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Why I let my son take a ‘day off’ each week.

“Is it Thursday yet, mommy?” My five year-old asked, looking fetchingly into my eyes.

“Uh no, honey. It’s Monday. You know that.”

“Can I take a day off of school today?” More wide-eyed hopefulness.

“Sweetie, we’ve just come off the weekend. You take your day off on Thursday.”

“How long till Thursday?”

I sighed. “You know the days of the week. You figure it out.”

It was time for the bait and switch. “Hey, let’s go check out that new cereal you picked out in the supermarket the other day.”

“Yeah!” He exclaimed. “I wanna mix the Trix and the Mini-Wheats and the Honey Nut Cheerios!” His curls bounced as he skipped toward the kitchen. Mission accomplished.

It’s the same every week. In fact, almost every day. Julius enjoys pre-school, but obviously, he’d rather be home, which is why I let him have a day off each week. It doesn’t bother me. After this year, he’s in Kindergarten and there are no more weekly ‘days off’. I like hanging out with him, and Pre-school, while important, is not as important as hanging out together.

At least to me.

“What? Another day off?” His teacher says almost every Friday when we go back to school. She smiles at Julius, but looks at me like I’ve just fed him bugs. “I should give you a spanking,” She jokes.

Yeah. Not funny.

My mother and husband also take a page from her book.

Husband – “You are such a sucker.”

Mother – “I don’t think it’s a good idea. You’re not setting a good example for what his responsibilities are regarding school.”

Even some of the other school moms raise a brow.

To all of them I say a big wet, “PPPPPFFFTTTTHHH!”

Am I missing something? For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the problem is. I let my nursery kid take a day off to spend with his mommy each week, and everyone has something to say about that. Since when is quality time with your child open to negative scrutiny. Pre-school is just that. Pre School. They are not learning academics; they focus on socialization and structure. It’s preparation. It’s laying the foundation. It’s not a mandatory. It’s just become the popular norm.

My son knows what ‘clean up’ time is. He knows how to build blocks with another child without throwing them. He can sit in a circle and participate. He knows his ABC’s, 123’s and all that. He’s got Pre-K down.

This is the last hoorah for me and my baby, while he’s still – okay not really, but let me pretend for this last year – a baby. There’s plenty of time for  classrooms, and not enough time for ice cream and playing with Mommy.

So on Thursday, when he looks at me with his big brown eyes and asks, “Mommy is today my day off?”

I’ll nod yes, happily. Because I love our days off just as much as he does.

ice cream share

Date night – alone?

I’m embarrassed to say, it’s a pretty typical nighttime situation. My husband and I finally get the boys to bed. It could be anywhere between 8:30pm-10pm, when we trudge downstairs. He goes to the couch where he sets himself up with the iPad and the sport game du jour, while I either sit in front of my laptop to write an essay or read an essay. If it’s closer to the 10pm mark, I sit for a little, maybe flip the laundry and then head back upstairs. Usually, I give him a little wave before I go.

This is our quality alone time; him on the couch with the ball players, me, in bed with the Real Housewives. We could do worse, but we could certainly do better. I hear that in this young children stage, our behavior is pretty typical. We are tired. Honestly, I’m usually too tired to even mind the lack of time together. I need time to myself just as much as I need time with my husband.

For the record – yes, I have to say it – I think we have a pretty solid marriage. We like each other. We support each other. We met at 15, started dating seriously at 19, got married at 27, and have been married for over 15 years. We know each other. Well. Still, I don’t know if I’m okay that the majority of our time together is spent alone, or that I’m just in it deep, and numb to what’s happening.

Either way, it’s only at certain moments, when I realize we’re missing something. Like the other night.

My husband was down in the basement putting together a ping-pong table that we got as a surprise for the boys. He made his way down there around 9:30pm or so, while I finished up around the house and then immediately went to lie down. Around 11:15pm, he comes into our room where I’m dozing, and says, “Hey, why haven’t you come down the basement?”

Huh? I’m half-asleep. “Sorry. I just thought you were busy putting together the table, and I was tired.”

“Why don’t you come down now? I’m almost done.”

I looked at him, bleary-eyed, and to be honest, slightly annoyed. The last thing I wanted to do was move from my comfy bed and wake myself from my happy haze.

“I really don’t want to.” I pouted.

He looked at me with disappointment. “I thought you’d be interested and keep me company.” He paused. “And I could use your help.”

I jumped on that. I knew it. He needed my help. He wasn’t interested in my company. My expression must have betrayed my thoughts, because he backed out of the room before I even answered. “Forget it. Whatever.”

Well, I got what I wanted. I was alone again, but now I was torn. I really, really wanted to be sleeping, but a part of my brain was flicking little red flags at me. Why didn’t I originally go down to keep him company? Why wasn’t I interested? Why didn’t I even think about going down? Shit.

I pushed the covers aside, got out of bed and trudged downstairs to the basement. He was sitting on the floor, studying the instructions sheet; tools and a half put together table next to him.

I studied his bowed, wavy head of hair and concentrated expression. He hadn’t yet realized I was there; still so cute, yet obviously going a little deaf.

“Hi,” I said.

He looked up and immediately smiled. It was the crinkly-eyed smile, the one I fell in love with.

“I’m glad you came.”

“Me too.” I said and meant it, and sat down on the floor next to him.

Sometimes, you just need a moment to get your head back in the game.

cute and handy... he's the complete package. ;)

He’s cute and handy… he’s got skills! 😉