Flux.

What does a parent do when she knows that public school is probably not the most ideal place for learning, when private schools are exorbitantly expensive, when homeschooling seems like a valid choice, but the thought of every hour of every day with her one child alone sounds challenging, and when the decision has to be made, like, yesterday?

I am an idealist. I think that things can be as good as you’re willing to make them. I believe that, despite how many “American Schools are Ruining Our Children” articles I read, that my child’s school will be different. That my child will not suffer the slings and arrows of a “public school education.” But while I carry my idealist angel on one shoulder, there’s a realist devil on the other. Your child is not that special, says the devil. Your child will be one of at least 25 in his class, the devil says. Your child, no matter how smart and engaged and excited about learning he is, will indeed be herded like an animal into a row of desks, a line in the hallway, a cafeteria crowded with sleepy teenagers on an early Saturday morning to take a long and horrible test. The devil tells me that it’s irresponsible for me to sign my kid up for that fate when there are other options.

(I think it’s important to note the other options here. I acknowledge my privilege here. The privilege of being able, financially, to choose among public, private, or home — of staying home to school or going to work — of even having the time and the education and the space to contemplate this.)

I am public school educated and I am a Big-Government liberal lefty. I am pro-communities, pro-taxes, and pro-education in general. I live in a “good” school district, if by “good” you mean “well-performing” and I will admit that, to an extent, I do. I want my kid to go to public school and have a wonderful experience there and I want to be of help both in the classroom and out in order to make his years there excellent for him and for all the kids who will follow him there. I believe that part of a whole education includes diversity and comfort-zone-testing. I believe that kids who are given all the free rein in the world will have a rude awakening someday when they are big people, out in the world of rules.

After extensive conversation, my wife and I have decided on public school. We have decided that when he is finished with Pre-K at his private pre-school, where he is one of 8 children in his class, he will go on to our local public school, which we have only heard tell about. (I plan to visit, but I haven’t. Maybe when I do, I will feel less conflicted. Or, God forbid, more.) But even though the decision is made, as each day ticks us closer to Fall, 2014, I worry about our decision. I shame myself into believing that I should be homeschooling. That it’s only selfishness keeping me from doing what is best for my child (I’m not convinced homeschooling is best, either. It’s all a little abstract and kind of irrational.)

Is this what it’s just going to be? A lifetime of making decisions and then second-guessing them? Is there a time, as a parent, when you’re actually able to find comfort in the decisions you’ve thoughtfully made? Because right now, it doesn’t seem like it.

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God.

We decided, before The Who was born, to raise him Jewish. To me, that meant that he would receive a Jewish education and that he would have a Bar Mitzvah. I guess this also meant that we would join a synagogue and enroll him in Hebrew school, but that felt so far off at the time. (More far off than a Bar Mitzvah? Somehow not. Don’t question it. I was a little crazed during those months.)

Tiny Yarmulke. (Getting his Hebrew name at about 6 months old.)

I have never been totally solid on my belief in God. For a really long time, I couldn’t believe in something I couldn’t see and know. I wasn’t willing to believe that anything had more power or control than I. Letting go of the reins has not been easy for me. I have, however, always believed in the power of the universe, insomuch that it could make paths easier or more complicated — open doors to what was meant to be. (Like, for example, getting pregnant with The Who. All of it fell so easily into place that I have always known it was meant to be. The timing was right, the health issues all aligned, it only took two tries, etc.) But the universe is not God. God is heavy duty. God is religion and religion is divisive. I have long seen organized religion as a problem in our society — a fortress behind which people stand as they hurl out icy snowballs. (I think, perhaps, I am beginning to re-form my opinions on this, but that’s another post.)

So, Rosh Hashanah is coming up and The Who goes to a Jewish preschool. Much to my delight, they had a “shofar factory” program the other day where a rabbi came in and showed the kids how to make and blow the shofar. He also talked to them about the holiday and what it means and, after school on the ride home, for the first time, The Who talked to me about God.

Who: The shofar sounds like a seagull! Aarr! Aaaar! Aaaaaar!
Me: You’re right! It does sort of sound like that! Why do you blow the shofar?
You blow it up, up, up right to God.
Oh, cool. Who is God?
God is almost like a giant that’s up in the sky.
Do you know God?
No, I don’t really know him, but I know about him. He lives in the sky.
Is God a man or a woman?
God is a man AND a woman!
So, how do you talk to God?
You cry to him.
You cry to God?
Yeah, we cry like babies to God and he helps us have a good year and we help him have a good year and next week we’re gonna blow the shofar up to God for a good year.

We have never talked to The Who about God. In part because he’s three and he hasn’t asked about it and in part, I’m sure, because we haven’t gotten on the same page about it. I loved hearing his take on it, though, and I think I know what m* and I will be talking about over dinner on our date night this weekend!

 

 

 

Motivation.

We slept until 8am today! That’s a whole hour past 7, people. That’s a whole two hours past 6, which was our standard vacation wakeup time (screw you, charming skylight in the bedroom.)  I felt damn near rested when I was finally pounced upon in my bed and that right there is a miracle. But then the gravity of the situation hit me: Today is Tea Party Day.

The Who has been talking about this tea party at school since he heard about it (and, ok, maybe I was fostering the excitement just a little because I think it’s such a cute idea) and today is the day. His new teacher, despite that whole pirate-themed beginning, which made my eye twitch, has some very cute ideas and this is one: a proper tea party to celebrate the London olympics. She made crustless cucumber sandwiches**, you guys. She is not fucking around.

So, for us to get up at 8 and get out of the house in enough time for him to be sitting at his snack table at school (a 10-minute drive away, at best) a mere hour later is a phenomenal feat. Because perhaps I’ve mentioned The Who’s rigid morning routine which includes toast with butter (that he butters himself) and chocolate milk (that he helps prepare) and “a show” (which is usually a half hour long.) But we did it and do you know why? Because the idea of missing this tea party was the greatest motivator that ever there was.

Maybe if I talk real sweet, I can get them to have a special morning event every day that The Who is in school.

——————————
** And not just cucumber sandwiches. Also, grape jam sandwiches, strawberry jam sandwiches, pasta salad, “biscuits” (Vienna Finger cookies) and brewed decaf tea. (Oh, and chocolate milk. Which The Who could not even take his eyes off of to say goodbye to me. He held up his hand for a high five without making eye contact because he was glued to bottle of chocolate syrup in his teacher’s hand.)

Rammy.

Oh, the boy. He’s a menace lately. Chalk it up to giving up the binky four days ago. Or not being able to nap at school. Or starting to wrangle himself into a daily poop. Or the big-boy bed that came last week. A whole lot of change in not a whole lot of time. He’s handling it all as well as can be expected, really.

But, still.

He climbed onto the dining room table after dinner. On to the table. Just thought that might be an appropriate or good idea. And when we wrangled him back down and gave him our sternest looks, he did it again. And then, after the bath, when we’re supposed to be quietly and sweetly getting into jammies, winding down, reading stories, he looked me square in the eye and started singing at the top of his lungs. Right in my face.

The Dr. Jekyll counterpart to this Baby Hyde is that he has been doing a lot more independent play. He’s really into the train table and has committed the Thomas theme song to memory. This morning he sang it seven times in a row on the way to school in the backseat. (To my delight, he invited me to join in once or twice. Usually he silences me.) He’s also really digging playing in the sandbox lately. (Sorry. Pun intended.)

What I keep thinking is, “Ah, well. I guess you take the good with the bad,” except I’d really rather not label his behavior with those extremes. So, in the meantime, I guess we’ll just keep taking the really-appreciated with the less-than-desirable.

At least he’s back to sleeping through the night. Knock wood. At least there’s that.

Done and done.

Ten things I did today:

  1. Showered! This may not seem like much to some of you, but a) I kind of hate showering (I like the effect of it, but I am kinda lazy about the effort. Especially on cold days) and b) I am not often afforded the opportunity of a morning shower what with the kid and the wife and their schedules.
  2. Got the kiddo to preschool before snack. This is always a goal of mine and being that they eat at 9am on the dot and are often done by 9:15, there’s a narrow window of opportunity. But snack is free at school and it’s often decidedly breakfasty (Pancakes! Cereal and milk!) and because sometimes between the morning cocoa and the wrangling of clothes, he doesn’t eat breakfast at home, getting him there for snack feels like a coup.
  3. Downloaded the full Adobe Acrobat Pro (thank you very much, Big Private University Where I Work, which gives free software to faculty.)
  4. Created a PDF fillable form for the free t-shirt that one lucky raffle winner scored from my customized, hand-painted  side business (::cough:: www.t4uhandpainted.com :::cough:::)
  5. Emailed all the raffle entries to let them know that, sorry, you didn’t win, but woo, 50% off anything on my site! (How many commas can I put in there and still have it be grammatically correct? I am not sure and I am too full from the muffin I just ate to try to figure it out. I did just tell a student the other day, as she attempted to challenge my grammar, that she was stepping into the ring with the Queen of Grammar. My, but I have a high opinion of myself, don’t I?)
  6. Delivered a bag of The Who’s old clothes to a friend whose neighbor just got a foster kid.
  7. Delivered a bag of “overflow” hand-me-downs (we are full up and barely bought one thing — how lucky are we?) to another friend.
  8. Delivered a bag of books that I purged from our shelves to yet another friend. (That italics there seems to suggest some kind of pride in having three actual friends, but really the emphasis is on how many different houses I drove to during my midday coffee-shop-hopping.)
  9. Graded my two online classes up to date.
  10. Wrote this blog post.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

Yesterday, I had a migraine.
I practically skipped into Panera this morning, so delighted was I that my 34-hour migraine was finally gone. The whole morning, actually, was just joyful. I didn’t mind getting out of bed, letting him help make the cocoa, packing his lunch. We didn’t even have to do battle over getting dressed (granted, today is Pajama Day at school, so it was just a matter of swapping out one flannel outfit for another) or getting shoes on. Instead of an ultimatum or threat, I offered a hug when he was distraught over having to transition from watching Peppa Pig to getting into the car. Being headache-free is wildly underrated. I take it for granted 29 days of the month. But not today. (And for those concerned, mother-types: I am looking into alternative treatments.)

Today is Pajama Day.
So. Yeah. It’s Pajama Day at The Who’s school. This is something I used to witness from afar last year when he was in the Toddler room, but now that he’s in the Preschool room, he gets to take part. If there is one thing my Who loves, it’s wearing jammies. He often asks to wear jammies for his nap and would really prefer to wear them all day, every day. This school “holiday” was made for him. (Add to the fact that they are getting a visit from a firefighter at school and the whole day is damn near perfect.)

Tomorrow we have swimming.
The Who started swimming lessons when he was ten months old. I love the Y for this. Their parent/kid swimming classes were just the thing to get The Who used to the water so that when we joined the neighborhood pool this past summer, he was a pro. We took lessons almost straight through, session after session, until June and then we took a break. Now we’re back. It’s the last class (I think) before The Who graduates to lessons without a parent in the big, cold pool. (Now, we’re still in the “therapy” pool, which is warm like bath water.) I can’t decide if I am looking forward to that graduation or not. On the one hand, how delightful will it be to not have to suit up, shower, and get dry before tending to the wet kid? But on the other hand, my baaaaaaabbbbyyyyyyy! The Who is our one and only and so I’m never comforted by the thought of getting to do the baby stuff with the next kid coming down the pike. And I’m finding that this age — almost three — is coming with a lot of endings and transitions. Diapers, naps, crib, mama-and-me swimming class — it all ends around this time. I get it. I’m prepared for it. And in a way, I’ve been waiting for it. But, y’know. *sigh*

NaBloPoMo

I didn’t know this was a “thing” but since one person posted it, I am going to assume it is. And now that I’ve posted it, there are at least two people I know who assume this is real. And that makes it so, right?

Please cut me some making-sense slack. I am on hour 27 of a migraine and just coming off a four-day visit from my mom. I am not in my right mind.

So, NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month. Apparently a spinoff of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, in which [insane] people attempt to write an entire novel in one month. I attempted this once because I believed that, as a writer, I should. As it turns out, I should not. I am not a fiction writer. In fact, I suck at fiction. (Just ask any of my fiction profs from grad school who tried to mentor me.) So, no novel-writing for me. Not ever probably, but certainly not in one month. But a month of daily blog posts? That’s a challenge I think I can rise to. (To which I can rise?) So, here we go.

I have some posts already brewing (The One About Going to Synagogue; The One About Moving to Three Days of Childcare; The One About Grocery Delivery Service; The One About Halloween) but I’m happy to take requests from my minions. (I have minions here, right? Right?) So comment and let me know what you’d like to hear me blather on about (about what you’d like me to blather on?) and I will graciously oblige.

For now, I’m off to nurse this goddamn headache. Enough already.

ETA: Look! It is a real thing. Daily prompts and everything. Still, I want to hear your suggestions. http://www.blogher.com/blogher-topics/blogging-social-media/nablopomo