This week has been pretty tough for Alex.
Mornings especially. More specifically, when it’s time for me to leave him at daycare.
It didn’t used to be this hard.
Well, no, that’s wrong. It’s been this hard. At various stages, various ages. He’s gone through periods of time when, for whatever reason, the fact that I’m leaving is cleaving his little heart in two.
Which has the same effect on me, of course.
I know in the past some of it has been just normal little-tiny-person attempts to make me do what he wants me to do. I know that once I’ve left him behind, after the daycare staff have peeled him off of me, he’s fine, and that once I disappear he stops sobbing, claps his hands together and demands crayons and paper because, dammit, he wants to make some pictures. I know he’s fine.
But this week he hasn’t been as fine. He’s been really crying. Red face, tears rolling, drooling, loud, crying.
It rips me apart, you know.
I know he eventually settles down, and when I come to pick him up at the end of the day, he’s busy playing or singing or coloring or playing with clay or running around with his friends.
But still. I feel like crud when he cries like that.
I sort of was wondering if maybe it’s because usually when I drop him off in the morning, the teacher for his room isn’t in yet and he’s got to join the other (mostly bigger) kids in the preschool room for a little while. Sometimes some of the other "early preschool" kids are in there already, but it doesn’t seem to matter. So I thought maybe he’s just timid around the bigger kids. It’s louder in there, it’s a big room, and first thing in the morning is a little chaotic at times.
And I was a shy, timid kid.
And so I’m thinking, have I somehow influenced him to be shy? To be a little afraid of bigger kids? What have I done to make him afraid? Does he sense my nursery-school shyness? Has he picked up on it somehow, and now he’s doomed to be…(painful gulp)…like me all through school???? Oh, please, God, no. Don’t do that to him.
I don’t know if Bill was shy at that age. I suspect he might have been. But I don’t know and he wouldn’t remember.
But then I figure I’m being silly. How could he pick up on that? I’m not afraid of these preschoolers NOW, after all. I’m WAY bigger than they are, and if I really wanted to, I could take those Legos away from them like THAT.
So…is it genetic? Is this just the way he’s wired?
Or…is he going through a phase? Like being afraid of the talking tree at the Bugaboo Creek Restaurant that we’ve gone to with him a few times and probably won’t go to again with him until he’s thirty and we can just leave him outSIDE if he doesn’t want to come in past the talking tree. (Or talking tree-man, as he refers to him.) There’s a talking bison head in there too…and a moose head too. Now, if you think about it, it’s disturbing enough just because these are just HEADS up there. Throats and bodies are gone, so how these things would make any kind of a sound is beyond explanation. But that doesn’t seem to be what freaks Alex out. He accepts the fact that there is a live bison HEAD ONLY on the wall. He’s just bothered by the fact that it will suddenly speak. He likes his animals to be seen and not heard.
Julia, on the other hand, thinks they’re pretty exciting. "Kitty!! Kitty!!" she shouts gleefully, pointing at the talking disembodied bison head up on the wall. She’d like one in her crib, I think.
Of course, she’s too little to have the overactive imagination of a three-year-old. Her time will come, I figure. And his will have past…so he’ll have a grand old time scaring her with talking bison heads and talking tree men…
So anyway, after being concerned for the past several days about Alex’s extreme crying when I try to drop him off, I did something uncharacteristically sensible – I asked the morning preschool teacher about it. I asked if he keeps crying after I leave…and she said this week he’s been more upset than in the past, especially yesterday. He stood (this breaks my heart…I’m a horrible, horrible mother) staring at the window after I’d waved bye bye to him, bawling, and yelling "Mommy, come back!" over and over.
I can hear it. I can see the wet, red face and the awful open crying drooling mouth.
How do you spell "guilt"…it’s spelled E M P L O Y M E N T. It’s spelled M O R T G A G E. It’s spelled C A R P A Y M E N T.
Anyway…I’m glad I talked to her because what she said next made sense, and if I wasn’t so busy flagellating myself for my horrible parenting skills, I might even have thought of it myself…she asked if last week was his first entire week of not being at daycare.
Ah. Yes, it was. It was a hugely different week. Two flights on an airplane, not to mention all the irritation and stress and down time before each flight…and then spending several days and nights in a completely different place…and then coming home and just being home for a few days – and then being plunged right back into full time daycare.
At three, that’s a tremendously disruptive thing.
So I’m glad tomorrow’s Friday. Last day of the week to have to peel my son off of me and slink away guiltily and reluctantly to my job…wanting to say to him, "Alex, I don’t want to go to work any more than you want me to leave. But I have to, and so you have to, and it sucks at this moment, but you will be fine and you will have fun today and by this afternoon you will have forgotten all about right now."
I tried shrinking that down this morning, and telling him that sometimes when we don’t want to do something, we have to be brave and do it anyway.
"I don’t want to be brave!"
My job is my job. Motherhood is my adventure.