It’s a milestone week in our house this week. The creche have decided that the baby is a baby no longer so he has started the five day process of graduating to the tweenies room. When my husband told me last week about the big move I immediately panicked.
But he’s not ready.
They’ll eat him alive in there!
We’ll be back to square one with the morning tears and general freak outs.
But when I saw him through the baby room window running in circles around the little ones sitting but not moving and giving away kisses to his minders as they held sleeping babies in their arms, I knew it was time. And I was delighted that he was being cared for by lovely, experienced and empathetic women who correctly identified the sensitive little soul that is my first born and hung on to him for longer than they normally would until they knew he was emotionally ready for the big leagues.
I was doubly reassured when he arrived home yesterday with a little pack containing a letter of confirmation about the move, the new handbook for the tweenies room and a development observation sheet that his main minder in the baby room had prepared. As I flicked through it – it was five pages long – I felt a huge rush of warmth and love for this woman who wrote the most detailed and careful observations of my son’s development: how he loves to play hide and seek and peekaboo by hiding behind chairs; how he can climb up and down stairs the safe way (I did NOT know he could climb down, the monkey); how he loves jigsaws (we have no jigsaws! They’re on my to do list for the weekend); how he can scribble at the easel with a paintbrush (seriously, the boy’s a genius); how he loves playing musical instruments and chats to everyone in the room; that he refuses to wear shoes and loves to pull off his socks; that can use a spoon but isn’t quite there in making sure the food is still on it before it gets to his mouth. Bless!
It is such a relief to me that I know he’s in such good hands. When I was going back to work I really struggled with whether I was doing the right thing for him and I flip flop regularly between knowing that the creche is a great experience for him where he getting all kinds of good stimulation and social interaction and knowing that he would be better off if his mama was taking care of him at home. But then sometimes I think if it was just the two of us all day he would miss out on mixing with the other children and adults and he wouldn’t have the range of experience and activity that he gets in childcare. I also wonder if my natural inclination to get stuck in trying moments – like a nap that just won’t happen – and the self-torture and analysis I put myself through around something that doesn’t need that level of philosophical evaluation would have a negative effect on him (What am I doing wrong here that this isn’t working? Why won’t he take a nap when he’s clearly exhausted? How can I still be trying to figure this out…ad nauseum). Then I flip completely the other way: he wouldn’t have to go through this separation anxiety if I was at home with him. Clearly, he needs me and I’m doing him damage by putting him in childcare…
Of course all of this flipping and flopping is completely theoretical and moot because there really is no choice to be made here between one option or the other. My bank manager requires that I continue to contribute to the household finances, end of. In all honesty, the flip flopping thoughts are just fleeting but of course that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt like hell when I’m doubting myself!
I think coping with the separation anxiety has really been the hardest aspect of going back to work. Being in work? – no bother at all, at all. A breeze in fact. But the saying goodbye each day hasn’t been nice. It really did take a long time for him to settle into creche, to actually toddle in, humming to himself, to reach whatever toy had just caught his eye. There were several weeks at the beginning where I couldn’t be out of his sight without hysterics and I’ve already accepted that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to sit on a loo without a small boy on my knee for quite some time. The separation anxiety has made a return since the breastfeeding stopped but it’s different this time, thank God. Yes, I still have a toilet companion but instead of the tears and refusing to leave my arms, he is coming to me for many many cuddles. He’ll be playing away and then suddenly remember he’ll need a hug and come flying over to climb into my arms for a quick squeeze or a cheek press. He’s also really gotten into making sure there’s skin on skin touch between us. He’ll wrap his arms right around my waist and get in under my t-shirt to stroke my back or he’ll lightly pat my chest. He also likes to get a toy or a book and come over and sit on my knee and then play away. I feel he’s reaching out to make a physical connection to replace the intimacy of breastfeeding and I’m only too delighted to facilitate extra cuddling.
So I’m really proud of him that he’s ready to move up. Apparently they have a kitchen corner which has kitchen units full of plastic containers and cutlery for him to play with which is music to my ears because he might get it all out of his system before he comes home to wreck my gaff.
In honour of the graduation from baby to tweenie, I’ve decided to rechristen him because he’s not Baby S any more, he’s a little boy now. Arise Baby S! For the purposes of this blog, I rechristen you Pip! 🙂