Friday, February 01, 2008

smother love

On an impulse during a trip to Rite Aid last weekend, we bought this DVD for Cal, which was featured in the "Everything Must Go" rack next to the cash register. Well, I guess you could call this move either a resounding success or a miserable failure of our parenting skills (I lean towards the "success" end of the spectrum--we've never been of the NO VIDEOS school of parenting, and anyway, damn, how am I ever supposed to get any work done around here?) but for the past week, Cal has been demanding this DVD after bathtime and only this DVD. Even his old favorites, "The Wiggles" (to recap for the childless among us: four color-coded Aussies who sing humiliating and yet somehow endearing songs) have been left in the dust in favor of this video, which features Blue and Periwinkle (a cat, you know) attending a classroom and participating in activities exactly like the ones Cal now partakes in twice a week. He loves it, cannot get enough.

I have not yet had a chance to take Cal to "school". Well, that is not entirely true, but I will get to that part. As I noted before, the separation component for Cal was hard initially. He has been attending various classes for about a year and a half now, but this playgroup is the first time he's been taken to a class and left in the care of other adults aside from me, Joe or his nanny. The first week, Joe and our nanny stayed with him, just to get him used to the classroom. The second week, our nanny left after ten minutes, and Cal cried for about twenty minutes. The third week, he cried for five minutes. Now, I'm told, he strolls into the classroom like he owns the place, hugs the teacher, and doesn't bat an eye when our nanny tells him that she'll be back at the end of the class. This is called "adjusting." It's a little hard for me to hear about this and not think about him packing up for college and LEAVING US FOREVER, but when I return to the land of the sane, I have to say that I'm quite happy about his new independence. This class was a good move. He was ready for this step.

However, as many mothers will probably profess (or perhaps overexplain, wild-eyed, as other people look on with a mixture of pity and disdain), Cal is different with me than he is with other people. For instance, he is comfortable with the idea of being dropped off in his class by his nanny or Joe, but I get the feeling (probably by the fact that he clings to my neck the second I step in the door after work, and if I permitted it, he would sleep on my face all night, like a cat) that if I took him to school, it would be a different story. He would almost certainly revert to the crying. There would be a scene. And frankly, I'm too weak. I would probably cry too. And I would go back into the classroom because he would be screaming for me, and we would be taking a gigantic step backwards. Like I said, I'M WEAK. I know this.

I was on call on Monday, which means that I was post-call on Tuesday morning. If I really hustled home, I could have made it home in time to take Cal to "school." And part of me wanted to. I wanted to see this classroom that I've been hearing all about, meet the teachers, see the toys and the books and make sure that the other kids weren't hooligans. But I also knew that Cal had just that last week gotten adjusted, and I knew that the timing wasn't right to knock him out of his routine. I know that sounds neurotic and like I'm overthinking things entirely, but just last week, one of the other moms brought their kid to class, and the novelty of this separation (I guess usually the nanny brings the kid) set off some chain reaction of hysterics that decimated the comportment of half the students in the class. So I hung out at the hospital for a while. I went to the supermarket to kill another half hour. I huddled and I waited.

And after Cal and his nanny left for the class, I snuck home and waited for him to come home and tell me all about it.