Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Almost Fall

How are all the rest of you doing? Anyone else freaking out about fall? About school? About schedules? And lists?

Here in Wonderland, things are pretty good, now that I've decided not to sign Genevieve up for fall ECFE baby class after all. Julia would have had to come along and go to the sibling-care room, which, along with preschool, would mean three mornings in a row every week of scheduled, structured, away-from-home, on-her-own (without a parent) activity. For a kid whose only experience with parent-separation has been 45 minutes a week with me in the room next door, that's too much of a change for one autumn. Genevieve can get some baby class another session, once we've all adjusted to the world of preschool. And schedules. And lists.

Plus, we can't afford it. (Don't ask me how we're going to suddenly be able to afford it in another session. I am avoiding thinking about such practicalities.) ECFE is on a sliding scale, but it's still not cheap, and sibling care costs almost as much as the baby class itself. Add those two fees to preschool tuition, and you've just overloaded our budget. (I use the term "budget" extremely loosely here. By "budget," I mean "living paycheck to paycheck and studiously ignoring the fact that we can't actually afford the monthly premium on that life-insurance policy we finally set up".)

I am learning that not working means foregoing some of the truly beneficial "extras" (as opposed to strictly material luxuries, which I am very used to, and generally okay with, going without) that often don't feel like "extras"--especially in a town like Northfield, where the demographic is largely white, super-educated, and affluent. The at-home moms here run in a small circle, and while of course it can't be true, it starts to seem like EVERYONE does ECFE, baby music class, swim lessons. It's not that I care what anyone else thinks, either; it's just that these activities are fun, educational, and great outlets for moms to connect with other adults during our child-centric days. So it's not easy to decide to pass them up.

But I digress (as usual). What I was starting to say was that we're doing pretty well with the idea of fall, seeing as we only have one child with school to show up for, and it being only two-mornings-a-week preschool, at that. No other classes, no set activities. These babies are 3 and 1, after all. We're saving time for autumn runs and pumpkin-picking and gluing glitter on paper plates. I love fall.


Grandpa Jim said...

ECFE? I wonder what the next means of extracting from your pocket your money will be conjured up by the social system there in Northfield. I would not spend one red cent for a thing called "baby classes"! Ridiculous! This looks to me like you need to buy (purchase) most everything to "socialize" your kids. I'm sure there are plenty of activities to be had that don't cost anything and that will do just as well to offer social activities for the kids. This sounds to me like the parents in some areas spending thousands a year to have their kids on some hockey or whatever sport team. I commend you for giving up the idea of ECFE at least for now. I hope the decision sticks!

Shan said...

I'm not even going to try to fully respond to this uninformed comment. What I will say is that I believe (as a parent AND as a psychologist) that ECFE is the best social program in Minnesota, and it has been absolutely invaluable to both me and Julia. (She has developed socially in amazing ways since being exposed to ECFE--every child needs a little socialization now and then--and I have gotten social support as well as answers to real parenting questions in the parent-education part of the class.) It's a state-wide program that is held up as an example of proactive healthy-family services across the country.

Sounds to me like you may have a mistaken idea of what ECFE actually is?