Moving Out the Past
Kiddo has been talking about this Lego set since about February or so. He was (and is) you could say enamored with it. Why not? It's got lots of monsters and "fun" creepy elements. It became a ritual to stop and look at the box every time we went to the store, his face would be rapt and radiant at once as he looked at the same figures on the box every time, talking about what was happening in the scene and asking a jillion qusetions. Twice he'd set out in earnest to earn one, however, the cost was $60 and that's a very daunting task for a kid who's six and gets one dollar allowance a week. Along with that, he was doing extra jobs to earn a dollar here and there for me, jobs beyond self-care tasks or homework or his general family responsibilities. These, instead, were the jobs that my parents never really had us do, jobs that saved me time. Some might disagree and say that paying a child for helping out and doing what's asked of them should be avoided, and I think there is good reason to be cautious about this. I also feel that doing small tasks and being used to having to do them thoroughly and correctly is a good thing to teach, because if he ends up doing small odd jobs for others as he grows up, he will know this.
In short, you don't get the dollar unless you earn it, and I don't pay for you to learn those things you need to learn to take care of yourself later on in life. I will, however, pay you to make my life easier but only if the task is done as asked and in the time I have asked it to be done in. We've had a few teachable moments, but he trusts that if he does the job that I will pay him and so we are both growing at this.
He worked hard this weekend, in the ways that he could. There was much for the garage sale he couldn't do, yet he walked all over the neighborhood on an extended grocery run while I stapled up flyers. Before that walk he had helped by busting open a pack of paper towels when I cut my fingers on the block of staples I was trying to load into the staple gun. (Next time I don't have instructions handy, I will consult a YouTube tutorial. Live and learn.) He carried toys outside to the tables and helped me when the sale was slow, emptying the buckets of yard trimmings I was filling up and that was an extra dollar. Considering he was dumping the buckets way up high over his little head, he did a fine job. And when the sale was over, he was helping us to bring what remained back in, which was about 1/3 of what we'd put out.
A good sale over all. I said goodbye to some of my dearest preschool staples, namely my peg-together dollhouse set and the little kitchen. For the past year or so, I'd been holding onto them-- they were a security blanket of sorts, a reassurance that should I need to go back to teaching preschool that I had most of a whole classroom of props and toys to furnish a classroom from scratch.
Letting go of these things meant letting go of the idea of going back. It's like throwing caution to the wind, for me anyway. I've resigned myself to the fact that my next job may very well be at the local grocery store or some other place. Will it be as mentally challenging? Probably not, unless I get a my 'dream job' and land at the library, shelving books. Keeping track of the extreme specifics of shelving within the Dewey Decimal system is right up my alley. In any case, I said goodbye to those totemic items--ones which allowed me to keep alive the idea that 'just in case' I could go back to do something I am pretty burnt out on.
Don't get me wrong-- I love working with children. But the business has changed a lot since I started and frankly, I don't want my son to be the person who gets 'what's left' of me at the end of the day. Children require a lot of patience and in the moment problem-solving, and it can be draining by the end of the day. After twenty years of a job I cared very much about and put a lot of my emotional, mental and physical energy toward, I am ready for a job that I can leave at work, whether that means taking off an apron or rolling an empty book cart into a back room, I don't want a job which ends up taking so much of my mental space again for a while. My life is at a place where I am content to take care of the house, the garden and my three guys (yes, that includes the one with the tail who seems to be the most demanding of all these days). I like having time to pore over Kiddo's homework with him if need be and I like that we don't have to rush through the more important things because I've got lesson plans to do, activities to prep or parent communication to prepare. Just clock off and say goodbye and leave work at work.
The beloved items found a home with a wonderful neighbor who just discovered that she'll be teaching kindergarten in the autumn for the first time. I was elated to give her a bargain and know that those items I loved so dearly would be well-used in a classroom once again.
Kiddo, too, got his heart's delight and is now the proud owner of a Lego "Rancor Pit", complete with the enormous Rancor Monster, a Luke Skywalker figure with two faces (fierce and congenial) and a Rancor Monster Keeper fellow with two faces (happy and sad, because if you remember correctly, in "Return of the Jedi", Luke defeats the monster and the keeper cries). He's built and deconstructed the set twice now and is going for a third time soon.
And it's time to go pick up Kiddo from school here in a minute. We'll eat lunch together, he'll read to me for 20 minutes and we'll tackle the homework while I do dishes. We have our routines and soon, school will be out. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss the downtime, and I'd also be lying if I said that I had a profession which felt more fulfilling than being his mom. Certainly, I'll look for work when the time comes that Kiddo doesn't need me as much as he does now. But for now, I feel lucky that I get to have another summer with him, enjoying the season together. He likes to tuck his little hand in mine when we walk, still, and I think that says a lot. He's got a mom that he actually likes, most of the time. For me, that's payment enough for the Mom Job.