When I was a little girl, I used to go up to my mom, hold up both my hands and say “Mami, why don’t you and Papi go out of town for this many days?”
It wasn’t that I didn’t love my parents – of course I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy spending time with them, because they were a lot of fun. It was just that I valued my independence. I enjoyed the feeling of having some time to myself to do my own thing without having them constantly watching over me. Not to mention the fact that staying over at my aunt and uncle’s house was incredibly fun and made me feel like I was a “big” girl.
Of course, being a child, I never gave much thought to how my words made my mother feel. Now that I am a mother, I understand perfectly. Because Dylan does the same thing to me.
I’ve blogged before about Dylan’s increasing desire for independence, but what I didn’t mention then was that Dylan has established some clear Mami-and-Daddy-free zones that are not to be invaded. Preschool is one of them.
When I found out that parents could volunteer in Dylan’s classroom, I was so excited. I envisioned myself going to school with him a few times a month and having a grand old time with him and the other kids. I gave Dylan a month or two to get used to his new routine, then signed up for my first day as a volunteer towards the middle of the first semester. It was a disaster.
Dylan was out-of-sorts, clingy and whiny all day. He got extremely jealous when the other kids would touch me or talk to me. He didn’t pay much attention in class and threw a massive tantrum at the end of the day. Not at all how I envisioned our day.
I decided maybe Dylan was still getting adjusted to preschool and did not volunteer for the rest of the semester. One day, we were running late for school and by the time we arrived, there was no one outside for the curbside drop-off, so I had to bring Dylan into the school myself.
You would think I was subjecting him to some kind of torture. The whole time we were walking to the office, he screamed “No, Mami! Don’t come in! You stay in car!” He didn’t calm down until it was made absolutely clear to him that I was just dropping him off. I felt so loved.
Dylan’s fourth birthday this past week, and I really wanted to be with him at school and give out treat bags and special snacks for his friends. About two weeks in advance, I started telling him every day that Mami was going to school with him on his birthday because it was a special day. He did not complain or try to dissuade me, so I took that as a good sign. The day of his birthday, Dylan woke up happy and excited, and we headed out to school loaded with treats and ready to celebrate his special day.
It was fantastic. Dylan’s teacher gave him a little birthday crown as soon as we got there, and he wore it proudly all day. Since we were not allowed to bring sweets into the classroom, we brought yogurt cups as a special treat and handed out treat bags with little toys.
Dylan had no issues with me being in the classroom or interacting with the other kids at all. In fact, he went about his day pretty much as if I wasn’t there, only getting a little clingy at the very end of the day when he it was becoming obvious he was ready for a nap.
After the kids sang “Happy Birthday” to Dylan, we were allowed to leave a little early. As we walked down the school hall hand-in-hand, I asked Dylan if he had enjoyed having Mami at school with him.
“Yes, yes, yes!” he answered happily.
My heart swelled with joy.
“Would you like Mami to come to school with you again some other day?”
“No, Mami, you stay home. I go school alone.”