Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Last year about this time I made a discovery that has profoundly enriched my experience as a stay-at-home-parent: we found a co-op preschool for Jeep.

From the beginning, Jeep was interested in other children. I knew instinctively that my job as a Stay-At-Home-Parent (SAHP) would be to find and facilitate these social interactions as much as possible. So of course I was enthusiastic when I stumbled upon a local co-op preschool with a "young toddler" classroom for kids aged 1-2 years. We visited, we loved it, and we signed him up.

My boy was born in late August, which makes him the youngest among his peers for life in the school system. Schools generally send kids with September birthdays into the next school year. Jeep turned 1 in August, and in September he started school. He had just learned to walk.

This particular school is only available to SAHPs, because it requires parents to work one "shift" throughout the week. School runs from 9am to 1pm, and there is a full time teacher there every day. We sing, we read books, we play outside, and we go for walks. Jude knows the other children, and they know him. We have gotten to know other families, and I have been exposed to some different methods of parenting and child management.

The people at the co-op are not my best friends. But somehow, someway, the experience of parenting together (often in close quarters) creates an intimacy that comes quickly. I trust these people to raise my child. In return, the takeaway for Jeep is huge. He loves our class, the children, the teacher, and the other parents. When I walk out the door on my "daddy day off" he doesn't even look up.

There was something lost when our modern civilization moved out of small communities and into the developed world of private homes and freeway commuting. We lost the mentality of the village. In a place like our co-op, we have managed to find it again.

Where would I be without them? I am basically a gregarious person. It helps make the sometimes lonely occupation of stay-at-home-parenting a little more friendly.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Attachment and Desire

The Daddy Life has been silent for some months now. Roughly two months, between the time when my boy moved from 15 months young to 17 months old. I assure you that we are all well and busy, navigating the paths of Christmastime, family, the new year, and co-op preschool.
Somewhere in the midst of all those traditions, my little boy took new steps toward becoming a person. He has begun to express preference and WANT things. And I mean REALLY want them. He is no longer to be distracted by a quick switch from the toybox, or a funny face, or a book. He REMEMBERS. He's a persistent little guy.

Sometimes he gets what he wants, and sometimes he doesn't. We have been very careful not to introduce the word NO into his 20 word vocabulary, but it's bound to come out soon. Instead, we try to find ways to moderate our language.

ME: (very calmly) We don't put our hands in the toilet water. You can wash your hands in the sink.

JEEP: (splash splash)

Fortunately, he's still small enough that I can pick him up and remove him from most situations. Last week he was underfoot while we were in the kitchen making dinner. His mother and I were both standing nearby when he GRABBED A PAN OFF THE STOVE. What the H? How did this kid get so tall? He's tall enough to get things off the countertop, but still too small to trust near the stove. Superdad over here snatched that hot pan right out of his little hands before there were sauteed onions all over the room.

There are boundaries, and then there are REAL boundaries. The ones that involve safety are hard and fast. I might have yelled out a NO! on that one.

As the Stay-At-Home-Parent, I am sure that the setting of boundaries and molding of behavior will fall on my shoulders. I have experience in this, from my former career as a special education teacher. But never before have I been quite so closely tied to my client.

I tend to laugh it off when he gives me THE LOOK (see below). But who am I kidding? I love this little guy, and I hate to see him upset.

I guess my job is changing again. Its moving from keeping my boy safe, dry, clothed, and well-fed, and into more challenging arenas. He has discovered DESIRE. There are eastern religions which attribute attachment and desire as the cause of all unhappiness. I don't really buy that. My boy has a boundless capacity for happiness, and I won't squash it. Have we entered the realm of PHILOSOPHY here? Does it fall upon me to teach my boy to moderate his own desires in the world around him?

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