Friday, January 7, 2011

Circus people...with dental.

One last sink bath last summer before they were both too big

Jack didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Me neither. For him though, this is unusual. We're more accustomed to him leaping from the bed at 6:45am demanding cocoa and cartoons. What gives? Hmmm. Let me think. 

Several months ago Jack's best friend Cleo's mom informed us that they might be moving away to San Francisco for the year. I was devastated. But also in denial. I didn't really think it would happen. They are in a band, and while some of their gigs are here in LA, and elsewhere in the world, many of them are in Northern California. So they've been flying EVERY weekend, leaving the girls with their nanny, once or twice with us, or sometimes taking them with them, and having their SF nanny watch them while they're at gigs. For anyone who has kids under the age of 5 (and isn't Brangelina) you know this was unsustainable. They missed the girls, the girls missed them, and the traveling was getting exhausting (and expensive). So they had to go. 

She and Him in the making

For months, I've been butting my nose in business that is not my own, except to spare my son the agony of losing his best friend, and me losing our little neighborhood fun. We have casual dinners and borrow eggs and sugar, and live, you know, like people do. This is something I never thought I'd find here in LA, given our strange occupations. We have another neighbor couple, who are in the business, she is a make-up artist and he is a grip (if you don't know what that is HERE). He once said " our jobs? We're like Circus people, but with dental insurance". It's true. 

Jobs are fleeting. They come, they go. For some of us they are several weeks, or months, or years, but mainly they are a few days, or even a few hours. During which you form quick, but not necessarily meaningful bonds with the people with whom you work. A lot of times it is physically and mentally exhausting. But mostly, it's temporary. There is a lot of time spent, just sitting around, waiting.

"yes Cleo, keep reading, I'm TOTALLY listening"

For Nipper Knapp and I this has been a blessing as parents. We've had the chance to spend most days with Jack, and really be with him these first 3 years. Until he was 18 months, he didn't even have a babysitter, he went with us to our auditions, and we were able to juggle watching him when one of us worked. It's hard to explain to him that this arrangement is unusual because it's all he's ever known. But Cleo is a constant. Home or at school, she has always been around. They were born 2 weeks apart.

One last car nap

one last trip to the zoo

one last dig in the sandbox

Lately more and more, we hear his repeated mantra "But I just want to be with you guys". I totally get it. He doesn't want to leave the circus and go to work. This moring, I spent a good ten minutes trying to decide if 3 1/2 is too young to start having "mental healthy days". I mean the kid goes to "school" (I use this term loosely because mostly it's snack time, craft time, run around on the playground time over there) 3 days a week, and spends the other 4 blasting me with "guns" that shoot gummy bears, roughhousing with his dad, and generally running wild. How much mental health recuperation could he possibly need?

Today Cleo and her family left for San Francisco, but just for the weekend. They'll be back on Monday, and won't leave for good until February 1st. So Jack didn't want to get out of bed, or go to school, and I don't blame him. When we got finally got there he said "I think Cleo is going to be here any minute." Thinking about what to tell him to make it all ok, all I could think was "kiddo, you've got to do this for another 15 years so let's make the best of it." NOT exactly inspiring words. I just hugged him, kissed him, and told him he should try to play with some other friends at school. All the while thinking about how much I hated it when teachers made us get into groups and work on something when I was in school. Nerdmom is a lone reed...

one last "it's ok Jack, I've got you"

Any words of wisdom on how to help a 3 1/2 year old deal with the loss of his best friend, shyness, making new friends, leaving the circus, or how to get my carny brain to conform so I can make the dreaded playdate with other moms and their kids, would be appreciated. 

1 comment:

  1. We are having the same issues with Whit...seems sad, crying a lot at school, just not happy. I think it is a hard transition at this age to go from being lucky enough to spend all their time with Mom (and Dad) to branching out and meeting peers, preparing for school. The Christmas break was a reset, we had a good thing going and he was excited when we came to 'scoop him' at the end of the day (nothing makes the dread of drop off disappear than the DAAAAAAADDDDDDDDY! as he runs to you, beats the shit out of Elle's eye rolling we get as a 7 year old when we get her from latchkey).

    It's in the seams where parenting happens, not all medicine has a spoonful of sugar, and that is a tough lesson at all ages. Ultimately he (and you two) are better for it, he's learned at an early age to be a good friend and teammate with Cleo...amazing how we all had a Cleo growing up, and how few of us still remain in contact even with the feelings so strong back then. When Whit left his old preschool he had friends that were moving on to kindergarten, we made lots of cards to 'send' them, lots of stories about what they use to do at preschool together, lots of fun remembering...but it still hurts.

    Love the blog, keep it up Mar. Makes me feel less crazy as a parent. And person.