Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Daycares, Nightmares, and a Monster Desk

            After weeks of searching, Celia finally started daycare yesterday. And after weeks of waiting, I finally set up a little office for myself down the street, although the desk I bought just barely doesn’t fit through the narrow doorway of my second-floor room. Right now it’s sitting on its side in the hallway and I stare at it wondering what sort of brilliant solution we’ll have to come up with to help it cross the threshold to its brighter future in my small home away from home.
            It already does feel like my second home over here. I haven’t found much more than a few moments to myself for over a month now, and suddenly I am sitting at a computer with more than a few moments to look at my email or pay a bill. Renting an office is well worth the cost.
            Daycare and an office were the two big steps I knew I needed to take to make my life sane. I was so starved for a moment that I’d plop Celia in front of a cartoon – a thing I’ve tried to do only sparingly. I knew I’d gone too far when she watched almost four hours of programs in one day. I looked down, nodded my head, and knew deep down that this was a far worse solution than daycare. I want my daughter to be engaged, playing with other kids, going out on field trips, doing craft projects, not sitting mindlessly in front of a screen for hours at a time.
            It took us a few weeks of digging to find a daycare we felt good about. We called around, and anytime we had even the tiniest flag of doubt about a place we’d move on. When we finally found one that seemed good, we did a little “digging” for information. We casually strolled by one day and chatted with the neighbors.
            “What do you think of the daycare next door?” Michelle asked sweetly.
            “They’re wonderful!” the elderly woman responded happily. “The kids seem to love being there, and play nicely and quietly together.”
            Michelle and I nodded to each other. Check.
            Then, we walked through the alley and peeked at the kids playing in the backyard. They were happy, of course. I’m not sure what else we were looking for. Check.
            We asked for a few references and called a few of the current parents, who couldn’t stop raving about the place. One woman said she’d put both her kids through and wanted to give me more names to call. “Thanks,” I said happily, “But I don’t need any more to make our decision. We’ll bring her in first thing next week.”
            Perhaps I’m a bit paranoid, or perhaps just a thoughtful and watchful parent. Anyway, three checks and I feel good about taking her there, at least for a two-week trial period.           
            Yesterday when I picked Celia up from the first day at daycare the caregiver said to me, “Celia has a surprisingly big vocabulary. And I have to be careful what I say around her because she repeats everything.”
            I nodded as I picked up Celia and proudly said, “Yes, she repeats everything.”
            Celia, as if on cue, said, “Repeats everything.”
            I laughed. “That’s my girl.” I gave Celia a big kiss. I have a good feeling daycare will go just fine for Celia. It’s Joshua now we’ve got to figure out.
            Joshua has been a handful. I somehow expected the second kid to be much easier than the first, and in some ways he certainly is, but he has his own set of challenges. Celia was definitely more energetic and exuberant where Joshua has large eyes that seem to soak in his environment. Where Celia cried when she didn’t get her way, Joshua seems to cry for no real reason that we can figure out. He’ll go through big stretches of wailing and tiring himself (and his parents) out completely before we all fall soundly asleep.
            We’ve now tried many things, including a chiropractor and cutting milk out of Michelle’s diet. He does seem to be improving, but only slowly, and Michelle and I both have been quite tired.
            Speaking of tired, Celia went through a spurt of nightmares that kept her up for four nights in a row. At the peak I literally got out of bed ten times to comfort her, two of which were over an hour long.
            I’ve found that when things get really bad, and she’s so hysterical we can’t seem to calm her in every other way, we can always rely on the Secret Weapon. Yes, we’ve discovered a solution that cuts through the most serious of hysterical episodes. No matter how badly she’s wailing and flailing, the Secret Weapon instantly silences and calms her to the point where we can put her right to bed. The Secret Weapon takes exactly seven minutes every time, and gives everyone a smile. And yes, I will share it with you.
            The most effective calming medicine we’ve found is the opening scene from “Bambi.” I think the last time I’d seen that movie was when I was about four or so. I used to make fun of Bambi. I fully enjoyed that short cartoon “Bambi Versus Godzilla,” where Bambi gets stomped. Bambi in those days was for wimps and sissies. No boy or man in his right mind would dare say anything other than mockery for that frail little deer.
            But no more. Bambi has become my greatest ally. My best friend. And when sleep and sanity are on the line even the most gruff of fathers has to agree it’s a great solution. Unwittingly, I’ve now seen the opening seven minutes of Bambi two dozen times with great thankfulness for its existence.
            Unfortunately, Celia’s nightmares were so pronounced a few days ago that when we tried the Secret Weapon she did indeed calm down and fall asleep right away, but eight minutes later she woke up screaming again. That night I broke down and slept with her the whole night. She must have woken up a dozen times, but every time I held her tight and told her she was okay, and she calmed quickly.
            We prayed for her and told her that the dreams weren’t real, and that we love her and are here for her. It’s hard to know what else to do. It’s not like a scrape or a bruise that can be treated with medicine. This is a deeper, much more scary malady.
            And however much I’d love to get the opening scene from Bambi to play into her dreams, this is one realm of her life that I simply can’t control. I can’t weed out the bad dreams like I selected a daycare. And it’s even more difficult than this monster desk I’m trying to fit in through a tiny door. With both the desk and the nightmares, I look at the objective and ponder how we’ll get through, but with the desk at least there’s a tangible solution at the end of the day.
            Figuring out the desk is where guys are at their best – we love to deal with tangible problems that have solutions. My brother said if we strip off the molding on the door frame the desk will just barely fit through, so I’m going to give that a shot tonight. These scary dreams my daughter is having, on the other hand – well, it’s hard to say. It’s a realm I can’t control, or ever truly come up with a fail-safe solution. And in some ways, although I hate to admit it, I’m probably just as scared as she is.

1 comment:

  1. wow! you are so very talented! what a great gift you have for writing1 and parenting! My love and best wishes to the entire Risho family! I miss you all very much! much love to all of you! :)