Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Afternoon Challenge

My son attends full-day preschool at the JCC. It is a 5-minute walk from our house and I work there. I am have a flexible part-time Jewish educator job and am also the preschool (and my son's) music teacher. Needless to say, it is a great deal.

When I first decided to send him there, my primary reservation was that it was full-day. It just seemed like an unneccessarily long day for him, especially considering that I only work part-time. So I decided to pick him up each day around 4:30 - after naptime. This would give us a couple of hours to spend together before dinner.

Sometimes the 4:30-6:30 time is wonderful and I am deeply grateful that I have such a flexible schedule. But truthfully more often than not, it is difficult. Playgrounds are particularly difficult, which is hard when the weather is so nice. Playgrounds have always been hard for us. The combination of his low muscle tone, fearful temperment, and transition challenges (it's always hard to figure out how each influence the other), it's hard for him to just relax and have fun there.

And my presence always seems to make things worse! Lately, he likes to bring a favorite book to the playground, have me sit "criss cross applesauce" and listen to him "read." This is great for a little while, but sooner or later, my one-year old daughter wants to crawl all over the place and I want him to get a little exercise! He gets very frustrated when I chase after my daughter or stand up or encourage him to play.

We just started going to occupational therapy, which I am hoping will help him feel more confident on the play equipment.

Meanwhile, I am often left wondering why I pick him up early (and earlier than almost everyone in his class) when a lot of times, neither of us seems to be having any fun! I don't mean to paint it entirely in negative terms. We do a lot of other fun activities together and lots of times we just go home and chill out. But no matter how much I plan or how thoughtful I try to be about that time, it often, quite frankly, just sucks.

I still think the full-day in school is too long. And I still plan on picking him up early. I have to hope that some good will eventually come out of the Afternoon Challenge. And despite how difficult he can be, he always drops everything and runs into my arms when I come pick him up. Maybe after a long day, he just needs to act out, and I need to help him work it out.


Maya said...

Hey, don't second guess yourself! It sounds like you pick him up early so you can enjoy his company, and he yours--you'd probably feel sad and miss one another if you didn't, regardless of how enjoyable the park is.
I'm not sure what time the building museum closes, but the free kid's play area inside is really great (especially when it's hot or rainy). There are lots of different games and activities--most of which don't require much strength or coordination.

David from JBlog Central said...


Saw your post and thought I'd chime in.

There's a huge difference between just spending time and spending quality time.

Nothing wrong with admitting it.

You might try experimenting with longer hours at school and see how your child reacts to it.

Everyone has a slightly different parenting experience, but I'm pretty sure that when the parent is happier and less stressed from the childcare, it's better for everyone, including the child.