Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preschool Possibilities

After much internal debate, over many months, I finally decided to try preschool for Jack.  I had been thinking about it on and off, when Jack noticed the preschool room in the dance studio where we do yoga.  He was very interested in what was going on in there and wanted to go in every time we passed the door.  This, coupled with his budding interest in interacting with other kids at play dates made me think maybe he's ready.  Jack has always been a bit shy and reserved around new situations and unfamiliar people, but I thought it might be good for him to learn that it's okay and even fun sometimes to be away from Momma.  I investigated several different programs but ultimately decided to go with the one at the dance studio.  The space is familiar and obviously enticing to Jack, the teachers are warm and friendly and have been there a long time, and the classroom has a calmness to it, even with fourteen kids under age five in it.
So, after visiting a couple of times and talking about it a lot with Jack, we set up our first day of preschool for Monday.  I only planned to leave him for a couple of hours to start.  We got his clothes and his backpack ready the night before.  In the morning, before we left the house, I took a picture of him by the garage door, backpack on, Jack smiling proudly.  I was nervous, but doing a damned good job at acting normal, if I do say so myself.  We got to the school, and as we entered the classroom, Jack started to act nervous, wanting me to pick him up.  I smiled, though and told him I'd help him find something to do, and then I would go.  I tried to get him involved in playing to very little avail.  In the end, I hugged and kissed him, told him I'd be back in a couple of hours to get him, and left him crying in Miss Mandy's lap.  I strode out into the parking lot, my vision blurred and I broke down into tears.  I sat in my car and called Jason.  I was crying so hard, he couldn't understand me, though he insisted it was his phone reception going out.  I felt horrible.  It took every ounce of willpower I have ever had to walk out of that classroom and leave when Jack was crying, though, having taught preschool for years, I know that delaying your departure only makes it worse.
I spent the next two hours getting a pedicure and shopping - bought several things I really don't need.  I almost relaxed.  When I went to get Jack, I peeked into the room where they were doing tumbling.  Music was playing, and the teacher was helping kids jump on small trampolines, crawl over big foam blocks and hop through hula hoops.  Everyone seemed to be having a blast, except Jack, who was just standing by the teacher.  As soon as he saw me, he ran to me and tearily asked to go home.  We stayed for a few minutes so I could talk to the teacher.  She said Jack had stopped crying after I left, but he alternated between being upset and settling down to play.
Two seconds after we got home from preschool, he was bouncing off the walls.  He had more fun in yoga class later that day than he ever has before.  He is obviously not scarred by his first preschool experience.  I, on the other hand, have not recovered so quickly.  Over the past two days, I have questioned my decision to start preschool.  I wanted it to be in place before the baby gets here in February, but is Jack really ready?  Should I just cherish this time with him at home and not push him to be more social?  On the other hand, once the baby is born, having Jack in school a half-day, two days a week might be a real godsend.  And, more importantly, he is going to have to try new things.  He is going to have to do things without me, and maybe it's time for him to do that, even if it is a little stressful at first.  After all, a little stress isn't necessarily bad.  I really don't think Jack is analyzing it near as much as I am.
I also have to admit that part of my negative feelings about starting preschool have to do with it's disruption of our schedule.  If we do preschool Monday and Wednesday, I have to totally restructure when we've been going to yoga and scheduling play dates.  I am a routine person, and I do not like having my routine thrown up into the air and scattered all over the floor like a stack of cards in fifty-two card pick-up.  So that part of it is about me, not Jack, and definitely something I need to set aside in my decision about whether or not we are ready for preschool.
Tomorrow, we will try our second day of school.  I intend to leave him there a bit longer than Monday but not the whole time just yet.  It's tap day, and Jack is excited about wearing his tap shoes.  Funny thing, he has said several times he wants to me to stay with him at school, but he hasn't said that he doesn't want to go.  I take this as a sign he wants to go but is just unsure about my not being there as of yet.  I am hoping that, over the next several weeks, Jack and I both will get more used to school and even if he isn't jumping for joy when I leave, he'll at least participate and enjoy himself once I'm gone.
After killing myself over whether or not this is the right decision for the past two days, I have reminded myself of a piece of advice I've given friends countless times:  If you're not sure, just try it.  You can always change your mind, and you won't know if you don't try.  I asked myself if I really thought I was doing permanent harm to Jack's psyche by trying out preschool, even if it turns out he's not really ready yet, and my answer was "no."  We can always quit if after a few weeks, it doesn't seem to be getting any better.  So, as usual, I have come upon a solution that harkens back to something people have been telling me my whole life that I never really got until now:  "Try it!  You might like it!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Temporary Insanity

I thought I had baby brain when I was pregnant with Jack.  I think the extent of it was once putting ice cream in the refrigerator instead of the freezer.  With this baby, however, I seem to be in a race to do every stereotypically flighty thing there is.  Until earlier this week, I have been soaring along, even forgetting at times that I am pregnant.  I have been going to my same hatha flow yoga class.  I have been walking, talking and generally getting through the day like a normal person.  Then, on Tuesday, I enthusiastically threw my left leg up in the air in the downward dog position and reveled in my own flexibility...until my yoga instructor came by and whispered, "right."  I had clearly heard her say, "right leg" but my left had involuntarily shot up anyway.  This wouldn't be particularly remarkable if I didn't do almost the exact same thing six more times during the hour-long class.  And this was only the beginning.
The next day, while leaving the house with Jack, I walked out in the garage with my keys in one hand, trash for the recycle bin in the other... and promptly threw my keys in the recycle bin.  I quickly realized my mistake and wasn't quite as far gone as to think I could start my car with a flattened milk carton, so I had to do some digging in the bin - not an easy task at twenty-two weeks pregnant.
The following morning, while Jack and I were upstairs getting ready for an appointment with a potential preschool, Jason called up, "Uh, baby?  There's a big mess down here."  I thought the dog had thrown up or something, but no, Jason continued with, "The pot wasn't under the coffee maker when it started.  There's coffee everywhere."  I groaned, knowing I was the only potential culprit for that one.  (You'll note Jason is a very smart man - He didn't accusatorily say, "YOU didn't put the pot under the coffee maker," despite the fact the fault was obviously mine.  He's been through the reactionary emotional roller coaster of pregnancy before.)  Jason had to run off to work.  I got downstairs to discover the coffee pot in the dish drainer - nowhere near the coffee maker.  I spent a good portion of the morning hurriedly cleaning up the mess, so we could get off to our appointment with the preschool.
The very NEXT morning, after I had the evening before, very meticulously set up the coffee, pot included, to start in the morning, I got downstairs and the pot wasn't even on.  My first thought:  "What the f&*k!  I can't even make coffee anymore!"  Upon investigation, I discovered that when I had unplugged the machine the day before to clean up the mess, I had neglected to reset the timer.  So, there had been a wonderfully fresh pot of coffee... at midnight, the timer default.
Later that same day, Jack and I had lunch at a restaurant with a friend and her son.  We had a great time, and on the way out, she carried both of our leftovers while I held hands with both kids.  When we got to the cars, she set my leftover box on top of my van and jokingly told me not to forget and leave it up there (I had told her the coffee story.)  I laughed, she went to her car right next to mine, and I strapped Jack into his car seat.  As I was getting ready to drive off, my friend came back to my car and I rolled down the window, wondering what she had to tell me.  Without a word, she reached up and handed me my leftovers, which were, yes, still on top of the car.  I had forgotten about them in the space of about thirty seconds.
All of these incidences happened in the space of about four days, so I am feeling close to certifiably nuts now.  If it gets any worse, I'll have to recommend taking me off the road, because, in this state, I definitely should not be operating heavy machinery.  In fact, I should probably stay away from the stove; I might hurt myself.  I don't think I should be operating the washing machine or the dish washer, either, and maybe I should lay off cleaning or vacuuming, too; you never know what might happen... come to think of it, maybe baby brain isn't so bad. Hmmm, being slightly nuts could get me out of a lot of chores and possibly get me some sympathy to boot.  Maybe they'll even add it to the list of official disorders.  Now all I have to do is work on an excuse for the rest of my non-pregnant life...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Terrible Two-and-a-Halfs

I have been waiting for the terrible two's to show up like one waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The experts warn they can show up as early as eighteen months and can certainly last through a child's third birthday.  Jack, however, has been amazingly agreeable, even reasonable, for a two-year-old.  He has seemed to understand when I explain why we can't do something he wants to do, like go swimming when it's dinner time or feed the dog an entire box of dog treats.  He's been going to bed without complaint and happily sitting down at the table for dinner... until now.  Yes folks, we have finally hit it.  Just when I thought we were in the clear, the terrible two's have shown up - a day late, but certainly not a dollar short.  There have been crying fits over my not carrying him when my arms were full of other things and hysteria over broken toys that could not be fixed.  There have been all-out, fall-on-the floor-and-kick-and-scream tirades over seemingly small things.  Example:  Earlier today, Jack was playing with a new fire truck my mom bought him.  He was ecstatic over how the ladder extended far over the truck, until he realized the ladder would not stay erect when fully extended.  I suggested we prop it up with something.  My dad found a wadded piece of paper to stuff at the base to keep it up, but Jack kept whining and getting more and more worked up as he was intent that the ladder stay up with no help from other objects.  It's almost like he wanted or needed to be upset.  So he ended up lying in the hallway with his head on his blankie, crying that he "no like ladder fall down!" over and over again.
I found, in these situations, it's best to leave him alone and let him calm down on his own.  Sometimes I suggest he get his blankie, lie on the couch or take deep breaths, but he really seems to calm down quicker if I leave him alone and go off and do my own thing so he can come find me when he calms down.  This is all well and good if we are at home and not in any hurry to go anywhere, but it can be really irritating to have him melt down over something that is a physical impossibility when we are trying to get in the car and go somewhere.  And his irrational expectations and dramatic reaction to things not going how he wants don't fit well with my mid-pregnancy super-irritable state.  It really doesn't take much to push my buttons these days.  I remember this from being pregnant with Jack.  And if expired coupons, people driving slow in the left lane or inane t-shirt slogans can get me going, imagine what a screaming two-year-old can do. 
When I do feel my hackles rising in response to Jack's tantrums or antics, I try to follow my own advice:  I take deep breaths and lie on the couch if I can... maybe I should get myself a blankie, too.  And, if by "blankie" I mean "glass of wine," it would probably really work.  *Sigh*  Since I'm abstaining for pregnancy, I guess I'll have to quell my irritation au natural for now with good ol' relaxation.  It's probably better for me anyway than drowning my stresses in alcohol, but I'm not making any promises come next spring.
A few days ago, I was making quesadillas (spelling??)  for dinner.  I was excited, because I thought they'd be really good, but I really f-ed up Jason's as I was flipping it and turned it into a scrambled mess.  Pregnancy irritation combined with fatigue did not allow me to cope well with this minor setback.  I took many MANY deep breaths in attempts to calm myself and keep from taking it out on Jack who was asking repeatedly, "Why Momma breathing so hard?  What happened to quesadilla?  Why Momma getting upset?"  I held in my anger, trying to respond rationally to his questions and finally told him I didn't want to talk about it - that I just needed a few minutes.  Then, there was a pause in our conversation as I tried to repair my culinary mess and Jack examined the portion of refried beans I'd already served him.  He pointed at the beans and very objectively asked, "Momma, what this big plop?"  I burst out laughing and my cloudy disposition was shattered.  That's the thing about two-year-olds and bad moods:  so often they are the cause, but so often the cure as well.