February 28, 2010

Infant II

Beckett is moving up to the Infant II class at his daycare on Monday. This means new teachers, new kids, new toys, new room, new schedule, new everything. When I spoke to the director about Beckett moving up, I was giddy and excited. I called Jim immediately after, and we exclaimed and crowed about our big boy. On Friday, when I walked into the Infant I class to pick him up, his teacher told me that he was next door. "Oh!", I said. "How exciting!" So she walked me over to the new class, opened the door, and there he was, sitting on the floor with the rest of the big kids - some who are walking - and instead of being thrilled, I was a little sad.

The one thing that has made this entire parental transition easier is the incredible quality of care that he receives at daycare. Neither Jim nor I have the option to stay home, so we knew from the beginning that we were going to need to find a full-time daycare center. We started looking when I was just starting my second trimester, following the (great) advice of a friend that we should start looking early, not only to ensure that he got a spot in the best place, but because you're still pretty detached and objective. We looked at four centers, all in Brookline and for the most part, all excellent. But there was something about LCSh that made the decision easy, and we put our deposit on a spot a little more than a month before Beckett was born.

He started daycare when he was just shy of three months, and the lead-up to leaving him was fraught with anxiety. I read the parent handbook three times and spent weeks labeling his clothes, bottles, and pacifiers, getting his supplies (lunchbox, blanket, etc) organized and ready for 'school'. I dropped him off on August 2, the same day I started back at work, and was surprised by how fine I was when I left. I knew in my heart that he would be okay, wonderful in fact, in the care of the two teachers and in the company of six other babies. He would make friends, enjoy the weekly traveling musician and daily walks to the park down the street. In the six months since he started dacyare, I have never had a single moment of irritation, anxiety, or worry.

If anything, putting him in daycare has made me feel ever so slightly insecure about my own parenting instincts. One the first cold-ish day this past fall, I noticed that on the line up of hooks, each of which is assigned to a baby, Beckett's was the only one that didn't have a heavy fleece or down onesie hanging off of it for their daily walks. His thin little sweatshirt stood out pitifully from the group. I give myself credit for noticing before I was told (that afternoon) that I should bring in something warmer for him the next day. But I did spend most of the day feeling guilty, and most of that evening squeezing my way through the aisles of the second-hand clothing store for something appropriate.

This is one example of many tiny missteps, but I appreciate the tactful way that the teachers remind me about things, and the fact that they take the time to work with me to provide the best care for Beckett. I know that Beckett will miss his (now three) teachers, but I will miss them as well. Having the end of the day wrap-up conversation with a new teacher on Friday, I felt a little out of sorts. He didn't drink much of his bottle? He cried a little bit when he came to the new room? Did he eat his snack? Huh? What? Who? Where is Rosa?! I want my Rosa!!!! I left my purse on the floor (as I always do when I pick him up), turned around for three minutes and one of the walkers managed to empty its contents onto the floor. The sharpie marker that fell out of it suddenly looked like a gun, and I realized how woefully unprepared I am for this transition. When I was leaving with Beckett, I swung the door out quickly, nearly knocking out one of the other crawling babies (who I guess was in the process of making a break for it). As we were leaving, I was told (tactfully and sweetly of course) that all babies in Infant II were required to wear shoes. Okay, shoes I can do. But what kind of shoes?

We both have a lot to learn. It won't be pretty, but it will be exciting.

February 22, 2010

Five Days

February has been a big month for our family. Jim and I went on a magical vacation to Venice, a trip we have planned since before I was even pregnant with Beckett. It was an incredible, whirlwind five days, but by the end of it my entire body ached to see my baby. It was hard to leave him but I think that it was a good test for all of us. Beckett was no worse for wear, and actually seemed tragically (for me at least) unaffected by the entire experience. He settled into his routine a mile away at my parents' house without batting an eyelash. I know this because after making free wi-fi a criteria for our Venetian apartment search, we lugged our computer to Europe and tried out Skype for the first time. It's fabulous! How did parents travel without their children before the internet? He had no idea what was going on but we got to coo and squeal and just look at him for fifteen minutes a day, which was enough to settle this mom's fears that he wasn't somehow forever traumatized by my disappearance.

I did have my moments. I'd prefer not to admit that I had a crying jag at the end of our first evening, after attending an extraordinary carnevale party at a private palazzo on the grand canal. I felt bad for having such a good time, guilty for being happy when he was so far away. I fought back tears when he banged his head on the coffee table while we skyped, and I could hear his heartbreaking sobs but couldn't be there to make him feel better. The last day was tough, and I have to admit to shedding a few tears over insalata caprese and marinated anchovies (delicious!) while my lunch companions tried not to notice.

But eventually we came home and rushed off the plane and scurried over to his daycare and flew in the door with huge silly grins on our faces. He looked at us with an expression that said something between "Hey! I forgot about you guys!" and "Are you expecting me to do something?" When I picked him up, he reached for the teacher, which broke my heart just a little bit but I deserved it for abandoning him so oh well.

The part that really amazed me was how much Beckett changed in just a few days. He went from a boy that wormed his way across a room to one that was pulling up on everything in sight. The only word for him right now is  BUSY. He went from saying a few little 'da da da's' to babbling non-stop in an almost conversation-like way. With actual pauses for comment. A friend let us borrow an activity table and Beckett sort of liked it from afar when we left. When we came back he crawled (not worming mind you, actual crawling) to the table, put his hands on it, got on his knees, and pulled up to a standing position. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He has also decided that he prefers not to eat anything he can't feed himself, which at this point is almost anything. And although his dexterity and 'pincer grasp' is, I think, pretty stellar, it would take him four hours to eat enough to make him full. So we've resorted to meals every couple of hours to keep him well-fed.

He actually just prefers to feed us and clamp his mouth shut when we try to feed him. I assume this is a phase so I'm trying not to panic. 
The highlight of the past weekend was Beckett's first real trip to the park. It was a whopping 40 degrees in Brookline on Sunday so we ventured out to find a bucket swing. Beckett was none to happy to be strapped into his stroller and yonked down the street in weather that was sunny but didn't exactly feel like 40 degrees. I warmed him up on the regular swing with me and when we plonked him into the bucket swing he smiled, albeit begrudgingly. 


It was an amazing day and a wonderful way to spend our first weekend back. Venice was incredible in ways I cannot even describe, but there is something almost more magical about seeing this when you wake up in the morning.