Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life With Three

I have often said that the transition from one to two kids was much harder than the transition from two to three kids. When Bea was born, I was worried that I was ruining Lou’s life.  We had a daily rhythm that worked well but he was old enough to enjoy spontaneous plans - we had gotten to the toddler sweet spot.  Then there was this baby.  This cute, chubby, chilled-out baby (but baby nonetheless) who needed things at very inopportune moments.  It was bath time, but the baby needed to be fed. It was dinner time, but the baby needed to be held.  Lou wanted to go to the park but the baby was being fussy. The baby was cramping our style.  I realize now that it was mostly me, Lou didn’t really care if his bath was 10 minutes later or if he had pasta for dinner instead of chicken. But I felt like those compromises were taking away from Lou in ways that were unfair.  I realize now that having to share me and my time is a good skill for Lou to learn, but that lesson was a long time coming.
Having another child was, in some ways, more of the same.  Plans were already a compromise between the needs of two kids so adding a third didn’t really make a difference.  I had enough kid-experience to know that nothing catastrophic will happen if they don’t take a bath today (or tomorrow), if they go to bed later, if they watch more tv, or if they play in their room and make a horrible, horrible mess.  The bigger picture needs (love, safety, security, emotional health) were far more important than if our park date happened today or tomorrow. Also, having two kids old enough to play with each other meant that if I needed to feed the baby or make a grocery list, I could say go play together for 10 minutes and then we’ll go out and IT WORKS. 
I do try to find some time every day to spend with each kid one on one.  It helps that Lou is going to bed a tad bit later than everyone else so we can snuggle and wind down together before bed.  Bea comes home early from school a few days a week so I get to see her then and give her snack and get lots and lots of wonderful hugs.  The baby is most challenging because while he gets a lot of functional time (feeding, bath, rocking before bed) I have to remind myself to also enjoy him and play with him.  Stop and see which playmat animal is pissing him off today, admire how he laughs in the bouncer, have a conversation while he sits on my lap.
I know this feeling of managing the chaos will change, someone will grow, someone will need something new but for now I’m relishing in the feeling of “yeah, I got this.”  We are doing well.  We are swimming along. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hopes and Dreams

Before Kindergarten started, Lou's teachers meet with all the parents individually to go over their "Hopes and Dreams" for the year. I scoffed a little at the title, feeling that it was grandiose and fluffy but I did appreciate the sentiment behind the meeting.  I think parents and teachers should be on the same page at the start of the year so no one party has expectations that are unreasonable or out of sync with what will be happening in the classroom that year.  My first hope that I mentioned in the meeting was that Lou continue to develop a love of school.  He loved his pre-school, and never once mentioned that he didn't want to go.  In fact, he was thrilled when Monday would roll around and a whole new week of school started.  I told the Kindergarten teachers that Lou was going to be in school for a long time to come, and that I wanted him to have a foundation rooted in love of learning.  They were very on board with this idea.  

Lou has had nearly 40 days of school so far and I'm not really sure he loves it.  I think he may like parts of it, he certainly tolerates it, but no, he does not love it.  Its a little sad for me.  I always really liked school and have especially fond memories of Pre-K and Kindergarten.  When I was teaching I chose the primary grades because kids learn so much and have so much wonder and gusto at everything.  Its hard for me to see my kid come home without gusto, without enthusiasim, without that burning need to tell me all the awesome things he learned that day.  

I understand that we are different, Lou and I.  I realize this often, mostly at times when he is frustrating me. Maybe handwriting and art and math and social studies aren't as exciting to him as they are to me.  I get that.  But even with our differences I sense that this Kindergarten thing isn't his bag.  Should it be? Shouldn't every kid come home with some excitement from their day?  

The situation makes me a little sad.  I know that there are a lot of school days left and I don't know how to help him enjoy his school more. If something isn't bad, does that make it good (enough) by default? Should I try to pump him up about it or is it being "fine" enough for him?