Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm not ready to be a mother-in-law

It's a Small World day careImage by insidethemagic via Flickr
I don't mean that anything is *happening* too soon or anything, but I just sat and listened to my daughter tell me about how she hangs on a boy in her class, and a friend of the boy's threatened to end the friendship if the boy stayed friends with my daughter.

My daughter's teacher clued me in a month or so ago to a budding friendship she has developed with a boy in her class.  The friendship is completely mutual.  He saves her a spot at lunch, protects her on the play ground, and they are practically joined at the hip most of the school day.  The teacher even has to "break it up" sometimes!

Ethel really hasn't said much to me about this, and while I have asked some questions, I haven't grilled her or anything.  She's six.  So tonight she opened up to me about her day like she never has before.

Ethel's life in kindergarten is as mysterious as her early days at the day care center after I returned to work.  For nine weeks it was just the two of us each day while Daddy was at work.  No matter what, I was with her all.the.time during those nine weeks.  Finally, our time together ended and she began a life outside our house, apart from the comforts of her crib, her swing, my arms.  But not from my heart.

So then, almost six years later, I found myself having difficulty letting her go again when she started kindergarten.  Yes, I know, there will be many more of these times, I get that.  The point is, I had to get used to her life as a school aged kid.  Life with a kid who had a life outside my home.  Again.

I've learned bits and pieces of Ethel's life outside our house and day care as the school year has progressed.  What I have chosen to focus on is her academic progress.  I hear snippets from her about friends, time on the playground, kids she sits near at lunch, who was on yellow or red on any given day.  Until tonight, though, I never realized how little substance I really get from her with respect to friendships and relationships with her classmates and other kids at school.  That said, I've continued to do my best to harvest the friendships she's had all these years at the day care, and those friendships are thriving.  They have no less importance in her life today than they ever have.  They are just different.  And I'm trying to accept that.

Tonight, Ethel opened up to me at bed time.  Those eyes, big, blue, and bright.  That face, clear and beautiful.  That tiny voice, telling me that she really likes "Paul"*.  Telling me how Paul has a friend, "Doug", and Doug saw Ethel "hanging on" (in Ethel's words) Paul on the playground one day, and Doug wouldn't be friends with Paul anymore if he stayed friends with Ethel.  So, Ethel explained to me, she and Paul are playing a trick on Doug, not letting him know that Ethel and Paul are still friends.  Then the declaration, "I like him so much!".


Again, it's not like anything is happening, aside from her hanging on some boy.  Still, it was just one of those moments when she opened up and talked and talked.  It didn't matter if she was talking about hanging on a boy or playing hopscotch on the playground, she was talking to me.  She was telling me things about her day, about things and people she likes, and it opened this little window exposing parts of her life that I don't normally get to see.  I listened and hung on every word she said.  I drank up the excitement in her voice, and if it weren't getting so late, I'd have hoped that moment would never end.  Come on, like you don't get tired by the time it's lights out for your kids, right?

Anyway, I listened and she talked.  I asked a couple questions and she answered.  We talked about the fact that Doug isn't being very much of a friend if he says such things to Paul, and how hanging on Paul is probably not the best approach.  She smiled a lot.  So did I.

I must disclose that Ethel is not the only one with a love story at a young age in our house.  A couple of weeks ago, her brother declared that he was going to get married.  He and his bride to be, Lucy, proudly declared that they were going to marry when Hot Dad picked the kids up from day care one evening.  Luckily, the mother-in-law to-be was there, too, and she and Hot Dad shared a good giggle over it.  On the way home, however, Fred called the whole thing off.  The next night, the wedding was back on, but Fred insisted he was not marrying Lucy , he was going to marry her older brother, Ricky .  {insert dumbfounded look here}  What do you do with that, right?

There hasn't been a wedding yet between Fred and Lucy, or Ricky, but we know the day isn't too far in the distance.  It was fun to talk to the kids about Fred's wedding, whether he could really marry Ricky (which we did confirm, yes, he could), and who would be invited to the wedding, regardless of who he married.  Apparently they're going to get a place with bedrooms, bathrooms, and we'll be invited to come over sometimes.  So will the inlaws.  Awesome.

Ah, it's spring and love is in the air.  And this is only the beginning.  Send coffee and wine, it's going to be a long road.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.