This morning was a tough one for my firstborn son. He started kindergarten last month, and is probably the youngest in his class. He is also probably the smallest. We thought of holding him back a year, but his pre-school teachers thought that would be discouraging since he is so bright. One of the things I admire about my son is his strong will. But sometimes, it gets him in trouble.
The trouble this morning began because his kindergarten is out for the next 5 school days for "parent/teacher" conferences. So for working parents like us, it creates a bit of a dilemma around how to care for the kids. Our solution was to enroll him back in his old daycare for a week. This did not sit well with him, as he seems to feel that this was a demotion of sorts. "I don't want to go to stupid pre-school," he says. "Pre-school gives me a headache!"
I ruffled through my bag of tricks to see how I should deal with his objection. I chose a tool that has worked well with this boy in the past: a little special attention from dad, and a doughnut. My wife took the two other kids to daycare, and I took the oldest (secretly, so as not to offend the 3 year old) to the donought shop. We have our usual seat there, where we can watch the traffic go by, and if we're lucky, a train might pass by.
About 100 trains a day rip through our town at high speed on three tracks. They've killed about 4 people so far this year, including a teenage girl. A teenage boy was mowed down last weekend as he tried to cross the trcks on his bicycle. The first train had just passed by, so he started to cross -- he didn't see a train coming on the second track from the opposite direction. Miraculously, he is still alive, although not very pretty.
I hate the trains, but to my little boy they are symbol of power, freedom and excitement. He simply loves trains. He tells me to drive out of my way just so that we can drive over the railroad tracks. Someday, he wants to ride a train far away from here, so he says.
Oddly, no trains rumbled by this morning. But a doughnut and chocolate milk with his dad was exactly what my son needed to start his day.
My eldest son is a gorgeous little boy, with large dark brown eyes and ruffled brown hair. Other kids are drawn to him as their friend. He was born five weeks prematurely in an otherwise perfect pregnancy. Perhaps because of this, he's a little short for his age. This was the child who introduced me to parenthood: he needed special attention on the day he was born, and five years later, he still needs it on a regular basis. I'm happy to give it to him.
My wife and I both work but. It would be better, we feel, if one of us could stay home. But that's not in the cards right now. We need the money.
By the way: we're paying about $16,000 this year for daycare. This is down from $20,000 last year, when the boy was in daycare a full day. Thanks to Uncle Sam for the $5,000 tax deduction.
PS - his question to me the other day: how does God keep the sky from falling down? If you know the answer, please send us your comment.