09 March, 2011

Why the Sad Face?

I hate it when my kids cry. I hate it even more when it's that fake cry that my daughter has mastered--you know the one where, if you tickle her just a little bit she bursts into laughter, or if you say the word "candy," she stops the faux water works (faux canalisation d'eau?) The worst sound may be my son's silent moan with tears, but I haven't heard that in a while...a long blessed while.

But we have had some tears this week. 

Yesterday Lucy sort of just lost it on the way to school. She had eaten a balanced breakfast, had enough sleep, and because she was actually being a good listener (and mommy had enough sleep the night before too), we had not had any of the usual morning squabbling over shoes-on, hair brushing etc. So we get out the door, into the car and began our race to the freeway (with the cruise control at the speed limit). She started to cry. 

Looking into the rear view mirror I was so afraid it was going to be a faker, whiny, brat, cry baby that I steeled myself for the barrage of mean things I would need to force back down my throat, because, after all she is only four, and still learning how to ask for what she needs. 

What I saw, instead of a bratty little monster, was the saddest little girl I've ever seen. Little tears slipping down her face, she asked if I could pick her up from school before nap time.  
"I'm just going to miss you a lot today Mama, and I feel like I wasn't close with you at all yesterday, or on the weekend when I was playing, and I am probably going to be sad a lot today and miss you so much. So can you please pick me up really, really, early?"

"Well, Bug, you have "Cheery Chipmunks" dance lessons at school after class, so it's a late day for you. Are you sure you want to miss Cheery Chipmunks?"

"Oh this is too hard. I want YOU mama. I like to dance, but I just," and she broke down some more, "want you."

And so I made a u-turn at the light at the top of the hill and told her that she was going to stay home with me for the day. 

If there was ever a little face that said "I need a mental health day" that was the face.

It wasn't easy for me to let go of my messy house that needs cleaning, or the bills that need to be paid, or the myriad essays I need to finish, or the calls I need to return, but it would have been a lot harder to say goodbye to that little girl at the door of a preschool.

She's not going to need me much at all pretty soon; I knew I would leave home and live far away by the time I was about 8. She can already happily stay at a sleep over for 24 hours without more than a 5 minute check in on the phone. 

As much as I love how independent and strong she is growing, I know that part of the reason she is okay when I'm not around, is because she knows I really am here. I tend to think that if we don't give our kids that feeling like they know how very deeply they are loved...every day, well, I think some of those kids stick around too long waiting to hear it. I know there are lots of other reasons why people stay near their family, or fly the coop, but I want Lucy to be so confident that she is loved and supported, that she can leave, and forget to wave goodbye.

And yesterday, that meant shopping for some new jeans, going to a movie, meeting Daddy for lunch, snuggling for some nap time, and pulling out the oil paints to finish some art work for the grandparents. It was a great day, for both of us.

And today? She's staying late at school for soccer... no problem.

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