Tired of Transitions
My son will be entering kindergarten this fall, and this will be his fourth school in almost as many years. I suspect he'll be fine—he's adaptable, as kids are. But I'm anxious about the new school and the new commute and the new parents that will now be a huge part of my life. It seems like our lives have been thrown upside down every fall. Hopefully this is the last of it.
I'm a freelance writer/performer/teacher in New York and basically a full-time mom. We live in Queens, but we used to live in Brooklyn until it got too crazy-expensive, and we still have a lot of friends with kids there. We didn't start out commuting: When my son was 2, we had just moved to Queens and I got a good job that needed me full-time for a month, so I put him in a day care in our new neighborhood for just May and June of that year. He "graduated" with the other kids and went back for a week of summer camp.
That fall, when he was 3 years old, I decided to put him in a three-day-a-week nursery school in our old neighborhood in Brooklyn because that's what most of our old friends were doing. I commuted back to Brooklyn by car three days a week. Sometimes it took me 15 minutes and sometimes 40—you never can count on New York traffic. But it was worth it—I loved the little nursery school and all the wooden toys and the fact that they tried to teach my 3-year-old Spanish. And lots of my friends had their kids there, so there was always someone to call to ask, "Hey can you pick up? I'm stuck in traffic."
Then, when most of my Brooklyn friends decided to send their kids to school in the East Village, I couldn't follow the crowd anymore. It took over an hour to get from Queens to the school my friends were all sending their kids to. I had heard about a great arts-oriented school in the West Village where friends with older children had sent their kids, and it was near my husband's work. (Though we live in NYC, where you are assigned a school based on your address and district, I talked my way into this school since it was near my husband's work and where I was getting my master's.) And it was one subway ride away—on an express train. An especially good thing since our car had died.
I was kind of heartbroken that we weren't with our old friends, and though I became a class parent and joined the PTA, it still took over half the year for me to make new friends. We just finished up a very good year there, and I'd made my peace with the commute we'd be doing for the next five years.
But I just found out my son tested into one of the citywide Gifted and Talented schools, which is great, and I know I shouldn't complain, really I shouldn't. He'll learn chess and Spanish and it's a good fit for my precocious little boy ... but now this fall we'll be sending him to yet another new school—this time on the Upper West Side. Well, not sending him, taking him. Another new commute, and more people to get to know and try to befriend ... I feel tired already. And I'm expecting our second child in November!
I'm anticipating a fall spent adjusting to the new schedule. I'll miss my new/old friends—as someone who works from home most of the time, my parent friends are often my only social life. This time, I think I'm prepared—I'll make playdates with our old friends in the fall so I don't feel too isolated; we've visited the school and met the teachers; and we've mapped out our new subway route—but it's still a big change.
Grown-ups don't always adjust as well as kids, so I'll try to take my cues from my son.
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