Monday, April 18, 2011

Surviving Spring Break—by Jamie Levine

My boyfriend, Library Guy, who doesn’t go on too many play dates with his boys, is constantly amazed by the social schedule that Jayda and I lead. The other day, he blurted out, “these play dates are for you—not Jayda!” and I agreed that he was partially right. Both my daughter and I are very social creatures; we both like to talk a lot, and we both have a pretty vast and varied circle of friends with whom we like to spend time. We’re both also quite busy with school and other weekly obligations, like Jayda’s Sunday school and dance classes, and my dedication to the gym. And so, I’ve become a zealous scheduler in order to keep our social lives rich and thriving; it makes us both happy.

Because Jayda’s barely four years old, play dates are a mutual effort for us—I can’t just drop her off at a friend’s house, so I make sure her friends have mommies with whom I want to be friends, and so far, that plan has worked well for us. I’m always happy to have a cup of coffee and a nice chat, or on occasion, even a glass of wine, with one of my mommy-friends while Jayda plays with one of her friends. We both get to exercise our social muscles, and come out of the play date thriving. But keeping us busy—and in synch with our other social-and-often-quite-busy friends—takes a bit of work. Fortunately, I’m a planner—and an extrovert—so I know how to make things happen.

A month ago, as spring break loomed ahead on my calendar, I started plotting. I thought about friends whom I wanted to see—and asked Jayda for her wish list, too—and then I sent out a flurry of emails and made a bunch of phone calls. The result is a friend-filled, fun-filled, event-packed week of entertainment for the both of us. And while we’re both looking forward to it—it’s potentially exhausting, too.

Yesterday, a day we had both been happily anticipating for weeks, turned out to be a wonderful one—until late in the day. We started out at the gym: Jayda played in the daycare while I worked out, and then she and I wandered around the gym floor saying “hello” to all the people whom we knew. Then, we raced off to a play date with a school friend of hers whose mom I befriended recently, and have been anxious to spend time with and get to know better. The afternoon was so enjoyable we stayed at their house for almost four hours—and then raced home for a pre-Passover sedar my mother was cooking. We’d invited other good friends to that dinner, and on the ride home, Jayda and I discussed how excited we both were to see them. The first part of the evening was great—but then Jayda had a melt-down; too much sugar and stimulation transformed my little princess into a teary, tantruming, over-sensitive monster who clearly needed to go to bed. But because there was a houseful of people—including our dear friends—she stayed up later than I would have liked and went into over-drive. And her melt-down led to my melt-down…and an overscheduled day gone awry. Did I plan too much for us? Is the week ahead filled with potential problems? Maybe. But when I was finally able to force Jayda’s head down on her pillow (and in exasperation, hissed “go to sleep!”), my little girl looked at me and said in a soft voice, “Mommy—I had a great day!” And I answered back—and meant it—“so did I, Jayda. So did I.” Social creatures need to be social; it keeps us sane. And if it makes us a tired, too, so be it; we can sleep when we’re done.


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