Where You Go, I Go
This Monday was the first day of daycare for T2 and pre-k for T1. I took the kids to the front yard for a photo and had one child enamored with a balloon and another shivering from the cold. I went back inside and grabbed some jackets so we could try that again.
Much better! And I will unabashedly brag here and say that I did not ask them to hug OR smile. They hugged and smiled for both my dSLR and my iPhone, which earned them a lot of mommy brownie points. I have trained them well.
T1 is going to the same school he has been at for the past year, a school that we chose our housing location based on, and a place that we are already to anxious to enroll T2 in. We love this school so much! When the kids attend as four-year-olds they make a really big deal out of it being the pre-k year, breaking the kids off into a special corner throughout the day to focus a little less on play and a little more on letters and numbers. In the last few months I’ve seen a big change in the detail in his drawings and his desire to engage in imaginative play, and I’m looking forward to watching him progress even more through 2015. We are currently thinking that he will attend the school’s private kindergarten next year as well.
From December of last year to June of this year T2 had been spending 3 days/week with a family down the street, playing with a mom and her six home-schooled children. It was so reassuring to know that she was in an environment where she was loved and adored by so many people, and she had no problem waving goodbye to me each morning when the teenage girls came to pick her up. Unfortunately the mom’s schedule is changing this school year and she is unable to continue the arrangement. Having regularly scheduled kid-free time is really essential for my happiness and emotional well-being, and after about 3 months of no regular help for T2 I told That Husband it was time to find some daycare for her. I waded into the Craigslist postings and spotted one close to our house that has a webcam in the playroom where I can check in on her throughout the day. It’s a home-based place with about a dozen kids and 3-4 caretakers at any given time. They provide the food and offered me the option of Monday-Friday care from 8:30am-1pm, which allows me to spend some time with her in the afternoons before she goes down for her nap. When I picked her up after her first day of care she babbled all the way home in excitement, so I think it’s a good fit for her as well.
Now to wade through my mass of photos from the past year and write a few catch-up posts. Because I know everyone is dying to know what we did for Christmas in 2014 :).
I’ll set the stage for you.
Dad and son are at the park together. Mom and daughter stay home to work on dinner. Well, mom is working on dinner and daughter is watching Daniel Tiger in the bedroom. She’s giggling and talking to herself and it feels like the best kind of Friday evening at home.
Sadly, idyllic times like the one described above aren’t meant to last when there are young children at home. In between prepping the vegetables and dredging the meat I went back to check on what exactly what was so funny about Daniel Tiger and found my duvet cover, baby girl, and baby girl’s stuffed lion covered in globs of hair wax.
She was so proud of her work! Dinner was put on hold and That Husband got home just in time to strip her down and scrub her hair while I washed the bedding and kept the rice from burning.
The next day, a bout of overdue toddler proofing commenced. I’d say we were lucky to be able to put it off this long. I’m going to think about styling her hair sometime, but with a much more conservative dollop of hair wax (the lion has hopefully seen his last round of sticky hair styling).
We have been in Poland for about a week, with another week to go. TH’s family is as lovely as ever, and once the (grueling) flight from the States to Poland is over I always feel we shouldn’t wait so long to come back again.
I anticipated a really awful flight, and the kids actually exceeded my expectations. It was overnight and they slept for a good portion of it. We bought a seat for T2 and put her in a car seat and that made things a lot easier. I also expected jet lag with two kids to be tough, and it was. The kids have been sleeping in the same room for several weeks now, but here we have been unable to get them to settle in and sleep through the night if they are together. I’m grateful that my in-laws are providing us with several days in Berlin without the kids. We are craving some serious re-connection time as a couple.
One thing I didn’t anticipate was how hard this trip would be for T1. Previously he was very young, either not talking yet or just learning to speak, and he didn’t seem to mind the language barrier so much. All speech probably sounded a bit confusing to him! Now though he seems really thrown by the lack of English and strong accents. I confess I’m not sure how to walk the line between affording him space to be shy and autonomous, and pushing him outside of his comfort zone in order to be polite and attempt to form bonds with these family members who love him so much.
We’ve talked about different options but aren’t sure what will be best. Maybe we keep the current approach, visiting for two weeks every 1-2 years, and see how things develop. Try to prioritize video conferencing more often. Long summers in Poland for the kids at some point? Are there things we can do now to prevent the same disconnect for T2?
It’s been really hard for me to watch all of this unfold, because I feel like one way I can express love and gratitude for my inlaws is to encourage my kids to engage with the in meaningful ways. But T1 is his own person, and I can’t force him to feel and think and act in ways that don’t match with what he wants. I hope this is just a stage, like most other things with kids this young.
Do I have any readers with family who live internationally and speak a language that isn’t spoken by their grandchildren/nieces/nephews/etc? How have you made it work?
We met some friends at Big Basin Redwoods State Park to take pictures. After I did my thing and we ate some lunch, they were kind enough to turn the camera around and take some of me and my kids.
The picture above is what I would print out and hang up. The one below is what it’s like trying to get the one above to happen.