30 Aug On Henry’s graduation from daycare
I thought that my oldest son Henry turning five would have hit me harder. But the busy tasks of putting on a birthday party kept me occupied and it passed without any major meltdowns on my part. And I thought that him starting Kindergarten would have gotten to me by now, but it’s been a lot of getting things done and not a lot of crying.
I thought it was maybe just the magnitude of it being too big to grasp, which is maybe true.
“…There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parent and his sister had gone. No reaction. He thought of all the people he had been close to. No reaction. Then he thought of a complete stranger he had been standing behind in the queue at the supermarket two days before and felt a sudden stab: the supermarket was gone, everyone in it was gone! Nelson’s Column had gone! and there would be no outcry, because there was no one left to make an outcry! From now on Nelson’s Column only existed in his mind. England only existed in his mind. A wave of claustrophobia closed in on him.
He tried again: America, he thought, has gone. He couldn’t grasp it, He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, has sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every “Bogart” movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonald’s, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger.
He passed out.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Usually we read to Henry in his bed, and then “stay in room one minute” until he is asleep. But last night he fell asleep in my arms in the rocking chair. I rocked him and rocked him and kissed his warm little neck and rubbed his back. It was a sweet moment, thinking about my little baby, and how big he is now, and how once he fit in the nook of my arm and now he is sprawled all over, dangling legs and arms everywhere. But still, I didn’t cry.
Then today came. It’s Henry’s last week of preschool at It’s A Kidz World. He has just three days left.
I saw on my Timehop app that shows me Facebook statuses and photos from this day a year ago, two years ago, three years ago and so on, that we had been shopping around for daycares about exactly three years ago. I had written that it was a mistake to bring him with me, because one of the schools just let us peek in the window and he really wanted to go play with the kids and the toys, but he wasn’t allowed to until he was enrolled.
But It’s A Kidz World was warm and friendly, and welcomed him to play with the kids and interact with the teachers on our tour. I can’t remember exactly, but I think that Henry chose them as much as we did. And I so vividly remember dropping him off. Those first few weeks being so hard, and him crying and reaching for me. Miss Iris would take him right out of my arms and tell me it was okay to go. I had a rough time of it just like Henry. He had been to an in-home daycare before, and drop off was hard then, too. But I had to trust Miss Iris. I could peek in the window and see her holding him until he was ready to play with his new friends. In the three years that have passed since then, I’ve seen her holding so many children. She holds them until they don’t need to be held any more. She still calls Henry her special guy, her H-man. She always made me feel like Henry was special to her, even when he graduated from her class and she wasn’t his teacher any more.
Miss Iris and Miss Megan have been teaching together for many many years, and when we were trying to come up with names for the baby, Henry suggested IrisMegan. He always called them by their conjoined names, IrisMegan. They gave Danny one of his very first gifts (he didn’t get very many, being the second child), hand-knit blankets and things.
I’ve tried to teach Henry some of my philosophies over the years, and one time I was telling him about how we are all a part of nature and the universe, and that the trees make air for us to breathe and the sky rains down water for us to drink because nature takes care of us. And he said, “IrisMegan take care of us, too.”
Kidz World has been so good to us over the years. I’m glad we have made the decision to keep Danny there, even through my maternity leave with Baby Three. I remember Henry coming home and knowing how to draw a triangle. And I thought, where in the world did he learn how to do that? And I realized they weren’t just keeping him cuddled and fed, but they were teaching him things too. I felt such a wave of gratitude and relief that it wasn’t all on my shoulders.
As Henry has moved up from classroom to classroom, and as the natural changeover happens with teachers, we have had many goodbyes. The hardest one to date was him graduating from the purple room to the grey room, because every drop-off, Miss Marissa would pick him up and ask him if he had rocks in his pockets because he was so heavy. And he would “wave out window” to me as I drove away and I’d honk the horn. The grey room didn’t face outside. Our routine would be different. I cried plenty on his last day in that room.
But we had our own “wave out window” routine with Miss Hanna and Miss Meghan’s room. There is a window where I could peek in and see him after drop-off, and every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a long while now, I drop him off, chat with the teachers a bit, put his lunch in the fridge, and Henry requests “Huuuug… And kiss. Now wave out window.” And I hug him and kiss him and go outside the window where we make faces at each other, and then he turns around and waves over his shoulder as he walks to sit down for breakfast or circle time.
And after this morning’s “wave out window,” knowing that we have just two left, I lost it. I’m still crying, even now that I’m back at the office. I’m so grateful to Kidz World for helping me raise my son for these last three years, for being so accommodating. They helped potty train him. They made zero fuss about our veganism or cloth diapering. Miss Brittany has texted me many times, always professional and friendly. His teachers have had countless conversations with me, just hours and hours and hours and hours of guiding me through parenthood.
And I’m glad Danny will still be there, and Baby Three when we’re ready, but Henry graduating this Friday just is caving my chest in with that bittersweet emotion that goes with major life changes.
We have been so lucky. And now Henry is five. And he starts school.
And he won’t wave out window to me any more.
And I can’t stop crying.