The last week of summer vacation is stressful enough without all the worry of how the kids will deal with the new school year. Karen and I have discussed her concerns at length, so I feel she’s as prepared as possible. But Matan doesn’t quite understand, only that he’s going to a new gan. They are both going a batty with too much free time.

This coming year, Matan’s still in pre-school, one year away from formal kindergarten. We have two years to get him ready for first grade. This year we were referred to the Tel Aviv’s special education program, and Matan was accepted to a small class of only 8 children with a special education teacher, teacher’s assistant and speech and occupational therapists come in on a weekly basis. The whole format is geared towards helping each child individually and as a group, to learn to socialize and ideally, to prepare the children for mainstream first grade.

I took Matan to a play today, and it was suddenly really obvious to me that he really does need to be in a special program. Had we put him into regular, municipal preschool, he would be in a class of 35, with little personal attention, and children who would likely make him feel incapable. So, overall, I’m glad to have him in this program, but I’m really disappointed that all the reassurances we got that he would have adequate after school care until at least 4 pm was inaccurate, at best.

The city does provide a ride for him from our neighborhood, to the school. The formal school day ends at 1:30 pm, and in most cases, the children can remain until at least 4 pm in an aftercare program that gives them a hot lunch and some extra activities mixed with lots of free play or rest time. While Matan’s special ed class is located in a neighborhood not far from us, apparently the after school program for special ed kids is on the opposite side of the city. Going there would mean Matan would spend more than an hour each day in transit just get to and from this location, not including his rides to school. He can also get a special ride back to our neighborhood at 1:30, but then I’d need to find someone to take care of him for a few hours, and give him lunch, possibly a nap.

I’m trying to come up with all kinds of creative ways to make this work, and that won’t cost me more than my salary in after school care and programs. Ideally, I’d love a babysitter who was available 2x a week from about 1:30, who could receive Matan when the transit brings him back, and then make him lunch, let him nap or relax, and who could even pick Karen up at 4 if necessary. Is that too much to ask? It seems like there are either older women who want a full time job caring for children, or kids who can’t commit, especially since most still have classes when Matan gets home.

I know most parents juggle childcare responsibilities, but with all the special arrangements both of mine need, finding, keeping and scheduling all their care and activities can be overwhelming.