Saturday, October 2, 2010

Past Deadline: The End of Plan A

Do I need to just suck it up and get over the fact that parenting is generally a perpetual state of uncertainty and self-doubt? Would I sleep better if I were to just get this truth out of the way once and for all and get over it?


There is a lot of pressure as a parent to Do The Right Thing So Your Family Does Not End Up On The News. So far so good, but I think I watch too much news.

The start of school has been a mixture of unbridled joy and random chaos. The lunches, the homework, the morning ritual of prodding and/or harassing people to get up and get ready, the feeble attempts to remember who is going where when and what they need when they get there – it has all been an adjustment.

On top of this, something unexpected happened this year and, because I am who I am, I worry that I’m not more worried about it.

This year, ladies and gentlemen, when I dropped my youngest off at school I didn’t shed any tears.

My daughter is now going to school all day every day. She’s in alternate-day Senior Kindergarten and attends one of the new Ready2Learn programs on the other day.

At first I resisted the idea of her going every day because it was always in our family’s long-term plan that I would work from home so I could be here for the kids. That meant I would get one more year at home with Girlchild every other day.

In principle, the work-from-home idea is a great concept and, in fact, I think it has benefitted the kids. No, I didn’t have them reading Tolstoy by age two, but we had lots of time together to play games and make muffins and go for walks and stuff. That said there was also a good chunk of time spent watching television while Mommy was distracted with work-related tasks. In addition, Mommy often had to work at night in order to stay on top of things – which sometimes grew a little thin and made her tired and cranky and no fun to be around.

Overall, though, I think it worked out fairly well.

When the opportunity arose to send Girlchild to school every day at no cost we signed her up right away, thinking we’d take the summer to decide for sure.

Circumstances over the last year or so led me to take on a lot more work, and I have to admit the idea of having both kids in school full time brought with it a degree of relief.

There were pangs of regret, though, because I thought of those days spent walking with my littlest one or making muffins or working in the garden and I realized that this was it. This was the end of something. What would you call it? The end of the Alternate Days? The end of Pre-Full-Time School?

I suppose it was an early end to our Plan A, whereupon I would have been home with both kids part time until they hit Grade 1.

So August came and it was time to confirm that Girlchild would attend Ready2Learn. Groom-boy and I discussed it. We considered that Girlchild is one of the most social creatures we have ever known – friendly, bubbly, chatty, willing to make friends, eager to explore, happy to feed frogs to snakes – whatever. So what would keeping her home with me to make muffins accomplish?

Arguably lots of things but (if one is feeling testy and argumentative) it could also be seen as a selfish and nostalgic move on my part. True, Girlchild wouldn’t realize that she was missing an additional chance to learn and socialize, but I would know.

Is she mature enough to handle all-day every day? I think so. Would she like it? I think so. Is she fond of school? Yes.

And so, when I dropped her off for the first day of the rest of her full-time school career, I didn’t weep. I might have even danced a little. I thought about singing a song.

Maybe it just hasn’t hit me yet.

Published in The Perth Courier, Sept. 23/10

No comments: