Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is It Preschool Time Yet?

Ah, Summer. You are sweatin' me like a dog. Is it September yet? When do the doors of Kiddo's preschool open? I'll be first in line.

Some summer days, those yummy days when the sun is out but mild and the child has loads of happy curiosity and enthusiasm... wow, I love those days. Bottle'em up, dump'em in a tub and let me soak in them. Those are the popsicle days, the ones where nothing seems to disturb our little tempers and there just seems to be a constant giggle in the air.

And then, there are those other days. The kind that make you think that "summer vacation" is vastly overrated and that preschool can't start soon enough.

This morning was one of those times. Actually, up until ten minutes ago, when Kiddo's little friend arrived to play, I've had a mostly grumpy, complainy little boy in my midst. Picture, if you will, our time leaving the grocery store. The walk up to the store was fine, if a little whiny, but the time at the store was pleasant enough. Kiddo picked out some peaches to share with his friend in a day or so, when they're ripe. As we were leaving, he asked to sit in one of those horrid, ubiquitous car-carts, and that was fine--for a few minutes. Then when I asked him to come along, he didn't say anything, just sat in the middle of the seat and stuck his feet out spread eagle, one shoe poking out of each side window. Defiant body and face, wee pout that we've learned from a friend because he thinks it's cute. Me? Not so much.

We had to meet someone back at the house, and frankly, I just wasn't having any of that. Matter of factly: "You have a choice. Either you can get out of the little car right now on your own, or I will pull you out and it will be pretty unpleasant for you."

Well, at least I get points for not being afraid to discipline my kid in public, right?

He got out on his own, and the rest of the walk home was a mantra/song of  "I'm tired of walking/You need to carry me/Carry me now Mama". Have you heard this tune before? I have it burned into my brain. I'm a firm believer that a little exercise never hurt anyone, and frankly, there's something about a four year old that has to ride in the stroller everywhere that is rather unappealing to me. Certainly, if you have two kids or more to manage, or need some containment, fine, but there's something about pushing around older children as if they are potentates because they just don't want to walk that just bugs me. Kiddo obviously disagrees with this concept, but I'm not looking forward to pushing a five year old around everywhere, so I'm setting some precedents now. The walk to the store isn't long, either. We save the stroller for longer outings, but this is within reason.

This summer has been a lesson in being the mother of a four year old. The little moments of dishonesty have begun, and I'm all for holding him accountable. The fibs are always small, little conveniences. Many times, he says he's done something that he hasn't in order to get a desired something (moving onto play, getting some attention). I call him on it. I ask him to double check that he's done his task, then remind him that "If I come in and it's not done, I'm going to need you to take some time on your own. Do you need another minute before I check on that?" Often, he takes me up on the offer to make sure things are done and says yes to more time. Big cleanups, I'm happy to help with, but little things like getting clothes to the washing or small self-care jobs, I believe he needs to be able to do without a lot of validation for dragging his feet.

Of course, there are the days when we are legitimately sad about some thing or another and I am a good sport, but days like today seem to drive me up a tree. Consequently, he was offered several times today that he could "use a pleasant voice like this (as I work to keep my own voice modulated and pleasant), or you can go into your room if you want to use the complaining voice. I don't like to hear it where I'm working."

Being a mom can make me feel like such a bitch, sometimes. Some days. Some days, I read some article about the joys and fleeting preciousness of our children and think "Please stuff it somewhere. It is not all roses and deep heartfelt moments. The parenting thing? Not enjoying it so much today, thanks." I thought this while working in the front garden this morning, pulling stubborn weeds and doing some serious grunt work. Kiddo was pounding chalk chunks with a good hefty rock, making a mess everywhere and yet complaining. All I could think was "Seriously? I am working my ass off and smell like a mule right about now. Please take your grumbling elsewhere."

Although, there was a lot of grumbling, so I can see how he couldn't take it all with him. Tee hee.

He's happy now, for the moment, and I'm feeling sapped out. Hard work and heat do it to me, and I'm so grateful that his little friend is over. Don't think by my typing this out that I've escaped my parenting duties; I've always got an ear out for voices, for stress and for too much quiet. In any case, the thought that preschool is only about a month away is both a balm and bittersweet. It means that he's going to keep on growing, growing up and growing away. He's going to be one of the 'big kids' at his school, a returnee. And after that, kindergarten won't be too far away. So, even on days like this, while I want to send him off to someone else's care for a few hours, I also want to hold onto him just a bit tighter, keep him a little longer. This sort of nostalgia plays mind tricks on parents all the time, and I'm sure that when the friend goes home, we might likely be right back where we started. But for right now, I'll have this soppy, soupy, goopy mama moment. For today, it's what I've got.

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