At 3:10PM I see that my nanny is calling me on my cell phone. I’m at work so she and Simon should be picking Sadie up from school. I don’t panic. (Yes, I do.)
“Hi, Sabrina. Is everyone OK?”
“Yes, Christie, everyone is fine, but do you have a moment to talk to Sadie? She’s missing you.”
Sadie tells me that she told her teacher how much she misses me and that she wants me to pick her up from school. (At least, I am pretty sure what’s what she said as she held the phone almost inside her mouth to talk to me.)
“I’m glad you can tell your teacher and me and Sabrina how much you miss me. What did your teacher say?”
“Mommy, I didn’t let her talk because I wanted to keep talking. I told her over and over and I did not want my nanny to pick me up. I wanted you to pick me up.”
I still don’t panic. (Yes, I do.) Teachable moment. I feel sad that she’s having a hard time and grateful she can articulate her feelings. And I wish I could be in two places at once and that money grew on trees and that I understood how to balance my life.
“Sadie, I would love to pick you up. I miss you very much. On Thursday, I can take you to school and pick you up. I can’t wait.”
There are a few more rounds of “I. Don’t. Want. My. Nan. Nee. Picking. Me. Up.” I let her vent and say it as many times as she needs to. I promise her I will see her very soon. We discuss the snack I will bring her on Thursday when I pick her up– “No Goldfish or Wheat Thins. Cold Water with ice and dried raspberries.” I start to sing her The Greatest Love of All and she hangs up on me. Accidentally, I’m sure.
Later I email her teacher and let her know that I am aware that Sadie is unhappy at dismissal time because she wants me to pick her up. Within 16 minutes, the teacher emails me back:
I know it’s probably hard for you to hear her disappointment, but I think this can be a great growing experience for Sadie. While we always would like to remove disappointment from children, it is inevitable, and I think sometimes, just helping them learn how to cope with the disappointment is almost more valuable.
And now I commence to sob heartily into my pillow because (1) teachers got so incredibly loving and aware since I was Sadie’s age (no offense, Ms. Durlan), (2) because I can’t fix her disappointment or be two places at once, (3) because I feel responsible for her distress, (4) because I’m not sure if the job is worth the toll it is taking on her (or me), and (5) because there is something about my kids being surrounded by loving adults (like me, Jeff, and their teachers) who love them and will honor their feelings and help them face whatever life (or I) throw at them. It makes me cry.
There are tears of joy, gratitude, fear, indecision, regret, anxiety, sorrow, humility, confusion, hope, and terror. It’s going to be a long cry.