Like most people who become parents, I had many lofty ideals, most of which, had I written them down on pieces of paper, would now be ripped into tiny shreds. My kid watches TV, eats sugar, I have used threats and coercion to elicit certain behaviors, I have lost my temper and yelled, etc. The list goes on.
As of today 4.5 years after becoming a parent, only two of the lofty ideals are in force: 1) I have never hit the Moosh in anger, and 2) I have not perpetuated the Santa myth.
Well folks, I think one of those mighty redwoods is about to fall. I have kept my personal obligation not to lie to the Moosh about Santa. I have never played up Santa, or pretended Santa was real. In fact, I think it's safe to say that until this year my sweet son had no idea who/what Santa was. I did not go out of my way to achieve this. In fact, this year he's been really interested in Christmas specials that play up Santa and it was no big deal. Lofty ideal intact.
Enter pre-K, and a whole slew of 4- and 5-year-olds who are all crazy about Santa. The teachers indulge them (of course - and I really don't have a problem with it) so there is now adult agreement that Santa is real and will bring presents on Christmas.
The last two weeks have been a constant theme of, "Is Santa coming yet?" "Not yet." "Is Santa coming yet?" "Not yet." "When Santa does come, will he bring me presents?" "Hm, what do you think?" "I think yes!!!!" etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.
It is around this point that we start crossing "my line" of not lying about Santa. However, I feel like a big, crappy stick-in-the-mud for disabusing him of his enjoyment of Santa. He is 4 years old. It only seems right to let him enjoy his fantasy. So I had kind of relaxed about it, and while I'm still not all rah-rah-rah about Santa, I haven't been guarding my language and I've tried to let go of my ideals.
Today we got into the, "Is Santa coming to my house?" and I was kind of only half listening and said, "Oh, sure honey!" without really thinking about it. See, we celebrate Christmas almost entirely at my parents' house. We don't even have a proper Christmas tree because I am a cheap ass and wanted to pick up a nice fake tree in the after Christmas sales this year. I have to work on Christmas night, so after I get home we'll be going straight to their house to celebrate and open presents. My sister had already planned to leave out an unwrapped "Santa" gift for him there, but he is clearly anticpating there being a present at his house, Christmas morning. Um.
You see, while slightly positive Santa based conversation is merely tiptoeing on "my line," me leaving a gift out at my house for my son from a mythical being takes such a giant leap over "my line" that the line is really no longer visible. It just makes my skin crawl. I hate the notion of it. But at the same time, there is the whole "stick-in-the-mud" issue. He's a kid. Kids love Christmas. Kids love Santa. He is four. It's not like I am torturing him or anything. But ugh. Ugh and yuck.
I have been a believer in letting other people believe what they want to believe for a very long time. I don't want to enforce my beliefs on him. It's inevitable, I know, that he will pick up on what R and I believe and either assimilate that or not, but I don't want to limit him in what he wants to do because it's his life, and it's his decision.
So, taking all that into consideration, what should I do? Should I participate in something that I think is dumb for the sake of my child's beliefs, or should I let my beliefs override his? I can't decide.
They took pictures of the kids at the Reggio school a couple of weeks ago. It was like the 3rd day we were at the school, I totally forgot about it and just dressed him in what I normally would, and planned not to buy any pictures because they are usually prohibitively expensive.
The pictures came in yesterday, and I thought, "What the hell, I'll take a look." So I opened up the envelope and I swear to you, all the photos turned out beautifully. I mean they were gorgeous. Gorgeous in their gorgeousness.
Then I was like, well, maybe I'll just buy a sheet or two... but which ones to buy? I sorted through them for a few minutes while the Moosh whined and moaned (dunno what's up with him lately, but he is Mr. Whiny these days) and finally just decided to screw it and I bought the whole set.
I realize now what a total racket the whole school picture thing is. You take a parent, sit them in a room, and give them beautiful pictures of their beloved child, then sit back and watch psychology at work and count your money.
After the serious let down of the previous school, I waited a couple of weeks to decide if I liked the Reggio school or not. Well after 2.5 weeks, the verdict is in, and Reggio wins.
I really think that the difference here is with the teachers. In the old school, there were a lot of rules and regulations, which initally drew me to the place, because I agreed with them and felt that the Moosh and I could operate well within those limits. Unfortunately I think what happened was that the teachers were heavily scrutinized and the facility was more interested in appearances than the happiness of the kids.
At the Reggio school, there are almost no rules and regulations, other than the obvious ones. It's clearly meant to be a free environment for the children. The teachers are warm and caring, as is the director. Last week when I kept the Moosh home one day, the director wouldn't let me off the phone before I promised to pass their love on to the Moosh and that I would tell him they would miss him and couldn't wait to see him the next day.
The teacher in the Moosh's class is brilliant. The first thing she did was to pair him up with another boy in a mentor/mentee type scenario, so the Moosh had a friend to look forward to seeing from the very beginning. Then as of this week she wanted to expand his relationship with the other children in the class, so she made a book for us to read at home with all the kids' pictures and names. She plays with the kids, and she always has a little cute story to tell me about the Moosh. She never phrases things as complaints (a major issue I had with the teacher at his old school), instead she approaches things with solutions (like the facebook).
I wouldn't go so far as to say that he loves school. He still doesn't like the nap, but since all child care facilities are required to have naps by law, and the Montessori school (the only non nap option I found for his age group) was prohibitively expensive, he is just going to have to learn to deal with the nap. he complains about it, but he does not act fearful about it like he did with the old school, so we are just going to roll merrily along. However, he does like his friends and teachers, so that's a plus.
I'm interested to see how his learning takes off as he gets more used to the school. I like the Reggio Emilia curriculum approach, and I can't wait to see if/when/how it helps him process information.
They are having a "holiday musical" on Thursday for the parents and his class will be singing "Jingle Bells." I honestly can't wait.
It has been such a relief to have him happier at school.
We did end up at the doctor on Wednesday, only to discover that the Moosh had walking pneumonia and an ear infection! I was shocked... I mean, this is the kid who was bouncing around the living room not 5 minutes before we left for the doctor's office. He never ran a fever. She asked me if he had been complaining about his ear... and he hadn't. He'd complained a lot about his stomach, but never mentioned his ear at all.
I posted about the Moosh's awful runny nose back in the beginning of November. I had taken him to the doctor's office that same day and asked the nurse practitioner to give him a different antihistimine/decongestant because the stuff he was on just wasn't working and I was worried about him getting a serious illness. She pooh-poohed me and gave me the same stuff that hadn't been working for months.
Honestly after that I was reluctant to take him in with "just" the runny nose because nobody seemed that concerned about it.
I complained to the doctor, loudly, on Wednesday that I thought the nurse practitioner's incompetence was directly involved in the Moosh's current pneumonia (for fuck's sake), and made sure that she knew he needed something else to control the drainage. She started him on a one-two punch: Singulair and a nasal spray called Rhinocort. Lo and behold... 3 days later we are now free of the runny nose of doom. He seems a lot better, but I can't help kicking myself for just allowing that nurse practitioner to give him the same stuff that didn't work the first time.
Meanwhile I thought I had the same thing on Thursday, and ended up calling in to work because I felt so rotten. I think now it was lack of sleep and worry... I felt fine after a good night's sleep.
I truly hope this is the end of the runny nose of doom.
When I got home this morning, I packed the Moosh's lunch, made his breakfast, and went to wake him up. He was way groggier than usual, and about 2 minutes after I'd gotten him out of bed R woke up and told me that he'd been up all night coughing. Fuck. No.
I immediately put him back to bed and called in to his school, then hopped into bed with him. He continued sleeping from 8 AM - 11 AM, then we got up for a few hours and went out to lunch, shopped a bit, etc. Then I had to plan Phase 2 of sleeping. My contingency plan for days like this is:
Try to get the Moosh to nap, and sleep while he sleeps. Failing that:
Try to find someone to watch him while I sleep. Failing that:
Occupy him with television in my bedroom while I semi sleep.
The funny thing is that my Dad is pretty much finished with work, except for one day this week... which just happened to be today. He was busy all day. The Moosh did not nap (I was really surprised about this, but there you go), so I moved on to Plan C, TV in the bedroom.
Thing is, we don't have a TV in that bedroom already. We have one TV that's hooked up to cable and our DVD player and that is in the living room. The other TV is our old 19 inch which currently resides in R's room. It is unused. We don't have an alternate DVD player, either. So I rummaged through our movie collection and found a VHS of Shrek. Becuase of said VHS tape, I did not purchase the necessary hardware at Target to hook up the DVD player to the old TV.
I moved the TV and the VCR into the bedroom and popped in the Shrek tape. I made the Moosh a nice snack and got him settled in front of the TV, then went off to change into my pajamas. Imagine then my surprise when I heard the Shrek tape start up.... in Spanish. Yes, folks, I had pinned my afternoon nap on the Spanish dubbed Shrek VHS.
Back into the car, braless and in pajamas, to buy the converter so that I could hook up the DVD player to the old TV. We used to have one but I have no idea what happened to it. I told the Moosh I would buy him a movie to go with the converter because he was upset about me going to the store in my pajamas.
At Target, again, I got the converter and seriously considered buying the cheapest DVD player they had to ease the installation process of our current DVD player, but in the end decided to save the $30. The Moosh got a Care Bears movie (blech) and we were out of there and back home by 4 PM. I ripped out the DVD player from the main set up and got it installed in the bedroom. Then I gave the Moosh his snack, and told him I was going to nap next to him on the bed and if he needed anything he could come and ask me and I would get it for him.
Plan C was... somewhat successful. You can't really sleep while also babysitting, and I found the movie to be quite intrustive to my sleep process. I was able to doze enough to get a second wind and wake up enough to make dinner and straighten up the house. When R came home I went back to bed and got another hour of semi-sleep before I left for work.
One thing I will do differently for the future: I am definitely buying a cheapo DVD player. I have not yet been able to hook the cables for the current DVD player to the TV because it's really a two man job, and I am not two people. Also I had forgotten how... tempermental the DVD shelf in the entertainment center is... suffice it to say that there was much swearing involved in this process and I do not want to do it again.
I gave R some extra medicine for the Moosh tonight, to give as needed, but if he continues to cough all night and not sleep then I forsee YET ANOTHER trip to the doctor in our future. He's only had a runny nose for 2 months, and despite my protests, the doctor's office continues to give him the same decongestant that doesn't work. We all need our sleep, though. Sleep not optional.