Monday, February 12, 2007

Harder this time

On a Monday morning in May of 2000, I took my infant son to a child care center on the campus of the University where I attended law school. Gabriel did not cry when I left him the capable hands of Molly, Sam and Jini. I cried, but, Gabriel, a happy (though sleepless) baby, cuddled into Molly's arms and my husband and I left the center. My husband had taken a personal day, so he could come to the center with me. I was due back at work the next day. We actually went to lunch and to see a movie. I don't remember where we ate lunch or what movie we saw, but, I do remember feeling relieved to do something "normal" (wherein my life to that point with tiny Gabriel felt nothing like "normal".)

When we returned to the center to pick Gabe up, he was happily sitting on Jini's hip. I watched him through the observation window. He was 11 weeks old and Jini was just fine by him. Until I opened the door, and Jini handed him to me, and he hollered and butted his tiny baby face against my blouse, pulled on the buttons with his fingers and loudly demanded FOOD. At least I was his one and only for something!! :-)

This morning was different.

This morning I took Lana into that same center, and we were greeted by Jami, who soon replaced Jini in Gabriel's small heart. (Jami replaced Jini when Jini left to teach at a public elementary school when Gabe was about 5 months old. Jami is still referred to, by Gabriel, as "my Jami". Gabe's first word was "ma-ma", but, his third word was "mi-mi" (his tiny infant word for Jami.)

Anyway, Jami greeted us with her own darling baby girl (hi Lily!), and then Lana and I walked down to her classroom. I put her boots and her snow pants her cubby, and hung up her coat and signed her in, and I sat with her for a few minutes, and read a short story, and then I held her close to me and kissed her face, and she clung to me, and I disentangled myself from her and...I left.

I left and she screamed and I could hear her screaming as I walked away. I felt like someone had stuck their fist through my chest and was squeezing my heart. I did not feel relieved. I felt...awful. Logically, I know that she is 4 years old and is used to be in school all day. Logically I know she was bored at home all day with Husband. Logically I know that Husband needs to go back to work so that a) he doesn't lose his mind being home all day and b.) so that we can continue to pay our mortgage!

But, illogically...I felt lousy.

I had been sitting at my desk a few minutes when the director of the center called to tell me that she was doing okay. That she had stopped screaming, that she was sitting with her teacher, that she was thinking about eating a banana, that she was a little sad but, not hysterical. I felt...less horrible.

And I just got off the phone with her teacher, who told me that she had settled down on her cot to rest after lunch, and she is, right now, fast asleep. That she ate a whole piece of pizza and three slices of apple for lunch. She stays close to her teachers, and is being, as is typical for Lana, "watchful".

I still worry. I worry that she will be angry when I pick her up. I worry that she will allow this anger to disrupt her attachment to me (she seems to love David without strings and with total abandon, but, her feelings about me, I think, are more complicated. She will tell David she loves him, both in English and in Vietnamese*. She told me she loved me once in English, at David's urging...)

Worrying for my watchful girl,

*I THINK she is telling him she loves him in Vietnamese. What she says is "Mai yeu toi" - which, as near as I can tell is the words "You love me." I suppose she might be asking a question, but, I am assuming it is just that the words are in a different order...anyone happen to know how to say "I love you" in Vietnamese?



Blogger Christina said...

Zeeb took much longer to love/attach to me the way he did to Hubby. I assume it's because he was very close to two females (foster mom and foster sister) and wasn't ready to move that attachment to me.
It sounds like Lan is doing wonderfully on her first day.

Monday, February 12, 2007 2:54:00 PM  
Blogger Django Sexton said...

Our daughter, Penelope, still finds it immensely difficult to go to school. She's seven. May your daughter adjust quickly! I think such difficulty is a sign of intense, deep love. We keep saying that (through gritted teeth) as she cries and complains. "She . . . loves . . . us . . . ."

Best wishes,


Monday, February 12, 2007 2:58:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I'm sorry I have absolutely no advice or words of wisdom for this situation, but I just wanted to give you a "hug" and let you know I'll be thinking of you all.

Monday, February 12, 2007 3:08:00 PM  
Blogger KelleyO said...

Please post and let me know her reaction when you pick her up. I really feel for you. I'm going to be in the same sitiuation and I appreciate you sharing.

Monday, February 12, 2007 4:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ma. thuong con = ma. yeu con = mom loves you, bong=pick me up(you were right). when you leave her there, say ma se~ tro la.i (i'll be back).

good luck, i don't know you, but seems like you're doing a great job for the girl.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Ohhhhh, my heart is aching for you. THis sounds very tough. I hope this week ends a little happier as she slowly adjusts.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 8:57:00 PM  

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