We’ve been talking about the end of daycare for months now. C has always known that when she started school she’d stop going. She’s always known, but she’s never really understood.
How could she? Every weekday for the last five years I’ve dropped her off at daycare and picked her up nine hours later. When she learned to speak she started referring to the place as home, and it was, to all extents and purposes it has been her second home for that entire time. Her daycare providers have been her extended family, people who have loved her intensely as she’s gone through her infancy, her toddlerhood, her preschool years. Her daycare friends have been like siblings. They’ve grown up together, day after day.
And now she has to go somewhere new. Somewhere completely foreign. Somewhere without her surrogate siblings. Somewhere without all those loving arms that have known her forever.
Yes, really, forever. Or at least ever since she was 12 weeks old.
I’ve tried to stifle my own anxieties and mounting sadness about all this. Starting Kindergarten is stressful enough without having to also ponder the disappearance of an entire support system. But next week her closest daycare friends start Kindergarten and so this week there has been a lot of talk at daycare about how it’s all coming to an end.
They even had cupcakes. As if frosting could make the separation easier.
And yet, until tonight, C has been chipper about everything. I made an offhanded remark about how I’m putting them to bed a bit earlier so they can start waking up a bit earlier to prepare for when we’ll be getting up for school. As comments go it was pretty innocuous. I was closing the shutters and I missed her initial expression.
“Then I won’t go to Kathleen’s house any more?” She asked in a really quiet voice. I looked over. Her eyes were filling with tears and her lower lip had started to quiver. It didn’t take long for her tears to spill over and her face to contort into a sad grimace. Only the ringing doorbell stopped my own tears in their tracks.
By the time I got back to their room the moment had passed. She was curled around her lovey, half asleep. I bent down to kiss her and hug her tightly.
“You’ll go back. I promise. You’ll go for vacations and to visit. It’s not really over.” I don’t know who I was trying to comfort more. Me or her.