Sunday, October 12, 2008

To care or not to care

I'm tossing up trying to get Widget a spot at daycare for one morning a week.

She's just had a wonderful time while we've been away playing with her brother, cousins and random children she adopted at the park. She's definitely past the parallel play stage and wants to play with other children. She's great with Midget and plays with me a lot, but I think she needs more variety.

We do playgroup once a week and it can be a bit hit and miss - one day there are two babies, the next week there are 20 children up to 4. Unfortunately there is only one other child her age and he just wants to play with his big brother. There is a little girl she really likes, but she is only 2 and not up to playing with Widget. There are several older kids but they don't really know how to play with someone younger - as the littlest she doesn't understand what they are doing and they don't know how to include her.

I just don't like the idea of not being with her. While we are at play group she will ignore me for long stretches of time, but if she needs me I'm there.

In some ways the solution is having other kids over or visiting. I know there are other kids her age in town, but I don't know them because they don't come to playgroup. I think most of them are at daycare! So if she went there she could meet some of them and then we could look at visiting. But visiting is hard for me. I'm a loner, I don't know how to make friends and socialise and I don't even particularly want to.

Sometimes I think wistfully of what it would be like to have a friend to talk to, but what do you talk about? You have to have something in common! My life at the moment is my children and my nappies, and I love talking about sewing, science, maths and education. But there aren't that many others out there who are into those things. I suppose with other mothers we could talk about our children, but I'm really wary of that because I don't want to get into comparing. I have an incredibly competetive family and I'm insecure enough about my kids and my parenting as it is. It's ridiculous, because I don't seem to have any middle ground. If my kids are "behind" in some way, I get worried and think everyone notices and thinks I'm a bad mother. But at the same time I'm (not so) secretly convinced that they are advanced, and I don't want to make other Mums feel bad. And of course if they are the same as other kids I'm disappointed that they're not advanced.

Widget's speech delay has been a huge trial to me. It was the one milestone I really cared about because speech is linked to intelligence. She was way ahead on most of the physical milestones, and who knows where that came from because my family is completely unco-ordinated and can trip over thin air. But I didn't care about how mobile she was, I wanted her to talk. OK that doesn't sound right. Obviously I thought she was wonderful and clever when she started crawling and walking and doing all those things, and I loved every minute of it. But it wouldn't have worried me if she had taken longer. Not talking really worried me, and I'm so glad we seem to be dealing with that. It turned out that it's not actually a language problem it's a speech production problem, she has all the concepts she should but has difficulties in physically saying things. Midget's going the same way - meeting all the physical milestones early, so I'm making sure I do all the right things with her speech!

But I digress. The other problem, and to be honest the big stumbling block, is the house. It's just such a mess I would be embarrassed to have other people here. And I don't want to put that pressure on someone else if their house is like this! I suppose we could meet at the park, and it's not getting too hot yet. A group of us used to go swimming but it's too cold for the kids for a couple more weeks. (It's ridiculous, there are only a couple of weeks that it's pleasant outside and we still don't have a cover over the play equipment.)

What it comes down to is that I'm really aware that Widget needs more people. It's that whole village thing - I think she needs more than me and Midget all week and I see how happy she is whenever she gets to interact with other people. The easiest thing for me is daycare, if I can get over leaving her which is a huge problem. It would also give me some one on one time with Midget, which she's never had because Widget doesn't sleep, and possibly even a break if Midget would actually sleep in the cot. I suspect the best thing for Widget would be playdates, but then I would have to interact with other people and clean the house. Both things that are good for me, but sort of like brussel sprouts. And I just don't know if I could cope with anything more on my plate right now. Of course it could be easier - less time I have to think about activities for Widget, and she does enjoy helping to clean.

While I've been tossing all this up one Mum who has a younger girl is pregnant, which is very exciting. She is the closest I have to a friend here and she might like the idea of getting meetings going now so she can have a bit of time out when the baby comes. And someone else I like but don't know very well is back, it turns out they haven't moved they were visiting family for a few months. So after all that ramble I might suggest to these two that we go to the park or something, ease into it gradually. I've been thinking about this on and off for months, this ramble really helped sort it out.

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