By Tracy, Managing Editor
Before we even got into the car, Abby was saying her two friends’ names. She couldn’t wait to see them. And then there was her favorite teacher. “I see Miss R,” she would say over and over with eyebrows raised in excitement.
The whole 10 minute drive there, those names were said over and over.
And as we got closer, I started tearing up. I caught myself, though, but couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way. Again. I mean I wasn’t even going to drop Abby off. We were just taking her essentials to daycare so that next Monday goes as smooth as possible, with no forgotten items.
As we walked into the Toddler B room, Abby clung to my legs. It was chaotic and I didn’t blame her for wanting to stay close. And it made me feel needed. (I know she needs me, but sometimes when your baby grows up into a toddler and starts playing on her own and saying, “I do it,” you need moments like this to remind you that you are wanted.)
It was just after snack time, so the structure was not there. Toddlers were playing and diapers were being changed before going outside. (I’ve gotten pretty used to knowing what the schedule is. Makes me feel good to look at the clock while I’m at work and know what Abby is up to.) And all of that chaos was turned towards Abby as soon as we stepped into the room. The other kids crowded her. Her two friends, the ones whose names we’ve been hearing all summer, where the first to come over. One even said, “Abigail!” It was very sweet to see. And as I glanced down at Abby, I could see a smile start to emerge.
As I started talking with her teachers about where to put items as well as explain to them new things Abby can do and say, Abby felt more comfortable. She ran over to one of the teachers and sat on her lap, while the other kids surrounded the two of them. Then Abby went to play with some balls in a plastic pool they used to make a faux pit. Abby was at first in the ball pit, sitting all by herself. Then the next minute, five boys were in there with her. She looked like a deer in headlights. And yes, they were all boys as apparently in my area, many families procured boys around the same time my Abby was born.
Abby was managing well, clinging to a ball, though not talking to them. After a few minutes I swiped her out of there. She found other toys to play with and a few of the kids came up to give her hugs, which she seemed to enjoy. But my mind was a mess.
Her reactions to the bedlam and all that attention made her change from the crazy energetic talkative toddler I knew all summer, to a shy reserved toddler who didn’t know how to respond at first. She managed, though, and soon forgot I was there with gobs of new toys to play with.
Deep down I know she will be fine. Whenever Abby starts up at daycare again, the standard when having a teacher momma, she eases into it fabulously. In fact, the teachers always comment about how they were worried how she would fair starting fresh again, but that she did great and quickly fell right back into the groove of their routines.
But this Toddler B room, with mostly boys and mostly kids who are bigger than my petite little girl, worries me. Abby is one strong kiddo who lets you know when she doesn’t like what you are doing or saying. And I just hope that she can feel comfortable enough to hold her own when I’m not around. And I hope she finds a new favorite teacher as she transitions into the bigger kid toddler room, so she can rely on someone when she needs comforting from a bigger person or needs the support to help her stand up for herself.
And on Abby’s first day, I’m going to make sure to voice these concerns. I want them to look out for her as she gears up to battle with bigger stronger toddler boys for her favorite truck. That’s the one thing that I appreciate about the daycare center we chose. They listen to our requests, and they are sensitive to change, and I’ve learned to trust them. So I stand up for her now, so she has the tools to stand up for herself later. And that makes me feel better.
Of course I will probably call them once I’m at work to see how she’s doing. There are usually bets around my house as to how many times I call when daycare starts up. But I think if they tell me that she is doing fine during their morning activities and that she’s eating her food and drinking her milk, then I think one call will suffice. (I like to think I’m getting better with this.) And then I will open my phone to look at the tons of photos I’ve taken of the two of us this summer. We do heart us some self-portraits after all.