Thursday, October 8, 2015

Stress and the three-year-old.

I have felt for a while that my life was spinning too fast, not necessarily out of control, but beyond my ability to make what I really want from it. The past two weeks have been especially frantic and exhausting.

Sunday was Jay's fourth birthday party. While it was a bit over the top to create and manage, and felt a bit too competitive (WE give the BEST parties), it was gratifying to see so many happy guests, both preschool and adult. What made it all worthwhile, though, was the sheer joy and pride in my son's face when about thirty people sang "Happy Birthday", and it was just for him. 

At that moment he truly, deeply, felt something special. There was real magic in his eyes.

He has been challenged over the past month as much as, or more than I have. A month ago today he started New York state's Universal Pre-K program in the Granville school system. Doing so required a change of daycare, to a place that could take him to school and pick him up for the three days a week he would be in daycare. That was not an easy thing to find, nor was the transition smooth for Jay. He has done well, but for the first time in his short life, he seems stressed. 

Early morning awakenings have been frequent. That is a common sign of anxiety. He often wishes he would "stop growing".

"I want to be a baby again."

Regressive thoughts are nothing out of the ordinary, but I find myself wondering about the decision to enter him into pre-k. Despite his early birthday party, he's not really even four years old yet. Responsibility at this age should be about learning to wipe your own butt and, if you're tall enough, maybe taking your dinner plate over to the sink. Pulling up your own pants. That kind of stuff.

Okay, there's more than that in terms of responsibility, but you get the idea. He's three. There is plenty of time ahead to stress about meeting so many expectations and learning so many new rules and norms.

Today we hung out together, like the good old days. Oh, he went to school (for two hours and fifteen minutes), but before that we played with trucks and went to a playground. We raced on the soccer field (he won), went down the slide with him on my lap like we used to do, and we had a picnic.

After school we went fishing. I warned him that the path to the river was steep, and he made us both proud by reciting my hiking lesson for steep terrain:

"Daddy, keep your nose over your toes, and take baby steps."

Of course we caught nothing, but we loved hanging out on the bank of the Mettawee River together. At one point he hopped up and climbed back up the hill. I couldn't see him for a moment, but soon I heard him say, "Daddy- I made a waterfall!". After making sure I wasn't downstream from him, I cast again and laid my head back on the bank. We found some beautiful pine cones and filled our pockets to make Christmas decorations and bird feeders.

On the way back to the car, we stopped and lay back on the grass, enjoying the sun and breeze, his head on my stomach, relaxed and quiet.

It was the kind of day we needed, the day we've been missing since school started. We'll make it happen when we can, and try to take it easy on each other when we can't.

We're both too young for this much stress. Today, for a few hours, we helped each other out of it.

1 comment:

  1. poignant, powerful and sweet. these are the days that make memories that count. I'd say you two loved each other out of stress back to peace. Blessings.