It was "Parents Evening" at Toby's nursery today. I know he only goes one day per week but we still went along to see how he's doing and what he's been up to.
It was pretty crazy while we were there, a room full of toddlers and all their parents turning up and wanting to speak to the staff at the same time. We had Rudy with us who was quietly surveying the chaos with wide eyes. A little boy we didn't recognise came over and hit him at one point so had to be 'told off' by Chris and one of the nursery nurses!
Toby thought the whole thing was very odd.
First up, it was the wrong day (Tuesday, not Thursday!) and secondly, it was the wrong time (it was dark when we got there!) and thirdly, we didn't drop him off and leave- we were hanging around! You could see his little brain trying to work it all out. He seemed to think it was quite fun though, he was showing us all the things he plays with, like the "Nee-naw Sam Hat" (Fireman Helmet) and was making us "dinner" (serving us plastic pretend food)
His key-worker has changed again, for what feels like the millionth time but must actually be about the fourth or fifth time. We didn't know about the change, i guess it would be more important to us (and to them) if he was there full time but as he's only there one day i don't feel like it makes much of a difference, he gets cared for by whoever is working in the Rainbow Room on Thursdays and his key worker is just responsible for keeping his little file up to date and i think that's about it.
We got to look through his file and see all the paintings and pictures he's done, and read the little "observations" they do as part of the EYFS. They do these "short observations" where they watch him playing/doing an activity for 5-10 minutes and then these longer "full observations" where they sit and watch him for 20 minutes or so. Reading them is pretty funny, when he was younger they used to say things like "Tobias sees a shiny silver ball. He goes over to the ball and picks it up. He says "ball" and smiles at me (the keyworker) and then he throws the ball across the room" They make me smile because i picture him doing it in my mind as i'm reading. One of the observations i read in his file today said:
"Tobias is playing outdoors with the rest of the children. He stands and watches two of the other children who are digging up mud with spades and placing it in to holes we have already dug up. He turns to me and says "Dirty" and i say "Yes it is dirty" and he carries on watching the other children"
Which made me laugh as i can imagine him stood there watching them with a bemused expression like "What on earth are you guys doing that for?!" Lol.
His keyworker says he is a pleasure to have in the room, that his speech is coming along great (which we think too) and that he seems to be increasing in confidence and be happier throughout the day. She said he doesn't have one favourite area of the room, he likes playing with all the different toys and that he is a big fan of doing painting and crafts. She asked us what kind of things he enjoys at home at the minute and we told her that he is still totally obsessed with all forms of transportation, i.e. cars, trucks, bikes, planes, trains, tractors, helicopters, boats etc! He is also massively into his Playdough at the minute and playing with it at least once every day, and in fact the past few days he has played with it in the morning and then moved on to something else and then later on in the afternoon when it has been tidied away, asked to get it out again. She said they are "in the process" of getting some playdough for his room, (not sure exactly what the process is?!) so i'm sure he'll enjoy that when it happens.
It was quite nice really, as obviously we think he's awesome and don't really need anyone else to verify that but it's still good to know that he's enjoying himself when he's there and that he's not terrorising anyone or destroying anything!
We never expected to need to put him in nursery as when i was on maternity leave after having him my return to work plans were such that we'd be balancing childcare between us but then of course that all changed and he ended up starting nursery when he was just 10.5 months old for two days a week, which felt like a lot to us, since we hadn't thought he'd be going at all (if that makes sense?!)
Anyway, when it came to going on maternity leave this time, to have Rudy, we had to decide whether to continue with his 2 days, drop him down to 1 day or take him out of nursery altogether and we toyed with all 3 options but eventually opted for keeping him in just the one day, based on the fact he seemed to enjoy being there and that it would give me some one-to-one time with Rudy. The one-to-one time hasn't really worked out exactly how i'd hoped so far, as most Thursdays since October seem to have been filled with doctors appointments/eye tests/shopping trips/housework etc! but i am trying to change that and stop filling our one special day with crap that could technically be done at some other time (all be it, that some of it would be a lot harder work with a toddler in tow, hence me scheduling it for Thursdays!)
On the whole i think it has been the right decision though as i think it gives Toby a bit of a break too. Which possibly sounds a bit silly, but i do feel like it must be hard for him having to cope with the massive change of becoming a big brother and having this small person in the house taking up so much time and attention. At nursery he is still just "Tobias" and it's up to him if he wants to even mention his brother (apparently he does, and talks about "Rudy" all the time, which makes me smile to think about) It's also difficult some days to find the time and energy reserves to set up crafty activities knowing he'll possibly only be interested for a very short time and then you've got all the tidying up to do afterwards, but at nursery they seem to do lots and lots of painting and cutting and sticking and baking etc, so i know that even if it's been a difficult few days and we haven't managed to do much, he'll still have that opportunity on Thursday.
We haven't yet finalised my return to work plans for this time, other than knowing that i will have to go back and that it will probably be some time in June when i do. Depending on what we work out financially and what my work agree to etc Toby may need to come out of nursery or Rudy may need to go in, we're not actually sure which as it's all so complicated, particularly with Chris still having 18 months of uni left. We're putting some time aside, probably later this week to sit down with what we call our "Spreadsheet of Doom" (finances!) and work out what our best options are. Neither of us wants to as a part-time wage and a student bursary don't equate to much whereas outgoings for a growing family of four do! But i'm sure we'll figure something out!?!