Tuesday, July 30, 2013

One Flew Out of the Cukoo's Nest

VBS. Vacation Bible School or Very Big Step. You be the judge.

Since my comfort and ease of dealing with kids in the past has already been well documented, it's probably not hard to image how much I abhorred working/volunteering for Vacation Bible School before I had a child of my own.

Mondays at VBS were good, because while the kids were nervous or apprehensive about what to expect, there was always a high energy level because it was new. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were the best due to the comfort and familiarity of it all. Games were exciting, lessons were interesting, and crafts were amazing. 

Thursdays by comparison were hell. By this point everyone - teachers and kids - were getting a little grumpy, tired, and almost ready for the whole ordeal to be over. The fun of the first three days was gone, and the whining of the kids reached a deafening crescendo. Fridays were always a little bit better, because hey - it's the last day. Lessons were truncated, playtime was extended, and any snacks left open from the week were consumed with reckless abandon.

Last year was Kai's first experience at VBS - as well as his first experience of being away from me or Ashley and not being taken care of by a family member for an extended period of time. Ashley and I were somewhat comforted by the fact that I was working in the church he was attending VBS, and so in a worst case/DEFCON 1 level trauma, I could literally run down the hallway to see what was the problem.

This year is his first time flying solo during the week. Dad's not working at the church and isn't in the building (although in the interest of self-disclosure, I am writing this from the coffee shop around the corner). The kids and the teachers in the class are new and unknown as this is church we've never visited before. And to offend his finicky palate, the snacks offered at VBS don't hold to the usual standard I provide him with and come from Whole Foods or Earthfare (as he has informed me, Jeno's Pizza Rolls are "not cool." This mentality will undoubtedly change once college rolls around.).  

This is a big step for him. And it's a big step for us. Because not only am I through tears and a queasy stomach having to learn to trust others to take care of him, Kai's having to learn that being away from me is okay.

Because in approximately three weeks, I am going to begin letting him go from 8:00 am - 2:30 pm Mondays through Fridays and trusting in faith the the K4 program he's enrolled in will not be as traumatic as I imagine it to be - for either of us.

Four years ago, I could barely comprehend the idea that I was going be around him all day every day. And now? I can barely comprehend the idea that the house is going to be relatively quiet for the first time in almost half a decade. To be sure, Elias' cries and laughter will take away some of the silence, but my first hero, my first partner in playing tag, my first backyard adventurer will be gone for the majority of the day.

And although I know how necessary it is, it's killing me a little.

Parents are witness to the rapid-fire growth our kids go through, sometimes failing to note the milestones that pass us since we're so intimately connected with our kids. But when the milestones are punctuated by something so huge, so paradigm shifting that it causes us to pause...we see. We see the way the kid who only what felt like yesterday was learning to pull himself up is now writing out the alphabet, dressing himself (with BUTTONS, no less!), and has gotten so big that you have to shop in the "Kids" section and not the "Toddler" section any longer.

This is going to be good for him. He's going to socialize, learn things I don't know to teach him (education may be my background, but I'm not too keen on science), and not be just playing with his toys all day or nagging me to watch CARS for the seven zillionth time. And now, going to the park, the children's museum, the zoo, or the like will again be special and not something done on a routine basis. But more than anything, his being able to attend is nothing shy of miraculous due to how just two years ago, we began to fear for his health if he would ever be able to attend school. That he is healthy and well enough to go is reason to celebrate. 

This is going to be good for Elias. He's going to have my undivided attention - which is what I was able to give Kai - and not be relegated to the "put the kid in a swing/jab a pacifier in his mouth" syndrome that he might have had to undergo with his big brother still around. He's going to grow and change, go on walks and outings with me, and be held and cuddled like crazy. And just as important, he'll learn that once Kai comes home from school each day, sharing his time with me will be as equally as valuable as sharing toys. But more than anything, the special secrets and adventures that I have shared with Kai I can now share with Elias on a level just for him. I won't be repeating the exact same moments with him. This will be memories and bonding time meant just for him. 

This is going to be good for me. I'm going to witness my boys growing up and maturing, hopefully seeing some of the seeds I planted in them coming to fruition (if Kai can learn to just zip his pants after he goes to the restroom). I'm going to have SOME breathing room during the day (HA!) to write, cook, and make sure the house doesn't fall into complete chaos while Ashley is at work. And hopefully I won't be a completely worn-down, frazzled to the point of needing a bucket of Scotch every day, strung-out maniac by the time Ashley gets home from work every day - so we can, you know, actually TALK to each other at some point.

We're all going to be okay.

I just need to keep some emotional bandages on hand, as we're all going to stumble a bit during these first steps.


Matt Appling said...

It's a big day! :) What's funny to me is how I can see a kid at church after a couple of weeks, and they look visibly more grown-up. It's not anything the parents notice, being with them every day. I bet this is going to be one of those "growth spurt" weeks.

Ian Hilgendorf said...

Wow, good luck! Change is hard, but so worth it. You will marvel at how much both your kids grow. You will too.