Five years seems like a mini-milestone. Half way to the first decade and double figures. I guess it’s kind of a big deal, even though we had a low-key celebration. We had three birthday parties cancelled in the month of March, so I think it was fairly easy for Kate to accept that we weren’t going to have a party. One time back in May, Husband threatened that if she didn’t behave, we would cancel her party (it was an effective intimidation tactic as last year I nearly sent a mass text to call off her party the night before the event). I gave him a not so subtle kick under the table as I didn’t think it was fair to foreshadow what would likely be inevitable. I had contemplated having a few individual outdoor play dates over the 4th of July weekend, but found that some families were getting out of town for the holiday or only felt comfortable doing Face.time, so I decided not to bother. I took advantage of the fact that Hamilton was making it’s debut on Disn.ey Plus and adopted the musical as her theme. She struggled to sit through all of Hamilton, which made me some what relieved we didn’t get to see it live. (I had tickets for us to see it on Mother’s Day) Although I do think she would have done better in a theatre without distractions from home.
The day before her birthday, while we were shopping at Safe.way she softly asked me “I’m really not having a party am I?” I don’t think she quite has the concept of a surprise party, I just think she was still holding on to some hope that the virus would magically disappear. You know, like the President is doing.
I gave her a hug and kissed her forehead.
“I’m so sorry sweetie. We can’t have a party for you this year.”
“It’s because of the virus.”
“Yes it is.”
“I hate the fucking Coronavirus .”
Everyone in Safeway, who was within the six foot social distance bubble heard her. No one looked shocked or surprised as I think they all agreed whole heartedly with her statement. Even without the adult language, she handled the situation with impressive maturity. Until the night of her actual birthday. Admittedly, she was overstimulated as Face.timed with my parents and my aunt and uncle and her school had a small celebration for her. I made her grilled cheese and baked beans as she requested, but then made the mistake of serving them together on the same plate and allowed the baked beans to touch her grilled cheese. This triggered one of the worst meltdowns we’ve seen in a long while. Seriously, I thought we were done with major tantrums at this age. It was the worse anniversary of her birth and that is including the night of her birth when I was post op and was throwing up non-stop.
Height: 44.5 inches
Weight: 52 pounds
So she’s grown 2.5 inches and 4 pounds in the past six months. That is a 1.6 pound per inch ratio. Is that good? Bad? I have no idea.
Sleep: Back in the day when Kate’s nap time was my free time, I was dreading the day we had to give up naps, but I had no idea back then just how hard it would be, and it wasn’t going to be about losing the free time. I hadn’t been going out of my way to make sure she had a nap on the weekends, but if she seemed tired I would have her take one. Then when we were at her Kindergarten interview, the teacher quipped that another prospective student asked if they took naps. I silently gulped as I wished Kate had been astute enough to ask such a question and I realized that I was going to have to come up with a napping exit strategy. She was still napping at school. Enter Shelter in Place. In lieu of naps, we were letting her have a mid day TV show for some quiet time, as Husband usually had calls around noon and I was just getting home, which gave me time to have lunch and transition into homeschooling mode. So when she went back to her school in May, we told her teachers not to have her nap.
The school eased back into their re-opening, so for the first two weeks she was only attending for six hours a day. When she went back to a full nine hour day, she was absolutely exhausted when I picked her up from school. She would fall asleep almost as soon as we got in the car. I couldn’t resist letting her sleep a bit, as it allowed me some time to do some washing up, start dinner, hit a 10 minute power-abs work out. However, we found it would make it harder to get her to fall asleep at night. Now, if I see that she is nodding off, I’ll blast the music to wake her up. Husband suggested starting her bath at 7:15, which at first I thought was unrealistic, but I soon learned we need to aim to do bath at 7:15 and we’ll actually manage to get her in the tub by 7:30 and I started a hard-stop lights out at 8:00. Even if we are in the middle of a story, the lights go out at 8:00. She has been falling asleep really quickly too, leaving me some time in the evening… but after packing lunches and hitting some other chores, I’m pretty tired too, especially as I’m getting up at 4:45 AM to go the gym.
Eating: Still a disgrace. Nothing makes me feel more like a failure as a parent than meal times. I gave up on trying to feed her breakfast, since she would seldom eat it, unless it were waffles or pancakes. I was worried how we would manage leaving earlier in the morning, but so far it’s been going well. Kate recently got a backpack that also pulls on wheels and she has decided that our house is an airport and she is waiting to take an airplane to School Island. She has a random memory of getting snacks from a vending machine while we were at an airport, so I’ve been placing a granola or cereal bar on a magnetic clip to our refrigerator to represent the vending machine. Then she goes to the living room to wait at her “gate”. Lunch she gets some yoghurt, fruit, Ritz cheese crackers and pepperoni. I pack some seaweed and vegetable Gold.fish crackers and milk for her snacks. I’ve been trying to serve her dinner earlier in the evening, especially as she’s hungry, but as she’s also tired, it’s a bad combination and I’ve found it’s better just to give her a snack or two before we all sit down for dinner. I’m dreading when we have to all homework into our evening routine. I’ve recently become strict again on getting her to eat vegetables with dinner. She eat carrots or peppers for a while, then decide she doesn’t like them anymore. We recently went shopping and I was amazed when she requested carrots and dip. However, when I put them in her lunchbox, they came back untouched. Kate later informed me that they were “play date” foods and not lunch box foods. I am really worried about her poor diet and her weight and I hope we can get in to see her pediatrician soon.
Likes: I have to say she’s become pretty creative while playing at home. She loves to set up obstacle courses for our cat in the garage (his favorite place in the house, where he can usually enjoy some peace and quiet) Her creations are great and they keep her occupied for a while, the only trouble is when we have to take them down. We’ve tried to be lenient and will leave them up for a few days, but one time she trapped Husband and me in the kitchen as she set up a Les Miserables style barricade over both doorways. Last year I picked up a small splash pad on clearance for $5 and as it kept her entertained, it was the best $5 I could have spent. Then it sprung a leak, so I bought a roll of Flex Seal tape (as seen on TV) for $5 and it was still the best $10 ever spent. Then the tape started to fail and I upgraded to a splash pad that turns into a small wading pool. Best $27.99 ever spend. Cost of selling my soul to Amaz.on not included. Also costs of the water bill not included. I’m expecting Husband will have a coronary when he sees our water bill, but I’m fully prepared to defend that it’s a cost of child care.
Activities: When everything stopped during Shelter in Place, I continued to pay Kate’s monthly fees to her gymnastics school, as I wanted to support them so they would remain in business. They offered Zoom classes, but I didn’t want to cajole her into one more Zoom and I didn’t want to set the prescient that it would be okay to do gymnastics in our living room. Five months later I had to re-evaluate when the cases were surging and it didn’t look like in-person classes were going to resume any time soon and Kate never expressed that she missed going to gymnastics. I also appreciate not having to race out of the house on Saturday mornings. Her swim classes resumed and I was able to get her into a earlier class to accommodate our revised schedule. She was happy to be back in the pool and started asking every night when I picked her up from school “is tonight a swimming night?”We just got off the waitlist to add another lesson each week. I figure while swimming is the only extra curricular activity that is happing now, we’ll try to make the most of it. Her school has also resumed their tuff tumblers and soccer classes and they are letting all kids participate to make up for the misses sessions earlier this year. Honestly, I just think the instructors are happy to be teaching again.
Looking forward to: We are excited about starting Kindergarten, even though we will be starting via distance learning. Kate was accepted into the Catholic school. It’s an excellent school with small class sizes and it is very close to our house. It also goes from Kindergarten through Eight Grade, so after this we’ll only have to plan for high school and college. I really struggled in Middle School and I think there is a real flaw in the idea of “let’s bring a whole bunch of new kids together at a time when they are really insecure and unsure of themselves!”
We started out on distance learning, which went better than expected. Husband and I had to use PTO to take mornings off from work so we could concentrate on facilitating Kate’s lessons. Her school did a nice mix of live Zoom classes and short Loom videos that introduced a lesson and instructions for work and they started at 8:30 in the morning. I think one of the detrimental factors that made her Zoom lessons in the Spring such a disaster (with her old school) is that they didn’t start until 3:30 in the afternoon. While I understand that no one was prepared for this shut down and plans were thrown together at the last minute, I really wonder what they were thinking with a class so late in the afternoon. We soon discovered that no learning happens after lunch.
At press time, Kate has started in-person school four hours a day, four days a week. So far it’s been going well. Kate came home on the the first day and declared “I had the best day ever! This is my favorite school in the whole world!” I shared that feedback with her teacher and she was so surprised as she feels that she spends most of the idea admonishing the kids to keep their distance, wash their hands, etc.. She feels that she is being the meanest teacher ever. Obviously not meaner than her Teacher Mom.
Looking Forward to: If you can’t tell, I started this post over the summer and just finished it almost four months later. In June, Kate went back to her old school and I went back to a regular work schedule. By July, our lives were feeling something like we were back to normal as we started doing outdoor play dates and had some friends over for barbecues in our yard. Restaurants starting offering outdoor dining and we enjoyed being social again. I volunteered to help reach low turnout voters in critical states and sent over 1000 postcards and letters, which occupied much of my free time. I’m wishing we could fast forward time for the next three months as we’re exactly one week out, and I still feel a lot of uncertainty about the election, both the Presidential race and the Senate, the aftermath, the potential for a dangerous lame duck Trump session, more potential for civic unrest. Oh and COVID isn’t going anywhere and is only going to get worse over the next few months. We’re not going to back to anything resembling normal until 2022 at the earliest. Till then, we’ll be trying to make the most of the new abnormal.