Okay, not those wheels. But super cute summertime picture, right?
About a year ago Spencer and I looked into the possibility of putting Matthew into a preschool program, only to find out that we couldn’t afford it -- you can imagine our lack of shock. Since at the time we were also working on having our second child, it worked out that when the baby was to be born I could just be home with Matthew and teach him what I wanted to myself. So far I have, and so far it’s proven to be one of those few precious things in life that just works out exactly the way you imagine it would. (Apart from the fact that we stay in our Pjs a lot more than I would have planned) I love it. For this small window of time, Matthew totally eats up being a little nerd with as much enthusiasm as I do, and I get to reap the satisfaction of making and watching it all go down. It’s been incredible. And eye-opening too. I never would have imagined Matthew could know half of the things he does at his age. I’m convinced at this point that if I had put him into an early education program, I’d never know how capable he actually was of learning more than he was being taught. I love knowing exactly where he is and being able to tweak our little games and activities accordingly. After spending so much time away from him while I worked, there’s so much I love about spending this time with him, that I can’t even boil it down into just a few sentences. Point is: it’s working out.
Matthew is awesomely capable of learning almost anything you put in front of him. The problem, though? The problem is that, as with a lot of very smart kids, he has a bit of an issue with being A MAJOR PAIN IN THE ASS. Mostly whenever he’s around anyone other than just me or his dad, which can make leaving the house with him very touch and go.
Learning shapes at his buddy Evan's house over the summer.
A big part of the plan was supposed to entail getting him out of the house and interacting with other kids, especially since he was pulled out of daycare. My plan was to have scheduled activities that we went to maybe twice a week. I wasn’t trying to overdo it, especially since there was still a lot I planned to take care of around the house with my time off, too. My main concerns were that I wanted to get a little mix of activity into his routine, I wanted him to meet new friends (and not beat them up or boss them around), and more than anything else, I wanted to introduce him to the concept of listening to someone else in charge. A couple of things I felt would help to prepare him for school.
For the first few weeks that Scarlett was home, getting out of the house was just too much, too soon. It took us all a while to adjust in our own ways, and I didn’t want getting out of the house to be a chore, so I didn’t push it. We started small with the Bear library which is cozy, quiet and close to home. It was the easiest place for me to get used to juggling both kids at once… In fact it was where I learned that if I absolutely needed to, it was possible for me to grab Matthew with one arm and pull him up onto my hip during a meltdown with Scarlett snuggled undisturbed inside the wrap. It was where I could introduce Matthew to a handful of rules without it really disrupting anybody else if he chose not to listen -- we could just leave (and without having wasted any money, which is very important to me since Spencer works really hard to bring in the family’s income on his own now and I want to be considerate of that). We’ve been going once a week now for a while.
Tuesday I took him to Tots on Wheels, which I was super excited about for two reasons. One, it was his first lesson of some sort with an instructor and two, because Matthew LOVES to skate. I can’t put into words, though, how nervous I was about it not being a good experience. I worried about being embarrassed if he didn’t listen, I worried about him disrupting the other kids’ experience if he didn’t listen, I worried about Scarlett being off-schedule and throwing things off, but I also knew we had to start somewhere and this was the only activity I’d found so far that I knew would be worth the effort.
All in all, there weren’t really any surprises. Scarlett scared me by crying for no apparent reason through the start of it all (which is like her, you know, just to keep me on my toes) but then stayed pleasantly alert and quiet through the whole session. Matthew enjoyed skating, but didn’t really take to the idea of accepting instruction. If he was asked to be over here, over there suddenly looked a lot more appealing, but I liked that it wasn’t the end of the world for him to just go off of his own either… He kind of tuned in and out to the lesson, and was probably able to get more out of it that way, in all honesty. He got excited about story time at first, then got bored half-way through and politely informed me he was done with it, something I saw coming a mile away even though he LOVES story time at home (I’m a total nerd for books so I get really weirdly into the reading and Matthew’s very picky about only wanting me to read to him). One thing I did notice, though, that surprised me in a good way was that seeing everybody else stay seated after he got back up to skate, pulled him back in. (Hmm. Could that be an early sign of the cooperation bug catching on?? Mayyybeeee!) Matthew’s not a shy kid, but be didn’t talk to anyone else while we were there, even though he was open to the idea when I suggested it. That was disappointing because it kept me from having much of a chance to talk to other adults - which I was looking forward to, especially when some other moms I knew coincidentally showed up, too -- but I can’t complain. We had a total blast just hanging out together and he even looked up a me a few times while we were skating and thanked me for taking him. Any other time we’ve been skating I’ve had to go out on the floor with skates too, which is fun, but being able to go on the floor in sneakers for the first time made it much easier to keep pace with him and allowed me to bring the baby out with us.
For five bucks there was a lot of time to just skate freely, plenty of instruction, free rentals (even for adults if they choose to skate along), fun music, story time, a good deal of other kids without feeling crowded at all, a snack, games, and even a treat as we were leaving. And the employees there could not have been sweeter. Plus, you can’t beat the exercise. I think we may have found our second weekly activity for the winter!