The major downside, so far, is that while he’s bringing his A-game to kindergarten every day, doing so requires suppressing certain of his natural (read: primal and wildly animalistic) instincts, and thus when he gets home at the end of the day he unleashes them in a fury. After eight hours or so of staying in his seat and being quiet and respectful and interacting with his peers, all those rule-abiding pro-social things, between getting off the bus and bedtime he goes bananas: bossing his sister around, denying/defying basically everything that comes out of his mother’s mouth or my own, bouncing off the walls and furniture, and so on. Literally, he spins in circles as fast as he can and makes loud booster rocket noises with his mouth, with an intensity that seems to indicate that he would explode if he held the physical motion and noise inside a moment longer. Our parental strategy, at this point, is basically to suck it up (and vent about it via blog or Facebook) and look forward to things settling down a bit more. Hopefully that will pan out!
The little girl is experiencing her own version of a mixed bag, as well. My wife and I are in agreement that having the house to herself during the majority of weekday waking hours (baby brother notwithstanding) suits the little sassypants just fine, and she probably needed to be left to her own devices a little more often. But then, see above re: how the dynamic changes as soon as the newly enrolled pupil caroms through the front door. It’s a tricky balancing act for the parents, too. On the one hand we want to reinforce to the little guy that we are excited for him and proud of him as he continues navigating the brave new world of public school, but when we express that by focusing all attention on him (be it my wife when he gets off the bu or myself when I arrive home from work later) and asking how his day was, what they did, what he learned, do not doubt for a second that his sister does not take note of the fact that she might as well not exist for the span of the interrogations. So she demands to be picked up and carried, or she sulks, or any number of other (perfectly understandable!) responses, which require some rebalancing. So we pay attention to her, and then the little guy goes shooting off somewhere to test the limits of his restored freedom. And so on.
But really, the little girl is doing pretty well on balance. Last night as I was giving her a bath she was holding up some of the toys (the tugboat captain, the seahorse, the fish-that-is-also-a-brush) and asking me to soap them up the same as her. Although, actually, she was giving the toys different voices and making them ask to be washed. “Hey I need some soap!” they each told me, the fish and seahorse in high-pitched squeaks and the captain in a salty growl. That’s the first time I’ve noticed her doing that with any toys, which is kind of amazing given the popularity in our house of the Toy Story movies (championed by her older brother, of course, but inevitably spilling over into her awareness quite a bit) and I guess that’s just another milestone she’s hit, where it makes sense to her to engage in the kind of imaginary play where inanimate objects gain the ability to talk. Fun stuff.
The baby has had a cold for about a week and a half now which gave him a fever for maybe a day or two and mostly has just made him cough himself awake pretty regularly. That has been a bit of a drag, but he’s been otherwise in good spirits and slept through the night last night so we really have minimal reason to complain.