Sydney made two trips to Nova Scotia this spring (I joined him for one), he has spent half of each week in Ohio, and this week he’s in England for a conference (having left the car in Columbus). So, how are we managing some of this?
– Sydney: from what I can tell by watching, with desperation and adrenaline. The poor guy is trying to maintain a hold on three different homes at once. Two things I have seen him do: persist in doing some birdwatching even if he can’t “afford” the time for this hobby, and plant a garden in David and Lisa’s backyard. Those two activities help him unwind a bit. Earlier in the spring I had a chance to join in him shoveling dirt for an afternoon, and it was nice to see the playful, barefoot, dirt-covered Sydney I haven’t seen since we left Ithaca.
– The children: they have latched onto their preschool teachers, and they have shifted from being anxious any time I left the house (their Oxford strategy) to cheering on the few occasions I’ve had to bring in babysitters for an evening event. The kids seems to have grasped the social dynamics of their world (I teach students who teach or babysit my kids and who may also attend our church), and they are now quite comfortable saying “Hello!” to people on the street and running up to their teachers and occasional babysitters when we eat in the cafeteria. Fussing and fighting have really receded in recent months, and both kids know that when I say that something is for dinner tonight that that is all that’s on offer. So, they usually eat. They’ve also figured out that good Mommy time is spend with a) books b) songs or c) walks, and they love helping me plan our walks or pore over our book selections.
– Erin: I have resigned myself to having the kids in school for longer days than I would like, knowing that as of next week Sydney and I will be back to caring for them for most of the day until we all start school again in the fall. My cooking has gotten much simpler, aided by the need to work straight up to dinner time and the fact that Sydney’s frequent absences leave me unable to cook things that require unusual ingredients unless I’ve really planned ahead. The local grocery store is good for eggs and milk, but, well, you’re out of luck if you want herbs. I have also taken advantage of the fact that the kids think it’s great fun to eat in the cafeteria to give us an occasional dinner in which I can chat with the kids and help them practice good table manners–rather than shout questions about their day from my post in the kitchen.
I’ve also learned to be grateful when help is offered. In addition to David and Lisa and my colleagues (all of whom have helped with childcare, transportation, and meals), I’ve had help from people I don’t know. A nice guy ran out of the store after me last month, carrying the milk I’d left behind when I was intent on holding little people’s hands through the parking lot. Yesterday, during a heavy thunderstorm, I’d managed to get the kids to school just before it really started to pour, but as I stood at the door, bracing myself for the run over to the university, the father of one of Katherine’s classmates offered me a ride. Like everyone else in town, he’d noticed I always walked everywhere with the kids. With his help, I got to school without dousing my computer or my notes for the class that started 15 minutes later.
Now, it’s less than two weeks until the graduation ceremonies that wrap up my obligations for the school year (Sydney is done at OSU this week), and I think we’re going to make it. Sydney will be back on Friday, and we’re not planning to let him leave our sight for the next three months. I am currently on top of my grading and, with two more big marathon sessions next week, should be able to get each class wrapped up in time. Katherine and Nathaniel now live almost exclusively in sandals and bare feet, and Sydney’s peas are coming up, so it’s time to play.