The Dev is about two weeks into his transition, and of course it’s a transition for us all. We’ve already completed a “big” school project and are getting a new level of feedback on his performance. In addition what I’ve learned is that being the new kid, even at four years old, is hard. He has to make new friends and infiltrate pre-existing social circles. That is not the easiest task for adults, so it can’t be so great for children either.
What’s more is that the morning routine has changed dramatically. He commutes 10 minutes to school instead of one hour, he can sleep an hour and a half later (he doesn’t – maybe an hour at the most), and the wife is getting to and from work in record time. Her job and the school are now in the same borough, a novel idea. And she’s still working part time as a licensed clinical social worker, so Dev is getting some valuable attention.
Then there’s me. Apparently I’ve drawn the short straw. My commute has gotten much worse. I now have to take the bus to the subway and I’m averaging an hour and forty five minutes each way to and from work. The best part is that our local city buses are like school buses in the morning, loaded with dedicated students cursing, texting, and talking on their cell phones. The subway is a little better – I get to read. I have to leave at a quarter to seven to get to work by 8:30. The trip home is a mess. It’s what some people would call a crap shoot. Rush hour in NYC can get sketchy. And the MTA had the nerve to raise the fare of the monthly pass by five bucks. It’s all worth it though, because Dev is much happier than I’ve ever seen him.
He’s still grumpy. For some reason he has never liked it when staff at school say good morning to him. I don’t know if in his head that statement officially starts his day and he’d prefer to ease himself in, or if he’s just not a morning person. I know from personal experience that cheerful people can be really annoying early in the morning. “Why are your eyes so red?” someone once cheerfully asked me. Anyway, to combat the morning grump we have instituted a reward system that gives stars every time he says good morning to his teachers and doesn’t run into the corner, drop his eyebrows into his famous scowl, and fold his arms. An accumulation of stars then “buy” him little prizes. Hopefully it will also eliminate the morning mumble of “I want to go home,” which he tosses out to his mother at every drop off.
The first day the system was implemeted was last Friday. And depending on how you look at it, it was a success. We debriefed him on what we expected from him and he seemed to understand. When he arrived at school he ran to the assistant who was covering at the time and gave her a hug, then sat down. He didn’t utter the words we requested, but what he did showed that he was making the attempt. He earned his first star, though we are still pushing for the words.
Me, I’m exhausted from the commute, trying to write the short story I’m working on, blogging, podcasting (I have a new podcast, but as usual there are some technical difficulties which are slowing its release), and from actually being a parent who practices what he preaches. I’ll concede that it’s a small price to pay for your family’s sanity.
Is burnout one or two words?
I wish I could tell you it gets easier as he gets older (I’m a Dad of a two daughters 21 & 17). It doesn’t. Soon you’ll be adding on the extracurriculars– the sports and the clubs and the music lessons. The running here and there. And just when you think that’s over, boom! he’s driving and staying out past your (getting ever earlier) bedtime.
I don’t know about Moms, but this I can tell you about Dads– when you do it right (and from reading your blog it sounds like you certainly are) exhaustion is your constant companion.
And I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it!
Good grief, that is a crazy commute! In fact, that’s an LA worthy grind right there! But at least you get to chill a little bit on the train.
Lovegirl refuses to speak in the morning as well! I chalk it up to her not liking the nursery staff as much as her teacher -the nursery staff arrives first an opens the school. I’m trying to get her to be pleasant – she responds to “good morning” with a “look” and promptly sticks her thumb in her mouth. Maybe I’ll implement your reward system – she loves “stuff!”
If it makes you feel better, it takes be about an hour to do the loop – home, preschool, work. And I live in Mississippi!
I mean it takes “me” an hour. Oops.
I don’t know, I’d be inclined to let him slide. I am not a morning person and I would hate it if someone forced me to say something I really wasn’t feeling to people first thing. Especially when I was adjusting to a new situation anyway. Plus a hug is better than a standard, boring “good morning.”
But, then again, I have a different perspective on it because when my munchkin was 3 and 4 years old she would burst into hysterical tears whenever I dropped her off at school. She was better when hubby dropped her off – but hated to see me walk away. So from my point of view, just being calm was a lot to ask – saying, “good morning,” would have been monumental.
I commiserate with you about the commute. I frequently (though not every day, thank goodness) drive an hour to a family member’s house for childcare and then go to work – which takes about another hour – so it’s two hours, twice a day. If I had to do it everyday for more than a couple of weeks, I’d be a basket case. I’ve frequently considered taking the subway rather than driving because at least I could sit and read on the ride back. I think I have to really start thinking about that more seriously.
No two ways about it, that commute sounds like hell. I’m glad your son is benefitting though.