Monday, June 24, 2013

I Am So Squishy

Headline:  we moved our youngest to a more convenient daycare provider.

Here's the rational side of this story:

His previous daycare provider is wonderful.  As great as she is, though, the reality is that the Little Guy is the oldest kid in her regular care.  Basically, he's hanging around with babies all day.  This does not do wonders for his speech development.  He's very baby-talky.  Not uncommon for third children since the older siblings do most of the talking for him.  But, still.  There's some work to be done there.

Also? He's hitting some boundary-testing milestones, so it seemed a good time for his boundaries to be extended. This is accomplished by placing him in an environment where he has lots of new stuff to explore.

Lastly, this place, which is where the Girl went to Pre-K, is wildly convenient.  It's located on the college campus that abuts (hee!) our housing development, so it's a five-minute drive away (as opposed to twenty-five).

Win-win-win, as far as we are concerned.

Here's the utterly irrational aspect of it:

"Are you ready for your first day of school?" I asked.  I unbuckled the Little Guy from his car seat, sliding the pieces of chest harness apart so that he could hop down and step out of the car.

Okay, fine, it isn't really his first day of school, but they have a curriculum for the three-year-old room.  They may only learn by osmosis, but that's OK.  This transition is about more socialization, a bigger environment, and convenience.  If he picks up some spelling, that's cool too.

He stood next to me, clasping his hands together.

"Don't go anywhere, sweetie.  Let me get your backpack."

I grabbed the strap of the blue book bag, embroidered with our last name.  It is a hand-me-down from the Boy, who, as a recently-graduated third grader, prefers a black-and-silver affair with approximately forty-seven pockets, one of which is for a laptop.  The Boy does not have a laptop, but I guess he's planning ahead.

The Little Guy turned away from me so that I could slip the padded straps over his shoulders.  Stuffed with his nap time blanket and travel pillow, the backpack was enormous.  He looked like an astronaut circa 1969.  Well, except for the helmet and the suit.  But, it's the same backpack-to-person ratio. Theirs had jet propulsion.  His contains fleece.

"Mom? Which way do I go?" he asked. He wasn't looking at me. He was staring at the low rise of the brick building in front of us, like an English Pointer that has locked onto game.

"Straight ahead, buddy. Wait for me on the sidewalk."

He took off, bounding to the pavement as fast as his dimpled legs could carry him. As soon as he got to the sidewalk, he stopped again.  Swiveling his head back and forth, he called, "Mom? Which way?"

"Keep going straight, right up to the doors."

He took off again, the backpack patting him on the back as he bounced toward the door. I hustled behind him, carrying his lunch, his changes of clothes (because, you know, three-year-olds), and we crossed the threshold into his first day in a bigger world.  As I talked to the room teacher, and we unpacked his backpack into his cubby, he stayed close.  Not because he was scared, but because the guinea pig cage is right next to the cubbies.

"That's a bunny!" he exclaimed.  My Little Guy has this sweet little Mona Lisa grin that plays upon his lips when he's happily entranced by something.  He gets that way when he is playing with some Bubble Guppies figurines, or, most recently, the Girl's Barbie Squinkies.

"That's a guinea pig, pal." He'd never seen a guinea pig before that morning. I know. We deprive him of all of the awesome stuff out there.  Like rodents.

"He's eating!" he giggled.

"Is he?"

"He had a drink of water! With his mouth!" he giggled some more.

During this live commentary of Mr. Guinea Pig's breakfast routine, the room teacher was very kindly reassuring me that they have other picky eaters in the class (Little Guy isn't always picky. There are just some days where he decides he will subsist on milk and goldfish and air.).

Once we we'd unpacked his things, his room teacher led him to the area where the other kids in his 'class' were playing.  The play space was anchored by a Rubik's Cube-patterned carpet.  Toys were sprinkled over the colored squares, one of which was a Thomas the Tank Engine figure.

"Mom! I found Thomas!" the Little Guy held it up to me like he'd found the Holy Grail.

"Are you going to play with him?"


And so he did.  I watched him run Thomas up and down a track for a few minutes.  He seemed very happy, very at ease.  So, I said, "Okay, buddy, can you come give me a hug goodbye?"

Little Guy marched right over, still clutching Thomas, and said, "Buh-bye!" Then he hopped back to his spot in the middle of the carpet.

And, tears, huge pools of tears welling, threatening to spill.  Mine, not his.  I had to blink jackhammer-fast to keep those tears firmly on the correct side of my eyelids.  Him?  He was stoked to have a fresh Thomas to play with.  Me?  I had just taken my youngest to the next station in his life.

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