Archive for September, 2014

You played with this more than any of your toys this summer:


You ask, “What will happen if…” at least a dozen times a day. Often, you ask it in response to Mama saying something like, “Please don’t juggle those knives.” — “What will happen if I juggle those knives?” But you also ask it to pursue your favorite hobby: finding out how things work.

You have begun to leave the crusts of bread behind when you eat a sandwich.

You gleefully push your tricycle along with your feet. Very fast. Around corners and down hills. You have not fallen off it, yet.

You said bye-bye to Avva (Daddy’s mama), who went back to India after spending the summer with us. You still refer to the guest bath as, “Avva’s bathroom.”

You started school. After a bumpy couple of weeks, you now handle saying goodbye to Mama very well, and talk yourself through what’s going to happen (initially, with tears; now, with endearing gravitas). We have it on good authority that you’re having fun, especially on music days — and you’re trying foods you refuse to touch at home.

You also started swimming lessons, which you adore despite the fact that your teacher is curiously inept at working with small children. A few times a week, you go to the pool with Mama to have fun splashing around (and practice your new skills).

You are the proud owner of the “OK to Wake!” alarm clock, which glows green when it’s no longer an ungodly hour and therefore permissible for you to get out of bed and come find Mama. (Because being woken at 5:30, even by a sweet little boy, gets old mighty quick.)

You say thank you almost every time we give you something to eat. We’re pretty sure you picked that up at school. Another, less charming phrase learned at school: I want to do it NOW.

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Post Office Interlude

The line at the post office was longer than anyone wanted it to be. I thought about leaving, but took a number so I could get my brother’s birthday gift to him on time.

The space was small and the line snaked back on itself, pressing folks toward the highly trafficked double doors. I broke from the pack, shepherding the Boo to a chair near two rotating towers of greeting cards, a/k/a entertainment.

I picked one and read it to the kiddo. Then he started choosing his own, presenting them to me with zeal. And then the first little boy showed up.

I had noticed him and his brother when we walked in. Moon-faced, pale-eyed and bored. Standing with a haggard, straggly-haired woman who could pass for mother or grandmother. She looked and sounded exasperated, whether with the kids or life itself was hard to tell.

Boy One shoved a card at me, wordlessly. Delighted, I read it to him with silly gusto. He put it back and shoved another at me. Then Boy Two showed up. We read whatever cards they wanted to see along with the ones Boo wanted (they found their voices and were happy to demonstrate their reading abilities). They were especially thrilled by a card with a baby on the front and a poop joke inside.

Then their caretaker finished her business and it was our turn at the counter. We did our thing and left, negotiating the heavy doors with care.

As we stepped into the September sun, I heard a little voice call, “bye!” A little hand waved frantically from a passing car, desperate for my attention. I waved and yelled “bye!” back.

I’m going to be thinking about those boys and their little lives for a long time.

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For two months, I’d prepared the Boo for school with a multi-pronged campaign of propaganda. I started by reading him chirpy, syrupy books about first days of school (four or five of them, from Baby Elmo to Maisie to Harry and his dinosaurs). After a while, he rejected them.

So I started playing school with him, making his train set figures ride in cars to school, where Mama would drop the Boo with his nice teachers and friends, and then leave to go to Target. The Hubs and I talked excitedly about school, saying what a cool big-boy thing it was going to be and how much fun he’d have.

Last week, I added a song recommended by my mom’s friend, a very experienced early childhood teacher. Here, check out the video, it’s pretty amusing.

The Boo loved the video and did not object to me singing the song to him at every nap and bed time. I also whistled it a lot to get the association nice and deep into his little brain.

Then the day arrived. The Hubs, his mom, Boo and I all went together to take photos and visit his classroom. The hubs left with his mom, and I stayed with the Boo for about ten minutes, talking to him and his teachers, and helping him glue some stuff.

Then I took a deep breath and said, “I will help you put your photo up, and then I’m going to go.” I made masking tape loops and had him help me position it and pat it in place. I explained that we did this so he could find his hook without needing to read. Then I gave him a big hug and kiss, told him I loved him and would see him soon, took another deep breath, turned around, and left.

I rounded several corners and made my way to the Director’s office, where I made myself a cup of tea, smeared some cream cheese on a bagel, and reminded myself to keep breathing. I didn’t exactly feel like I was going to pass out, but I was fuzzy and disoriented. I’ve spent the past two and a half years within sight and/or hearing of my kid, and suddenly not being able to see or hear him felt completely wrong.

Another mom and I went to the school’s foyer and chatted with the Director for the next hour. It was distracting, and it was nice to get to know them better, but it was difficult (and a little bizarre) to sit there socializing, knowing my kid was probably having a hard time at the other end of the building.

Later, as I chatted with an old friend, I realized what else was bugging me: This is the first time I’ve trusted anyone other than a family member to take care of him. I hadn’t realized that when people talk about letting go of your kids, they’re really talking about relinquishing control. It’s a good thing for both of us — but in my focused drive to prepare him, I hadn’t realized how much of an adjustment it would be for me.

At the end of the class, the teacher brought the (weepy, babbling) Boo to me. I knelt down to cuddle him as the teacher gave me the full report, cradling his head in my hand as I listened to her. The important part: He was never so distressed that he needed to be brought to me. This was better than I expected, a success in the teacher’s view and in my book. But the most amazing thing about the Boo’s first day of school? I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to him.

I guess my propaganda campaign worked after all.

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I'm over 50. I'm raising a fifth grader. Sometimes he posts too.


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