Afternoon is no Delight

I woke up in the middle of the night in a scheduling panic. Charlotte’s afternoon arrangement was changing – they were combining the drop-in first graders, of which she is one, with the kindergarten kids in the after-school program she attends. I knew this would be, at first, disappointing to her; she would be pulled out from the “every day” after-school group, her peers since last  year, and put in with younger kids, and a new teacher. A teacher I didn’t know. And all this was to start today. I was given 1-day notice.

I really don’t want her in after-school. It’s a great bargain – $17 for up to 4 hours of care, which includes a snack (which she doesn’t eat), homework supervision (which apparently means not reading the homework instructions, causing us to have to re-do it at the 11th hour before bed) and playtime/socializing with a fun outdoor space that promotes physical activity (no complaints there). Our need for after-school care for Charlotte is imperative, as both Scott and I work full-time. Campbell, at 3, will be in full-time daycare for 2 more years. But I feel this after-school scenario is becoming less of a good fit as Charlotte advances through the grades. As her interests blossom and we find creative outlets for her to explore, I’d like her time to be spent in less of an after-school “daycare” setting and more focused on extra-curricular activities. She already has dance once a week, and Girl Scouts every other week. I’m not looking to fill every day with something. Having been an over-scheduled kid, I know how that could backfire. I just want her time to be fulfilling, with more breathing room for all of us.

If I had a part-time or no out-of-home work schedule, I could pull her out of after-school and divert those $17/day costs towards individual classes. Sometimes. We could be a bit more leisurely about homework so we’re not cramming it in when she is completely spent. She’d be more attentive during her reading. The time between the kids getting home at 6:30 and getting to bed by 8:30 (or earlier!) wouldn’t feel like a race we’re set up to lose. We could spar less. We could talk more. Playdates could happen. And not just for Charlotte. I need some friend-time too.

That’s not going to happen. Not now at least. And when I woke up with my mind frantically arranging and rearranging the puzzle pieces of our schedules, it hit me. A puzzle it was, but there didn’t have to be only one way to put it together. I pictured a modular one that offered a variety of conjoined possibilities. And then I realized, that’s it. That’s how I need to see all this. All the different pieces will fit together SOMEHOW for a time, until we rearrange them to make a different fit. Maybe not a better one, but one that still offers a solution for the time being.

If I'm gonna do a puzzle, it's gotta have Mace Windu.

If I’m gonna do a puzzle, it’s gotta have Mace Windu.

Once I accepted that merely putting the puzzle together is more important than putting it together PERFECTLY, I was able to get back to sleep. I am disappointed I can’t offer my kids, or me, the “dream scenario” – work that fulfills and provides a comfortable life, while keeping hours that make me available to my children as soon as school is out – but disappointment is part of the flow. Like clothes that only look good on a hanger, sold-out concerts and boys who break your heart, the rhythm of our lives will disappoint us at times. But it IS a rhythm. It IS a flow. The pieces DO fit. Even if it’s not always fun to put together.

Are you stressing to make it fit? What’s YOUR “dream scenario?”

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