When you have children who prefer to be stapled to you during all their waking hours (and they aren’t too keen on sleeping), you cannot appreciate it when a parent of an older child says, “Just wait. You will miss these days when they want nothing to do with you.” I personally have never appreciated any of the advice that parents of older children have given me, because it’s always of the “oh, wait until she’s three… oh wait until they are teenagers… oh wait until they have parole officers” variety. Do ya’ll plan to just take my dreams of a slightly easier tomorrow and crush them like little flowers under your muddy boots?
I have always thought my kids would prefer me– and only me– for years and years. Except for Simon, who has preferred Jeff since he was capable of focusing his eyes. But Sadie. . . she was going to be my girl, my sidekick, my shadow. I assumed she would want to come to the grocery store with me and help me clean out my purse or do anything at all as long as she was with dear old Mom.
But before reaching three years old, Sadie and I have shared that moment. You know, the moment where the little kid has to choose between hanging out with her friends or going to the park with her mom? That one.
Friday morning, I had a babysitter to cover Simon’s nap so I could have some play time with Sadie. I had a great day planned: we were going to take the train to a free Wiggles concert in Millenium Park. But, once we were all packed up, Sadie opened the door to go outside, and there stood 4 of her playmates from the neighborhood with their nannies. At first I thought Sadie was screaming because she could not wait to ride the train with me. But, I saw her face beaming at she looked at her friends and heard about their plans to go to the boring old park down the street. The same park she goes to roughly twice a day.
I wanted to see in Sadie’s face an expression of relief; I wanted to see that she was grateful I was saving her from the drudgery of the neighborhood park (with the pot smoke and stray syringes) and treating her to the big, fancy, downtown park. But that’s not what I saw. I think I saw kiddie agony at the thought of missing time with her friends. She looked up at me, and these words came out of my mouth: “Sadie, do you want to stay and play with your friends? We can go downtown another day if you want to.”
I couldn’t see her eyes because she had her sunglasses on (because she’s a rock star like that), but she ran out the door screaming, “Wait for me, everybody,” which I took as a vote to hit the park with the gang. She asked the babysitter to come with her, which makes perfect sense because Sabrina is very close with the other nannies who were spearheading this “adventure” for the girls.
As I shut the door behind them, I held Simon close to me grateful that he was too young to have friends to prefer to me. And since Jeff was no where around, he had no one to prefer over me, so he hugged me back.