Ten.

Ten things I learned this week:

  1. When I say I want a short haircut, I probably mean I want a short haircut. Not a shortish haircut, which is what I got.
  2. Although I felt certain that I had a kid that didn’t fall asleep watching TV, if the week has been long and so has the show, the kid might just drop off during the closing credits.
  3. 44lbs is probably my limit for carrying as dead weight up a flight of stairs.
  4. When making buttercream icing, use less sugar.
  5. Finding one-piece, cotton,  summer-weight (i.e. not fleece) zip up, footless pajamas in a size greater than 4T is next to impossible — even on the almighty internet. (Unless you are willing to get one that has a butt-flap with a punny saying on it like “Tail End” or, alternatively, a classic solid red with a butt-flap.
  6. Using the search term “union suit” might get you, finally, what you’re looking for.
  7. However, using the search term “union suit” might also get you this. And this.
  8. Baking a cake, walking my kid to school, doing the dishes, and coordinating homeroom mom responsibilities will indeed make me feel a little like Donna Reed.
  9. Picking out tile for the new bathroom is truly my idea of a good time.
  10. I prefer my ginger ale slightly frozen.

 

 

Moon.

This morning, it was overcast and cool. Kind of awesome, actually. The sky was doing that thing where there are big swaths of gray, punctuated by irrational inlets of light. It was amazing and disconcerting. The threat of rain never made good and so by sunset, there was this beautiful scraping of purple and pink across the horizon that felt oddly unsettling. And then the moon. My God, the moon. You know the one that people have been posting about on Facebook for the last 24 hours? When I came home tonight at 9pm, it was brighter than I’d ever seen it — a perfect, mottled sphere behind a spray of clouds. It was mesmerizing, but I came inside overwhelmed by the strangest sense of loneliness. I had to put on an episode of Friends to keep me company.

Ten years ago, when I first moved here, I put on this new pair of car seat covers that I had just gotten as a birthday gift. I had wanted them for a long time, but after about a week driving with them, I had to take them off. Everything here was so new and unfamiliar — the town, the roads, the house, the co-habitating, the grocery store, the local news, the radio stations — that having car seats that I didn’t recognize tipped the scale.  I never did replace the seat covers, but I did, of course, get more comfortable here. The anxiety that accompanied change and newness subsided, as I knew it would.

It feels like that now. Of course, it’s not quite the same. I am in a place I know very well now. There are lots of familiar people and I know more than one way to get most places. But there’s also a lot of new. New daily routines, new school, new teachers, new responsibilities. It feels almost like it did when I first moved here. I didn’t know which door to go in, where the school cafeteria was, even what to call the teacher. It must be doing more of a number on me than I realized. Because when the sky was a little bit different this morning, it turned the whole day on its head. Just like the seat covers.

I’m sure this will subside as the routine becomes more familiar. And I’m glad that I recognize it in myself it because, if I am feeling anxiety about all the change and newness, imagine what The Who is feeling. I think I’ve been pretty understanding and patient with him as he is settling in, but probably not enough. Maybe I’ll tell him the story of the seat covers and see if we can’t find some common ground to get us through these weeks.

One.

Week One is in the books and it was both easier and harder than I anticipated. The good news is that after my night-before little meltdown, I didn’t have any others. The bad news is that The Who had one two days in a row.

In retrospect — and to my credit, also in the midst of them — I realized that they were a result of the transition from the school and kids he’s known his whole life to a brand new place. I hadn’t anticipated it, given how excited he was to go to kindergarten and how short the day is, comparatively. But I also hadn’t really thought through just how different public kindergarten in a room with 15 other kids is from Pre-K in a room with 7 other kids. The expectations are high, there are new rules, and a lot of unfamiliarity. Of course as soon as he comes home (at “the witching hour” no less) he’s going to fall apart in the safety of what he knows. The meltdowns were unrelated to school or anything that happened there; he seems to really be loving it and is excited to go every day. It just seemed like asking him to handle anything was too much to ask this week. Sharing toys, being patient, waiting for turns — all of it was too much. (An added challenge was that his anxiety was curbing his appetite and he wasn’t taking very much in for the first couple of days. And if there’s anything I know about my boy, it’s that he gets hangry and it comes on fast.)

By the third day, he was better. He was eating regular meals again and I had caught on to the learning curve well enough to know that the best afterschool activity is to come home and have a snack and watch a show or listen to stories. Nothing that requires much of anything from him. By today (the fourth day) he was handling plan changes like a boss and was pretty much back to his usual self. It was good to see — especially given the weekend we have coming up.

Tomorrow, he starts dance class and we have spent the week at various dance supply stores procuring black ballet shoes, tap shoes, tights, bike shorts, and a dance shirt. He is ready. I was wary of adding yet another new thing to his routine so soon, but I didn’t want him to miss the first class and he is excited. Sunday starts Hebrew school — another new thing. This one’s at least in the synagogue where his old school is and he will be in class with two of his Pre-K friends.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that he now goes to school every day. That we are now fully entrenched in our community in a way we never have been before. Each day when I amble up the street at dismissal and sit among all the other parents picking up, discussing PTG meetings and picture day and Fall Harvest fairs it becomes more real. I’m kind of loving it.

Photo Sep 02, 10 50 01 AM

K.

The Who’s been going to “school” since he was a year old. He started with just two short days a week and by the end of last year, was up to three very full ones. Seven and eight-hour days by the time he was 5. Kindergarten, by comparison, will be a cakewalk. Two and a half hours a day. It’ll barely register, I bet.

Yesterday I asked him, “What are your feelings about kindergarten?” And he said, “A tiiiiny, tiiiiiny bit worried and mostly really excited,” which I completely got. I felt the same way. Actually, I barely felt worried at all — mostly just really eager for him to start exploring the things he loves learning, getting to know his new teacher, making new friends, and having fun. Every single time I checked in with myself about it, this is how I felt. This is how I felt buying school supplies. This is how I felt at orientation. This is how I felt picking out new jeans and long-sleeved shirts for fall. Easy breezy lemon squeezy. Kindergarten. No big whoop.

Except, as it turns out, it is a big whoop. It starts tomorrow and all day today, I’ve been edgy and aggravated. Frustrated and a little bit blue. When m* asked me what was the matter, I snapped at her about all I have to do and all that’s on my mind to get ready for tomorrow (which is really not much, to be honest.) But then even when it was all done — the backpack packed, the supplies labeled, the clothes laid out —  I didn’t feel any better. So, instead of finding myself some real food for dinner, I sat down with a carbonated drink and a package of Pop Tarts and all of a sudden, it hit me. As I sat there eating what was pretty much my steady diet for the first 5 weeks of his life, I realized that this — this kindergarten thing — is bigger than I thought.

This is my baby. This is my only baby. These two and a half hours a day are the start of his entire school career, which will last until he is a man. He is a boy now — a sweet, little, handsome, inventive, creative, funny, sassy, brilliant boy and when he is finished with public school, he will be a man. Tomorrow, he will run ahead of me on the sidewalk toward his new school and I will follow behind him, anxious about the routine, worried that I am bringing him to the incorrect door, wondering what it will feel like for him to be handed off into a classroom of new kids and new rules. This is not dropping my toddler off at the same day care in his class of 8  for the fourth year in a row.

We (mostly me, I think) agonized over where to send him to school. And although in the end, I believe we made a fine choice, I still feel a pang every time I am reminded about the standardized tests he will be subjected to, the common core curriculum that will be foisted upon him, the complete lack of art and music and outdoor play (at least in kindergarten.) I hope we made the right choice. I hope he is successful and nourished there. I hope no one picks on him and if they do, that he has the wherewithal to stand up for himself and to continue to feel confident in who he is. And, most of all, I hope that when I blink my eyes and find that my preschooler has become a high schooler, I have done him right.

Crash.

I have made some bold statements about my parenting in the past. I was The Mom Who Only Buys Wooden Toys. I was The Mom Who Doesn’t Let Her Kid Play Pirates. I was The Mom Who Refuses To Go To Disney. Eat artificially dyed foods. Play on my phone in a restaurant. Eat in front of the television. Wear characters on his clothing. Play with weapons. Slowly but surely, most of these edicts fell by the wayside due to circumstance, his strong opinions, or my laziness. These are all still my preferences, but with the passing of each year, I get a little more realistic. I wish none of his toys were made of plastic and painted with probably-toxic colors. I wish that none of his toys had batteries, made noises, or flashed lights. (I even wish Lego made a wooden set, even though I know how actually ridiculous that sounds.) I still think pirate-play romanticizes actual criminal activity. But I think I’m beginning to understand ways in which I can, well, I guess lower my standards and still not feel like I need to turn in my hippie parent card.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to play with any weapons of any sort. We couldn’t even play with toys that suggested that it might be modeled after a weapon (like those foam ice cream cones that were spring-loaded and popped out when you pressed a button.) I grew up to be a pacifist. Is that because I didn’t play with weapons? Maybe that was part of it. Or maybe it was actually that my parents made clear to me their stance on fighting and war and were straightforward about the reasons behind it. The Who, of course, is an experiment still in progress. Neither m* nor I are inclined to buy weapons as toys, though she grew up shooting bb guns, etc. If The Who turns a toilet paper tube into a pirate sword (a double whammy!) I don’t make him put it down.

The sound of my standards crashing down is sometimes the loudest noise in my head. I can make an argument for why I allowed my kid to buy an orange sports drink to wash down his yucky-tasting antibiotic even though I have been almost aggressively anti-Gatorade (and any other chemical-laden, sugary, artificially colored food or beverage) but it doesn’t change the fact that, in the end, I allowed it. And I probably will again. Just as I will allow him (encourage him, even) to park himself on a bench with his eyes glued to my iPhone so I can get some shopping done.

It’s not wrong to have standards. And it’s not wrong to be idealistic. It’s not even wrong to stick to the things that feel really important. He’s still not allowed to drink anything carbonated, “diet”, or caffeinated. Or chew gum.  I still don’t prefer for him to be a walking advertisement for Disney and for the third year in a row, I denied permission to buy Spiderman light-up sneakers. But he does, finally, know who Mickey Mouse is and his shoes, though not Spidey, do light up.

I try not to be too hard on parents who come out with these bold proclamations when their kids haven’t even yet mastered holding their heads steady. I was one of those parents. And I also try not to be too hard on parents who change their song after a year or two. I understand that we’re all trying to find the balance between holding firm to our values and honoring the individual interests and preferences of our kids.

But…I still draw the line at Disney World, though. So far.