Sunday, August 24, 2008

beginnings and middles

Well, not like I thought that the first week of school would be PERFECT or anything but...yes, part of me wanted the first week of school to be perfect. I fantasized beyond reason that Cal would instantly fall into place with the new environment, that he would jump in with gusto and he would love the teachers and the teachers would love him and we would all be sitting 'round the fire with Cal leading a rousing chorus of Kumbaya, a song that he had never sung before but learned flawlessly after hearing it once at SCHOOL. The reality of this first week was...well, it was a little different.

Two things happened the way I wanted it to--probably the most important things. Cal loves his new school, and his teachers (at least purportedly--not like they would tell us if it were the opposite) think he is wonderful. But this transition, which we are still working through, has not been the smoothest. First of all, let me underline the obvious--in the past two months, basically every single constant of Cal's life, save his parents and his dog, have changed. Everything is different, and he probably feels like he has had very little control over any of it, because, well, he hasn't. New city, new house, new nanny (well, two new nannies, actually--we are on number two now, and she is wonderful and seems to be settling in well), and now, a new school with new teachers, new kids, and new rules. So it is perhaps not totally shocking that he is reacting to this in some way.

Cal was basically toilet trained. His main problem is that he was shy about going to the bathroom with anyone other than me or Joe (he still won't go with our nanny, or his grandparents for example), but he was pretty reliable in general about holding it, letting us know when he needed to go, and actually going in the toilet, both in and out of the house. We even managed to get him to pee standing up, a coup accomplished not by Joe, who actually understands the mechanics of this maneuver, but by me, which was very surprising to all involved. (I just told him to aim for the water. This ready-aim-fire is probably fun for him in some gross boy way.) But since he started school, he has regressed in this arena. I expected some accidents at school, of course, owing to the shyness of telling the teacher that he has to go, but he basically started acting like he had never in his life been out of diapers. By day three, they started putting him in Pull-Ups as more of a hygienic issue than anything else. Though in my heart of hearts I knew this might happen and in fact sent him to school with about three changes of clothes, I hadn't sent him to school with any Pull-Ups (well, really the Pampers brand "Easy-Ups," but whatever, I call adhesive bandages "Band-Aids") because I didn't want to encourage him to fall back on old habits. But dude, he was peeing everywhere. And upon further consideration, I think that reverting to Pull-Ups in the short term at school may just be a way to remove one more stressor from the transition. You know, he has a lot to adjust to, why not let him worry about one less thing and concentrate more on the other social aspects of being at school. We know he is capable of being toilet-trained, he hasn't had an accident all weekend since he's been at home. But I think it will fall into place once he settles in, so let's just remove the puddles from the equation for right now and maybe we can all start doing a little less laundry.

The other thing (and this probably goes with the rest of it) is that he is manifesting an ability to be amazingly stubborn. For the first few days, he was just absolutely refusing to do what his teachers were asking him to do. Even things that he likes to do, like putting on his backpack (he loves his new backpack), he was refusing to do, basically because he was asked. He would not help clean up, he would not lie on his rest mat, he would not sit in his cubby for roll call at the end of the day, he would not talk to the teachers when they spoke to him. I think this is partially a control thing--he was fine nattering on to the teachers and everyone else the rest of the time, and he clearly enjoys the activities that they do in the class, he just would not for the life of him follow direct orders. This, of course, was completely distressing and foreign to me--as a real weenie kid myself, I lived my whole childhood obedient and quiet and eager to please, distraught at even the idea of disobeying. The thought of my kid being a "problem kid" (even though there are plenty of reasons for him to be acting out, and not like it's anything the teachers haven't seen before) just floored me. But he started getting a little better by the end of the week, and I think that these issues, along with the toilet training regression, will smooth out over time once he starts to feel more comfortable and settle into his new routine.

But--BUT--the important thing is that he loves school. I was lucky enough to be able to pick him up from school every afternoon this week, and he is always in a great mood, telling me, "I love my new big school," and asking me if he can go back tomorrow. The teachers are wonderful and empathetic (I wrote them a little note, explaining about all the upheaval in Cal's life recently), and they've been really patient and warm about the whole thing, giving us updates sometimes even midday (via e-mail) and assuring us that they are not worried, and that Cal is doing great. We are "playing school" in the evening, practicing some of the routines so that Cal can get used to them, and we have instigated an incentive program at home, with M&Ms rewarded on a sliding scale for various potty-related tasks. (3 M&Ms for peeing with me or Joe, 5 M&Ms for peeing with our nanny, 10 M&Ms for peeing in the potty at school or, wonder of wonders, actually pooping in the potty. We are still working on it.) So it's been a long week, but a good one, I think.

The other thing that happened this week is that I hit the official midway point of this pregnancy, reaching 20 weeks today.

I haven't been taking any belly photos up until now, because frankly I was doing other things, and also, the size of my abdomen seemed to be highly dependent on the time of day, so a picture seemed like it would only convey a partial truth. The ballooning of my mid-section happened a little earlier this time around than last time, most probably because I am pre-stretched for comfort, but at the end of the day, I am significantly larger than in the morning, probably related to eating and smooth muscle relaxation and decreased GI motility and all the rest of it. So this is a picture from this morning, which probably most accurately represents the actual size of my uterus, minus the additive effects of lunch and dinner and about ten liters of gas. And yes, those are still moving boxes in the bathroom, what of it? WHAT, YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE'RE NOT UNPACKED YET? Honestly, I've barely unpacked any of my clothes at all, mostly because many of the boxes contain winter clothes, which, even come winter, I will probably not be able to fit into, because I will be all gravid and stuff. The problem with having a due date in January this time around instead of July, like with Cal, is that all my maternity clothes are for the wrong damn season. Oh well, more reason to go shopping, I guess. This is the only time in my life, by the way, when I think that the current trend of billowing trapeze tops and empire waisted dresses is an attractive idea. Usually, I'm like, "THIS SHIRT MAKES ME LOOK PREGNANT," but now I'm like, "Woo, cheap-ass maternity top from Forever 21!"


  1. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…