Friday, October 1, 2010

Mama Tears

When I was about 10 my mother took my sister, my cousin and me out to eat. We were standing in line being reminded to hurry up and make up our minds so that we wouldn't leave anyone waiting. When it was our turn, my sister and I spit out our choices as fast as we could, as my cousin stood staring at the menu. After being told to hurry up about three times, she finally opened up her mouth to speak. "What kind of cheese is on the cheeseburger?" she asked. With the quickness, my mother grabbed her hand, yanked all of us out of line, and hauled us to the car saying, "if you can't make up your mind in a crowded restaurant, you gotta go. You can take all the time in the world at home." And this was the story of our lives. When a poor, impatient mother gives you the opportunity to make a choice in a restaurant, you don't give her any time to think about whether or not she really has the money to be buying you that lunch in the first place. You make a choice and you enjoy it.

Why then, after an entire childhood of quick decisions, am I constantly second-guessing myself as an adult?

Where I came up with the notion that my 3-year-old MUST go to preschool I'll never really know. It's not exactly like my kid is shy or anything (he'll talk to anyone and everyone who will listen), nor was he falling behind academically (he did spend 10 hours a week with his teacher-certified nanny), but I didn't want to hear it. My kid was going to school and that was the end of the conversation. After months of research, consideration, reconsideration, site visits, and getting my anti-preschool-for-three-year-olds husband to agree that he actually would benefit from going, I finally decided on the perfect place to send my son. My son who's never been left ANYWHERE except the daycare at the gym, and well, let's face it- that just doesn't count. (After all, I was only a hallway away- I could easily drop in early to spy.)

As the summer flew by, we started talking up school more and more. Everyone was getting excited, and my former preschool teacher neighbor advised me to not worry about the first day of school tears. Don't worry, she said. They're normal, even for the most social kids. He'll probably cry for the first couple of weeks and then he'll settle in. They all do. Dada took him out to buy a new pair of sneakers, and when he showed me how fast they made him run, I was the one crying. He's too little to go to school, I sobbed to my husband. Call them back and say we're not coming. He's not ready. What if he gets picked on? What if he hates it? What if he cries for me and they don't tell me? We need to wait till next year...

But it was too late. I had made my decision, and I had to stick with it. He would start school, and he would learn to love it. And then it was here- September 18, 2010. The Big Day.

With his Nikes tied tight, and his Buzz Lightyear backpack strapped on, my baby, my buddy, my little man, let go of my hand to walk up the school steps all by himself. There he goes, I thought. The kid who still thinks guns are called space ships, who sucks his thumb when he's nervous, who still calls me Mama, and who innocently told his little brother last night that "you're my best friend". There he goes.

After agreeing that I wouldn't start crying in order to prevent him from freaking out, I followed closely behind as I snapped about 8 thousand pictures. When we reached the classroom door, I walked him in and crouched down. "I gotta go, Buddy. You are gonna have so much fun here." Bracing myself for a major meltdown, I opened my arms and leaned in.

What I got instead was the back of a button-down shirt, and a little hand that raised up just past his shoulder height. "ok, bye" he said as he continued to keep his back to me and wave at the same time.

Wait, that couldn't be it. Where were the crocodile tears, the "Mama don't leave me-s?" Instead I barely got a "see ya"???

With my own tear-filled eyes, I proceeded back down the stairs and back to my car. And I realized that now, much like when I was 10, my first choice was a good one. At least for now. (And I can always pull him out, right? Or maybe I should keep him in... Or maybe I should drop a day... Or... I know- or maybe I should just stop second guessing myself. Yeah, I'll start there.)


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  2. Ouch. Thank you for writing about it. But ouch. :-)