Day Care Parent Conference Day

I can’t believe Punkie is old enough to be having another parent conference week at day care.  I guess he obviously is, since it’s happening.  If you recall, I had a fair amount of confusion leading up to his first conference, last year, around what I would ask or what we could talk about.

This time around, I want to know things like what kind of classmate is he?  Is he kind of pushy or aggressive, or does he stand back and watch, or does he help his classmates?  I also want to know what he excels at and what he has a little more trouble with.  Does he enjoy dance party afternoons, and what does he do when they try to get him to finger paint.  We can work at home with him on whatever he needs help with.

That’s probably what I’m supposed to want to talk about, and I honestly do.  But I also want to know something less politically correct.  I want to know which one of these kids bit my baby.

About two weeks ago, Punkie came home with a bite mark on his arm.  The teacher explained to my husband, who picked him up that day (and most days), that there was a disagreement over a toy and Punkie was bitten.  We didn’t ask who bit him and the teacher did not offer.  However, THIS parent wants to know which kid did it.  Is it his friend whose name he learned and repeats at home, or was it some bigger kid from another class?

I mean, let’s be honest.  I can’t do much about it.  And I’m sure this is why my husband didn’t ask who did it.  Kids bite sometimes and it’s not like Punkie will understand me if I coach him to use conflict avoidance strategies to avoid future bites.  But I need to know.

 

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Old At Being Young

Punkie is seeing a lot of changes at day care this week.  He and his friend are now the oldest babies in his room, as most of his friends have been moved to the next classroom up.  My husband called to say that, when he dropped Punkie off this morning, there were three new, smaller babies in his room and they were all freaking out.  Poor Punkie looked concerned, he said.

Punkie is also working through a teacher change.  His room has two teachers, a lead teacher and a second teacher.  His second teacher really loves Punkie – she dotes on him and carries him around a lot.  Well, that second teacher was promoted to be the lead teacher in another room.  This is probably tough for him in the moment, but she’s now the lead teacher in the next room up (where all his friends are now), so Punkie will see her again in a few months when they move him up.

Our understanding is that Punkie will also be moved up when he is 12 months old, or sooner if he starts walking, provided there is space in that room.  I feel like, even though he’s not quite 9 months old yet, we should start working on the walking so he can rejoin all of his friends sooner.  I worry that, since the new babies are quite young, they’ll require more attention and care, and Punkie will get less.  Also, he enjoyed watching the older babies and learning the things they could do.  I’m concerned that he will be bored.  I don’t know if babies get bored like that, but I suppose we’re going to find out very soon.

Day Care is a Cesspool of Germs and Viruses Part II

The past two weeks have not been pretty.

First, Punkie got a cold from day care.  Then I got the cold.  Then my husband got the cold.  We were a collective mess.  Then Punkie and my husband got better, and I got so much worse.  Mine became a sinus infection and ear infection.  I was a singular disaster.

Three visits to the doctor later, I have started and stopped different antibiotics, my hearing has come and gone at regular intervals, and am just now starting to feel better.  I’m way behind on my work and my co-workers think I’m moonlighting as a germ incubator.

Also, we’ve blown through the entire stash of emergency frozen milk because I was on an antibiotic that was not safe for breastfeeding.  I have so much more room in the freezer and a billion extra bottles now, but no emergency cushion.  I wonder if we’ll need a cushion anymore – Punkie is 8 1/2 months old and I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to keep up with pumping and breastfeeding.  When we made it to 6 months, I told myself I would shoot for 9 months and then re-evaluate.

This is eerily similar to last month, when Punkie came home with a cold from day care and then I got a sinus infection.  If we keep this pattern going, we’re going to have a really tough rest of the year!

Finger Food

Punkie is officially a finger food kind of guy now.  We had practiced at home over the past week and he was doing pretty well getting the food from his tray into his mouth, although the pincer grip is still a challenge.  Mainly, he puts a food item into his hand, grips it with his fist, and then mashes it into his mouth.  It’s insanely cute.  And he works very hard when he’s eating his finger food – his little forehead crinkles and he sucks in his bottom lip as he picks up the food.

I thought I would give him some more time to practice at home before sending finger food to day care.  He’s 8 months old and our pediatrician advised that, if we increase his solid food too much, he might not get as much milk and it’s too soon to cut down on the milk.  In fact, my husband and I disagreed about this for the past several days – he thought I should send finger food to day care and I wanted to wait a few more weeks.  Why rush him, I thought.

But Punkie had become a food scrounger.  He was waiting for the older babies at day care to start eating their solid food and then he’d crawl over and eat the food they dropped.  When the teacher in his room told me this yesterday, it broke my heart.  The poor little punk is so excited about eating solid food, he’s willing to sit under chairs and take what falls.  She said they had to put him in the exer-saucer to keep him from crawling over to scrounge for food, and he would cry.

So I sent some finger food to day care today – bananas.  I stopped by to visit him this morning (I was hoping to catch him napping – the teachers keep swaddling him and I don’t want him swaddled anymore) and found him in a high chair (next to a couple of other babies in high chairs), wiggling and grunting with happiness, and shoving chunks of banana into his mouth.  He was so happy.

I really didn’t expect the peer pressure to begin this early.  He can’t even talk yet, but he wants the same Cheerios or whatever else the other babies get.

My heart gushed when I saw him so happy.  And my brain reminded me that I now have to produce a care package of finger food every morning.

Sibling Bias

Punky is 7 months old and it is too early to start thinking about whether or not he’ll get a sibling.  I’m a sane person – I know this.  But it took us 2 years to get pregnant with Punky and I’m older now. It seems like  we have to think about this now, or, if we take our time and then decide we want another child, it just won’t be possible.

Would I be WILLING to do the early morning fertility doctor appointments and inject daily drugs for a year, while trying to work full time and take care of Punky?  The fertility doctor machine is a big commitment of time and mental focus, and I feel like I already don’t give enough of either to Punky.  I’m on vacation this week with family and I see the other examples – moms who stay at home and focus on their kids’ development and happiness.  Moms who work, but who are able to leave their kids with grandparents who focus on the kids’ development and happiness.  My kid, Punky, doesn’t have either of those things – he has day care and a mom who is exhausted.  At 7 months old, he’s started crying when I walk away from him.  I feel so much guilt for not devoting enough time to being with him because I feel like he needs more.

Would I be ABLE to raise two kids?  I know my limits and this might be one.  Let’s say I get past the daily early morning appointments and we are, by some miracle, able to have a second child – that’s less time devoted to Punky by a parent who is concerned for his development and happiness.  I know enough to be aware that daycare just isn’t the same.  The women at daycare are caring and conscientious, but they are not the same caregiver that a parent or grandparent would be.

Sometimes I’m angry at the universe, or God, or whomever decides the circumstances around our lives.  I wish Punky could stay with someone who loves him all day.  I see the bonds among the family where parent and grandparent caregivers are possible and I’m jealous.  My son deserves the best that life can offer.  He is smart and handsome and quick to smile, and he comes home from day care with sinus congestion, hand foot mouth disease, thrush, mystery scrapes, etc. and, sometimes, bleach stains on his clothes (day cares clean with bleach because they are cesspools of germs and disease).

A second kid would probably take away from what he has, which already doesn’t seem like enough.

And what if his sibling hates him?  My sister hates me – I don’t know why and it has been an enormous source of anxiety, pain, and frustration for me for the past 30 years.  I wouldn’t wish that on Punky, or anyone.  What if I take some of the time and focus I’ve reserved for Punky and devote it to another child, and then that other child replaces that time and focus with anger and bitterness?  I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

A decision needs to be made.  Maybe next month.

Baby Intuition

I have some weighty work-related issues on my mind this week.  Obviously, I can’t talk about those in a blog post, but they involve ethics and competing forces.

When I picked Punkie up at day care yesterday, he was content.  When I walked in, he was calm and “chatting” with one of the ladies in his room.  I picked Punkie up and greeted him and he was fine.  His daily “how he did today” note said he had a great day and was especially happy and smiling all day.  We began the drive home and he was quiet in the back seat.

During the drive, my mind wandered to my work issue and I felt the stress creep back in.  And Punkie began to cry.

He cried for the rest of the drive home.  He cried while I was unbuckling and talking to him.  He cried while I sang to him and rocked him.  He cried while he ate his banana and blueberry puree.  He cried in his Jumperoo.

He settled down only after he was seated on the floor with his toys and after I laid down on the floor next to him to relax.

I’m wondering – what did I do that upset him?  I didn’t really DO anything wrong – I talked and sang to him and we did our evening routine.

Can he pick up on my stress like a satellite dish?  Is there such a thing as baby intuition?

If so, that would be very bad news.  I am kind of a stress monster.  My job is stressful and my non-husband/non-Punkie family life is stressful.

Is Punkie doomed to stress-monsterdom?

 

The Shoulder

I stopped at day care to see Punkie today.  I had a small chunk of time at lunchtime to spare and I thought, hey, I’d really like to see the little guy.  That toothless grin can really brighten my day.

I walked into day care and he was playing with a toy and staring at another baby with his back to the door.  I talked to him and he didn’t turn around.  I put my hand on his shoulder and said hey, Punkie, mommy’s here! And he didn’t turn around.  I picked up an enticing looking toy and shook it at him and touched his head and said, hi Punkie – how are you?  He didn’t turn around.

Seriously?

It wasn’t until I picked him up that he acknowledged that I was there and the smile was kind of lukewarm, if I’m being honest.

I guess he doesn’t miss me during the day.  I can take that guilt off my plate.

We played for a while – he was in a good mood.  He wanted to see everything and do everything and shake every rattle in the room.  He wanted to pull the sock off another baby’s foot, and he wanted to grab my glasses and pull my hair.

The ladies at day care call him Busy Bee – he has what the sorority pledges in college used to call “swivel head.”  He’s constantly aware of who is around him and what’s happening, with his head going back and forth all day.  I assume it’s for a different reason than the sorority pledges (they were required to greet all the sisters with some kind of greeting or face a dire consequence).  That is, except when mommy is there talking to him – then his head doesn’t swivel.

When I left, he played it cool – he just swiveled the other way without a concern.

I wish he was happier to see me.  Maybe it’s my ego (that sad, anemic ego of mine) that wants him to pine for me during the day.  Although, I am actually very glad that he’s content at day care.  It wasn’t long ago that I was feeling crushed under a tower of guilt for leaving him at day care all day.