My immediate reaction was to ask, Are you hurt?
No, she said.
Why are you so sad?
I am thinking about one day when I have to go to school, she replied with all of the heaviness a three-year-old's voice can hold.
One day I will be five and then I will have to go to school without Sniffy. And I will miss you, she sobbed into my arms. Sniffy, by the way, is her green blankie. Named for why she likes it... sniffing. Kids are funny with their attachments.
My heart broke as I listened to this little person and her giant worries. How can a small child carry around such a heavy load? Her fears about her future and worry about the unknown were big-person-sized.
We've had a few instances like this. In fact, every time we broach the subject of school, she ends up in tears. Once a very long time ago I told Annike that she would go to school one day and I would miss her. She has never forgotten that I said this and took it upon herself to prevent that day with vehemence. It is no coincidence that this particular night of tears came only a few days before her first day of preschool. Apparently all of the anxiety of anticipating this day has been weighing quite heavily upon her.
We talked about it. We prayed. We shared scripture. Do you know that Matthew 6 came up again? (see my last post)
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself..." Matt 6:26-34
It turned into a special time of bedtime-bonding. I have great compassion for this little person. She takes the world seriously, which will be both a help and a hindrance in her life. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms and tell her I will protect her forever, but it isn't true. Eventually she will learn that our troubles just keep growing as we do. I can't take her troubles or her worries away, but I can teach her how to handle them, and Who to go to with her burdens.
Preschool started on Tuesday and to everyone's surprise she did great! With a kiss and a hug goodbye for me, she let me leave with no tears. But clearly my prediction long ago was true, because I am the one who feels sad.
Here I sit reflecting on how precious my time with her has been in these years without school. I can never get that time back with her... that time when she was under my wing alone... that time of innocence when she was untouched by the influence of her friends... that time of freedom from schedules and commitments... that time of never needing to leave the house before 10am... that time of having my little best friend around to keep me company and bring purpose to my days at home.
There was no rush to end that time together, and yet, for some reason, our culture says there was. I wonder, is there anyone else out there who feels that pressure to push their little ones out of the nest too soon? It is a mystery to me why this pressure would be pervasive, to get our children knowing more, learning younger, moving into the next greatest thing that would probably be just as great if we waited. Then again, waiting has never been a human strong point. It doesn't always come naturally understanding the goods and the bads in the messages that bombard us.
I don't want to sound too dramatic, because it is only preschool for 2 days a week. It was, indeed, the right decision for us at this point in time. But there have been quite a few extraneous influences in our decision-making.
Big sigh. This was Annike's first day of preschool, and it turns out that I cried more than she did.
Notice that green blankie made it into the picture. We decided she could keep it at school in her cubby, but when I picked her up at the end of the day, it seems that Sniffy had found its way out of the cubby, becoming a rather permanent accessory. But no tears, and that was worth something.
These are the only pictures we got because, seriously, who has time to take pictures on the first day of school? Did I mention that preschool starts at 8:30am? We somehow slept in until almost 8. We live 20 minutes away. You do the math. My children are my alarm clock and it is against my strategy for self-preservation to awaken them. I am guessing it takes some practice to get out of the house with two kids by 8am. As always, we are a work-in-progress.
In the meantime, I still have many days ahead of me with one or both children at home. I can spend those days wishing for some time to myself (yes, people, it happens to me quite often), or I can master my ability to treasure my children and my role with them while they remain under my wing. Like it or not, these days are numbered.