Dear Cee: About those tantrums and tears

 

Dear Cee,

We have had a lot of change in our lives lately. You have started day care, and I have started going to this strange place we call “work.” (I always wonder what you picture when I say I’m going there. I think you’d really like climbing the stairs in the 300-person lecture hall where I go to tell stories to sleepy college kids. You’ll have to check it out sometime.)

We had these nearly two years of spending almost every minute of every day together, living in our quiet, predictable rhythms. As an infant, you clung to me and had little interest in being close to other people, even Daddy at times. Our early attempts at leaving you with a babysitter were traumatic for everyone. You would cry and cry, refusing a bottle. I would sit at my desk, unable to concentrate on my work, and instead checking my phone for text messages from the babysitter. You let me know that you needed me. I accepted this and stayed close.

I was nervous about this change, but you love going to day care. You jump right in to play, often only pausing for a quick hug goodbye with me. And when I return to pick you up, you greet me with a grin and a hug, but then you go back to playing and it is often a struggle to tear you away. You embrace your new caregiver as if you have known her all your life.

I am so relieved to see that you are comfortable with this change. But it is also bittersweet for me, I admit. It is a LOT of letting go. In fact, you may have noticed that I have been hugging you an awful lot lately when we are together. That’s the only way I can ease myself into the reality of your growing up.

But also? It is magical to watch you become your own person.

You walk confidently and run joyously. You disagree passionately. Sometimes you are agreeable, but you’re passionate about that, too. You demand band-aids, piggy-back rides, and one more bedtime story. You try new words, first listening, and then testing them out. You pause, you reflect, you nod with understanding. You protest holding my hand as we cross the street. You pretend play – serving me dinner of plastic veggies and grinning as I nibble at them and complement your cooking.

And you still need me. Continue reading

Transition Time

Oh my goodness, things have gotten hectic. I know I have neglected the blog, but I’m gearing up for teaching next week and I’m suddenly juggling more a few more responsibilities than I’m used to. Once I figure out how to keep all these balls in the air, I hope I can carve out more writing time again.

It has been a big week for our family. It was Cee’s first week of part-time day care. She seemed to cope with it beautifully. Not surprisingly, I have struggled with it more.

Picking out her new backpack

In the week before she started there, we had three play dates at Cee’s day care, a small in-home program. Cee jumped right into circle time, outdoor play, and meals with the other kids while I watched quietly, usually from a distance. She only clung to me for a few minutes on the first day, and then she was off. She wanted to play with the toys and be a part of the group, and she seemed confident with them. I could tell she was really ready for this change.

After we left our last play date, I told Cee that next time we came, she would stay to play with her new friends and her caregiver – we’ll call her Annie – would take care of her while I went to work. She gave me a funny look.

Over the next few days, I reminded Cee of this plan several times. We would remember something she did at day care or one of her friends there. Each time it came up, I would say something like, “Next time you go to Annie’s house, you will stay to play with the other kids while Mama goes to work.”

Cee: “Yeah.” Then usually a pause, and then, “Mama?”

Me: “Mama will go to work for a little while, but then I’ll come pick you up at lunchtime.”

Cee, nodding her head: “Yeah.” (This leaves me wondering – what exactly does a kid like Cee think of when she imagines “work?”)

On the night before her first day, we packed her bag with diapers and a few changes of clothes, and we repeated the same conversation. Except this time, I could tell that she knew exactly how it would go. She just needed to hear it one more time. She seemed to understand the plan, and she seemed ready. Continue reading