Time is not on my side


Contrary to the lyrics of the Rolling Stones hit, “time is on my side, yes it is”, there are many days when I wish for 28 hours instead of 24.
Here’s the schedule for the end of our day, not even factoring in the eight plus hours prior.  Bet there’s a familiar them here for you as well.

After a full workday, I pick up the Grand Prince from after school care, which for me is in the same building I’m employed. That’s a huge plus. Next it’s off to run a few errands, maybe pick up something from the market. If it’s not a karate class day or a tennis lesson then we finish up and head home. Upon arriving we greet the menage of animals and then doff the winter attire to appropriate places and tackle the backpack. Homework, notices from school, permission slips, all to be signed, read or filed on the fridge. Next it’s homework and a snack. I’m very fortunate he’s a conscientious kid and one who enjoys learning, so there’s very little balking about getting homework done. The GP is very on target about snacks too and what’s okay and what’s ‘are you kidding me before dinner!?” sort of snacks.
I start tossing in a load of laundry or swapping one to the dryer while answering questions about spelling, grammar or math (Gods, I hate the math part and beg for the Spouse to handle that. Yes, I’m math phobic). Usually the Spouse is home before me and starts dinner. I’m in love with him all over again every day for that!. While dinner cooks, the GP must do 15 to 20 minutes of silent reading and I get the same time to check email, scan the newspaper, sort the mail and reconnect with the Spouse to share the days events. Multitasking? Parents have done it for decades without a fancy title.
After we share dinner and discussions of our day, it’s time for cleanup, load the dishwasher and a shower for the Prince. While the grandson sings in the shower, I get clothes ready for the next day and pack lunches and/or snacks and remind him over the din of singing and splashing to make sure homework is safely tucked in the backpack.
Toothbrushing and pajamas come next, a little television and/or snuggle time and in a blink of an eye, the clock strikes eight and it’s up to bed and a story. I have managed a few breaths in between. I love you’s are exchanged as are hugs and sweet dreams wishes. All within a three hour time span. Whew!
When coworkers at our lunch table excitedly rehash their favorite episodes of Scrubs, CSI:Miami or Law and Order I nod, smile and listen; totally and blissfully clueless.

I’m asleep by 9:30.

Happy Thursday!

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School Days


Despite the summer temperatures, my brain whispers “Fall”. Why? Because it’s September and back to school time. I still get those pre school butterflies as memories of sweaters, new shoes and backpacks find themselves occupying my mind. My grandson (a.k.a. the Grand Prince) began his third year at our neighborhood elementary school last week. I believe we were both ready for him to begin, having crammed in vacations, educational day trips, play dates, numerous barbecues with family and friends, a few birthday parties, pool parties and a smattering of lazy, couch potato days, the latter of which was deemed a necessity by moi simply to take a breath; all between mid June and August 31st. Whew! No wonder we were starving for a little structure and schedules!

Returning to school takes some preparation, even for the ‘seasoned’ parent and child. There will be new clothes, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes to buy. Perhaps finishing up that last book on the summer reading list and reorganizing the child’s desk to reflect the transition from ‘catch all’ to workspace. This is also a good time to sort through your child’s summer or fall clothes and deliver the no-way-this-fits-pile to your local consignment shop.

School supplies must fit into your budget as well. Teachers will usually send home a welcome letter to their students with a list of needed supplies as well as any donations much needed and appreciated for the classroom. For your older children, it’s best to wait until school begins to accommodate the requirements of more than one teacher. The Marilyn Manson or High School Musical three ring binder your child just had to have would be frowned upon when a plain white one was required.

Those lazy days of summer when sleeping past the alarm wasn’t a worry is now a very big deal. We all relax our schedules over the summer break and getting back on track for the fall transition can be a bit of a struggle. I always begin a good week to ten days before the official start of school by regulating bedtime. As with any new routine it’s not always well received, however, simply talking about the need for rest and the exciting new year ahead prepares children and allows them the ‘buy in’. I give the Grand Prince a little wiggle room with bedtime (“okay bud, you choose. 7:45? or 8:00?) I know, it’s a no brainer and he’s only 7 and can tell time but the key is HE gets to choose instead of me or the Spouse dictating a time.

The same goes for setting the morning alarm. Give yourself and your child the time you need in the mornings for breakfast, personal hygiene routines, dressing etc.
It’s crucial if, like me, you’re simply not a morning person or you can’t form a complete sentence without three cups of coffee under your belt. The Grand Prince takes his shower the night prior, decides on the day’s attire, gets his backpack ready with paperwork and snacks and hung on the newel post while I set a place for breakfast. The less you have to squeeze into your morning, the smoother it goes for everyone.

And on that first day of school, provided your child’s not horrified at the idea of being seen with you as their friends look on, you can get a hug, a smile and a “see you after school!” as they exit the car and into the world of academia, happy and ready to meet the day.

A Day in The Life of A GRG* (*grandparent raising grandchild)

The birthday invitation was for two o’clock on a Saturday sent by a classmate of my grandson. I was thrilled he had adjusted well to kindergarten; making new friends, discovering the joys of learning and life beyond the world of our friendly little neighborhood.

Now the next social step presented itself, the birthday party. I telephoned our RSVP while my grandson bubbled with excitement about the prospect of seeing his friends outside of school and having fun at the local roller skating rink. I, on the other hand, was a little hesitant. My memories of roller rink birthday parties attended with my children were on par with my first visit to the periodontist. However, this event wasn’t about me, it was about my grandson enjoying social time with his peers. Off we go to the local toy store, spend 35 minutes deciding and with much negotiation we at last have a gift purchased, wrapped and in hand.

On the appointed day, we arrive five minutes early (teaching children social graces such as promptness is high on my priority list) and the rush of memory hits me the instant the door closes behind us. We’re greeted by blaring rock and hip-hop music, flashing lights, and scores of children flying by in haphazard direction on 4, 6, or 8 wheels. The only order is inside the rink itself. “Skaters in clockwise circle only please” crackles over the PA system. Before us are row upon row of tables with reserved signs; Isaiah’s Party, Mia’s Party, Olivia’s party all forming a continuous domino like line. We find our host’s family table and smile pleasantries and exchange thank yous then off we go to the rental counter and skates that bear the wear of thousands of children’s feet. Would it be paranoid to pour hand sanitizer on the inner soles? Skates are fitted and it’s onto the wooden rink floor, dodging the experienced and blending with the ‘don’t let me’ fall crowd. I, skate less, and grandson on wheels makes a difficult pair. At 5 yrs old he’s coordinated enough but his inexperience on wheels and the deafening din of the music makes it impossible for any instruction so we settle for “I’ll stand still and you pull me Nana” mode. Naturally, his idea, not mine. Needless to say, once around the rink was the limit for me and his frustration was beginning to show so we decided to return the skates and check back at the table for party food.

The usual fare greeted us. Pizza and drinks delivered just minutes before and served on Star Wars matching plates and cups with a cake sporting Darth Vader and Yoda. Who would have thought Star Wars was back in fashion? All gifts are quickly packed up at parties these days which is a blessing and avoids the occasional teary child wanting to ‘help’ open them and several more ripping at the toys to be the first to play and leaving the birthday child in a meltdown.

A little more time for skating or arcade games (we opted for the latter and had a blast race car driving!) and then it was done. Party over. An hour and a half had passed as I glanced at my watch and offered a silent prayer as the birthday Mom handed out goodie bags. (*note, these are a must and require a computer generated thank you note inside) Once more we smiled and exchanged thank yous to kids and parents alike. I sifted through a Mt Helen’s size pile of coats to find ours, congratulated the birthday boy and ran for the nearest exit sign to the sunshine beyond. Hand and hand we walked to the car and my grandson beamed up a smile to me, “Nana? Wasn’t that cool? I had a great time!”

And then it came as I knew it would. “Can I have my birthday at the roller rink?” That sweet face and set of deep dimples almost had me but I managed the age old reply created by and for all grandparents.

“We’ll see.” And then I smiled.