EV had a 36-hour runny-nosed cold yesterday and I’d really like to blame it on other children, but I refuse to let them take credit for all of the books we read together.
On Monday I finally went to the gym at the local YMCA, five months into this stay-at-home experiment that was supposed to be at least fractionally about getting back into the shape I was in five years ago. Going to the gym by day meant depositing EV into a kid’s playroom for the better part of an hour – something that has always given me pause.
I’ve met the director at the Y and would trust her chosen child-minders implicitly, plus the environment is a room filled with toys and books without a screen in sight. The pause comes from the children they are minding. I don’t know them or their manners or what vapid TV shows they watch or what their parents have been teaching them.
It’s tempting to assign this fear of other children to a yuppy millennial helicopter parenting, and I’m sure some portion of it has to do with that, but my fear of other children influencing EV comes from my own distaste for other kids growing up. I wanted no part of them and their messy, silly, rough ways. Even though I watched all the TV they did and played with a lot of the same toys, I never wanted to be associated with other kids. I didn’t even want to be one myself, which was an easy illusion to maintain as I hung out in bars with my father and went out to dinner with my mother.
I’m not trying to raise EV to be a mini-me or to have the same mistrust of her peers that I had – to this day it remains as an unhealthy habit of keeping my peers at arm’s length. Yet, when I see kids EV’s age who act up, always have their hands in their mouth, spout nonsense words, are picky with food, yell and screech, or play rough and imitate guns, I can’t help but sneer at them just as I did when I was a little kid. I don’t want EV to miss out on important peer interaction, but I don’t want her to think that behavior is the acceptable norm, either. You can be more of a kid than I was without being a terrible little snot-nosed monster.
So, I gritted my teeth and left her eagerly exploring the play room while I huffed and puffed and lifted weights for an hour. She was perfectly cheerful when I picked her up.
Four hours later every part of my body was sore from class and EV had a definite case of the sniffles. “It was those damned runny nosed play-room kids,” I raged over internet chat to E and Lindsay. To their eternal credit as my life-parter and BFF, respectively, they replied separately but in verbatim unison: colds don’t incubate in four hours.
In other words: cool your jets, helicopter pilot.
The sniffles continued into yesterday, which put a whammy on some of our plans – I didn’t want to be the asshole parent who brought a contagious kid to the playground. (This led to me trying to explain the concept of “contagious” to EV – I love that we’re in the explaining things phase of parenting). Instead, we made a return trip the library to pick up a new batch of books to read at home. There, the librarian talked us into joining their “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge.”
“We’re starting this a bit late,” I said, trying to dissuade her from signing us up.
“It’s plenty of time!” she responded cheerily as she began to copy EV’s information down onto a registration card. “Plus, you can always count re-reading the same book multiple times.
It was as if she said the magic words. I could feel OCD Godzilla revving up in the interior of my gut, sharpening his nails within my bile duct as he contemplated that most kids were doing a SELECT ALL instead of a COUNT DISTINCT when querying their book reading – the obvious tactics of a book challenge cheater.
Godzilla and I quickly did the math. We had 24 months until Kindergarten, which meant maintaining a solid clip of 42 new books a month to hit the mark. But that was barely a book a day! We easily did 5-6 even on a slow day, but those were repeats from our own collection. Surely we could do better with 26 branches of the Delaware County Library System at our disposal and me as a stay-at-home-parent.
“Let me ask you something,” I said, giving the librarian a sly sidewise smile, “what’s the fastest anyone has ever completed the challenge.”
We’ve read 30 books in the last 24hrs and have another 20 ready to pick up at the library tomorrow. Today we cleared off our entire bookshelf to begin plotting our path through re-reading them and logging them for the challenge – which, to EV, is like letting her loose in a candy store. I quickly tired of hand-entry on the challenge sheet and switched over to a database format that would also track durations and duplicate reads.
I think we can nail this thing down in less than 100 days.