Monday, October 27, 2014

Daycare Deadline

bambino on his way to independence...

Our son starts full time daycare on Dec. 1st.

Dec. 1st isn't that far away.

This deadline has been looming for some time. It is both a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and a terrifying moment. Our son needs more stimulation and social activity than either of us can offer him, even with all of the library programs we take him to, and I need more time to teach and write. It is obviously the right choice, but I still feel conflicted about it.

We've chosen a lovely center where friends sent one child and will be sending another who will soon be in our son's class. It is a well-lit location with experienced teachers and we'll be able to attend with him twice a week the month before for "playdates" so that we all become accustomed to it (although I do imagine the smallest one in the family will acclimate the quickest.)

I have long lists of things to do starting on Dec. 1st, but I'll probably sit in my car nearby the first day or two and cry. Or eat Cheetos. And cry. My little baby, who will be 18 months, will be (somewhat) grown up and have his own world with his own friends. Sure, there's a weekly newsletter and we'll receive more reports than we will know what to do with, but... he'll be taking his first steps into a new world.

Our sitters sometimes take him to the playground and local parks. The other day, I took him to a playground and a mother whom I didn't recognize said hello to my son by name. He'd already met them one day when he was out with a sitter. I suppose he is already starting to live independently of us.

I intellectually understand that independence is the goal, but it is still an adjustment from the needs of a tiny peanut whom we held in our arms most of the day 16 months ago. Don't tell the daycare, but I'm hoping to sometimes play hooky from work and take him out for surprise adventures. That is, until he tells me he'd rather be with his friends in daycare.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shadow Puppets & Story Telling

The National Building Museum has lots of great activities and exhibits for kids

After a trip to the National Building Museum with our son, I was reminded how much he is interested in shadows. My husband cut out a cardboard pumpkin face, taped it to a pen, and we introduced my son to shadow puppets and the possibility of creating stories in his room while using his door as a screen. Some of his toys made particularly recognizable shadows, too, which was fun to experiment with.

It didn't last long, since he became particularly interested in the bright light source, rather than the shadows. Still, I'm excited to keep trying this in the future. I look forward to making up characters and stories with the shadows and eventually create stories with him.

For ideas for cut outs or shadow puppets to purchase, Etsy has some great options. Of course, you can also use your hands to make shadow puppets (check out this great collection of animals you can make with your hands.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yes, Your Child Should Be Vaccinated Against the Flu

Influenza can be deadly for children and older adults. You and your children should get the flu vaccine this fall to keep your family safe. For more, read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it, as well as the CDC and NIH.

I know, the shot hurts (I'm the first the complain) and it is annoying to make a trip to the doctor (or a local pharmacy) just for the vaccine, but it is worth it. I believe deeply in vaccines and protecting not only my child, but helping to protect the human tribe. As a poet, I will put my trust in science and those who have studied the issues.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Take Care of Mamma

Author, agent and teacher Cynthia Blair Kane is an inspiration. We were talking about balancing work, life and writing and she said fervently, "Yes! You must take care of yourself. 100% and First." And she's right. If I'm overwhelmed and destroyed by exhaustion, how will I be able to do anything well, including care for my son?

That's not always easy. How is there time to rest (or money to hire babysitters), let alone do all of the things that urgently need to be done? I can put off laundry for a few days, but I can't put off buying food to feed my son meals and snacks.

I don't know what the key is, but I know we each need to be frank with ourselves and our partners. We are all going to make small and big mistakes regularly, but that doesn't mean that all is lost (even if it feels like it through exhausted tears.) Check in with your partner, see what s/he needs and ask for what you need. Be specific. If you don't know what you need but you know you need something, say that. Say what feels real and take care of yourself.

These beginning years are hard. Really, really hard. I'm reminded, though, when teaching memoir writing workshops that journaling can help, too. Many of my students have well-documented pasts in letters, journals and diaries that they kept. Sure, the diaries tend to be fairly emotional, but they help to reminder the writers who they were and how they made it through. This is helpful for your own emotional development, as well as future writing (if you choose to work on that original material.)

Not all writing is or needs to be public. You can write for yourself to keep yourself even-keeled and healthy. Check out Cynthia's website for her recent articles on living well. You might also find this Huffington Post article 6 Unexpected Ways Writing Can Transform Your Health interesting.