It's almost as if I had to choose
between effectively home schooling my 10 and 12 year olds (you can assume the word “effectively” means without getting totally frustrated at my four year old every ten minutes for jumping off the kitchen table for the 87th time while we’re sitting around it, trying to interpret some National Geographic article on why honeybees are not native to North America) and just being at home with him, giving him all my attention. The age difference between my Big punks and my Small, yet dynamically energetic, four year old is never more glaring than during the school year.
It’s so glaring that I feel like a teacher in a one room schoolhouse (but without the hair bun and ugly shoes) and Laura Ingalls Wilder is going to burst into my kitchen at any second and give me some pointers on teaching grades K-8 all in one day. I know some families home school all their kids from the very young to teenagers, but I’m having trouble finding a balance between “STOP TRYING TO FLY DOWN THE STAIRS” and “Okay punks, let’s talk about dangling participles for a few minutes.” Because I can barely explain adjective clauses and indirect objects to myself in a quiet house, let alone to two wide-eyed tweens in a very loud house being turned upside down by one of the cutest and most destructive 35 lb forces I’ve ever met.
I made a choice. And I chose pre-k.
I’ve played a mental game of ping pong with the pros and cons of my decision all summer, but for the most part I think this little child is going to have an incredible amount of fun in a brightly colored room filled with toys, music and other four year olds who think smelling each other’s fingers and galloping at light speed in circles in the best thing ever. I sincerely hope they pay those teachers well.
I chose three, glorious, uninterrupted hours every day to be alone to with my Big punks, having actual continuous conversations. I’m going to be able to speak in full sentences without being punched in the butt by a small hand wanting attention. My Big punks are going to be able to think about solving their algebraic equations without letting out frustrated sighs of annoyance because another remote controlled car has run away with their pencil. Granted, there will still be frustrated sighs, but they will be directed towards me and since I’m the big meanie making them learn this crap, that would make more sense.
But my baby! I’m sending my baby away! (Insert the image of a hysterical mother ripping out clumps of her hair and wailing at the feet of a bewildered and obviously frightened pre-k teacher.)
Dear God what have I done?! How will he survive without me?!
Five years ago I was trying to get myself knocked up and if somebody had just pulled me aside and gently warned me about the syndrome I’d experience with having a Last Baby I think I would’ve gone into this much better prepared. But nobody did that for me. I was simply given this brilliant, brown-eyed son and went about my business as if HE’S NEVER GOING TO LEAVE SOMEDAY AND BREAK MY HEART.
And he is breaking my heart because he’s so impatient to go to that damned school that he can hardly talk about anything else.
And I’m not the only one cheerfully lamenting this milestone either. My Boy would lasso the moon and stars out of the sky if he thought it might make his little brother smile, and he can’t stop mentioning how big his Bubby looks with his backpack slung over his small shoulders. And my Girl would cross her arms and punch the lights out of any passerby who didn’t smile at her little brother just right (Not that he doesn’t elicit that same response from her with his daily torments, but that’s his job as a little brother I say and WELL DONE I also say. I too, had a little brother and it’s the sweetest revenge to see her so utterly annoyed that her teeth actually become loose.). She dresses him in khaki pants and button up shirts just for practice and tells him how handsome the teacher will think he is.
His Father and I just stand over him, marveling at this beautiful creature we created, knowing deep within our hearts that he’s the link that makes us what we are. We were something good and safe before we met him, but now we are something else. He is made from pieces of each of us and not one of us can stop ourselves from giving him everything he asks for. Which, ironically, is one of the reasons why pre-k is going to be a good! positive! experience for him because he’s, how should I say this, SPOILED ROTTEN. In a good way.
And all he’d ever have to do is just mention breastfeeding and I’d be all over that. It’s sad really. I’d be so much less neurotic had we just gotten ourselves a puppy.