Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Huge day: school + soccer

Tobin summed today up well over dinner this evening: "It was a big day for me." Yes, it was. Today our big boy started preschool--pre-Kindergarten at that. The day went really well, and I am so thankful.

Last night, as we were chatting about starting school, Tobin asked whether I could stay with him the first day. As succinctly as I could, I said that I couldn't but he was going to have a great time, and then I'd be back before he knew it. Then this morning, as he hugged Matt good-bye, he told him he was "a little nervous." When Matt asked what he felt nervous about, Tobin quipped: "Just the whole thing." :) As we got ready this morning, he said a few more times that he was nervous, but he said it in a very matter-of-fact way and didn't seem to fret further. He humored me by posing for some pictures before we left the house and was full of smiles. We even survived a last-minute outfit change necessitated by Evan attacking Tobin's unmanned orange juice (by crawling across the coffee table, no less!). Our ride to school was really normal, with both boys singing their silly car songs.

When we got to the school, he walked right to the bathroom and washed his hands, then went over to his cubby where I found his name tag and safety-pinned it to his back. He went right into the room, where he was greeted by the assisting parent who had him "sign in" and then directed him to the classroom, which was strewn, much like our living room floor, with all manner of Duplos. Tobin jumped right in and started playing. I chatted with another parent and took a few more pictures before I went over to kiss him good-bye. Never really looking up from his blocks, Tobin again asked me if I could stay. I said I would stay a few minutes but I needed to go soon and I would be back in just a little while. I paused for a moment more, watching the kids play, and then walked out. And that was that. The whole experience was simple, low key and pleasant. I think I must still have lingering trauma from numerous difficult daycare drop-offs when Tobin was much younger. So I did fret that he might suddenly have cold feet and really not want me to leave. After all, this is really his first significant time away from home since I started staying home with him two years ago. He's been talking for months about how excited he is to start school, and how he's going to tell his teacher things like he knows his numbers up to one million but he can't count that high because it would take too long, and how he's going to be a basketball player for his school (the school does have a nice gym), etc. All this was a good indication that he would enjoy school, but I knew that it would be unfamiliar to him at first and I just didn't know how he'd handle it. He seemed comfortable and confident this morning, and it just made me so happy--and relieved. I know it might not always be this easy for him, but this really seemed like the best start to the whole experience I could hope for.

It was fun to pick him up and revel in him proudly showing off a giant paper fish and telling me that his favorite part of the day was when they made birthday crowns, and how he fell and scraped his knee on the playground gravel but was okay, and how he did learn something today and it was how to sit "criss-cross applesauce," and how he liked his snack of grapes and "graham cracker sticks you dip in cheese." (Huh?)

On top of an awesome first day of school, Tobin also had his first soccer practice ever today. We registered him for soccer last month and were wait-listed and then got on a team but the team had no coach, so it all seemed tenuous enough that we didn't really mention it much to Tobin in case it fell through. But then yesterday, we got an email from the coach saying show up for practice today . . . with shin guards! Matt went with Tobin to the hour-long 5pm practice while I stayed home with Evan and finished getting dinner ready. Unsurprisingly, Tobin loved it. And apparently, he took to it rather well. The team had a little scrimmage at the end of practice and, as Matt tells it, Tobin's team won 2-0 with Tobin scoring a goal and having an assist. Yay!

In the course of one day, I feel like our lives have changed dramatically with the introduction of preschool and (kinda) organized sports into our lives. Today felt like a really happy day. And though I have moments when my heart aches from watching my boy grow, I mostly feel excited about what's ahead for him and us. Like I said earlier, at dinner, Tobin sighed and said, "Today was a big day for me." And then he deadpanned: "I need to go to bed before Evan." Ha! As it turned out his plans for going to bed early included instructing me "to not let him clean up too much stuff" during his usual pre-bedtime clean-up time and forgoing UNO games, which Matt and I were told we were free to play after he went to sleep. But he still wanted his story time with Daddy . . . and actually did stay awake for one UNO game. I think that little exchange sums up Tobin well. He's self-aware, clever and independent, but he still treasures those special times with us. May that always be so.

Monday, September 06, 2010

So long, sweet Summer.

Tonight Matt and I are enjoying a quiet evening watching college football while the boys are tucked snugly in their beds. We're all a bit tired from our last road trip of the summer: Labor Day weekend in Atlanta visiting Ashley and Donnie as well as Mimi and Grandpa who traveled up from Florida. This indeed has been the summer of the road trip. The four of us have covered just shy of 6000 miles on the road.

Our longest trip was our four-week, 14-state, 4000-mile adventure in June and July. We made stops in Kentucky to visit with Grandma, Nana, Sarah and Dan; Wisconsin to see good friends from Durham, most of whom no longer live here; Louisiana to spend time with both our Lantrip and Walsh extended families; and Georgia to stay with Ashley as we made our final trek home. As we prepared for this trip in early June, I was rather anxious. While looking forward to fun times with family and friends, I also fretted about the hours on the road plus just being away from home for four weeks with two young kids. While the trip wasn't without its tough moments (e.g., the time I cried as I repacked our suitcase in Louisiana for the umpteenth time, not because I was sad to be leaving, but because I was so weary of organizing all those clothes!), it was overwhelmingly wonderful. And we were blessed with incredible traveling mercies, chiefly no illness or car trouble, AND two great sleepers.

As I write this, I'm tempted to recount our adventures in more detail, but honestly what I think about most right now is what we learned more generally about our boys on the trip. To say they were troopers is an understatement.

Tobin is at a wonderfully fun age when we finally don't have to micromanage his sleep schedule; the world will not end if he misses a nap or goes to bed late. He also is increasingly independent, and once familiar with a situation or people, he is up for just about anything. And it's just fine if Mom and Dad aren't there. So it was great to watch him playing for hours alongside his friends in the lake in Wisconsin or following my younger cousins around in Louisiana just to see what they were up to. He also developed quite an affinity for games, especially UNO. Matt, Tobin and I still play a game or two almost every night as part of his bedtime routine. He's quite competitive and hilarious in the heat of the battle, which is no surprise. Our firstborn is growing up so fast, and though it catches me off guard sometimes, I just marvel at how delightful it is to watch him mature and to get to know the fabulous individual he is.

Of course, our trip was a big deal for Evan too, especially since he celebrated his first birthday on the road. What struck me most about Evan is what a secure little guy he is. He was so adaptable and would actually reach for people who reached for him, even if he hardly knew them. (I seem to remember Tobin having considerably more stranger and separation anxiety at his age.) And that, in turn, was significant for Matt and me, because it made us feel more comfortable about everything. I even spent my first night away from him when Matt and I celebrated our anniversary on an overnight date while the boys stayed with my family in Louisiana. He also surprised me by sleeping really well throughout the trip. I expected his sleep to be unsettled, and it was occasionally, but for the most part he maintained his schedule without much effort. I am certainly guilty of getting bogged down in the minutia of his day-to-day care, and our travels this summer helped me see Evan as simply a happy, confident baby. I think that has made a world of difference since returning home, giving me a renewed appreciation for how doubly blessed I am to have two pleasant, sweet children. I couldn't be prouder or more grateful.

The balance of our summer was spent mainly at home, except for another week in Kentucky and our most recent Labor Day trip. Our weeks at home were especially sweet since Matt was home with us. And there we were, the four of us, just doing the routine, everyday stuff but enjoying it so much because we were doing it together. With Matt's return to work three weeks ago, we have settled into a new routine that is comfortable in its own way but I do miss our summer togetherness. But there's always next summer to look forward to, and who knows the adventures it holds?

And speaking of adventures, there's another one about to begin this week when a certain four-year-old starts pre-K . . .