Monday, May 16, 2016

Parenthood: Week 152 – Pick-Up

Drop-off and pick-up can be really rough. The feeling of driving away from a school or a day care after you left your crying baby, is one of the worst feelings you can have as a parent. As people who do this on a regular basis know, lingering, actually only makes it worse, so when a caretaker gives you that look, after you say bye, it’s best to just go. This leaves you emotionally wrecked as you drive away crying in your car.

I wish I could say that I was exaggerating.

This year hasn’t been too bad. We’ve had our rough drop-offs, but the confidence we have in Ollie’s teachers makes a big different. But, the main focus for this post, I want to discuss is pick-ups.

Ollie rarely wants to go home when I pick him up. This is a great sign, because this means that he’s enjoying school and feels comfortable there, but it can be a huge pain. His teachers have a schedule to keep that I want to be respectful of and we got things to do at home.

There was one really rough situation a couple months back when I left work early to pick-up Ollie.  I rushed through stuff at work so that we could spend more time together.  When I got to school, he was upset that I was there to get him because his class had just transitioned to another activity he wanted to do. He completely melted down, we ended ups staying in school much longer than I had planned.  My efforts to spend time with him were pretty much a wash. It wasn’t Ollie’s fault, but that one hurt and was really frustrating.

As adults we’ve developed the ability to imagine things to motivate us to move forward in life, like the self-promise of a beer after mowing the lawn. Ollie often doesn’t have these things in his head to look forward to so I give him things like pressing the elevator button, seeing Buffy or on really tough days, the promise of watching a television show when he gets home.

Last Wednesday, when I walked into the door, Ollie ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. I asked him if he was ready to go home and without hesitation, he grabbed my hand and starting walking with me to his cubby to get ready to leave. As we were walking, he said joyfully, “I love you daddy.”

This unsolicited sign of affection is rare, but not as rare as Ollie taking the initiative to take the lead in getting ready to go home. Happily he got his stuff together and asked me to carry him to the car. I asked him the lean in so that I could carry him easier. He responded by wrapping his arm around my neck and kissing me on the cheek and giggling.

As we walked out to a sunny afternoon, Ollie asked “where is the fog?” I replied, “the fog was here this morning, but it went away.” “ . . . but I want the fog,” Ollie sadly whimpered. Before I knew it, Ollie had entered full meltdown mode. He just couldn’t understand where the fog had gone. As I explained that I couldn’t control the weather, Ollie continued to scream with tears streaming down his face.

So that happened. Sigh.

But it’s not actually all that bad. That pick-up is exactly why toddlers are so wonderful. They have the capacity to express such wonderful care and love. Even though his meltdown about the fog wasn’t fun, I understood his confusion about the change of weather.

Pick-ups and drop-offs are an adventure. Sometimes not an adventure you are in the mood to take on, but it’s part of the parenting gig, and while it’s not always fun, somehow we get through it.   Ollie may not always be happy to see me or ready to go home, but I'm always happy to see him.  And having someone in your life that makes you feel that way is worth the tears about the weather.

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