Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Back-to-school blues

And it's September. Actually, it's September 4th. The first day of school.
How on earth did that happen already?

My older children are both at school full-time this year for the first time - my oldest son's in Grade Three and and his brother has graduated from kindergarten into the "big kid yard" and full-time Grade One.

Again, how on earth did that happen already?

The first day of school went swimmingly for all concerned.

We slept in, because Mommy forgot to set an alarm. (I have three kids. I haven't had to set an alarm in years. On account of NOBODY BLOODY WELL SLEEPING. EVER. But, of course, on the first day back to school, all three children decided that this was their morning to catch up on lost sleep from summer vacation.) So we woke up at a quarter after eight and had exactly twenty-five minutes to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack lunches and backpacks, and make the seven-minute walk over to the school on time for first bell.

We made it. Just.
Eldest Child was just fine, calling out to all his friends across the crowded yard, making arrangements for who he'd sit beside in class and meet for soccer at recess, planning playdates later in the week. Middle Child was a little more tentative and held Mommy's hand all the way into class, but once he noticed his best friend across the room a quick kiss sufficed as a good-bye.

And then it was just Baby and I.
It's never been just Baby and I.

I've been a little anxious about this whole back-to-school thing. I'm going to miss my boys terribly, having grown used to this stay-at-home-mom full-time-parenting thing. We had such a fun summer - lazy board games around the breakfast table every morning and long bike rides around the neighbourhood every afternoon; hours playing pirates on the jungle gym at the park and hiking through the trails of the arboretum; Lego construction and craft projects and massive sidewalk chalk creations that spread from the driveway into the street; entire days spent in the backyard running through the sprinkler, playing in the ball tent, digging in the sandbox and kicking around the soccer ball; weekly trips to the splash pad and the library and a once-in-a-while ice cream treat. It was such a great summer. I'm going to miss having my boys at home.

And I'm wondering what I'm going to do with Baby all day long.

When Baby was born last fall, Middle Child was in kindergarten - a half-time program here. Between PA Days and holidays and school breaks and everything else, it amounted to more like a one-third time program. He was home with us most of the time. By the time Baby started crawling and really getting into things it was the spring - almost summer vacation - and then Eldest Child was home too.

My older two boys are the best big brothers in the world. They absolutely worship Baby, and love and protect him with an intensity I never would have imagined. They adore playing with him, snuggling him, singing or reading to him and they think everything he does is hilarious. They let him wrestle them to the ground and win, climbing all over them and smushing their cheeks with his fat, dimpled fingers and his slobbery kisses. When he fusses or cries they put on little song and dance routines for him. I'm not joking - they will actually sing and dance in circles around him and make silly faces and sounds until Baby's laughing again.

And Baby thinks his big brothers are about the best things in the entire world. They are his heroes. At six and almost-eight, they are quite grown-up in his eyes. He loves playing with them, but just as much he loves watching them play - they're so big, they're so fast, they have such cool big-kid toys. He's happy holding his ball or his bear and watching them whirl around him while he just looks on with those enormous eyes, laughing like crazy at whatever they're doing.

But now they're both back to school, and it's just Baby and I.
At ten months old, walking all over the place and into absolutely everything he can figure out how to get into, obviously having two extra sets of eyes and hands around Baby was a huge help. But that's not what's making me nervous.

I'm nervous because I'm not sure how to fill in the days, how to keep him happy and entertained and stimulated all day long. It's been a long time since I was home for a full day with just one baby - almost eight years - and I just can't picture it.

I'm simply not as much fun as his brothers.

I am happy to get on the floor and play puzzles and Mega Blocks and Little People. I love curling up with him in the big cozy armchair in his room and reading stories. We can still play in the ball tent and the sandbox and go for long walks; we can still visit the park and the library and the splash pad.

But no matter how many fun activities we do, even as I keep a running monologue going all day long to keep him engaged and turn on the radio so I can sing and dance around the kitchen for him while we cook - he likes to cook in his play kitchen while I'm making dinner - I'm still just Mom and simply not as loud, not as fast, and not as much fun as his two superhero big brothers.

I hope Baby's not bored by just me, or we're in for a very long school year.

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