investigating daycares and parental discipline

So the other night I got sucked into a blog roll of mom blogs that impressed me. I ended up dumping at least two hours of time into screen reading about strangers’ parenting experiences, realizing that my blog went from pretty-damned-entertaining to an electronic post-it note reminding me of things I need to do or remember. There are always topics I THINK about writing/discussing on here..and I don’t ever get around to it. It’s too much to think about or I am afraid I’ll make the topic sound stupid, or I just plain forget by the time I sit down at the computer.

But I thought I would share my most recent obsessions in regards to parenting- the things that I’ve been mulling over in my mind for the last few weeks.

Simon’s starting to get to the age where he needs more stimulation during the day. He’s putting letters together and really interested in learning. I want to grab that and run with it, and started looking into preschools and daycare options that have early literacy curriculums. We even went to an Open House. I was sold on this one school/daycare- their 90% organic snack and meal menu, stayed open until 6:30 (very important for two people who only get off at 6 at the earliest) and their huge focus on literacy….all clouded the $1169/month price tag. I started contemplating how I could cut back on groceries, runs to Target, and Gabe promised to pitch in his share of the $400 difference a month it would be to send him to a new school instead of going to the babysitter he’s been with since he was 10 weeks old. I know he would thrive in a school environment, and this school didn’t require potty training (because it really is a daycare that’s run like a school) to get started. For about 2 days I was thinking, OK. Let’s do this.

Then I had to think about how to approach the topic with my current sitter. I love her. She loves Simon. She watches other kids and has her own kids, and she does a great job. But it’s a lot. She doesn’t read books with the kids or take them outside much now (they moved to a place without a big backyard that’s fenced in). And now Simon’s the oldest kid she watches and has no motivation to potty train because, hell- no one else he hangs out with is even close to that point. I’ve had tiny issues here and there with the sitter- mostly with the television being on all day and her own kids who are much older (4th grade and up). Simon idolizes the youngest child and he has quite a mouth on him. He plays video games and shoots nerf guns and does all these iffy things I like to think I can shelter Simon from (haha, I’m learning) somehow. I’ve always imagined that if I had another baby, this same sitter would watch the new baby, and Simon would be in a preschool at that point. I don’t want to “burn any bridges” by taking Simon out of her care too soon. And I don’t want to move Simon around from care giver to care giver either, because those kinds of transitions can be tough.

I mentioned we had been looking at options to the sitter, and I got a pretty cold response. I mentioned that Simon’s been acting out more lately (and he has) and that I thought he needed more stimulation. She countered that he doesn’t watch television at the house until all the kids leave (around 5:30) until Gabe picks him up at 6:15. I watched him run around with his little buddies while I chatted about this with her. I felt bad even thinking about taking him out of that safe-feeling environment he’s used to. I don’t know. That interaction and the $1169 versus $800/month price tag made me think we’ll just wait it out.

So I started looking at other preschools for later, when he is potty trained (so I guess he’ll be 7 by then). They all let out at 5:30 and cost about as much as the baby sitter. So I guess we will have to arrange for a sitter anyhow every day, even when we’re already paying for preschool. I’m just so frustrated with the whole thing because I don’t think either Gabe or I can find new jobs that will work for us and a preschool schedule that’s affordable.

Then there’s the whole behavior issue with Simon. I KNOW he’s three. “Three is the hardest age!” everyone tells me. And honestly Simon’s not that bad. But it’s just such a drastic difference from who he’s been so far in his life that it’s alarming. I had to spank him the other day. Spank his bare butt! I thought I’d never get to a point where that was my only option, but it was! After arguing for 10 minutes about changing his diaper I had to haul his swinging ass upstairs to his room after failed time-outs for not listening. He just kept swinging at me like I was an annoying house fly. I’d tried Time Outs. I tried acknowledging his frustration and reprimanding the behavior. I tried scary mom voice. I took his hands in mine, put them down on his belly and repeated NO HITTING in my mean mom voice. WE DON’T HIT. When he finally swung at me WHILE I HAD HIS LEGS hanging in the air and his bare butt dangling above the changing table I finally swatted his still moist butt with a smack that didn’t HURT HURT but the shock on his face was followed with:

“You HURT my BOTTOM!”

Me: THAT is why we don’t hit. It hurts. It hurts me when you hit me, doesn’t it hurt you when I hit you? That’s why I’ve never hit you before!

“I NEED A BANDAID FOR MY BOTTOM!”

Me: No you don’t. I’m sorry I spanked you, but you have to listen. Hitting is NOT NICE and we don’t do it. I don’t want to have to do that again, do you understand?

Hell, I guess he might have understood a little, but even I couldn’t figure out how to process this one. I mean, he got spanked for hitting. That doesn’t seem right. “We don’t hit” followed by a swat to the bottom?

Incidentally he hasn’t hit me again since then.

And I’ve been reliving that same 15 minute exchange over and over in my head for days because I’m certain I did something wrong (even though it worked and apparently struck a chord with him).  So I checked out half a dozen books from the library explaining to me how I can discipline my child without beating him senseless in the process.

And I’m tired. I’m just tired of everything being an argument or negotiation like I’m some sort of hostage mediator.

I don’t know. Basically all the parenting stuff is icing on the cake of other worries about our future and it all just feels like a lot.

But. For my birthday I asked Gabe to send away for his transcripts so we could start investigating options for him to finish school instead of me going to grad school- again. It definitely can’t happen until winter semester but I’m hopeful that he could do it fairly quickly because he already took a TON of school and practically had his degree when he quit. He’s not super stoked about the idea of going back to school, but I soften the blows with reminders that he doesn’t have to take classes he doesn’t like anymore, and I’ll help if he needs it and that a degree promises him new opportunities he’s not qualified for in his department now at work. When weighing the options for me to go back and take more classes versus him finishing, it just makes more sense for him to invest the money because he would have a higher return on investment with a finished degree than I would with another masters’ degree.

So there’s that too.

Just hoping that something’s going to give and make next year a little improved somehow. I better get back to my book that promises to teach ME how to behave so my child will, too.

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