Friday, April 15, 2016

Time spent on Facebook

I have been on Facebook a lot lately. By "lately", I mean since the baby was born. I spent hours on the couch nursing her, and scrolling and liking things with one thumb was all I had ability to do. She also did not take pacifier, and there was a whole lot of yelling on her part and pacing on mine. Walk up and down the length of the room, baby in a carrier, nowhere as content as 3 yo used to be. I got Baby K'Tan with him and he loved it and slept in it. This girlie just yelled. So I paced and I scrolled. When I wasn't scrolling, I was crying. Truth: it's my fifth baby, and she grew out of it and I knew that it will pass and I was a pro, but she was still yelling, and I was still sobbing. I also got less support with her from my immediate family than I got with any other kids. Facebook was a great distraction.

So I was lost in Facebook wormhole. I could sort of read intelligent articles that my friends posted. I could not watch videos because that requires sound and sound wakes up baby and brings over a swarm of older kids: "What are you watching? I want to see!" I could not comment beyond a monosyllabic answer. I could see what my friends were up to. I could see their kids. I could see their happenings. I unfriended and stopped following a few whose life was artificially perfect. I followed people's political stances. I read their memes.
I was living a virtual life.

Lately, I have been catching myself posting whole monologues in comments on my friends' posts. The baby is almost one, I do not pace her to sleep any more (thank G-d!) I do not have long nursing sessions, so I can type a proper response.

Facebook is an introvert's paradise. You can lurk in conversations without joining in. You can float out as soon as you want. You can type a witty comment minutes, hours, or days after the initial conversation, and it does not seem weird. You can choose whom to talk to. And you can turn it all off.

So I have been wondering lately: why do I spend so much time on Facebook?

I have come to the conclusion that the digital world, no matter how curateded, takes over when the real life does not offer happiness, intellectual stimulation and excitement. I am quite controlled by the schedule of afternoon school pick-up. I am controlled by taekwondo, which is going wonderfully for me and the boys, but it segments our day. I am controlled by 10 yo's tantrums which I frankly want to dissociate from. I am controlled by a baby who leaves a trail of mess in her wake and my inability to pick it up faster than it earns my husband's displeasure. I cannot seem to get to that wonderful state of "flow" when you deeply engage in activity and time stands still. I am always interrupted. I am acutely aware of time at all times: time for baby's nap, time for pick-up, time to put everyone to sleep, time wasted on tantrums. But I can snatch a minute here and there to get on Facebook and see that everyone else can have a life, even if I can't.

Take a deep breath, they say.
This, too, shall pass, they say.
Wait till the youngest is 3, and it will get easier, they say.
It's a stage, they say.

I have been finding myself wishing for time to either freeze, so I can get something done without distractions, or to speed up to the age of independence of the youngest. Time is a gift, yet I cannot value it when my brain feels like scrambled eggs. So I am on Facebook, whiling the time away until it gets to point that time will have meaning.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

school visit

Yesterday I took 9 yo and 6 yo for a mandatory tryout day at school. It's the elementary portion of the preschool that 6 yo and 3 yo attend. The night before, as I was telling kids to prepare them, 9 yo said: "I don't have much choice, do I?" and I wanted to scream: you had choices for the past five years! You could have appreciated homeschooling. You could have tried to control yourself, or do relaxation techniques, or not be so stubborn, or... something. But you didn't. And I'm burned out. And we are trying school for a change. Let's hope they take you.

But I didn't. Instead I asked boys to have everything they need for the morning, since I had to take them in by 8:15 and pick them up by 10:30.

My husband was on overnight call that night, and we have a guest staying in the space where teh boys keep their clothes. Luckily for me, my husband was able to come home in the morning to drive 3 yo to his preschool at his usual time. But before he arrived, I asked 9 yo and 6 yo to get dressed and get breakfast before we drive out. That's when 9 yo went into total meltdown mode before 7 am: he could not find his clothes, and the rest of his clothes were in the space occupied by our guest who was still sleeping. I calmly told him to get into his clothes from the previous day. He screamed that he they are not in the laundry, and he has no idea where they went. I told him to rummage through clean laundry of 11 yo and put on something of his (the boys are almost the same size). He screamed that he will not do this and he cannot go. At this point, I had 3 yo tantrumming about his breakfast not going according to his plan and baby crying to nurse. Did I mention that it was 7 am? I just ignored 9 yo.

My husband sweetly informed me that he will be on time. I responded that I needed him now. He came home instead of going to shul and convinced 9 yo to wear his brother's clothes. Then there was no time for his breakfast, so he took a bagel to go in the car.

When we got to school, both kids went into appropriate classrooms. 9 yo has a few friends in his, and he walked in and was greeted warmly. 6 yo was all of a sudden very shy. However, she did separate and walked to the listening center. I turned around and ran, full of mixed emotions. The building is not well-suited for a school. It was a last-ditch attempt by the previous administration to find temporary rental space. I was told that the school will be held here next year, but the plan is to find a permanent home the following year. However, after bright and cheery Montessori preschool, the gloominess and darkness was the first thing my husband and I noticed on our tour. I know it's not something they can do much about, but still, it feels more like a dungeon than an institution of learning.

When I picked up the kids, they both seemed in good spirits. The teachers said that they did fine. 6 yo made a project. 9 yo did a few pesukim in Chumash. He was excited that he knew them, since the class seems to be about a perek behind from where we are. I breathed a sigh of relief. In my head, we are going through Chumash so slowly, that I was sure all 4th grade students are ahead of us. Additionally, 9 yo complained about the way they do chumash: "They are given all the words, Mommy. They just need to read and translate, not to look up new words. Then they just memorize it. It's kind of lazy." Hm, and what about all the fighting that you put up in our way of doing Chumash? I guess it paid off.

6 yo was quite ambivalent about her experience. She is cognizant of her environment and she remarked about classroom feeling squishy. She also remarked how they didn't learn much. I am normally not into kids having a final say in such big decisions as going to school, but I wanted her input. That night, I had to decide: do I send her along with her brother, or do I keep her home?

It would be so much easier to send her. She would get along with other kids. She already made friends, and her current classmates would make her peer group. My life would be easier without having to manage one more child. Yet, I have very good reasons not to send her. First of all, it's that gloomy classroom. Last year, her playgroup was in someone's basement. And she is the child who rocks the boat the least, whose needs tend to be be overlooked by her louder siblings. It is only first grade curriculum, I can definitely do it. 11 yo will be home with me, and he can help out, She can play more, color more, do her little bursts of school work. There are other girls her age who are being homeschooled, so there is a peer group. I can take her to the zoo and the museums, something that she has been missing out.

So I am sending just 9 yo to school. Now, let us all utter a collective prayer that he gets accepted and that this place is the right fit for this child.