The first time I wrote what was to become the “Sonja Quarterly Update,” she was six- months old. I hadn’t done one at three-months because the idea had yet to occur to me. One thing that I say in the six-month update, and that I remember very clearly, is that the first six-months passed as fast as a glacier. Everymommy everywhere talks about how FAST time flies, especially when babies are little, and to that I say, “Bullshit, madame.” As the sleepless days and nights bled into each other, I wondered how old I would be when baby finally turned 1. That day eventually came, and time eventually returned to its regularly scheduled rate of advancement, but now I find myself facing a new, yet oddly familiar, six-month milestone.
I’ve complained a few times that Sonja just missed the kindergarten cutoff (*see here, here and here), so she, or rather we, have to wait another year for her to start school. It’s now March, and her sixth birthday and the start of school are approximately six-months away. Six-months – that’s nothing, you say! Subtract time for meals and sleeping, it’ll go by like that.*
Oh but will it? Really? Three days a week, I take Sonja to pre-kindergarten. It takes 20-25 minutes to get to the school, and 25-30 to get back, depending on the day of the week. So for me, you have to multiply all that driving by 2, because I drop her off and go home and pick her up and take her home. We also go to the Y once or twice a week for ballet or gymnastics, where I sit on really uncomfortable bleachers, trying to read my book but not being able to fully tune out whatever loud conversation about child-rearing is going on behind me. Recently, when driving alone, I made an illegal left-hand turn on a red light. There was no traffic coming and I knew it, but the absentmindedness of making that turn disturbed me. I realized that I’m not fully present when I drive by myself because it’s the only uninterrupted stretch of time that I have, and my mind wants to take advantage of it.
Officer: Do you know what you did back there, Ma’am?
Me: Yes, I made an illegal left-hand turn on a red light.
Officer: Why did you do that?
Me: Because I have a five-year-old!
When I return home from preschool or activities or work, I return to a messy home. I can’t keep up with my little hurricane (or my big one.) I clean and I clean and I make all sorts of vows and pledges to do such and such chores every day, to keep on top of things so things don’t topple me, but after a few days, it’s exhausting. It’s not just exhausting, it’s deflating to watch your once reasonably clean house be torn apart at the seams day after day after day. It doesn’t take long before I want to do something other than clean, and my once steely resolve turns into ennui. I work and walk amongst piles of crap for days or weeks until some motivation, either internal (you can do it!) or external (guests are coming, tripped over the same toy 50th time in a row and I want to put my fist through a wall but I know that will only make more of a mess) puts me back on the righteous path of cleanliness. Shampoo, rinse, repeat and that’s my routine. For six more months. Six. More. Months. I don’t know if I’ll make it.
The biggest milestone this time is that she’s reading. She recognizes a pantload of sight words, and is beginning to sound words out. She hasn’t added much to her repertoire of foods, though her new favorite thing to eat is a chicken leg. Her preschool makes her take no-thank-you bites of food, which have yielded more no-thank-yous than foods I could get her to try. She even said, “no thank you” to a doughnut, and who does that? It’s a doughnut! Her preschool also gave her the kindergarten evaluation, because she aced the preschool evaluation the first time she took it. She only missed a couple of questions, about illustrator and setting, and now I know those are things we can work on. She likes Moana and Sing. We tried to watch Pete’s Dragon but that lasted all of 60 seconds before she started bawling and insisted we watch something else. Her choice? Back to the Future. (I insisted on part 3.) She said she liked it because it was funny, but could not explain to me why it was funny.
On the half-month birthday this year, we took a trip to see our friends. Sonja was so excited to take the train, which she later declared “boring.” We stayed overnight at a hotel. (“Now we’ve been to two hotels!” she declared.) We went swimming and shopping and to dinner, and she’s already ready to go back. It was certainly the most fun we’ve had over the past three months.
*An old Seinfeld joke.