Letting Go

Today is Jack’s last day in daycare.  He’s been with G for over two years (a miracle when you think back to all the daycare dramas early on in his life) and made some awesome little friends there.  G’s house is basically Jack’s third house – there were many weeks there where he spent just as much time there as he did at my house or his dad’s.  G feeds him and teaches him and celebrates his victories and birthdays.  Jack was potty trained there before he was at home!

In the last 2+ years, G has taken only ONE unscheduled day off – for Jury Duty.  One day, you guys!  She is simply amazing.

I’m having a hard time walking away from this lady.  She is one of the most reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and caring people I have ever known – it has been a BLESSING to be able to put Jack in her care.

I don’t think it’s hit Jack yet.  He knows today is his last day and that he’ll have a goodbye party, but all he could say was that he was hoping for presents.  :P   We tried to tell him this isn’t the kind of thing you get presents for.  In any case, he starts school Monday and I’m guessing somewhere in that week he’ll really start to miss G.  I know I will!

I had a difficult time coming up with a gift that conveyed how much we love G.  What we ended up with was this poem made into an artful poster by Etsy artist MySoulShines and matted/framed:

They Will Remember

by Eileen Koscho

I take care of your children.
I love them.
I teach them.
I clean them, and I feed them.
And when nighttime comes,
my heart worries about them
I take care of your children.
I see their first steps.
I hear their first words.
I share their happiness, and
I feel their hurts.
I take care of your children,
as if they were my own.
And when they are grown, and
no longer need me,
My love will be a part of them
deep within the heart of them.
They will know that I was there for them unconditionally.
And they will remember!

 

This morning it occurred to me that I should have had a coffee mug or something made with Jack’s artwork to give to her.  Dang it!  Maybe I’ll ship that to her…

Here is a picture of G with Jack on his birthday (she is so cool – she got him the alien space ship Legos):

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A little bit of discipline in my life

There is a part of me that really misses those earlier days of parenthood when all I had to worry about was keeping my baby alive and myself sane.  It didn’t seem like such an easy task at the time but at least it was fairly simple.  Now it’s not enough to keep the kid alive – I need to teach him stuff, too, and he is not quite as open to learning as he was as a little chubby, spongy baby.

Jack has been testing limits all over the place.  When he is asked to do something, he says “Mooom, I WILL – in 5 minutes.”  When that 5 minutes is up, he needs another 5, etc.  It’s not enough to give him choices or bribe him – he thinks even if he takes an hour to get dressed, he is still entitled to a reward.  And whenever he eventually does get around to doing what he is supposed to, he doesn’t want any adults watching him.  It’s like he is saying, “I can behave, but I refuse to do it for your benefit!”  Then there are the times when I tell him I need to take something away from him until he complies, he often responds with, “You can’t do that!”  It takes a lot of self control to not engage in an argument about what I certainly CAN do as his mother!

He’s been increasingly vocal about disliking going to daycare, as well – a place he has loved for nearly two years.  He claims he doesn’t like it there, that he doesn’t like the provider, that he doesn’t like learning or painting…nevermind that he is the last one to put his painting supplies away and many days when we pick him up he doesn’t want to leave.

Last week he started pushing some of the smaller kids in daycare (apparently because he doesn’t want them to touch his toys), and he has gotten into a “fight” with another boy his age.  Suddenly I am needing to discipline my kid!  We had a talk about appropriate behavior and I took away one of his favorite shows (Ben 10) until he could show me that he could behave at daycare.  There have been some major crying fits over this and that has been very hard for me.  My instinct to make him STOP CRYING is insanely strong and it kills me to hear him upset (and I now TOTALLY understand why some moms say “your dad will deal with you when he gets home!”).  I held my ground, though, and finally yesterday he got himself in gear.  He got to watch his show last night and this morning he asked if he could watch it again if he had another good day.  I said yes and then we talked about alternatives to pushing when the younger kids try to grab for his toys.  So…fingers crossed.

I’m not entirely sure what is driving Jack’s recent behavior (maybe it’s just a 4 year old thing) but theories include the testosterone surge that supposedly happens in 4 year old boys and the possibility that daycare isn’t challenging him properly anymore.  No matter what the case, we’re thinking it’s a good idea to channel this energy into something productive and maybe more physical like a tumbling class or peewee sports, where he can learn better impulse control.  His dad will be taking him an extra day a week soon and there are a lot of community resources for this type of thing in his area, so he’ll try some things out soon.

This is a weird place for me to be in.  I’m a real grown up now.  I’m that person saying, “You need to listen to me because I’m your mom and it’s my job to teach you about life!”  This more than anything makes me feel old.

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A little step

I did it.  I filled out the application for Jack to attend elementary school in Fall 2011.  I’ll swing by the SFUSD this week to turn it in and verify my identity and address.  After that we’ll get to sit back and wait to see whether Jack gets into any of the 10 requested schools.  We won’t know until March or so.  Jack will get a bit of sway when it comes to our #2 school because of where we live but since he has no siblings, is white, and speaks only English he is much further down on the list of students with priority.  With that said, we live in an area where half of our neighbors probably send their kids to private school and there is a huge portion that are not white, so Jack might just be the minority.  I really don’t know but we will find out.

In the mean time I am fighting to get Jack to daycare in the mornings.  He is increasingly resistant to going.  Today in particular he was not interested in going to daycare or going to his dad’s house afterward.  He said, “I just feel like staying home with you forever.”  I told him I know how he feels, that I don’t like going to work and would love to stay home, too.  In fact, I had nightmares about going to work last night!  Of course now he is going around saying he is having nightmares about going to daycare…oops.

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Truthiness Day 15: I want money

Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

This may sound shallow, but I’m going with money.  Let me explain…

It’s not that I want a lot of things or like to shop a ton (I do like a good deal but that is not the same as liking shopping).  I grew up poor, some years at the poverty level.  We got those blocks of government cheese.  We had boxes of powdered milk that we used when we ran out of the regular stuff in between paydays.  My grandmother mixed water with the “cream of” soups…

None of that stuff is that bad, though.  I mean, I didn’t really care at the time although I was much less excited about food back then.  The thing is that because of my family’s circumstances, we were left vulnerable to bad situations.  Examples include:

  • We lived in an area where housing was cheap, so I went to a school that was in disrepair – they constantly had issues with asbestos-filled ceilings caving in…I went to a school in which race riots occurred.  My vice-principal was fired for sexually harassing a student.  A student was murdered by the janitor.
  • I didn’t see a dentist until I was at least 8.  By the time I was 12 I had two crowns because 70% of those two molars were cavities.
  • My mom couldn’t afford daycare, so she relied on my grandmother because her care was a fraction of the cost.  You can read about my grandmother if you go back to Day 8.
  • To make ends meet and pay the mortgage, we had various unsavory people living in our house at various times.  This included my mom’s abusive boyfriend, her drug addict cousin, and some friends who couldn’t afford their own place.  Due to the combination of these people in our house all at the same time, we had at least one occurrence of fist fights in our living room which resulted in holes in the wall and a near smashing of my siblings.

I don’t believe that the lack of money caused any of this, but I know it put my mom in situations where she had to accept circumstances out of necessity that she might not have otherwise in order to keep a roof over our heads.

When Joe and I moved to Humboldt for him to go to school, we had trouble finding work.  When we finally did, it didn’t pay well at all.  Not to mention that Joe worked seasonally.  When we had Jack, we qualified for subsidized childcare.  That was nice, except it was hell trying to find a decent provider (my long time readers will remember all the crap we dealt with in seeking good and reliable childcare back then!).  We also racked up quite a bit of debt (even while eating a diet of macaroni & cheese with canned chicken mixed in).  We took out minimal school loans because even once Joe’s degree was acquired, there was no guarantee that he would get a job (in fact, his advisor told him he would likely NOT get hired any time soon – and he still works seasonally to this day).  Those years in Humboldt were some of the most stressful of my adult life.  Again, the lack of money didn’t cause it but we did get stuck for a while there and it sucked big time.

I could physically live without money but mentally?  I have way too much trauma associated with being poor as shit.

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This fish is named…

Jack has recently taken to naming things.  He doesn’t choose people names; instead, he either makes up a nonsensical word or picks an inanimate object for a name.  Case in point (click for bigger):

Clashing Work Schedules

For those not in the know (because somehow I forgot to write about it before now) Jack’s dad recently took a new job that is an hour south of where he lives, which is about 1.5 hours south of where I live and Jack attends daycare.  The commute to the new job meant that he would no longer be able to participate in daycare pick up or drop off, Jack would be in daycare an extra day, and Joe’s time with Jack would be reduced to only his days off.  Since his days off were Saturday and Sunday, this also meant that Jack and I wouldn’t have weekends together until Joe’s seasonal position ends in June.  Needless to say, I was pretty bummed about that.  I’m pretty burned out after work most days of the week and don’t get a lot of quality time with Jack.

Luckily for all of us, Joe was able to rearrange his new work schedule so that he will be working Sunday through Thursday beginning in March.  We each get a weekend day with our kid to do fun stuff and we can keep Jack out of daycare an extra day (which is great for us moneywise in addition to allowing the munchkin to be with his parents that much more).  Good all around and a huge relief for me!

The only con is I won’t be able to get out of town for a weekend without the kid for a while (since Joe still won’t be able to take Jack to daycare), but that is not unusual for your typical parent anyway.  I can totally handle that.

Drop-off Drama

Jack has suddenly become super clingy during daycare drop-off.  This morning it took me roughly 20 minutes to extract my legs from the tangle of his limbs and get out the door.  I tried every trick I could think of:

Jack, will you do me a favor and close the door for mom?
Jack, I have a job for you.  I need your help!
Jack, your friends need you!  They want to play with you.
Jack, there’s a party today!  Don’t you want to have a party?  (this is true)
Jack, mama’s work is no fun.  There are no kids there.
Jack, G needs a hug.  Can you give her a hug so she isn’t sad?

The kid didn’t budge.  Finally I picked him bodily and stuck him inside the door and quickly closed it behind me.  I just about collapsed on the stairs, though.  Days like this break my heart because I feel like I am abandoning my kid.

I am not sure if this is a phase or what.  The reading I’ve done suggests that is the case.  I’m fine with that…but I’d like to find a way to make Jack feel more secure and get myself to work on time.  If it’s just a matter of waiting it out, then I hope this passes quickly.

Preschool

Jack’s daycare friends keep disappearing.  They aren’t being kidnapped, but they are being transitioned (can you tell I work in corporate America?) to preschool.  He’s lost three friends in six months and he is starting to notice.  He told me last week that he was sad that his friend Arthur had a party and that he will miss him.  I told him it makes me sad when my friends go away, too, and that thought seemed to distract him from his sadness.

I didn’t go to preschool.  I was a daycare kid until my first day of kindergarten, and I was completely prepped and able to read by then.  This may be why I don’t understand the need for preschool.

Personally, I see drawbacks to preschool for our family.  For one, preschool is expensive.  Not only does a parent have to pay for preschool, but also the care for their child after preschool is done for the day.  When I did a bit of research, I found that preschool alone costs as much or more than daycare.  I can’t imagine paying for both!

There is also the fact that preschools have less caregivers per student than daycare.  In the quest for better education for our children, one of our biggest concerns is student:teacher ratios.  Why would I give up the 1:3 ratio Jack experiencing now?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

Jack’s daycare is so awesome!  They go on field trips, make arts and crafts projects, sing songs and read books.  They learn the alphabet and counting.  Jack knows that water starts with w!  He can count past 13!  Additionally, his daycare is right next door to another daycare and they all get together for activities.  He is getting just as much socialization as he would get at preschool.  And you know what?  That all sounds just like my kindergarten experience.

So then, why preschool?  I am not convinced it is needed in our case.  Perhaps it has to do with our family circumstances and the fact that Jack has a park ranger, a children’s librarian, a sports fanatic/technogeek, and whatever it is that I do (workaholic?  internet junkie?) in his life – and those are just the parental figures.  I’d say he’s pretty well-covered and will probably be better off without preschool.

I recognize that this might be a controversial choice, but for now I think we’ll go sans preschool.  What is your family doing and why?

He may not be crying, but I am

I’m completely at a loss with the potty training.  Jack uses the toilet (both the regular one and the mini) at daycare with very few issues (probably due to the herd mentality), but still will not use the potty at home.  We’ve tried various types of training pants, including the pull-ups that turn cold when the kid pees.  I did not get a second pack of those because they seem like torture.  I thought maybe a couple times of peeing in them would encourage him to use the potty but nope – he just complains about the pull-ups.

I’ve maintained a pressure-free stance on potty-training.  I’ve tried to let him know ahead of time that I’ll be taking him to use the potty “in a while.”  I’ve put him in big boy underwear and said that Buzz Lightyear would not want to be peed on, and asked that he let me know when he needs to go.  Unfortunately what follows is a BIG MESS.  The kid will sit in wet underwear without an issue!

I finally picked up No Cry Potty Training Solution and read the suggestion that I take away the idea that using the potty is an option rather than a fact.  So then I tried to matter-of-factly announce that it was time to use the potty.  He absolutely did not go for that.  He threw a fit.  I pulled down his pants and he ran.

So, I quit.  I’m not sure if there is anything left to try.  I may take a weekend and let him run naked but I’m pretty sure that will result in me cleaning up messes all day long.

Ready, Set, Potty

We are very suddenly potty training. Well, training isn’t really the word. On Sunday Jack came to me and announced that he wanted to use the potty. I pulled out the Baby Bjorn potty, pulled his pants and diaper down, and read him a book about peeing and pooping while he did both on the potty. It was surprisingly easy. We clapped and were proud!

Monday night the same thing happened, so yesterday I sent Jack to daycare armed with pull-ups training pants. He used the potty five times! I had only one item to put in the laundry yesterday and that was a pair of cloth training pants. Yay! Last night he did not want to use the potty, but this morning at daycare he couldn’t take his eyes off the potty. Funny kid.

I am amused by this turn of events. Mostly I think it’s interesting that I didn’t have to do much at all – that Jack told me when he was ready to use the potty. I love it when things just fall into place like this; I’m a huge fan of parenting along the path of least resistance!