I Dropped the Ball on Preschool

I messed up.

And I’m mad about it.

Earlier this year, people started asking me if R would be going to preschool this fall. I said no, I didn’t feel like she was emotionally ready. My biggest fear was that I would send her to school and she would be difficult and stubborn and that she would defy the teacher… like she does with me, all the time. It’s no secret that my oldest is extremely strong-willed.

However, over these last few weeks, I’ve noticed a big change from five or six months ago. Honestly, I’ve noticed a change even from just two months ago, when her brother was born. I’m realizing that I was probably wrong on her not being ready for preschool, especially since I have seen this strong-willed child actually listen to people who aren’t one of her parents or grandparents. This is completely new and, actually, unexpected.

To add to it, she’s been asking about where the neighbors’ kids have been lately. When I tell her they’re at school, she asks me, “Can I go to school too?”

I had looked around a little bit at potentially sending her to preschool earlier this year. I emailed someone back in March and she had given me a list of places I could look into. I sort of did, but then I kept putting off doing more work on it. Part of that was because I didn’t feel like R was ready, and the other part was because I had a busy summer: my best friend got married, I had baby number three, my mom got married, and then we went on vacation. Only then did things seem to settle down, and by then it was the end of August.

Realizing that I’ve dropped the ball on getting her enrolled somewhere, I’ve started the process of trying to find her a spot at one of the preschools near us, but I only started that this week. We can’t afford to pay for a spot somewhere so I’m trying to find an opening at a free program, and that’s been proving difficult. Programs are either near capacity already (and giving preference to certain kids using criteria that wouldn’t fit my child) or not calling me back. I’m finding myself feeling frustrated.

Preschool should really be provided through public school for free, in my opinion. It’s not, though, so I’m stuck trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until the last minute with the other two.

Things Parenting Books Don’t Teach

When you have children, there will be moments during their lives where you are caught completely unprepared. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve thought about the situation you find yourself in, it doesn’t matter how many people have offered you advice, it doesn’t matter what books you’ve read, it doesn’t matter if you’ve even been through it before…

It will catch you off guard.

I’m fairly lucky. While some of my friends have had to deal with illness after illness it seems, my kids have rarely gotten sick – at least, until very recently. R recently spent some time in the emergency room for a high fever, body aches, chills, and general fatigue. Something viral, we were told, most likely the flu.

Tonight, at 2am, I woke up because I noticed one of the lights was on in the bathroom, which was pretty unusual. R still wears pull-ups to bed, but the best I could guess was she had gotten up to use the bathroom at some point. E needed a bottle anyway, as she had just woken up, so I got out of bed to take care of the light, use the bathroom, make a bottle, and turn the heat up.

As I was washing my hands in the bathroom, I heard a little voice at the door. “Mom, what you doing?”

I opened it to find R standing there. I told her I had to go potty and it was time to go back to bed. Just as she was asking me for some water, it happened. My worst nightmare. It was honestly the one thing that I have been dreading since R was born just over four years ago.

She vomited. Everywhere. All over my brand new carpet.

My half-asleep brain started to panic and I called for my husband. My inability to keep calm, of course, upset my daughter too. He came running out into the hallway to find the mess, just in time for me to attempt to get her into the shower, just as she began getting sick again.

More vomit. All over my bathroom.

She was crying, I was panicking, trying to figure out what to clean next. My husband was trying to calm her down and get her cleaned up.

Almost forty minutes later, R had been cleaned up and plopped onto the couch with a bucket, a movie, and a glass of water. I had managed to clean half the bathroom floor and all of the carpet in the hallway. My husband cleaned up the other half of the bathroom and the child, and then threw a bunch of vomit-covered things into the wash.

Nothing prepared me for this. Even arming myself with the knowledge that I would eventually have to deal with a sick child didn’t prepare me for the scene I had to deal with tonight.

As parents, there will always be things we’re good at and things we’re not good at. For me, dealing with projectile vomit at 2am is not exactly something I’m well suited for, but I’m thankful to have a partner who’s willing to spring into action with me and help me clean up some of it too. I’m twenty-nine weeks pregnant, exhausted, and so grateful that I didn’t have to deal with this by myself.

Husband: if you ever read this, know that I love you. Truly. I don’t know how I would have gotten through tonight without you.

Meanwhile, in spite of all of the commotion, somehow my dear, sweet toddler managed to sleep through everything. What a time for her to start sleeping through the night.

Are You Sure You Want Kids?

If you were unsure about having kids, let me tell you a story of what it’s like to have a three and a half year old and a five month old.

A couple of days ago, after I was finished with work, I went downstairs to start dinner. Chicken tacos were on the menu, and I put a few chicken breasts in my Instant Pot to get those going. When it came time to shred the chicken, I pulled each one out individually to do so.

Meanwhile, R was keeping herself busy and E was in one of those sit-and-stand toys in the kitchen, keeping herself occupied. R kept asking for “yellow cheese,” which really just means she wanted the Kraft singles that were in the fridge. I told her to wait, dinner would be done soon, but she got into the fridge anyway to grab her cheese.

Fine. Whatever. It’s not worth the fight.

She was on her third slice when she asked if she could go potty – because, no matter how often I tell her she doesn’t need permission, she always has to have my blessing before she uses it. I sent her away, telling her to go ahead and go potty. By then, E started crying, wanting out of her toy. I kept talking to try to distract her until I could finish with the chicken.

R came back into the kitchen a couple of minutes later, asking me about the potty. Then she said cheese. Specifically, it came out, “Cheese potty.” I knew immediately where this was going, yet I still found myself asking…

“What about the cheese and the potty? Did you throw your cheese into the toilet?”

No response from R. I set down my fork and my knife and headed around the corner to the bathroom, which is when E got really upset and wouldn’t calm down. Sure enough, there was the slice of cheese sitting at the top of the water. I sighed. “Why is your cheese in the potty?” I asked.

All R could do was ask me to get it out.

I explained that I couldn’t and tried to flush it, and the toilet was clogged. E was crying so hard that I knew I would need to come back to it in a minute, so I went back to the kitchen to grab her, and she had pooped – and it had gone halfway up her back. (No wonder she was crying!) I panicked for a minute, then went back to the toilet to quickly unclog it.

Then, I went back to clean up E a little so I could pick her up to take her upstairs for a change. R, upon realizing that her cheese was gone forever, began sobbing about the fact that the toilet had essentially eaten the cheese that she had intended to eat herself. There were tears. So, so many tears.

I got E cleaned up, gave her a bath, and put her down for a nap while R continued to be upset about cheese. “Cheese gone, Mom?” Yes, honey; the cheese is gone forever. That’s what happens when we throw it into the toilet.

Chaos. And this was an easy day.

So, just in case you were wondering, this is what parenthood is like.