Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First day of "school"

My little guy is at “school” for the first time. It’s a bittersweet moment for me. Mostly happy. I’m happy for him, because I know how excited he is to be there. I’m happy he’s secure and comfortable enough to seek out new environments and experiences. I’m glad that he’ll get to meet other children.

I’m a little worried about him picking up bad behaviors, viruses and/or lice from other kids. And I’m concerned about him turning towards English and rejecting Spanish. But I think starting out with only one morning a week minimizes those risks.

Mark worries the facility is not going to care for him well. I said I’d stop by and check in on him a few weeks from now, when no one is expecting me. But I’m not too worried. At the gym childcare, the staff largely ignore the kids. I watch River on the camera and he’s perfectly content to entertain himself for two hours. So even if they were to completely ignore him, he’d probably be OK, with interesting toys, and interesting kids to watch, for four hours. But hopefully they’ll stick to their schedule of activities, snacktime, outdoor playtime and book time, which will be a lot of fun for him.

We showed up in a stroller with two of the three tires flat. As I pushed the slow-moving contraption toward the building, River immediately recognized it. “’Sito ir a la escuela!” (I need to go to school! Can I go to school now please mama?”

Upon entering the building, he stopped to marvel at the giant red plastic strollers that carry six or eight kids, and the blue naptime cots stacked up in the hallway. Upon entering his classroom, he ran immediately to the train tracks.

“This train is very long!” he said, holding a double engine up. He didn’t seem very interested in introductions to the staff, or to the single other child there. Instead, he pushed a vacuum cleaner across the floor and marveled at a plastic egg. He didn’t pay me the slightest attention.

“Adios mama!” he said twice, before I actually left. No hesitant goodbyes here. He wanted me out of there, ready to take in the new experiences on his own.

I stopped by a coffee shop for a morning tea and croissant, read, caught up on the local newspapers at the library, and got my hair cut. I started to wonder what we are doing bringing a new baby into the mix. Our lives are quite calm and stable. After months of River babbling to himself until 10 p.m. or so at night, he’s now out at 8 p.m., 8:30 at the latest and sleeps through for 12 hours. His naps are successful 95% of the time and they last from 1.5 to 3 hours. He’s happy, can follow instructions, can do many things for himself and can enjoy various outings. I don’t have to carry him anymore, rarely have to clean his butt, and can often combine caring for him with either doing fun things or getting chores done.

It makes me question why we are voluntarily subjecting ourselves to sleepless nights, poop blow-outs, sore boobs and a restricted ability to leave the house. Of course, I’ve learned from River about the joy that comes from these sacrifices. I think a sibling would be a good for River. I want more than one child. I want the experience of parenting a daughter. But still – we will have a tough stretch ahead, which perhaps we are less equipped to handle because things have been calm for a while.

I try to appreciate that it would be much harder to add a baby to the mix if River were more challenging. I’m grateful for the quality of time I can spend with him now. I’m hopeful he’ll be a good big brother. And I hope we can weather the rough months without causing too many difficulties for him.

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