Archive for September, 2014

Brave New World

Posted: September 5, 2014 in Philosophy
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It’s a tremendously cliché title for a blog entry that is about every day things…things that folks with older kids know all too well, that my wife and I just now have the pleasure of experiencing first hand.

On Tuesday, my daughter (and first born child) started Kindergarten officially, which means a lot of change around our house.  Obviously, the biggest change is that she is in school now, and will be at least for the next 13 years.  That’s a big deal to a kid, whose day used to be waking up, eating breakfast, going to the babysitter’s to “play” all day, then come home for dinner and bed.   Her day became a bit more hectic, some might say even a bit less fun.  Sure, she gets to play at school, but she has to be on-point for a much larger portion of her day than she ever has been before, and that is tiring.  Last night, in fact, we discovered (or, perhaps, re-discovered) how tiring that is…because at dinner, she just started crying.

And I get it–it’s exhausting, and there’s no discounting that.  Once you get past the first few days of school, the change in activity starts to wear on you, and even kids who are generally used to school have to readjust every fall when school starts back up again.  The reality, though, is that things aren’t really ever going to be the same for Zoe, as the first piece of her childhood has officially been shed and replaced by something that is setting her up for real, human existence as most adults know it.

So, yes, that is to be expected…a child’s first experience with school is bound to be tiring.  But what makes this particular change so big for our house is that it affects some part of everyone’s life, not just Zoe’s.

Janine and I, for instance, are no stranger to what I think of as major parenting milestones: your first born, the first time you send your kid to daycare or to a babysitter, your second born, etc.  The most recent one for us was this past May, when Zak turned 3 and we officially had two kids–instead of one toddler and one baby, or one kid and one toddler.  And, because of our confidence (in medicine and  surgery) that we wouldn’t have a third kid (God willing, of course), we knew life for us had changed permanently.  Scraped knees, broken bones, bee stings…the possibility of these things increased significantly with one kid passing some arbitrary age threshold.

And in a less obvious way, even the things that I once held near and dear to my heart–being the primary breadwinner for the family, and stepping back to allow Janine to do all of the big, important “mom” stuff that we had adjusted to her doing (and, might I add, that she is AMAZING at doing)…I suddenly wanted to become more involved, maybe as a result of having less direct access to Zoe.  It has now become important to me that me or Janine take her to school and pick her up every day, if at all possible, when six months ago I was in no way bothered by our babysitter handling that responsibility.  That of course is not to say that I specifically don’t want her doing that–more accurately, I’d prefer that we do.

Which is a hard thing to do when we both work full time jobs, and my “primary breadwinner” status is only primary by a small margin.  What it means, for sure, is that we all have to work a little bit harder to make sure both of our children are getting the attention that they need, and that we as parents can sleep well at night feeling confident in the amount of attention they actually receive.  I’ve mentioned before the plight of parents, how we over analyze everything and jump to the worst possible conclusion when unknowns are involved, and this should be no different.

“So,” you say, “that’s it?  That’s not a big deal, and totally expected given the scenario.”  Here’s one thing, though, that I didn’t think of–the big unknown that totally blindsided me: this also affects my 3 year old son.

He has always been a little brother, and always will be…but now he isn’t around his sister all day.  Zoe has been such an amazing influence in Zak’s life, and we see it every day.  Her maternal instincts are strong as a big sister, and she wears the title well and with pride.  I’m confident that because of her, Zak speaks better than he would have if she weren’t around; and that he is fully potty trained more than a year in advance of his big sister having been potty trained (i.e., she was older when she was fully potty trained).  Even his demeanor, how he acts and thinks, have all been impacted in quantifiable ways as a result of her presence in his life.  They may be two and a half years apart in age, but they are very close to one another because they’ve always been around each other.

But that changed this week.  Now he spends some of his days at the babysitter’s house with no other kids around, which he also has to adjust to.  First born kids adjust early to a life of solitude, they have no choice in the matter.   Fortunately, Zak’s babysitter watches other kids on some days, so he’s not completely alone–and I think in the long run he’ll start to love those days where all the attention can be pointed at him and no one else–but it’s still a new experience that he’ll have to get used to.

So, things are a little crazy right now in our house.  A lot of stuff is up in the air.  I don’t mind change, Janine hates it, and the kids don’t know how to deal with it…but we’ll get through it just like anything else.

Then we will be waiting on our next milestone, only two short years from now, when our other kid starts Kindergarten.   I can’t wait.

Thanks for reading.  Be well and stay tuned.