Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Routine disruptions

Toddlers are people who, despite the chaos they engender around them, love order in their days because they need to predict what's coming and what's expected of them, and they need as much help as they can get. (Don't we all, really?) Z. has been matching colors since she was walking, and the order in which we prepare for school must not vary, and she has other small rituals that get her through her day: leavetakings are especially hard for her, and she has formulas she says (sometimes embellished with a hug or a kiss) to make this transitions manageable. "Dat one is foah somebody else," she says as she replaces an item on a shelf in the store. "We can do dat anuddeuhr day" she says about an activity that won't fit into the schedule. And so, somehow, she handles the things she wants but are not permitted to her. Not infallibly or without tears or fussing. But she gets through.

Every night, I sing Z. "Goodnight Irene" before she goes to sleep, and I sing her different words to the last verse depending on what's going to happen the next day. If the next day is a school day, I sing about that. If she's going to stay home with us, I alter the words to reflect that, instead. Z. is still shaky on the days of the week and how they arrive in an orderly, predictable pattern, so our song is part of how Z. keeps track of her schedule.

For the past week and a half, I have done a lot of improvising on that verse.

Z.'s daycare is closed for repairs, and the search for an alternate site is ongoing. Meanwhile, the 70 or so children who go to her school are improvising, and in that time Z. has not had one single day that looked like any other day. I have been home with her in the afternoon for naptime, but in the morning we have made different arrangements with swapped playdates or pooled childcare, and one day I simply stayed home all day, alone, with her.

We are suffering, she and I.

Neither of us is getting any exercise. Neither of us is getting any significant space from the other. I am getting almost no time alone, and I am having to cancel or give up various parts of my own weekly routine that help keep me sane. Therapy, for instance. I was at work for about five hours all of last week and less than one hour so far this week. A. leaves the house before Z. and I wake up so I've showered, oh, three times since Z. has been home.

That is the context in which we left town and had a car accident on Saturday.

Tomorrow is the first day since all of this started that we have somewhere for Z. to be all day.

I'm actually looking forward to going to work.

Imagine that.


Magpie said...

I know, I know! After a rough weekend, getting on the train on Monday morning can be such a relief.

Can you get some exercise together? Go for a long walk in the woods, or go to the zoo or something?

S. said...

Magpie, the problem has been timing. Having her in the afternoon has meant working in the morning and being stuck at home during her nap. We did try a nap one day, but she staged a protest of the kind that makes you decide discretion is the better part of valor.

Julia said...

I am incredibly late to this, but I wanted to say I am sorry for the disruption and for the havoc it has wrought in your lives.
Hope things get better soon.
Is the car going to be ok? buying another one, after all you went through to get this one would suck suck suck.