Friday, July 20, 2012

afternoon kindergarten

Got the letter yesterday from the public kindergarten Frances will be attending in the fall. The letter that tells us whether we've been assigned to afternoon or morning kindergarten. Around here everyone wants morning, which means that some people who request morning are not going to get it.

Kindergarten in our town is TWO HOURS LONG. I frankly don't know what that's about except maybe the economic and social breakdown of the district, and the fact that nearly all the kids have been to some kind of preschool and come in already knowing their letters at least. Whew, got those out of the way. Let's just cut a couple of hours off the kindergarten day since we don't have to teach them that! I'm told social skills are the things best imparted in kindergarten here, and I suppose two hours is plenty for that. Though, it seems to me, all they actually have time for is the teacher to take each kid to the bathroom once. Then it's time to go.

I wanted morning kindergarten because Clark (age 4) is going to be at the Waldorf school Tuesday through Friday mornings. If Frances were in school then also, I would have FOUR WHOLE MORNINGS with only me to keep track of. That alone time is something I've been waiting for. Waiting, holding out, hanging on. A time for me to find my own work in the world. (which brings us to the subject of a post soon to come: one's work in the world. My husband has his work, my kids (of course) have theirs. Mine of late has been helping the kids to do theirs best, but I've neglected my own work in the process.)

So when I got the letter - the one that said Frances had been assigned to afternoon kindergarten - I sat down and had a good cry. A really good cry. Then I went upstairs and threw myself across the bed and sobbed into the bedspread. I cried and cried, and then I plotted about who to speak with to get this changed.

In the next day or so, before I had a chance to call the school district, something interesting happened. I thought it through. I thought about literally what it would be like to have NO TIME TO MYSELF, to always have a kid with me, every day, morning and afternoon. Frances with me in the mornings, Clark with me in the afternoons. And what I saw was a door in the wall I hadn't seen before. What I saw was the experience of having an only child, which is a thing about which I have fantasized from time to time. And it's even better than that - it's two different only children! Variety! This way, I could actually do activities with Frances I've so wanted to; activities like baking bread and crafts projects. Plus being solo with a child provides opportunity for a kind of conversation and intimacy that's not possible when you're the shepherd of multiple.

And something else - my headaches creep in the afternoon. (sometimes they assault with heavy artillery rather than creep, but again, usually in the afternoon.) I'm much better in the morning. Frances is better in the morning. She and I can hang out together during the time when we are our best selves!

Suddenly the afternoon assignment sounded like a blessing. Besides, she will be home on the bus around 3 in the afternoon which means there will be plenty of afternoon left for Clark and Frances to have time to themselves. I did wonder about that - they are such close playmates; what was it going to be like for them to be apart so much? But in the end, they will have a couple of hours every afternoon to play Baby Sam and Sisters.

Sisters is the newest game. They both dress up in Frances's clothes and have tea parties and go on vacations and cook dinner and put their babies to bed. The story line does seem to come out in Frances's favor, which is interesting. They never play Brothers, or Knights, or Pirates.

But I digress.

In addition to alone time with the kids, I think the schedule is going to help me maintain a rhythm (at least in the mornings) better than I have been. We will do the same things each week. For example, Mondays we go to the gym (and they go to the kid play area), Tuesdays grocery, Wednesdays can be bread day (in order to keep to some of the waldorf schedule and activities, we will make bread), Thursdays library and errands, Fridays crafts. Or something like that. I don't know that the afternoons will be so orderly - will have to see.

I'm actually excited about it. How funny. How funny it is when we think we know what we're going to feel. It's for one year. I wonder if at the end I will wish it could go on like this?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

summer fever

We are in Michigan now, staying at Mitch's folks' house. They live on a beautiful little lake with a pontoon boat and a paddle boat and a tire swing and hammock and a little beach with a dock to jump off and a whole lot of outdoor loveliness. It's pretty cool that the kids get to visit their grandparents here.

We've all been here together since Tuesday - 5 days ago - and the plan is that tomorrow Mitch and I will go home and leave the kids here.

When we made these plans I was so excited to be at home with my husband and no kids for the better part of a week. He'll be working, of course, but in the evenings we can go out to dinner if we want, at any point in the evening. We can sleep in! Nap mid afternoon! Run spontaneous errands! The plan, of course, is to get some projects done around the house.

But tonight I feel funny about it. I've been away from the kids before - many times - but always when I've gone away for a trip or something. I've never been away from them for any length of time when I was at home. I'm going to miss them.

And Frances is sick. Friday morning we went to see a play, and in the theater she was so cold she was shivering. (Luckily, as a holdover from my living in the south where summer means 50 degrees inside any building, I had a sweater in my bag.) That afternoon she slept and slept and when she woke her temperature was 102.

That was Friday. Today is Sunday, and her temp is still 102. She's a trooper about it, I have to say. We took her to urgent care yesterday to get a strep test, but it seems to be nothing more than a virus, so we're waiting for the fever to pass.

[If I may take a soap box moment here: I've stopped treating fevers. The fever is, after all, the body's way of killing the virus, so letting it run is best, the literature says. Unless it's crazy high, of course. In addition to that, bringing a fever down means the kid feels again like having pillow fights with her brother, so in addition to helping the kid heal, leaving the fever alone helps her get rest. Yet somehow the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors have most folks convinced that a fever gets tylenol immediately. Ridiculous what a hold they have on us.]

I've never before missed them. This has in the past disconcerted me a small bit. Funny - I've had the baby yearning so badly lately, but when they were babies I felt only relief about being away. Now, now that they are big and don't need me so much, now I will miss having them with me.

Perhaps it's all about my not having my own thing, which I definitely need to find. Who will I be if they're not with me?

Will be interesting to see how it goes, how I feel about it once we get back to NY. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

how to get along with your brother

I taught Frances to say to Clark, "Let's not fight." She likes to be in charge of things, you know, so she likes to be the one to make sweeping statements that get results. She's tried it several times now, and generally when she says it Clark turns, leaves the room, and slams the door behind him. But it does end the argument. Once last week when she said it Clark just said, "Ok," and that was that. I wonder when Clark's going to start saying it to her?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

world waldorf

As an addendum to the last Waldorf post I must add this photo of my daughter. It was taken the last week of school when someone brought a BABY FREAKING LAMB to school for the children to pet and eventually pose with for photos. I love how Waldorf this photo is - the colors, Frances's bonnet, the adorableness of that animal on her lap. Sheesh. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

reading the kid

This is a post I wrote in the beginning of June, right as school was ending. I don't know why it didn't get posted, as it was supposed to appear before the last one. Well, here it is.

June 9, 2012

The thing we worry most about with Frances is that she's pretty controlling. When she plays with Clark or has friends over she announces what the play is going to be and assigns the roles. She's pretty good at it, and the kids mostly go along with it - interestingly. The problem is that when other folks don't want to play the same thing, she gets manipulative. Her teacher talked with us about this at the mid-year conference and we tried to figure out what was going on underneath that made her feel the need to control, but it was beyond me. 

Then, yesterday, after her not being nice to Clark all week, I had a little breakthrough.

The end of school is an emotional time for everyone. Clark's last day was last Friday, and I cried when I gave the director her little sea salt chocolates present, as we've been there three years now (one for Frances and two for Clark) and we're moving on. Clark has been sad, telling me outright that he wants to stay at his current school rather than move to the Waldorf school where Frances has gone for the last two years. There's a post about that to come.

Yesterday was Frances' last day of school. She has been a little off all week, mostly being unkind to Clark. Also, Mitch is out of town at a conference, which was unfortunate timing. Yesterday morning when we hung up from a phone call with him, Frances clawed at Clark because he was the one who got to push the button to turn the tv off. I sat down beside her and said, "I'm thinking you might be feeling a little anxious because school is ending." She immediately teared up. I talked on for a while about how it's okay to be both excited about her school next year (which she is) and also sad to leave this one, and how it's confusing to have different feelings at the same time, etc, etc, and she just sat there listening to me, tears running down her face. Then I said something about how the reason we feel sad when something ends is because we love it and don't want to let it go, and she really started crying then. Poor girl. Afterwards she seemed much calmer and the trek to school was fine. 

I talked with her teacher that afternoon at the school picnic. Her teacher told me that for the past week or two Frances has been playing school during free play time, being the teacher and taking care of the students. She has been (of course) organizing the play, but it's been good, not at all manipulative. But then today during free play time, Frances wanted to be the baby, wanted to have the other girls take care of her. 

So it occurs to me that all this controlling is really her trying to control her own emotions. It's a transfer for some emotion she's trying to suppress. And it shouldn't surprise me - one of my biggest limitations is knowing what I'm feeling when I'm feeling it. She's an awful lot like me, and suppression could be her most logical approach. I hope I can find a way to help her with this. I forget to scan the playing field, forget that it's helpful if I have my eyes open for the trauma coming. I just forget. I'll forget again, but perhaps I can recognize it as it appears. And each time, I suppose, I'll get better at heading it off, at teaching her how to head it off for herself. Onward we go.