Making the decision to put him in a childcare was a very emotionally challenging one for me. I wondered if the centre which we have chosen is the best option for him, and inwardly, I had to deal with my own guilt feelings of having to 'farm' him out to people whom I barely knew.
I worried about whether he would have enough to eat, or if the food is to his liking.
I worried about whether he would be attended to when he needs something.
I worried if he would be able to sleep without a familiar face.
I worried about things going wrong.
I worried about everything.
I could not be separated from my mobile for as long as I know that he's there.
I guess it's in a mother's nature to worry... because I know that my Mum never stopped worrying about us. She still does, although her main cause for concern now is her grandson!
One month on, I write this post with a smile, because playgroup and childcare has actually been a very positive influence for BabyMoo. Sure, there are things like separation issues that we have to deal with, but beyond the tears and heart wrenching moments, even that has its positive effects for us.
I was starting to get concerned when BabyMoo refused to imitate sounds or attempt to 'talk' as he approached his 2nd birthday. He is able to understand instructions or conversations in English, Mandarin, Teochew and Bahasa Indonesia, but he seems loath to try to vocalise even the simplest words. He is perfectly able to - but only when he chooses to, and when it's very necessary.
On the second day of childcare, my sister-in-law commented that he seems to suddenly be talking a lot more. He didn't start off in 'toddler-talk' (dropping consonants or not being able to pronounce certain alphabets) - he simply just began to vocalise his wants and needs. Instead of pointing to something, he would say: "Take Me" or "Want, Plish?"
I started to sit up and take notice... but thinking that it was too early to tell, I dismissed it as all of us being too eager for him to talk.
Now I can't seem to get him to stop talking. And singing, and chattering. Regardless of whether anyone is listening to him or otherwise. He will just go on and on and on, parroting the adults, and trying out new words and sounds.
He used to be a pretty sullen child. Sullen in the sense that he is extremely selective when it comes to showing his thoughts or emotions. He is the type who won't bother with pleasantries, and will not hesitate to show his displeasure if for any reason, he doesn't get good vibes about an adult or another child. We were almost at the end of our tethers trying to explain to a lot of people (who made an effort to coo and fawn over him) why he would simply walk away after a sidelong glance which can be rather obviously translated to: "I really don't understand what are you going on about - you're just making yourself look silly!"
Now, he's more generous with his smiles to unfamiliar people whom he comes into contact with. He says HEY! and Bye-Bye, with a little Royal wave for good measure. He says 'Plish' and 'Thunk Yoo' when he asks or receives things, and he is really a lot more responsive when he's talked to.
I'm sure we are all aware that toddlers can be the most impatient little people ever. It is doubly worse when they come from one-child families, and are used to people being at their beck and call. BabyMoo, even though he has cousins to play with - is the baby of the family (currently) - and was on the brink of becoming a thoroughly pampered and spoilt child. As parents, we try our best to instil values, but it is an uphill battle when the kid has come to his own conclusion that Mummy and Daddy should be the last people to ask for things.
After starting childcare, BabyMoo is more understanding when we tell him that he must wait for something. He knows that he has to wait for his turn at playgrounds, and he will willingly wait in line with me when there's a queue. He doesn't insist that I should get a toy for him immediately when I tell him to give me a few minutes while I sort something out, and he even recently waited quietly without fretting while I had my hair cut!
Oh... did I mention that eating out is so much more fun now that we can actually sit together as a family, without one of us having to entertain the kid?
I'm feeling the love!!
Now that he's in a foreign environment, I suppose he has also learnt not to take us for granted. He is very demonstrative of his feelings, and will randomly run to me to hug me tight. He also says 'Lerv Yooo!' as and when it strikes his fancy, and sometimes grabs my face to give me wet, slobbery and loud kisses.
He calls me on a daily basis now, too. My MIL mentioned that on the first few days, he will bring the phone to her and ask for Mehmee, but since he discovered that Mehmee can be reached by simply touching a 'square' on the phone, he just conveniently takes her mobile and calls me when he reaches home from daycare.
"MehhhMEEEEEEE!! Lerv Yoooooo!" he shouts in my ear.
"Have you eaten, darling?" I ask.
"Yesh, Mehmee come home!" he yells a little louder.
"Soon, darling, soon ok?" It takes everything within my willpower not to accede to his request.
"'Kay... Chee Yooo. Bey Bey Mehmeee!"It's either that he appreciates me more, or he's now become aware of what to do to get what he wants out of Mummy the sucker! Either ways, his phone calls have become the highlight of my late afternoons, and makes the day go that much faster before I come home to him.
Yes, occasionally there are still tears when I drop him off in the mornings. He knows he's not supposed to cry, but sometimes I see the tears rolling down his cheeks, unbidden... while he brushes them away fiercely as we walk the short distance from where Daddy drops us off to the school gate. He does not sob piteously, and he has never clung to me, but he holds my hand a little tighter while I give him my assurance that I will always pick him up from his Mama's place, after work. I tell him that he's my pride, my love and my joy, and I mean every single word I say. I tell him that he cannot cry, and I love him, while he tells me 'Kay... and Lerv Yoo Choo.'
My heart still breaks when I leave him at the gates, but I'm so very, very, proud of him, too. I know it couldn't be easy to have to adjust to a totally different environment, and I'm so awed that this little boy of mine has managed the best way that he can.
I'm so proud of him because he tries so hard to be brave, and as much as I sometimes still get assailed by guilt feelings - he puts me to shame for worrying too much in the initial stages. He's shown me that he's big enough to take the positives out of the situation, and that I should be a bigger person by having more confidence in him.
One month on, and he's not only survived day care, but has turned it in his favour. It may be early days yet, but I think we will make it through.
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