I had I temper problem too), I worried a lot about other kids picking my boy. Last thing I wanted was for him to hate school as much as did and end up in weekly fights.
So were my worries rationale? Based on my completely biased personal experience and observations as kid, it was (and is) my feeling that cute, pushy, blonde girls tend to get a bit more slack in life than short, brunette boys with mild strabismus and a penchant for the theatrical. The very thing that occasionally gets Maddy in trouble with others (her pushiness and assertiveness) also helps her to quickly connect with any kids who are receptive to having a new friend. It's also interesting that Maddy doesn't really seem see her voice as very different from other kids - even though she has told us about kids who won't play with her because of it.
Kindergarten has turned out to be a pretty wonderful adventure for them both. They have great teachers and I really don't think I could have imagined a better school. It's pretty surprising how much of a step forward they've taken in just the first few weeks. So far it looks like they were ready.
So what else happened? Lots more! We paid a visit home to New England and visited family and friends. We did a couple camping trips here in Cali, and of course the usual glut of other summertime activities. Milo had another surgery -- hopefully the last one; Maddy learned to ride a bike. Below is the - more or less - chronological account of the fun along with my usual insightful and witty commentary.
Above: Quick picnic stop on the river. The C to G section, as it's called, is about four miles long with plenty of fun, bouncy class II/II+ rapids. Everything was going great until we hit a larger wave known as Barking Dog. Milo got splashed and decided that death was imminent. He spent most of the rest of the trip glued to Elaine and me. I don't get it: the kid loves roller coasters and loves to hold his breath underwater - which he can do for an impressive amount of time. Apparently mixing those two things, not so much. Luckily he seemed to recover his nerve for another raft trip later in the year.
Now for some cinema Maddy. You might recall that Maddy began learning to ride a bike about a year ago, but she promptly gave up on the bike when she received a scooter for Christmas. During our trip to Downieville, all the other kids were zipping around on their bikes but Maddy's little bike with training wheels kept her from keeping up. That was pretty much all the incentive she needed. Within a week, she was riding on her own. That's the positive side of peer pressure.
Above: Aboard the Alameda Ferry in route to the kids first visit to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. September 2013.
M&M hiding out in one of many cool caves at Rock City, Mt. Diablo. September 2013.