Yesterday my tiny baby May Blossom started daycare. She went off all by herself (well, we took her there, obviously. She didn’t have to catch the bus) and spent from 8.30 in the morning until 4.30 in the afternoon with someone who was not me, her dad, her grandparents or one of her uncles. She is two months shy of three years old, and that’s the nearest the word ‘shy’ will get to her. Headstrong: yes. Strong-willed: ‘extremely’, said her daycarer. But not shy.
Every Tuesday, she will go to a fantastic home daycare, which is, happily, run by my parents’ neighbour. She will be one of five small people all roughly her own age, and she will have to learn to navigate her way through all the pushing, shoving, frustration and misery that entails.
Yesterday went okay. Not brilliantly, but okay. It was probably not as bad as I am making out, because I am a noted catastrophist of our time, but still, I found it hard to deal with when her carer told me she had been pretty dreadful at sharing and had chucked a few epic wobblies. My immediate reaction was that I should have been there to help her negotiate the sharing, as I often do. Actually no, that is a lie. My real first reaction was ‘Bullshit. She is fantastic at sharing. She always shares. The other kids were clearly in the wrong and bullies and I will not be sending her there ANY MORE. Thank you and good night to you, madam.’
Then I took a few deep breaths and faced the fact that she is growing up.* Fuck. I can’t be there all the time any more, and I can’t fight her fights for her. And it was a few turf disputes over toys, not Lord of The Flies. Sharing is important, and it’s a skill that’s hard to learn at home, with two parents who don’t challenge you that often for possession of the doll’s stroller, and a brother who can still mostly be placated with another shiny thing if you want to wrench the current shiny thing he’s holding from him. She’s not the greatest sharer, if I’m honest. I called Other Jess to check her opinion on this last night and she diplomatically said ‘Well she isn’t the worst at sharing, but she doesn’t like it.’ True. Who does? Let’s face it, sharing is crap, really. No-one likes it. But it’s one of those steps to growing up that everyone has to take, and mastering it makes you more friends and paves the way to a happier life.
Rather like toilet training. Which May Blossom mastered with great swiftness and a minimum of fuss over the weekend, and which I was boasting about in quite a disgusting way at the park today. While I did so, May Blossom shrieked and pushed one of her friends because she didn’t want to share a stick, and then climbed up to the top of the play structure to commit a heinous atrocity in her pants that was wholly inconsistent with my bragging.
*More proof of growing up: she can whistle. We though it was very cute until she whistled at H and I while we sat drinking our coffee this morning and said in a creepy low singsong voice, ‘Mummy and Daaad-dy, do exactly what I saaaay now.’ No, strange child. We are not border collies at stage hypnotist’s show.