The Strong Mostly Silent Type
As a mother of a not-so-typically developing child, I have a lot of unknowns in my life. Do I know what Sweet Girl wants/needs today to make it a good day? Will Sweet Girl grow up to be a tough, sweet, good, kind-hearted, independent person? Am I doing the best thing for my Sweet Girl with the diet/therapies/school? Can I ever be what Sweet Girl needs me to be to help her navigate this tricky work of growing up? Will I have to watch the Wonder Pets save the none-too-bright baby mouse that gets stuck in the saxophone, yet again? You know, your average parenting concerns. Ah, motherhood; the neurosis with the mostest.
Because Sweet Girl's communication is not what a three year old's communication should be, I often find myself making my best guess at what she wants/needs/is feeling. Usually her behaviors are a good indication of what is going on inside, but I know there are many things that go overlooked because they go unsaid. While it is obvious that trips to the doctor peg out her anxiety meter - as is evident by the torrent of "no, no, nos" audible to human ears in a 10 foot range and dog ears in the greater tri-state area - I don't know exactly how much anxiety things like school cause her. I ask everyday on the way home if she had fun. She tells me everyday, "small cup of ice." Thank you, Sonic. So, like everything else, I look for clues in her actions. She does not cry when it is time to leave for school. Good. She loves her (way cool - thank you Aunt Amy et al) backpack and puts it on by herself. Great. She grabs the walking rope at drop off and gives me a little leg shove and "Bye, Mommy!" Excellent. She refers to Mrs. Sara as "Elizabeth" (a huge compliment - Ms. Elizabeth was our neighbor in North Carolina and Sweet Girl LOVES her). Awesome. And I'm hearing new songs; The Wheels on the Bus, Clean Up, the Walking Song, in place of Carly Simon's work on The Heffalump Movie. That confirms pre-school to be at least an acceptable activity, and can be comfortably placed in the desirable category. Things are going well.
But I didn't know how Sweet Girl would do on a field trip. I mean after all, it's school but not AT school. Mrs. Sara, Ms. Karen, and Ms. Virginia are there but we're not doing circle time or centers. And the biggest question.....how would she do......on. the. bus? I tried to talk to her about riding the bus and even let her know that she could ride with me in the car (chaperones provide their own transportation), not knowing how much was sinking in. So I held my breath for the mother of all anxiety-riddled meltdowns when it was time to go Tuesday morning. I told Sweet Girl it was time to get on the bus, and with one small glance at our car, she silently climbed on and let someone else buckle her in. I fought the urge to go in after her and check on her and basically fuss all over her as my overprotective gene is wont to do. Apparently she did have some anxiety issues as the bus was in transit, but the fact that she got on the bus on her own was a big victory for her. I was pretty sure I would have to physically put her kicking and screaming on the bus. But she did it all herself. Calmly. Quietly. A small act made of big courage.
The rest of the day went pretty well also. The hay ride at the pumpkin patch was a big hit with a bunch of sensory-seeking children (not so much for the adults who had to endure the hay tossing). The animals were kind enough to let the loud group barge through. By the way, camels and emus seem unfazed by pre-school noises while zedonks (zebra/donkey hybrids that I am sure are dieing of embarrassment from that awful name) are a little more annoyed. The corn maze was a little sad due to the dry weather but still fun for short people. A Sweet Girl sized pumpkin was found (and has since been carried to several different locations in the house - I'm afraid I will forget it's here and find it rotting under her bed in mid-November) and then a picnic lunch wrapped up the festivities. My personal plan had been for Sweet Girl to then ride home with me but when she heard Mrs. Sara say it was time to go, she all but threw her lunchbox at me and ran for the bus.
I sat, somewhat stunned, a little amused, and a little sad. It was my turn to be brave and let Sweet Girl walk away from me, even if it was only to a school bus. Somehow I think I had to work harder at bravery than she did.