“Peez, Ana”, is what I’ve been hearing all week form my 2 year old son. Ana is his teacher at daycare, and now he’s developed an annoying habit of calling me by her name. Teachers are called mom by their students all the time, I never thought about the other end, where kids call their mom their teacher’s name. Its almost as bad as calling your significant other by someone else’s name. The repercussions wouldn’t be the same ,of course, I can’t retaliate against my son for it, but the hurt and emotions behind feel like they’d be even.
I’ve dealt with similar feelings before. When I went back to work after my 8 week maternity leave and my husband was a “stay at home dad”, I felt like he was closer and preferred him. I was tired from work and wanted to just pass out and go to sleep but I had to find the energy the play with and spend time with the baby or else it would be like I was just the person that paid the bills, nobody special. He was only 2 months old, therefore he’s only had 2 months to get to know me. Having him surgically removed from my body did mean anything to him. I didn’t even feel this intense love immediately after having him. I was in pain and miserable, and for all I knew he was the cause. So how could I expect a baby to know that he was supposed to love and adore only me? It wasn’t like in the back of his mind he was thinking she brought me into this world, I have to show her some love. That realization doesn’t come until later. I was breast feeding at that time, so that did give us a closeness that would not have been there. He is his fathers son, so he defiantly saw me as an important person being that I was his food source. After he turned 1 and he was no longer breastfeeding I looked to other ways to retain that connection. I am always the person who bathes and puts him to bed. That’s our thing. I give him his bath, but on his pjs, read him book or two, and brush his teeth. Then I take him out to kiss daddy night night. I take him to his crib, kiss him, give him the necessary stuffed animals, and its lights out.
Another of our concrete bonding activities is going out on the weekends. We might go to the mall, grocery shopping, or to my sister’s house to hang out and play with his cousins. We usually get a snack, because he loved to eat. Sometimes I take advantage of free samples at Sam’s Club or some give away at Chiptole. If we were at a store I might let him pick out a small toy or two. My husband urges these experiences because he remember’s how sad I was when I first when to work and our son treated me like some stranger off the street. He however doesn’t seem to have to put this much work into earning his affections. They’ve been best buds since day one. When we walk through the door after school if his dad isn’t sitting in the living room he look around asking “where mone (what I call him)?”
When I first started taking him to daycare, he’d cry every time I dropped him off, but it did not alter our decision. Going to daycare gives him interaction with his peers. No matter how many books we read, flash cards we play, or online preschool programs we use, it still cannot replace what he learns playing with other kids. I don’t want him to start “real” pre-school and kindergarten with no social skills. I am comfortable with where he’s at. She came highly recommended by close friends and co-workers. He goes to a small, home daycare. She’s super flexible and reliable. She is Hispanic and talks to the kids in Spanish, so if he stays there until pre-k he’ll be bilingual. He already understands phrases and commands she gives. I swear she’s the baby whisperer. Spanish might work for kids, like German does for dogs. I’d hear that dog understand and follow German commands better. Well, she’ll say something in Spanish and he just instantly complies. Ugh, “we loves it, and yet we hates it (in Gollum voice).
He used to cry everyday I dropped him off, now he pushes me out and slams the door. It stings a little in the feels, but I’m also grateful that he is in good hands. I’m glad he has his place where he can play, have fun, and be with people his age. So when he’s asking me for something and says “Peez, Ana”, I think back to those early days when I went back to work and it pushes me to be a better mother. It also lets me know that I’ve made the right choices and he’s with someone who truly is a caregiver for my son. But I still have to find a trump card, so he always knows that MOMMY IS BEST.