Frighteningly stoic

Sophie whines, “Don’t wanna go to Sara’s!” Sara is her daycare teacher.

I say, “Sorry, honey, it’s Thursday. Thursday is a Sophie-Sara day.”

“Don’t wanna go to Sara’s! Don’t wanna go to Sara’s.”

“Sorry, you have to. I don’t want to go to work, either.” There will be time enough later on to explain to her that, although I hate leaving her, I actualky do love my job. Thursday morning didn’t seem like the proper place for that complexity. But, because it feels better to be honest with Sophie and to not leave her worrying when I will return, I did tell her, “You know what’s even worse? Thursdays, I have to work late. Thursdays, Raquel picks you up from Sara’s.” Raquel is the sitter who picks her up from daycare by 5pm, gives Sophie her dinner and a bath and a beginning of a bedtime, till I come home at 8pm for the final goodnight kiss. Thursdays are especially hard, long days for all of us.

“Don’t want Raquel!” Sophie exclaims, trembling, on the verge of a tear-soaked meltdown. “Don’t want Sara and don’t want Raquel!”

“I know, I know,” I tell Sophie. “Raquel is nice. Sara is nice. But they’re not Momma. I’m so sorry. Tomorrow is a Sophie-Momma Day, and the day after that, and the day after that too. But today is Thursday. Today you have to go to Sara’s and then see Raquel.”

Sophie trudged into her room, where she has been incessantly “packing” her baby-doll’s things lately, moving items around, preparing Baby-Doll to go to Europe to see her Daddy. It’s all very sad.

Then Sophie emerged from her room. She had reached her shoes on top her bookshelf, gotten them down and managed to put these complex mary-janes on her own feet. No easy feat for a 27-month old.

“I’m ready,” she told me. She sounded like a prisoner, resigned to the death-chair, ready to go, ready to get it over with. We didn’t even have to leave yet for Sophie’s Thursday-marathon-of-paid-caregivers. But, “I’m ready,” Sophie said again. She had her shoes on. She had the attitude of, “This is going to be painful and horrible, so let’s just start it now, maybe that will make it all end quicker.” So we got in the car and went to Sara’s.

And I wonder: am I the only parent of a two-year-old who worries about her being too obedient?

To me, her quietly resigned “I’m ready” was more heartbreaking than all her whining “Don’t wanna go to Sara’s.” I expect whining, I expect terrible-two tantrums. And, don’t get me wrong, I get to hear plenty of whining and sometimes tantrums. But, you know, that’s not surprising, that doesn’t merit a blog-post. It is Sophie’s obedience that scares me.

Friday at the doctors, she sat so still for her shots, so stoic, frighteningly stoic. All the doctors and nurses were over-the-top in their praise for her great behavior, and I couldn’t simply accept that praise. Instead, I worry what Sophie is repressing in her over-eagerness to be this good.

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