Tag Archives: school


It’s hard to believe I’m the dad of an (almost) fourth grader.

And a little rhyme A. came up with made me realize that yes, this is probably the last of the little-kid grades for him:

First grade, babies

Second grade, cats

Third grade, angels

Fourth grade, rats!

I’ve got strong memories of fourth grade at Clifford Elementary School in Redwood City, and my great and wise teacher, Mrs. Madigan, who told me not to get married until I was at least 30. As it turned out, that’s what I did.

She was the kind of teacher who was nuts for tennis (it was the 70s), drove a station wagon with cool fake wooden paneling on the side and took the whole class to visit Stanford on a field trip.

Fourth grade felt like the last kiddie grade for me. After that, we moved to Oakdale, and things just felt different. It wasn’t until high school, when I had the erudite and compassionate Mr. Conrotto for English, that I had a teacher quite as good.

A. insists he’s already moving on to the big-kid grades, mainly because the fourth-graders go to class in a different wing than kindergarten through third grades.

In the past year, he seems to have grown at least four inches, and seeing him with his friends, I can almost imagine him as a middle-schooler. It’s a little scary how fast time passes, and in a couple years it will be little C.’s turn to enter kindergarten.

C. has already told me she wants a Hello Kitty rock guitar for her fourth birthday. She’s growing up so quickly I can almost see changes by the day.

But for now we’re just enjoying the summer, and playing outside in the warm evenings. When I’m not exhausted and getting after them to pick up their toys, I try to soak in these fleeting moments.

I watch them wrestle and fight one moment, and see them giving one another a hug the next. They won’t be little forever.



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Theodore Roosevelt, I Knew Him Well

Presidents are on the minds of second-graders this time of year, and A. caught me off guard the other day with one of his many fine questions:

“Daddy, were you alive when Theodore Roosevelt was alive?”

I wondered if I was looking a little more haggard than usual, my son was having trouble with history, he just felt like giving me a hard time or if all three were to blame.

The query came up as he filled out one of the many school worksheets that come home each week.

I guess I had it coming, since I’m sure I drive him crazy with tales of how we did things during the dinosaur days before the Internet.

I told him no, that old TR was around long before I was born. That didn’t really satisfy him, being that he considers anything that happened before 1980 to be really, really old.

But it got me thinking about the historical reference points he has. The election of Barack Obama was probably the first time he probably thought much about presidents. As for me, the race between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976 was the first time I paid attention.

He knows there is something going on in Iraq, mainly because the parents of one of his closest friends served there. I remember watching coverage of Vietnam on the evening news in the early 1970s, which was probably not the best thing for a little kid to see. But that was probably one of the first things to get me interested in the news biz.

A. is also nuts for Wii (which we don’t have) and iPods (he listens to mine whenever he can). I remember how cool it was in the 1980s to have an Atari 2600 and a Walkman that played tapes. He got a big laugh when he saw an old Walkman last year.

Really, the Roosevelt question wasn’t so bad. I cut the little whipper snapper some slack. At least he didn’t ask me if I personally knew George Washington back in the day.

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Where’s My Remote?

My son is full of good ideas.


“I wish I had a remote to speed up time,” he told me not long ago.

The idea was to make his seventh birthday and Christmas arrive sooner, along with the gifts.

As summer draws to a close, I’m wishing for a remote of my own, to slow down time.

We’ve had a great time as a family over the break, with short vacations to Washington, D.C., and Lake Tahoe.

There was also a fishing trip to Sly Park, lots of swimming and a couple of River Cats games as well.

But the summer has zipped by.

Now A. is about to start the second grade, and little C. will soon turn 2 years old.

I try to enjoy each day with the kids, watching them as they grow almost right before my eyes.

I want to remember the little stuff, like when A. sweetly takes C.’s hand and leads her to the best stuff at the playground.

This window when they are little is so short, and the time just flies by.

I’d like to slow it down, and even pause it, to savor each little minute.

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Can’t Get Enough Of Stink And Henry

Chapter books have been a big hit this summer vacation.


A. has read a series of stories about Stink Moody, and now he’s moved on to Horrid Henry tales.

Both sets of books are smart and funny, and we’re glad to have something around that keeps A. excited about reading as second grade looms.

Megan McDonald, who lives in Sebastopol, does a great job weaving in lessons. In “Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker,” there’s a focus on idioms.

A. is now really enjoying Francesca Simon’s “Horrid Henry and the Soccer Fiend,” and he was tickled by what Henry did to his brother’s diary. He likes this book so much he even asked to take it to bed to read before going to sleep. We can’t ask for anything better.

My wife, L., is really the mastermind behind getting A. to read over the break. But she says it’s been tough to find good chapter books geared for boys.

Anyone out there have any other recommendations?

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