Friday, August 2, 2013

Hold my hand

Every Tuesday and Thursday when I waddle into Fletcher's daycare center, I wonder about how this routine will change when there are two children to be picked up and taken home. I think about when Fletcher was an infant and how hard it was for me to take a step back from the cradle, then another step back, then another, until I was several miles away at work. How much harder will it be to leave my next infant with strangers? How relieved will I feel every Tuesday and Thursday when I get that baby back into my arms?

Daycare has been very good for Fletch. It was hard at first for him to be somewhere without any of the people that he loves, but now that he's used to it, I have to come up with reasons why he should put away that toy and come home with me. Are you thirsty? There's ice water in the car. Are you hungry? We can go eat whatever you want for dinner. Do you want to go shopping? Do you want to play at the new home?

Eventually he catches on and runs to the front door of the building. "Hold my hand," I say every time when we get outside. "Green car! Green car!" he'll say. Then we'll get to the curb and "Jump!" into the parking lot.

I get myself through the day so that I can feel his soft, dirty little hand in mine.

He's good about holding hands in parking lots, but the closer we get to the car, the harder he pulls to tug his hand free. Every day, there are fewer things that I can force; so much relies on his compliance now that he's growing up.

These years of holding my child's hand are so small, so short in my lifetime. How can I slow this down? How can I keep him from racing off like the runaway train that he is?

I can barely remember what he was like as a baby. It's been years since I've really held a baby. And look at my baby now, running so fast I can't catch him.

The unfortunate contradiction is that the school system would have me believe he's behind. He should be wearing underwear by now (without the frequent accidents). He should be sitting at the table through every meal and eating his fruits and vegetables. He should be speaking in complete sentences and communicating his thoughts and answering questions and should be... should be.

Of course I want him to progress and reach the great potential that he so clearly has. Why else would I stress and wear myself out trying to push my rising sun to high noon? But. It seems obscene to try to hurry him forward, hurling him up into the sky, knowing how that will take us that much closer to sunset.

To the time when he won't hold my hand at all.

Then I worry and wonder if I'm somehow holding him back, holding him too tight, too close, like the baby he'll never be again.

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