I came back from a business trip and got the report from H-band. He'd gone to one of the local Montessori preschools in our neighborhood to see if it would be a fit for Liv. His take: It wasn't.
"The kids seem so, I don't know, depressed."
"Depressed? Gosh what do they do over there?"
"Well it's not that overt. I just think that they must be … there's not a lot of space for running around outside."
"It's a Montessori, hun. I would think that they engage the kids..."
"I'm sure they do. But not like we engage Olive here. She's better off here."
Of course by the word "we" H-band actually meant "I". "But not like I engage Olive here." He's taken an immense amount of pride in her development. I come home from work or a business trip and am always amazed by the new words, the new skills, she's taken on.
It's been tough approaching alternative means of childcare with H-band. He knows it needs to happen. Hell, most days when I come home he threatens that it NEEDS to happen soon. There's so much that he wants to do that being the primary caregiver makes impossible--from working on freelance projects to training for a bike race. I've never disagreed with him. I've always wondered when he would take steps to get his career back on track, more because that's what I would do than because I think he needs to. While I think he worries about his professional future from time to time; I don't think it's as much of a driver for him to obtain child care than having more time for himself.
Perhaps more to avoid my disapproval H-band went on another preschool tour last week, while I was on another business trip. I suggested that he go, and if he liked the place enough I would be happy to accompany him on a follow-up trip.
That night we spoke on the phone.
"So what did you think?" I said.
"It was fine," he said.
"Enough room for the kids to run around?" I said, wondering if there were perhaps criteria other than square footage of the play yard we should be applying to our search .
"I guess," H-band said. "It was alright. Sort of precious."
"Precious in a snobby way?"
"Precious in a Berkeley way."
I could live with that way.
"Alright enough to apply?"
"I don't know about that."
"Are there openings?"
"In the fall. She might not make the cutoff, though. She's two weeks too young."
"Well can you find out if we can still apply?" My voice was becoming increasingly desperate. Friends of ours with kids a similar age had applied for preschool months, even years, ago, knowing full-well that there were often waitlists, and you could not always get your first choice. H-band had agreed to take on this "project" of ours of securing child care for our daughter, and though as the full-time caregiver he had gone through many of the motions of researching, the suggestion of even looking at all--and the nudging--had been made entirely by me.
After much cajoling, H-band agreed he would write the preschool director and ask if we could apply. Several days later I saw that this hadn't been done. I did what I knew was most effective--threatened to do it myself--and H-band wrote the email. We found out that we could still apply. H-band said he had the application and would work on it. Last night I asked him about it. It hadn't been done.
I cringed at the thought of what it would be like when it came time to look at colleges; preschools were hard enough.
"I'll fill out the application," I said, curtly. "It needs to get done."
"But what if we decide that's not the preschool for her?" H-band said.
"Then it's not, but we need to at least get her on some waitlists, right?"
"Yeah, I guess."
H-band gets this way sometimes, and it annoys me, but after several years of marriage I know this: There are things that H-band is passionate about, and those are things that get done. And then there are things that he is passionate about, and because of that passion things don't get done. I realized that, perhaps, the latter dynamic was in play. He was passionate to the point of true apathy. He didn't want our daughter to get into a preschool.
"You know," I said. "She needs to be around other kids. She can't be around you forever."
H-band nodded; of course he knew that.
"She was so sick today," he said. "I'm not dropping her off someplace when she's that sick."
"Of course you won't. Why would you?"
"I won't do that."
"She won't be sick like that very often."
H-band went back to loading the dish washer. The conversation ceased.
Later that night he asked me, "Have the two of you ever napped together?"
"Who? Me and Olive?"
I thought of the times on the weekend when all I wanted to do was curl up on the floor and fall asleep while she played with her toys, "Nope."
"It's nice," he said. "You can feel her little breath on you. And sometimes when she's not sleeping yet she'll feel around and touch your face. She just wants to know what it feels like. But then she falls asleep." He was overcome with the memory.
I had filled out the preschool application a few hours earlier, put it in an addressed envelope, and left the envelope in our foyer, to go out with the mail the next day. I said to H-band, "You know, you'll get to see her every day. We don't have to send her full time. Let's see how it goes."
H-band nodded OK.