From the minute she becomes aware of the fact that I am heading her towards clothing and shoes she begins her pleas. “Doan WAN frens! Doan WAN school! Wan stay Rosie’s house!” The ease of the first day of drop off is long behind us—every day since has been full of tears and cajoling and heartfelt reassurances that I will always come back to get her at the end of the day.
It takes Herculean effort to get her to the car—Teddy Grahams are employed as enticement, with only minimal results. The ride to daycare is not a long one, but today it feels like a cross-country trek. Through sobs she requests her favorite song, but as soon as she hears the first notes her wails begin anew. “Noo! Doan WAN Rosie’s sonnnnng!” I turn it off and we turn in to the parking lot.
She clings to me like a barnacle as we enter the building, offering cautious observations while I sign her in. “Rosie’s mat? Go on swings? Go higher?” I feel a tiny stab of hope that maybe by some miracle she’ll decide that my leaving isn’t quite so devastating. But I squelch it, because I am not dumb.
After sign in I walk her down the hall to the place where she’ll have breakfast and with every step I feel her arms grow tighter around my neck. Peeling her 30-pound body off me is no small feat, and she is quick to resort to the old “leg retraction” trick as I try to set her on the ground. I lay her gently to the floor in the pile of spilled Teddy Grahams and say, “I love you. I’ll come back to get you later. Have a good day.” And like ripping off a band-aid, I walk quickly to the front door and leave.
The thing is, I get it. I get not wanting to be left at a brand new place with foreign smells and new rules. I know that sucks. But I also know that it will get better for her (right?) and that one day she’ll hop out of the car eager to see familiar friends. (Surely?) She will adjust. I will adjust. Things will get better.
The rising sun is just beginning to fill the sky with pink and orange as I pull out into traffic. I make it through two whole red lights before my own tears come, falling on the scarf that still holds the crumbs of bears made of graham crackers.