You want a deliberate, suitably slow lesson in patience? Take my two-year-old for a walk. Please.
I was under the false impression that after my son, Macklin, started daycare, the organized setting full of established routines and lesson plans would maybe have somewhat of an impact on his ability to focus. Our last few trips to the neighborhood park, however, have proven just how far removed from reality my expectations were.
While his self-confidence has never been higher—he displays nothing resembling the human emotion of fear as he swiftly climbs his way through every playground apparatus available—the structured days at daycare have thus far not translated into any noticeable increase in his ability to stay on task.
My wife, a human development specialist, politely reminded me that he’s barely two, and that I shouldn’t expect him to walk a straight line all the way home. Fine. I get it. But is it out of line to be a little annoyed that the two-block walk home can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on the number of dogs we see or hear, fuzzies floating in the breeze that we have to chase or leaves stuck to the stroller’s wheels that, once broken free, must be re-stuck to maintain balance in the universe? Seriously, that just happened. He made me stop so he could replace the leaf that had escaped its round-and-round nightmare on the rear wheel.
It’s also only been three weeks since Mack started daycare, so it’s conceivable I’m being too hasty in my judgement. For those not enlightened enough to follow my life as if it were your own, I’m a former stay-at-home dad who’s trying to adjust to life now as a stay-at-home, part-time writer/poolboy/Costco-runner. Honestly, the transition has been smooth and aside from the continued meandering nature of our afterschool explorations, the immediate changes have all been positive.
First, meal time is no longer an exercise in who can dodge the most flung flood. It seems dining with your peers has an impact on how you behave at the dinner table. Whether he’s trying to impress the ladies, the gents or his teachers, I don’t really care… I’m just grateful that the entire family no longer has to change shirts after lunch.
Second, my productivity has skyrocketed. I knew once I only had to concentrate on saving my own life on a minute-by-minute basis that I’d have much more time to focus on work that actually pays the bills. I did not, however, expect to find myself so quickly giving up the idea of an afternoon nap. Not only have I willingly gone napless these last three weeks, I haven’t even heard the familiar call of the downstairs sofa. I’m hoping it’s not a brain tumor.
Finally, the transition to daycare has once again affirmed the only lesson that has held true for me in my parenting journey to date: expectations are garbage (and others’ opinions are table scraps at best). The best we can do is plan ahead, set our kids up to be successful as much as possible, learn to enjoy a slow walk and hope someone learns something along the way.