January 2008 Archives

Childcare blues

Dear Finn

Today didn't start out well. On the one hand, Holly is not well, and woke every two hours last night, refusing to settle with anything other than a breastfeed. On the other hand, today is Tuesday. Tuesday used to have very little meaning in this house, then it became childcare day, and then last week is all changed again. Last week when we mentioned to you that Tuesday was childcare day, you promptly said "no childcare, no childcare, ok?" and burst into tears.

There is no faster way to bring a mountain of guilt down on a mother's head, than to hear those words uttered by your kid. Every moment that I have questioned you going to childcare, every justification that it was doing you good, every time that you have cried when we left you there...all those moments joined into one giant guilt blob beadily smirking at me. It was not fun. I heard all those voices in my head. Those frankly annoying people that loudly proclaim "they didn't bring a kid into the world just to have someone else raise it". Those same people that shunt their kid off to a family member and blithely sidestep around the irony. I don't like those people. But on a day like this particular Tuesday morning, maybe they're more right than they deserve to be.

So I did what I felt was right, and what I felt was needed. I made you go to childcare as I had stuff that needed to get done. Stuff that wouldn't get done if you were around. I talked to the head of the centre, and I talked to the group leader of your room. They didn't brush away my concerns which was great. They agreed to observe you for a couple of weeks and see what happens. We all agreed what a sensitive fragile boy you are sometimes, and I vowed to give you all the reassurance I can, in the moments I have with you.

This week, this morning, after a long night of broken-sleep, you said the same thing again. "No childcare". Sigh. I wondered whether I really had the strength to deal with this today, as I stepped away and tried not to cry. You break my heart, sometimes, you really do. But your Dad started talking up the good things. The bicycle ride to get there. The things you would do when you got there. The people you would see. And you seemed to turn around. You started talking about "good time" and "sounds good". Perhaps they were parroted phrases, but I'm hopeful you've inherited your Dad's optimistic nature.

So we shall see what the rest of the day brings.

Your Dad has just rung and told me, that you didn't cry when he left, but turned into a total recluse, refusing to talk to anyone, or do anything other than sit in his lap.

At times like this I just don't know what to do.
The rock. The hard place.


Things to say...

Dear Finn

It's been ages since I've written and yet there's so much to say. So I guess I'll just start at the beginning and try to remember all the things you've been up to recently.

Towards the end of last year, we took you on a trip to NZ to stay with your grandparents, Oma and Opa who live on a farm. Your Dad's parents. We haven't stayed with them before, and they went to a huge effort to make us very welcome. You had the most amazing time there, a time that has struck such a chord with you that you still routinely ask to see "picture Oma", and observe that "Opa gone in the car". There were lambs and chicks, a dog named Blue and a tractor. There was Uncle Maarten and cousins Laura and Jayden. There were cats. Mostly, after all the chasing and observing was done, there were Oma and Opa, loving and giving, and willing to provide you with their absolute attention pretty much all of the time. Pretty good grandparents from your point of view and really good babysitters from mine.

Then there was Christmas. With all our travelling out of the way we settled down for a low key Christmas at home. Our tree was a good ol' pittosporum and it was decorated sparsely with coloured lights and images of your fairy godfathers who gave us the tree. You made a Santa star at playgroup to go on top. It had about a thousand presents for you underneath it, and none for anyone else. I did take pity on your Dad and labelled one of yours for him...it's always hard to see a grown man sob, and also amazing that some presents can be both suitable for toddlers AND grown men. We had a day filled with mountains of torn wrapping paper and lots of laughs. It was a lovely way to celebrate the day...our little family, prawns on the barbie and a fine sauvignon blanc. No stress.

Since then, I'm not really sure what we've been up to. We don't get a lot of sleep these days. Miss Holly has decided that complaining on and off through the night about her sore teeth is the best way to get some attention. It's times like these when a two bedroom place just aint big enough. But you have been funny and temperamental, interactive and hyperactive. You are growing up.

We haven't really been stressing about toilet training, although Santa did bring you some undies for Christmas. Every now and then you put them on and we watch what happens. Unfortunately it has coincided with an aquarium screensaver on the pc along with lovely soothing bubbly sounds and lots of tropical fish. You last approximately 30 sec in front of this thing before there's a puddle around your feet. I ask you if you need to go wees and there's no response. About 10 sec post-puddle you look down and say with extreme surprise "all wet!". It's like yee-up. How did that happen? The interesting thing is when you're naked you're actually much more in control. I guess the feeling of undies against your skin is similar to a nappy and you haven't yet worked out the difference...but as I say, no stress. You'll get there.

On a similar vein, the other day it was obvious by your grunting and slightly red face that you were filling your pants with something. After a suitable length of time, you reached around behind yourself and declared "poo. BIG poo!" As if that wasn't enough clarification, it was then followed by "BIG POO! Wowee!" I laughed and laughed and then rang your Dad so that we could share this marvellous moment, although I'm suspicious he didn't really think it appropriate office conversation.

Your little jobs have expanded to include: making the toast in the morning, putting the lid on the teapot, pushing the buttons on the microwave, pushing the buttons on the washing machine, picking up the telephone and closing the front door if anyone leaves. Should you for whatever reason not get to do these jobs, there is trouble. TROUBLE I should say. And so, you mostly get to do these jobs.

You have become much more interactive. There are many things that you like to talk about, most of them to do with construction. Your fascination with cranes, diggers, piles of dirt and trucks is huge. You love to stop and stare at these things forever and you require endless validation of your comments. "A crane!" "Yes, it's a crane." "A BIG crane!!" "Yes, it is a big crane." " BIG yeo crane!" "It is indeed a big yellow crane." And so on. If you get no response you get very frustrated and annoyed that no-one is listening to and responding to your genius remarks to the extent that it is a bit wearying at times. At other times your observations are hilarious. You commonly complain that your wee is "stuck" when you can't produce anything.

You have become even more of a dynamo. You have learned to jump with both feet and insist on doing it everywhere all the time. As soon as your Dad comes home from work he is greeted with "run round couch". Which is one of your favourite things to do. If you were a dog you would definitely need two runs a day. As it is, you pretty much need two runs a day. Your downtime is miniscule.

I have a friend who after a long application process has just become a foster carer for young kids every now and then. Kids that for whatever reason are probably more suitable staying with strangers than with their own families. It makes me really sad. I look at you and I don't know how anyone could bring a child into this world and not love and care for them absolutely. No matter what a pain in the ass you are on occasion. No matter how self absorbed and ungrateful. As ill equipped as I sometimes feel myself to be, I always know you are the absolute best. My life is forever and utterly changed because of you, and I wouldn't have it any other way.