The Finish Line

Thing 2 & Jenny Xmas 2009

My favorite picture of Thing 2 and me, taken Christmas 2009 by Kristen Bons

Thing 2 starts preschool on Monday. After 3 ½ years of her glued to my hip on an almost daily basis, I’ve been asked a lot how I feel about this.

Right now I feel like I feel when I’m running, and just trying to make it to a certain predetermined goal before I stop or slow down. I can see my finish line. I usually feel like I’m going to throw up, because I usually push myself too far. I mute my ipod because the music becomes a distraction rather than a motivation. All efforts are put toward moving forward, each step, not stopping, knowing that once I make it, I will be better for it. Stronger. Able to go further or faster the next time.

That’s what I feel like right now. All I can see is the finish line. This race that I have been running for the last three years of trying to be a decent wife, mommy, and homemaker while simultaneously trying to launch a career in online political punditry, with no nanny or daycare.

I wouldn’t trade it, but most days there just aren’t enough hours. It is completely frustrating in one moment, and ultimately joyful in the next. Thank God for a cute husband that doesn’t mind if the laundry doesn’t all get put away, or stopping to pick up dinner on his way home.

Also thank God for Coke Zero, Advil, Clear Eyes, and sauvignon blanc.

And of course, these amazing little girls, who can drive me up the wall but also knock me over with laughter. This morning, I asked Thing 2 where Jesus lived, and she happily told me, “Um, in da Bible!” How cute and sweet is that?

A year or two ago, I took the girls dress shopping with me, and in the fitting room, Thing 1 told me I looked ready for the ball in a blue taffeta dress I was trying on. I bought it and every time I wear it, I feel ready for the ball.

I have a thousand memories like these; they are the moments that have made this achy tiredness worth it. Because right now? Right now I’m tired. I am ready to have some time to do my work with a small amount of peace.

My finish line is 16 whole hours a week to work without my eye twitching from being interrupted 27 times a minute with requests for snacks, announcements of bodily functions, demands for TV and/or junk food and the subsequent tantrums that occur when the answer is no.

I bet you I’ll be able to pack the majority of the 30 or so hours a week I work now into that time.

So on Monday, I will cross the line with a goodbye wave and a kiss to my baby, and I will clutch my side and catch my breath and feel the rush of accomplishment wash over me. I will thank God for my health and (relative) sanity, and I will sit and ponder what goal I shall set for myself next.

Because as hard as that last stretch always is … I do love to cross the finish line.

Self-Esteem is Way More Important Than Potty Training

Let me preface this: Potty training toddlers sucks. I’ve heard from more seasoned parents than myself that it’s the hardest thing you’ll teach your kid to do until they start learning to drive.

It was so traumatic training Thing 1 that I’m in no hurry to train Thing 2, even though her third birthday is rapidly approaching. At this rate, she’s going to have to beg to use the toilet.

“Please, Mommy! I’m starting kindergarten next week! I want to wipe my own hiney!”

Don’t judge me. Karma’s a bitch.

Anyway, since Thing 2 is not potty trained, she’s not enrolled in a preschool that requires her to use the restroom by herself. See how that works? Caring for trained vs. untrained little kids requires a completely different set-up at care facilities. Some take kids in diapers; others require the kids stay clean and dry on their own.

I snickered last night when I saw this headline: Three-year-old suspended from Arlington preschool for too many potty accidents.

This is news?

According to the Washington Post article:

Zoe Rosso, who is 3 years old, likes to bake brownies with her mom, go to tumbling class and make up elaborate worlds with tiny plastic animals and dolls. Like many children her age, she sometimes has difficulty making it to the toilet on time.

That’s why she was suspended from her preschool. For a month.

Arlington Public Schools’ Montessori preschool at Claremont Elementary “removed” Zoe in December, asking her parents not to bring her back to school for a month, or until the child learned not to have any more “accidents.”

The principal escorted Zoe and her mother, Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso, from the building on Dec. 3. “The principal told me that Zoe had had enough chances,” Rosso said. “That seemed absurd to me. It came as a total shock.”

What is absurd? The preschool had a rule about being potty trained. The kid wasn’t potty trained. Buh-bye! See you when you can keep your shorts clean!

The article inevitably gets into the Potty Wars, which revolves around the question of when to potty train your kid. One ‘expert’ says it’s ridiculous to require small children to use the toilet, and that it should not be used as a basis for discrimination.

Elizabeth Page, an early-childhood specialist and executive director of the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, called the county’s removal policy “ridiculous.”

“Potty training is very, very individual, just like learning to walk and learning to read,” she said. “You can try to force a child to be potty-trained, but it’s like asking a pig to fly. It frustrates you and irritates the pig.”

Learning any new thing is difficult. Duh. And not everyone is going to learn something at the same age as someone else. Thank goodness we live in America, where there are options. If this kid isn’t ready to potty train, her mom needs to find her a preschool that accepts kids in diapers.

This will probably be the same mom that demands her daughter be passed from grade to grade without being able to read, because she’s just not ‘developmentally ready’ yet to learn how.