It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Another passage

So, when I return to work from my two weeks off in August, Grace and Jazz will have gone on to kindergarten. I am often asked if that bother me, the departure of a child. Surely I get attached. Are there tears and heart-wrenching goodbyes?

Will I be sad when they leave?

It’s true, I get attached. Of course I do. I couldn’t do the job well without that! Still, I enter into this knowing my tenure with them is of a specific duration. Only once in a while do I get so very attached to a child I’d happily adopt them. Even then, so long as I’m confident they have a loving parents, I can relax in the knowledge that the child will be happy and thriving without me, and I can wave goodbye with nary a tear. A small lump in my throat, perhaps, but no more.

I never have been one for riotous displays of emotion. Not that I don’t feel things deeply, but I’m not much of a weep-er and a wail-er.

Yes, there are changes afoot, but over the years I’ve noticed I have a minority attitude to change. I don’t resist change on principle, as so many seem to do, mindlessly. “If it’s new, it’s bad!” is the mantra. I’ve never felt that way. I don’t just endure change because I must, I actively enjoy it. When I have to let go of one thing to make room for a new, the appeal of the new thing is enough of a positive that the letting-go is (virtually always) done without overwhelming anxiety/regret/pain. Change is refreshing, energizing, exciting.

(Do I like change for change’s sake? Do I think all change is good? No. I’m quite content to let things chug along in established and traditional ways, so long as they’re functioning well. But when change is inevitable, or necessary, I can and generally do embrace it. With enthusiasm.)

Add to that, that I’m an optimist. I see the positive in pretty nearly every situation.

So this situation, where two long-term children are off to new things?

Yes, they will be gone. Yes, I’ll have days without Jazz’s effervescence and Grace’s kindliness. I won’t see them learn to read and write; I won’t be there when they master the ‘pedal bikes’ they’re working on these days.

But! I’m happy that they have new experiences awaiting them at their respective new schools, each well-suited to the child in question. I’m happy that they have received some solid social grounding here. I can see their strengths: Jazz will dive into the social, and probably be a leader in three weeks. (And I will hope her teachers can manage her queen bee/diva tendencies.) Grace will please her teachers enormously with her conscientious approach to tasks and her intelligence. (And I will hope they’re not too exasperated by her spacey-ness, her tendency to be a beat or two behind a group.)

In the meantime, I’m quite unapologetically happy to be sending the four-year-olds off to school. Because they’re four. They are Rules People. Will I miss the contentious, pointless, reflexive competition and the tattling? Not for a second! Oh, to be free of it!!! … For a year or so, that is, until Poppy turns four.

I am curious to see how Poppy will develop, now that she’ll be The Biggest Kid at Mary’s. I foresee lots of kindly mothering of Rosie … who will put up with it for maybe another three months before the burgeoning two-year-old in her will resist and rebuff such attempts at Control and Dominance. (Because that’s how she’ll see it, I bet, when she gets to be a full-fledged Two.)

I am eager to take on Daniel’s little sister, and to see Daniel for more than the occasional visit he’s had this summer, the final two months of his mum’s maternity leave.

So, I bid the two big girls a fond good-bye, and look forward to a new dynamic in the fall. A fresh start, it feels like. A fresh start … of the same, happy, comfortable thing.

I’d call that a win-win.

August 1, 2013 Posted by | daycare, Grace, Jazz, socializing | , , , | 1 Comment

Hello, Goodbye

Children come and go in a daycare. Typically, they start with me at 12 months, give or take, and leave when they start junior kindergarten, about three and a half. Kindergarten in this city is half-day. Many of my clients would have been happy to keep their children with me during junior and senior kindergarten, except that I do not go to the bus stop. Lots of caregivers do, I know, but the thought of getting the other four children out the door to trudge ten minutes up the street so we can stand at a bus stop for ten minutes in the frigid February gloom before trudging the ten minute home, does not appeal to me in the slightest.

So I’ve never done it. A couple of parents opted to leave their children with me until grade one. Two extra years of full-time daycare. But mostly, when they get to junior kindergarten age, we say goodbye.

People have asked me, “Is it hard? Do you miss them fiercely? Do you cry?” And I have to say… no. Not usually. I know when they start that I’ll have them for a couple of years, and then they’ll move on. I enjoy my time with them, I grow fond of them, and then I say a fond goodbye when our time together is over.

I often stay in touch with a family for two or three years after, but eventually the ties fade. That’s just normal, and I don’t fret over it.

I am much the same way with my own children, for heaven’s sakes. I didn’t chase after the train as it took my eldest off to university. There were no tears of regret, no maternal angst, no panic about how I’ll SURVIVE WITHOUT MY BAYBEEEEE. I keep saying “We’re not raising children, we’re raising adults”, and I mean it. The whole point of the parenting endeavour is to get those kids launched into fully functioning adulthood. I’m supposed to crack, inches from the finish line, pulling them back, “NOOOOO, I’M NOT REEEEEEADY!”?

That’s just silly.

I want them out there. I want them forging ahead, forming their own lives. Lives in which, if I’m not a neurotic, needy lunatic, I’m much more likely to be given a space. I’ll still be their mother. To lose that role would indeed rip me asunder. I’m their mother until one of us dies, but eventually they won’t need a mommy any more. And that’s as it should be.

If I have that attitude about my own, much-beloved children, I’m going to have much the same about my daycare tots. Except that I’m not their mother, and I never anticipated being invited to their weddings. I love them when they’re with me, and then they move on to the next stage in their lives, and I love the ones who take their places. Which is as it should be.

But it is true that some children get under your skin and into your heart. Emily is one such. I love Tyler, too, but it is with Emily that I have a particular bond. Tyler is a fun, busy and friendly, bytimes moody and contrary, little boy. I’ve enjoyed my time with Tyler. He’s sweet and loveable, if a tad memory-challenged. But Emily…

Emily, who has been with me for a full five years. Emily, whose mother took on the school bus company, campaigned for an entire summer, and had them make a stop at my home so the children could be with me for an extra two years.

Emily the silly talker, the kind talker, and the Very Good Talker. Emily the hard-ass big sister, the helpful big sister, the big sister to the masses. Emily the cruise director, the realist, the artist. Emily the empath. She’s a really nice kid, even when she’s ‘bad’.

Emily’s giddy cheerfulness has pulled many a whiny toddler out of the doldrums. She has distracted many a distressed baby, soothed many a bump, organized many games. She keeps me on my toes! She’s good company. She’s just a plain old, genuinely nice person. Smart, funny, creative and kind.

I love Emily. To bits. And in two weeks, she and Tyler will move on from daycare, Emily to start Grade One and Tyler to junior kindergarten in the same school. I will miss them very much.

*sniff*

August 5, 2011 Posted by | daycare, Emily | , , , , , | 8 Comments