There comes a time when a parent has to let go of her increasingly independent child. And my time has come for me to take this step all mothers take. Due to a sudden rare opportunity for Kevin and I to go away on a business (for him) mixed pleasure (for us!) trip, we had to make arrangements quickly for Kyan. We are truly grateful to Kyan's grandparents agreeing to care for him for a month. Normally, they would have him at their home and do all sorts of activities with him. But Grandpa Phil is going to have an ankle fusion surgery done while Kyan is with them, so everything is going to be on Grandma Juju. We figured if we could find a preschool to drop him off in the mornings, then everyone could get some work done, rest in and the energy around the house would be more harmonious.
Everything happened so quickly since Kevin arrived home a few days ago and told me about his last minute upcoming travel plans. I was absolutely not missing this opportunity. But I also I knew I did not want to completely throw my beliefs towards Kyan's care and education out the window because I wanted to run off with Kevin into the sunset. I wanted to remain rational about it and checked in with myself frequently on my comfort level towards what was unfolding quickly before me. This is how Motherhood has changed me. There are just some things that simply come before my own pleasure now. As much as I want to just go, I physically and emotionally could not anymore.
I started transitioning Kyan as soon as we decided to take him to Sedona to his grandparents. I talked with him over dinner about Baba and I going away on a trip to Valencia, Bordeaux and Paris (YES!!!!) while he stays with Papi and Juju. I mentioned attending school in the morning and asked how he felt and what he thought of it. I tried to tell it to him without weighing in on my personal emotions and gave him time and pauses to let him decide how he felt about things. He didn't seem to mind it at all and simply listened and took it as it is. The first thing he asked after my very carefully worded announcement was What does Bordeaux mean?
Juju also worked her magic and found Kyan a wonderful little home-based preschool in her neighborhood, 10 mins drive away. Ms Ellen runs a Montessori pre-kindergarten group in the warmth of her own home. For anyone who knows me, we have been headed towards a Waldorf education. A Montessori program is going to take some letting go and adjusting for me. Breathe. I was not as worried about the program as I was about the teacher. I am going in blind here because I have never met Ms. Ellen or know how she runs her classes. The need to control in me was sounding all kinds of stops to this, but I told myself to trust that this is all working out as it should be.
We arrived at Sedona late last night and this morning, Kyan, Juju and I drove to Ms. Ellen's home. In the car, he asked Could you stay and play with me for a little bit? I said Yes, but we have to make sure it's alright with Ms Ellen. He nodded.
We entered a quaint house set against the beautiful red rocks. The entry and playroom was minimally decorated and exuded a sense of warmth. Most of the toys were made of natural wood and there was a snack table prepared off to the side. I saw little cups of crackers and what looked like orange juice (breathe, I told myself - we don't give Kyan any sugared drinks especially juice. I tasted a little and it was incredibly watered down. OK - I think I can live with that. ) I met Ms Ellen and was immediately relieved. She had a real calm, soft and gentle demeanor about her. There was kindness in her eyes and I realized that was the one most important quality I needed to feel in a care-giver when leaving my young child with someone. I filled out some forms while Kyan remained close to me. He was apprehensive about his new surroundings and weaved around my legs as friends came up to say hello. Circle time started promptly and we all sat around singing welcome songs and listening to Ms Ellen tell a cute story about a family who went bear hunting.
Kyan loves stories so he was intrigued. After circle time, Ms Ellen broke the kids up into groups and had some working on watercolor, some at the snack table, some on the mats playing farm, or stack toys. The children rotated activities in the cozy playroom. All the eight children between ages three to four knew what to do and clearly thrive on the pace of Ms Ellen's routine. Nothing was rush, everything had its place and all the kids knew what was expected of them. Ms Ellen remained engaged with other children, allowing Kyan to unfold at his own pace. I really appreciated that. You want someone like Ms Ellen. Someone who you know is motherly, has boundaries and knows to keep little children in line with a gentle but firm energy. Kyan eventually grew curious about his surroundings and started exploring and chatting up other children. He was getting comfortable.
I felt that he was ready to go off on his own and it was time for us to leave. I got down on my knees and held his little hands. Here's our exchange:
Me: Ok, Kyan, it's time for mommy to leave. I will come pick you up after school at eleven-forty-five.
Kyan: Where is Juju gonna go?
Me: Juju's coming with me.
Kyan: I want Juju to stay with me.
Me: (in my softest possible tone) This is school for children Honey. Grown ups leave and then come back to pick up the children. We don't stay.
Kyan: (he looked at me for a moment, trying to decide if he was alright with that reply, and nodded.) OK. I'll see you later then.
And that was it. He gave me a hug and waved goodbye and went off to ask Ms. Ellen something about some watercolor bottles he saw when he came out from the bathroom earlier. As I closed the door behind me, I heard Ms. Ellen ask him So, what do think about all this? What would you like to explore today? I knew in my heart he was in good hands and he is absolutely ready for this. (I am the one who is clearly not ready!) I walked back to the car with proud tears streaming down my cheeks.
My little boy is growing up to be this independent, self-assured and adventurous human being. As I climbed into the car, Juju turned to me and said You've done a fine job raising him Momma.
I'm sitting here typing this account and wondering how he's doing and cannot wait to hear his stories with his new friends and teacher.