Grown-Up Day

Last Friday was my birthday, but I didn’t really plan anything, so Mr. Sandwich and I took today off. Baguette stayed in day care, which means:

GROWN-UP DAY!!!

Which, naturally, we spent watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sure, some people might schedule couples’ massages or elaborate al fresco lunches, but we live not in a commercial but in the real world of total exhaustion.

Also, we like superhero movies, and we never get to see them in the theater.

Plus, you know what you can’t do while watching a movie in the theater? Put all of your clothing in a pile on the floor and sort out what to keep and what to donate. Well, I guess you can, but only until you are thrown out of that aforementioned theater.

And now we are approaching the time to pick Baguette up from day care, which means we will finish the day of superheroes and wardrobe productivity with a trip to the pool.

It’s pretty much perfect.

Back to School

Baguette is four. Today she started her second year in a 3-year-old room at her day care.

In fact, she’s been in a 3-year-old room for close to 18 months already, because she moved into that group just before her third birthday. So why are we keeping her there?

Because it’s the best solution for her, although we didn’t arrive at that in a straightforward way. If it weren’t for a screwup on my part, she’d be in pre-K today. But that wouldn’t be the best solution. It was a fortuitous screwup.

Baguette’s day care has a re-enrollment system. Each year, in the spring, you pay a fee and file some forms to indicate that your child will be coming back in the fall. (My friends with children in similar centers find this surprising, but it’s how Baguette’s center does it. And, yes, I do think it’s weird considering that we paid a deposit up front when we first enrolled her four years ago, to cover her last month, but that’s how the center does it. Fine.)

The director sent out the re-enrollment information, and I submitted the form and paid the fee. Later, she sent out a reminder, and I thought, “Should I confirm that I submitted everything? No, I know that I did.”

Except I was wrong. I hadn’t sent them in. We learned this in June, when the director emailed me to ask if Baguette would be coming back in the fall, because there was no re-enrollment form for her. Oh, and all of the pre-K classes were filled, but we could be first on the waiting list.

Cue discussion of how we’ve been there for four years; how we’d paid for a year of Friday pizza at the school fundraiser in the spring, and maybe that indicated an interest; and how the policy really makes no sense to begin with; and so forth.

Also, cue panic. I sent off inquiries to a number of other day care centers, one of which we later toured. Mr. Sandwich and I each sent emails to the director to get clarification on our options. Finally–maybe a day later, but it felt longer–the three of us had a conference call.

The director offered us a solution: One of the existing 3-year-old classes was very large, and was being split into two. While pre-K did not have any open spots, one of the new 3-year-old classes had room. Baguette already knows the teacher, who gets her and who she loves. The class, while still for a 3-year-old bracket, is a little more academic than the developmental class she’s been in for the past year and a half. So she’ll get new experiences and challenges, but in a more comfortable and familiar environment.

Pre-K would not be as good a fit for her this year. The thing that stands out for me is that the children are required to sit still at a table and work in workbooks for 30 minutes at a time. And each week, they have homework.

I don’t think 4-year-olds should do that, period. That’s not how they learn, and that’s not how they should be taught. But I really don’t want to ask that of Baguette. She loves to learn new things, and she has an amazing memory. She’s much better at listening and following instructions than she used to be. She should not be asked to sit still for that long so that she can complete worksheets.

I also don’t think that they should be doing homework. At this age, they should be learning through play, and they should also just be playing. In Baguette’s case, she gets 10 hours of ABA at home each week–on top of the 15 hours per week she’s getting in the classroom. That’s enough homework. She’s doing enough.

If I’d turned in that re-enrollment form when I meant to, she’d be in a pre-K classroom right now. And that would be wrong for her.

I want my girl to be confident, to be capable, and to have the skills she’ll need to succeed in whatever way she chooses. She doesn’t need to be doing worksheets and homework this year in order to accomplish that.

Next fall, she’ll be 5. She’ll be old enough for kindergarten. Will we have her go into pre-K instead? I don’t know. We’ll figure that out over the next year. And we’ll decide based on what seems best for her at that point. I have the feeling that this is going to be a big year for her. Without worksheets.

Grown-Up Day

Mr. Sandwich and I both work for a state organization, which means that we get today off in honor of Cesar Chavez Day. Baguette’s day care, on the other hand, is open.

Most of the time, if work is closed, so is day care. So that means that today is the only day when it’s just the two of us.

Grown-Up Day!

I woke up slightly later than usual, but still got Baguette to day care on time. And then I came back and slept until 9:30. Because I could.

Mr. Sandwich did some much-needed car repair, changing the brakes on one of our cars. I filed our taxes, although as usual I had trouble finding one document. (Irony? It was right in front of me the whole time, behind some related paperwork in a folder. It was like it was The Purloined Tax Document.)

I’m straightening up the kitchen in preparation for Easter dinner with Mr. Sandwich’s parents–there’s cooking to be done–and the hard-cooked eggs are ready for coloring (that, too, will be us, since Baguette’s not quite ready for that). We’re folding a lot of laundry.

And we get to watch TV that we can’t watch with Baguette.

I’m already looking forward to picking her up.

How to Make a Mom Angry

I shared something about Baguette on my Facebook profile. Most of the responses were positive. But then there was this:

[Older relative]: I thought you were a stay at home Mom. You are missing a lot.

Cue the gritted teeth. Because, guess what? I know! But I also know that if I didn’t work, I’d miss the chance for professional accomplishments. I’d miss the friends I have at my job. And we’d all miss my half of our income.

We live in a small house. Nearly all of our furniture is hand-me-downs. We drive old cars–mine is 11 years old, and Mr. Sandwich’s is around 25 years old. Our last big trip was before Baguette was born. We don’t live lavishly. And to live not lavishly, we need both our incomes.

And I think that Baguette benefits greatly from day care. While we are having some issues with them right now, I know that she gets much more exposure to arts and crafts there than she would get at home with me. She gets a 2-hour nap every day, which I doubt very much she would get with me. And she met Bestie there.

Life’s about the tradeoffs. We all know that, and we all know that choosing one thing means we can’t choose something else, at least not at the same time. But each of us is making the best choice we can for our families, and that ought to be respected, whether we work outside the home or from home or don’t have paying jobs. And we’re all missing a lot. But we’re all doing our best, and that’s what our families need.

And this is a relative from an earlier generation–although what’s funny is that while I don’t know whether she worked outside the home when her kids were growing up, I’m pretty sure her sister did. It’s not like this is new. But since I have a close–if wide-spread–family, I don’t want to have a fight about it. I want to present my point of view, but I’m not going to war about it. Not today, anyhow.

So how did I respond?

“This is the economy I live in. Plus I like working.”

Can a Toddler Be an Introvert?

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Recently, Baguette’s teachers asked to meet with us. Apparently she falls asleep throughout the day, and she doesn’t interact with children or her teachers the way they’re accustomed to seeing.

Her sleep is an issue, and we know that. And we’re working on it.

But apparently she’d often rather read a book with Bestie or by herself than trade toys with the other children. And she ignores her teacher when told that it’s time for a diaper change. (Which is strange, because at home she’s so cooperative about diaper changes. [/sarcasm])

What we see is that she holds back a little when first encountering someone–even Mr. Sandwich’s parents, who she sees regularly–but warms up when allowed to do so on her own terms. When Mr. Sandwich picks Baguette up from day care, she and Bestie want to dance and play and spin together. On playdates with one or two other children, she both plays with them and gets territorial with toys, just like they do.

And even in large groups in noisy settings, like birthday parties at indoor playgrounds, she has a great time running from the ball pit to the trampoline to the tiny basketball backboard. It’s not like she’s cowering in a corner. She’s just doing what makes her happy, without the need for constant companionship in her choices.

Also worth noting: when she moved from the toddler room to the two-year-old room, she went from a class of 8 to a class of more than 20, in a much larger setting (and by that I mean that I think our entire house might fit into her new classroom).

I know I’m on the cusp of introvert and extrovert. I can be very outgoing when I choose, but I also really, really like staying home with a book.

So when can we get a sense of whether Baguette leans toward the introverted side of the scale? Because her behavior doesn’t seem to require evaluation–I just think she leans toward smaller groups and smaller settings.

Don’t get me wrong. I do want to know about real problems, and I want to address them as soon as possible. But I don’t see “likes smaller groups” as a problem. It’s just a little different from what they’re used to seeing. And “different” isn’t a problem.

Photo by GenkiGenki, via Flickr.

My Balance, Revisited

Nearly a year ago, I was inspired by a post by Oil and Garlic to write about my balance. So, where do we stand now?

1. What’s your work schedule?

I still drop Baguette off at 7 so I can be at work at (or around) 8, and I still work until 5 and am home a little after 6. All of this is likely to change on Friday, however, because the Rampture is coming–and that means all bets are off. I have no idea what my commute will be like for the next year, except that I know it won’t be good.

2. How do you handle childcare?

We still love Baguette’s day care. Mr. Sandwich’s parents come over to help around the house, but are less likely to babysit on weekend evenings; they have their own busy schedules, and it’s a lot harder to keep up with a toddler than it was to monitor an infant. However, one of her favorite teachers left the day care (not for reasons that concern us), and we’ve had her over for a get-reacquainted evening so that she can sit for us on occasion.

3. What do you find best about your current set-up?

It works, but just barely. Because of our jobs and commutes, we just don’t have enough time with her on workday evenings. We get home, go for a walk, eat dinner, give her a bath (while the other person fixes lunches for the next day), play a little, and go to bed. There just isn’t a lot of leeway in that schedule. But at least we have a routine.

4. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?

It doesn’t last forever–at least, not in this form. For a long time, I barely cooked at all. Now, I can manage to make a big batch of food in the slow cooker on Sundays, and that means lunches for several days that week. But being able to do that, which previously I could not, tells me that some day I will be able to cook meals with more than one dish.

5. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?

Yes. There are no Daddy Wars, not even in the media.

Transitions

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Baguette is moving from her day care’s toddler room to a 2-year-old room. I’d say that I don’t know if it’s harder on her or me, but I’m pretty sure that would just be ego; it’s clearly harder on her.

But it’s hard enough on me. I don’t need it to be harder than this. And we have a lot of confidence in the school and her teachers–I’m not worried about where she is, just how she feels about it.

I’m also not ready for her to be drinking 2% milk. How can she be old enough to be done with whole milk?

Photo by buba69, via Flickr.

Egg-citement (Updated)

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Last night, Mr. Sandwich said, “Oh, she needs to bring a hard-boiled egg to school. It’s tomorrow. Or Thursday. I think it’s Thursday.”

I said, “It had better be Thursday. They really need to give us more warning. We already missed Planting Day last Thursday because they didn’t tell us about it before Monday.”

You see, during the week I don’t have time to buy potted plants that can be replanted.

So after dinner, I went through her bag and found the daily report slips for the past several days. The most recent one said, “Don’t forget to bring in a hard-boiled egg so we can color eggs!”

My next stop was at the refrigerator, where I found one egg. I took it out and put water on the stove to boil. Then I forgot about the whole thing. So when I heard something in the kitchen, I said, “Are you boiling something? Oh, the egg!” and then ran in to do something about it.

At this point, I realized that I had never put the egg in the water. And the water was already hot. So I turned off the stove. Then I acknowledged (in my head) that the water was not going to cool down in anything resembling a reasonable time frame, and it did not make sense to start over. So I put the egg into the hot water and turned it back up to boil. Once it did, I turned off the heat, covered it, and let it sit for 20 minutes. (This is the recipe I follow for hard-cooked eggs. It works beautifully. But you’re supposed to put the egg in before you heat the water. So who knows?)

Seriously, this whole thing could have been avoided by telling us a couple of days earlier. Or at least not on a day when we’d each had dentist appointments and were focused on whether we should change dentists (conclusion: likely). But I feel good that I managed to get things pulled together enough to cook our one egg so that Baguette can color it. I’m kind of curious to see how it turns out.

Because our one egg was brown.

UPDATE: When I dropped her off, the white board said, “Please don’t forget to bring two eggs in tomorrow.” You know when it didn’t say that? Yesterday morning.

Photo by jamesmorton, via Flickr.

Traditions: Happy Valentine’s Day

I read this post about Valentine’s Day requirements at some schools. And I totally agree. Valentine’s Day is ridiculous for toddlers.

Mr. Sandwich and I have never paid particular attention to Valentine’s Day. The first year we were dating, the day passed while I was on a cruise with my parents. Another year, we bought each other gifts: I got him a cycling jersey, and he got me a DVD of The Princess Bride. Once we went out to dinner. Once, in January, we passed a store window that said, “Fall in love on Valentine’s Day!” I mustered up all the sarcasm I could (a considerable amount), and said, “Oh, honey, look! We did it wrong!” That was pretty much that.

When we got married (possibly before), I told him, “Don’t buy me flowers for Valentine’s Day. They just increase the price because of the date.”

But now we’re entering a new stage: Valentine’s Day with a child. I have somewhat vague memories of exchanging valentines in class, with decorated paper bags taped to the back each chair. Did I buy cards for everyone in class? Did I get cards from everyone? I don’t remember. It’s been a while.

Baguette’s day care, thankfully, does not require handmade valentines from each child. As far as I can tell, the main thing is that they sent home a pink slip of paper. Mr. Sandwich and I wrote a message on it to Baguette. Then I took it back, used one of the (provided) pink ribbons to tie a (provided) pink lollipop to the note, and dropped it in the basket so that someone can “deliver” it to her today.

I’m not sure I’m crazy about her having a lollipop. She’s not even two–does she need candy? I think this may be her first piece. But I also realize that she is now of an age where she will notice if everyone else gets a candygram and she doesn’t. And I don’t want her to feel left out–or, worse, try to swipe some other child’s lollipop.

We’ll just do a little extra toothbrushing tonight. Maybe that will be our Valentine’s Day tradition.

candy heart cake

Photo by bunchofpants, via Flickr.

Day Care is Important

We’ve always known we love Baguette’s day care center. It’s like paying a second mortgage, but totally worth it–we miss her, but we don’t worry about her. And when she’s there all day, that’s important. The teachers balance structure, creativity, and affection, and she loves every one of them. She also has friends, including a BFF who adores her. Really, can you put a price on all of that? We’re glad that we can (barely) afford it–although we are looking forward to the tuition drop when she turns 2.

But for the past two days I’ve had another reason to be grateful for day care: I’m sick. I have a nasty cold, and have taken two days off of work. And I don’t know what I’d do if I were a stay-at-home mom right now, because I don’t have the energy to get off the couch, much less manage an energetic 21-month-old.

Thank you, day care!