So far preschool has been a major hit with only one minor setback.
She has been sniffling for the past two weeks with allergies and last week, one morning I woke her up with the question of how well she felt to go to school. Her answer, “I LOVE school! I want to go.”
It’s times like this when I wonder if she’s really my child. Then I remember what it felt like when she crowned at the end of labor. I don’t care what anyone says, that is a pain I will never forget.
So she likes school.
Not only does she love school. She LOVES her teachers.
I had hoped that she would love school. But I never counted on her loving her teachers. Honestly, I never even thought about that.
I never thought about how I’d feel when I realized they were taking over some of the jobs that until now, had only been reserved for me.
I never counted on the twinge of weirdness I’d feel when she told me that the teacher’s aide took her temperature.
I never counted on the prick of rejection as I leave for the day and she only notices because I’m stooping along the ground nearby her, waving maniacally and saying in a wildly enthused voice, “SEE YOU LATER! I LOVE YOU!”
And I wasn’t the least bit prepared for trepidation I’d feel when I get there for pickup and she insists that her teacher continues pushing her on the swing, because, “You’re not DOING it right!”
Apparently her teacher has a degree in swing pushing and my feeble attempts were something she just recently became aware of.
I feel, for the first time in her life, that humbling sadness that all mothers must feel when their children begin to love other adults, besides Dad and the grandparents. For the first few years, the incessant need for my physical presence was overwhelming. And now, it seems to be waning quickly. Her teachers and the other parents of the children in her class are all impressed by how friendly and sociable she is. I have to admit, I am impressed myself. This kid was such a Velcro baby. I never imagined this.
Her teachers now, and as she gets older, other mentors, spiritual guides, professors, bosses, instructors, they will all play an important role in her life. She needs these people. But when the first sign of it appeared (something I know I should have been prepared for) I felt a twinge.
Somehow it feels like I should have been prepared for it because she went to a mothers day out program last year for several months. And she loved the teacher. She still loves her. We still see her around and Annika still calls her “My Piwaf.” (She’s a homeschooling mom, who teaches classes to older kids now. Here’s a link to her website.)
But even though Annika refers to Piaf with the qualifier “my” I never minded it.
Piaf never felt like a sub for me. It took Annika a couple of months, at age 2, to get used to staying there. Not because of Piaf. She is a warm, sweet mother of two. All the kids love her. But Annika had never stayed with anyone other than family and friends for short periods of time. So, Piaf’s MDO was a big change for her. It was a big stepping stone for us. At the time, she still had a deep need for my basic presence. And she was always thrilled to see me when I got there.
Now? I have to cajole her off the playground.
So this thing. This rejection, I realize will come in bits and pieces as she ages and our relationship twists and turns.
I know that deep down, she’ll always need me in differing respects. I know that our bond can’t be broken just because she loves other adults. Our bond makes her other relationships stronger. I know, because of my interest in attachment, that it is because of our bond and her secure attachment to me (and her dad) that she is able to form these happy, loving relationships. So in that respect, it makes me feel content that I am seeing the first true signs of her strong and secure base. It’s because I was there for her that she feels content and safe to explore the world. That’s science folks. Right there. It’s my proof, and all the proof I need in the world, to see my happy, excited, courageous child embrace her new world. Without fear.
So for that, I guess I can tolerate a little rejection. Just a little.