Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The End of the Beginning

The Boy has had his last day of preschool. He’ll have a summer vacation, then start kindergarten in September.

I took the day off for his last day, and went with The Wife and The Girl for both the dropoff and the pickup. At the pickup, he and his friends played on the lawn for about a half hour while the parents chatted and the younger sibs milled about. We took pictures, some of which required me jumping around like a monkey to elicit the necessary smiles, and the parents made plans for summer play dates.

(Since I’m rarely there, it was fun to watch the other kids react to having a new Dad in the crowd. A younger sister, who was probably two, just stared at me in raw animal fear the entire time. Her brother, one of TB’s friends, thought it was cool that TB’s Dad was there. Other kids didn’t seem to notice one way or the other.)

Our district has full-day kindergarten, so it will be quite a change from preschool. The Girl will get more Mommy time, which is good, and The Boy will have more going on, for which he’s ridiculously ready. I’ve already told my VP to expect me to be late to work on the first day of kindergarten; as a parent, there are some things you just don’t miss.

The last day of preschool brings a strange mix of emotions. There’s the obvious pride, since TB is growing into a real person, and an admirable one. There’s the wistful recognition that he’ll never be that young again, and that every step forward is also a step away. And there’s the guilt-inducing fear of ‘what the hell are we going to do with him for the next 2 ½ months?’ (As a parent, you get good at having multiple emotions at the same time. We’re proud/happy/sad/exhausted/frustrated.)

Pretty soon we won’t be able to call him a preschooler anymore. He hasn’t looked like one for some time – he’s astonishingly tall for his age – but we could take comfort in knowing that the height was deceiving. Now it won’t be.

The Wife, who will absorb the brunt of the summer vacation, has been working overtime to find things to keep them busy: kids’ storyhour at the library, playdates, swim classes, even a day camp. Still, even with all that, there’s an intimidating amount of open time. The Boy is a great kid, but he likes to turn it up to 11 pretty much all the time, and it can get wearing. When it rains or the heat is prohibitive, running him for extended periods just isn’t an option. We don’t believe in marathon tv-watching. And a few consecutive days of housebound status with two young children is enough to drive anybody bonkers. The Wife is a trouper, but even she has limits. We can prevail upon the grandparents only so much, and major travel just isn’t in the cards. I absolutely could not do what The Wife does. Could. Not. Do. It. And for the love of all that is holy and good, I have no freakin’ idea how single parents do it.

Arlie Hochschild was onto something. Sometimes work is easier than home.
So it’s once more, pining for the beach. Big Boy school looms. Changes are afoot.

Maybe summer won’t be so bad…