By Ranjani Aravind for Twisted Tiara
My 1-year old son started daycare last month. The plan was to be with him on the first day for two hours, interact with the other children and let him watch me interact with the teachers as well. Just so he starts getting used to the idea of being there. I watched him play with the other kids, giggle with them, interact with the teachers and I cockily leaned back against the fence while I watched him play in the sand pit. “I could leave now and he would be completely fine”, I said to the teacher. “Let’s stick to the plan and go gradually. You never know!” she said. “pshh, I know!” I thought.
One day at a time….
Next day, he was supposed to be there for two hours without me. I dropped him off and there weren’t any tears. I called a friend and settled down for a big breakfast at a coffee shop, expecting to get a phone call from the daycare to tell me to come back only at the end of the day. I bragged about how independent Arjun is and how he’s going to show the other kids how it’s done. An hour later, I get a phone call and she says that he is having a meltdown and wont stop crying, could I come pick him up earlier? I ran out of there as fast as I could and sure enough, I could hear my perfectly independent son wailing as I walked up to the door, clinging desperately to Ms. Claire. Turns out, this little man, isn’t that perfect after all. Thus, started a long week of trying to get him acclimatized to his new norm.
Ms. Claire asked me what they could do to get him to fall asleep there. Is there a routine I follow? I thought back to the “routine” I followed. How could I tell her that I hold him and wrap him tight around a blanket and feed him milk while I sing “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder?.
Soothing isn’t just for the baby!
When Arjun was a newborn, I would rack my brain for songs I could sing to him and one of the only ones that I knew the words to was “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder. My logic was, nursery rhymes were boring and they mostly all had the same tune. If you didn’t notice before, “ABCD..” has the same tune as “twinkle twinkle” and “Ba ba black sheep”. So, I figured, if I had to sing him a song at 2 am, I might as well enjoy it too. Now, I am no singer, in fact I am NOT a singer. I don’t believe I have ever sang a single song in front of my husband in the 7 years we have been together, that’s how horrible my singing is. In fact, I’d rather not even hear myself sing in the bathroom. Thankfully though, Arjun as a 2-week-old baby hasn’t heard many people singing either. So, according to him I am the best singer in the world. He didn’t care that “lips of an angel” is a rock song about a man cheating on his girlfriend and how he preferred the other woman over his girlfriend. So, everyday I would sing him this song over and over.
Every time he would wake up at 2 am from a bad dream, I would hold him, wrap him in a blanket and sing hoarsely “honey why you calling me so late, it’s kinda hard to talk right now” and immediately, like magic he would fall asleep before I could even finish the first line. Hey, don’t judge me, you do what it takes to help your baby sleep. Anyway, so when the teacher asked me my routine for nap time, I obviously said “Umm, he loves twinkle twinkle little star”.
He has an escape plan
Day 3, we walk through the gates of the daycare, he starts running in the opposite direction and desperately starts clawing at the wooden gate that we just shut behind us. If it wasn’t my kid doing it, I would laugh hysterically. It looked like a scene from a horror movie, Ms. Claire being the scary girl from The Grudge and Arjun the unwilling victim desperately trying to escape her clutches. I usually have to peel him away from the gate and take him inside manually.
The daycare does cute baby things. They have a bulletin board full of family photos of the kids and cute little descriptions of the family members. I brought some photos of our family too and they put it up. Later that day when I picked him up, I noticed that my family’s photos were missing from the board. Ms. Claire explained that after she put them up, Arjun sat in front of the pictures of my husband and I and cried while pointing at it.
I know these instances are going to be something my husband and I laugh about when he is 20 years old and on his own. Together, we are going to have to take many more complicated and difficult decisions as he grows older. Right now, this is the most difficult thing I have had to do, send my perfect little child out in the world to fend for himself and learn lessons about life while I learn some tough ones myself.
I find it difficult to remember that my son is only 1. I forget when he looks at me intently while I talk about life and philosophy, when I watch him interact kindly with our dog, I forget when he catches my eye and gives me a slight smile from across the room like an adult would. I have to often remind myself that he’s still a baby. I think it has something to do with how impressed we are with our children. From the time they are born, we have witnessed their insights and perceptions expand to unimaginable proportions. Other people may not notice that our kids are razor-sharp witnesses to the world around them. Our friends and even our family members might not fully understand how insanely complex and beautiful all his nooks and crannies of his personality are. As a mother, I can’t help but fall in love with the baby he is and the man he is going to become someday.
Welcome to the world, my perfectly imperfect child.