Monday, October 6, 2014

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

So there are some definite benefits to being the second child. The chance to do stuff earlier than your big sister. Getting carried a lot. Hand me down toys and clothes that are barely used.

And then there are some major drawbacks.

Like sitting in waiting rooms while your older sibling is off having fun.

Poor Reagan is my waiting kid.

Madison is what I call my Renaissance Preschooler. She wants to try absolutely everything. This fall she is doing dance, gymnastics, science class, cooking, and library storytime (among others). All of these programs are drop off classes for preschool aged kids.

Drop off classes are awesome in many ways. If Madison getting dropped off left me alone for the duration of the class, I would love them even more. The issue I have is that although I'm dropping one kid off, I still have a two year old hanging out with me.

Reagan has spent approximately 700 hours of her young life killing time, waiting for her sister to finish underwater basket weaving, or polo for preschoolers, or whatever it is that Madison is doing.

Seven hundred hours. 

Reagan obviously comes with us when we drop Madison off. She tries to run in with the class about half the time, because whatever Madison is doing looks like fun, but usually she will say goodbye and wave as Madison disappears into her class. When she was a baby, she used to sit contentedly in her carrier or on a blanket. And then she started moving.

Then comes the really hard part. What do you do with the wait when you have a toddler who doesn't idle well?

Reagan doesn't idle well. Trust me. The child needs to be involved in something, or sleeping. There is no middle ground.

I have determined, through many, many dropoff classes, that the absolute worst length for a drop off class is forty-five minutes. It doesn't make sense to go home, and it's not enough time to run any real errands. It would be nice if it was just me, sitting with my Kindle or a magazine. But for my waiting kid, it's just too long.

Anything an hour or more means we get our butts out of there and run errands. There is no way we're staying for a two hour dance class or a ninety minute cooking class. We find stuff to do. Last year dance was an hour, and we tried to stay in the waiting room, but despite all my best efforts, it was a disaster. If it's an hour class, we are out of the there.

Anything a half hour or under can be dealt with. We bring the iPad, which has plenty of activities that don't require WiFi. I bring a special "treat" that is only for waiting rooms and that Madison doesn't get. The "Madison doesn't get this" is key for enjoyment. It's apparently no fun to enjoy a fun sized bag of m&ms if your sister is going to get one when she's finished.

Each girl has her own busy bag that we bring to restaurants, doctor's appointments where we'll spend time waiting in a completely uninteresting exam room, and for time killing. I make sure to switch out Reagan's stuff frequently because she uses hers much more than Madison. Right now it's loaded with coloring pages, stickers, an iSpy book and a "magic" marker and book.

Sometimes all Reagan wants to do is "take a walk", and sometimes we can make that happen. Dance is located about five minutes from a beautiful walking trail. Unless it's raining or freezing cold, we can walk without issue. Gymnastics is located in a warehouse park next to the train tracks. Unless we're taking a walk in an industrial parking lot, it probably isn't happening.

And if all else fails, I can throw a show on the car DVD player and idle for a few minutes before I feel like I'm wasting gas and/or killing my battery.

But forty five minutes? That's the killer.

That rundown of activities seems to completely time out at about thirty ONE minutes. So minutes thirty-two through forty-five are a high stress battle of "don't touch that" and "you can't climb over people" and "ok, we're almost done!" and "no, now it's too late to take a walk/start a movie". Forty-five minutes is when Reagan's little body just can't sit nicely in an office chair anymore, no matter what is lurking in her busy bag. And forty-five minutes isn't long enough to leave and run an errand. Trust me. I've tried.

But the beauty of toddler time is that every stage, no matter how endless it seems when you are in it, is fleeting. It won't be long before Reagan is getting dropped off at activities of her own. It won't be long before she's content to amuse herself with the iPad and I'm arguing with her to turn it off after forty-five minutes. Her attention span will get longer, her waiting time will get shorter.

And I'll be the one smiling contentedly with the magazine.

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