Thursday, July 22, 2010

Christianity, Judaism, and the Five-Year-Old

G was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago. The usual stuff - she was afraid of something in the dark, something outside her window, something. I don't know - it was late and I was frustrated.

Anyway, I attempted to talk her through her fears by hitting on a subject near and dear to her heart - Jesus. She inexplicably has taken a great liking to the Sunday school and the catechesis program at her Catholic preschool, and we were convinced for a while that she would grow up to be a nun. I say inexplicable because her father and I are not devout Catholics by any stretch.

Since we've been having some issues with G lately in terms of sleeping, anxiety, etc., I figured it was the appropriate time to bring out these big guns. But alas, my attempts to reassure her - telling her that angels were watching over her and Jesus was always there with her, too - did nothing to calm her fears. She told me, quite seriously, that she just didn't believe that Jesus was in her heart. I asked her to please explain, since she'd always been a big fan of J, and this new turn of events was a surprise to me.

She donned an air of extreme sincerity and seriousness, pulling me down close to her so I could hear her whispered voice. "I don't believe Jesus is in my heart, because I guess I must be Jewish."

Ha! News to me and I give her a 10 for creativity. My ultra Catholic mother-in-law must have been doing somersaults in her grave upon hearing that one. I, on the other hand, laughed hysterically, told her to go to sleep, and walked out the door where I found my husband in tears on the landing. L'Chaim!

Back to School ...

The first full week of having both of my kids at school has gone fairly well, except that I have developed a wicked summer cold, which is putting a bit of a cramp in my plans for uber productivity.

I will admit to feeling very anxious over the last several weeks as this time approached. I knew G would do great in kindergarten. I've been more anxious, really, about how I was going to handle this change.

A month or so ago several female acquaintances, all of whom work full time, asked if I would be returning to work once both kids were in school. I felt weird and guilty telling them no. My husband and I had accepted it as a foregone conclusion that I would stay home, at least for a while. He wanted to give me the opportunity to finally do some serious writing and the plan still is that I will do just that. Too, we both still believe very strongly in the benefit of being available to our kids as they grow up, something that doesn't end just because they're in school all day.

But it got me to thinking that it is a hard thing, in this day and age, to justify. With the economy in the dumps, and us getting along fine financially (not great, but fine), does it make sense for me to be at home all day living a life of leisure?

Okay, so I'm not really going to be living a life of leisure - I'm not the sort of person to sit around on the sofa eating bon bons all day. I have a long list of home projects that have been just waiting for a child-free block of time to get completed, along with the daily task of taking care of the family's needs, trying to pick up some writing jobs, working on a novel, and oh, there's my part-time job at the fitness club, and PTA responsibilities, too.

And though my husband totally supports me, I started to get a little nervous about the whole thing. How do I organize the day so that I can build in time for projects, writing, and overseeing the house, and do it all effectively so that I don't have to justify myself to anyone? How do I not feel guilty if I want to actually take an hour here and there for myself, since I have nothing but time for myself overall? More importantly, what happens when/if I finish all of those projects and the writing is taking up some of my time but not all of it, and I am faced with stretches of empty time?

This is all at once a luxury, a burden, and a responsibility, that presents just as many questions as any other life choice. Thus the anxiety and the conclusion that I will just take it day by day and see how it unfolds.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Second Child

I am convinced that God is a cruel jokester sometimes. I am fond of saying that He gives us an incredibly wonderful, easy baby the first time, so as to sucker us into having more.

Our first daughter was the easiest baby in the world. We patted our own backs on so many occasions for our obvious parenting prowess, for we had a baby who slept through the night within a month of being born, who was always happy, who rarely cried, who still, at six-years-old, is as easygoing and sweet as it gets. And then came G.

G, born a mere 16 months after her sister, started in on us right away by steadfastly refusing to poop at the hospital, sentencing us to two extra days with a crazy and somewhat demented nurse, while we waited, hoped, and prayed for some movement. From the very beginning, she let us know she was determined to call the shots. She was ruddy and fat and loud, with no sign of the sweet "Aah Laah" cooing we'd been accustomed to with our first. She took forever and a day to sleep through the night, walked at nine months, talked conversationally at 18 months, and has been arguing with us ever since. I love her dearly, but boy she gives us a run for our money.

She starts kindergarten tomorrow. If ever a kid needed it more, I'd like to know. I will nominate her teachers for sainthood at the end of the year.

In the meantime, I continue to balance my admiration and frustration with her. Today, while buying school supplies at Target, she cheerfuly read from the school supply list provided by her teacher. Admiration.

We approached the composition notebook display. I picked up a black one. She wanted pink. I could have explained that the books go into a big pile for all of the kids to use and so color was really irrelevant, but I have also learned to pick my battles, and told her to go for it. At some point, she added a butterfly-covered spiral-bound notebook that she wanted for herself. At 50 cents, I agreed.

When I returned home, I couldn't find the composition book and alarm bells went off in my head. I asked her what she'd done with that pink book and she cheerfully explained that she'd decided she'd put it back and gotten the butterfly notebook instead, not in addition to, as I'd mistakenly assumed. As usual, at five-years-old, she thought she knew better than me and now I have to go back to Target. Frustration.

And so it goes.