Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve been able to imagine picking her up from school, and walking home together chatting about her day. That leisurely walk home at the end of the day, laiden with book bags and PE kits, as you listen to all the things your child has been doing since you said goodbye at that gates that morning. I always thought it would be one of my favourite bits of parenting, hearing about all the things your child did without you, and hearing their enthusiasm for the world.
I feel lucky that I get to be the person who picks her up, and the one who hears all about her day. I know Laurie would love to be the one who shares in that part of her life, and so know how lucky I am that it is me. And that I really should be grateful for the opportunity.
But, it’s actually been a massive disappointment so far.
Ebony started preschool in January, this was a big deal. For me, she was fine. For the first time ever, I left her With Strangers. And, for the first time, she carved out a little bit of time that was hers and hers alone. For those three hours every week, she is on her own. I’m not there to help her out or calm her down, I’m not there to make her feel better if she’s sad.
And she loves it. I think, though I’m not entirely sure, because she keeps the whole thing pretty much under wraps.
What my daughter does at preschool might actually be the world’s best kept secret, because I haven’t a clue and I gave birth to her.
Every week, I wait patiently outside preschool for the doors to open. When she sees me, she runs towards me and gives me a big cuddle, this is probably the best part of my week. After that I am informed that she IS VERY HUNGRY, and after providing her with some kind of acceptable snack, we head home.
As we walk down the street, her little hand in mine, I ask her about her day, and hope that this will be the day when our life-changing and heartwarming after school chats will begin. Perhaps today she will tell me about her day, and the things she’s learnt, and will ask me questions so that she can learn more. It will be beautiful, like in a movie, and passersby will stop to admire our amazing mother-daughter bond.
It never happens.
“Did you have a nice time at preschool today?”
“....What did you do?”
This is it. This is all I get. Every Single Week. And I already know she’s been painting with Daisy because I’m carrying an A3 piece of paper featuring an insane looking abstract impression of a monster that has Ebony/Daisy scrawled across the top in permanent marker.
She never talks about any children other than Daisy, who I have known since she was six weeks old. If I try to talk about the other kids, it confuses her.
“Daisy is poorly so she won’t be at preschool today.”
“Do you have any other friends at preschool?”
“There’s a little boy called Monty, do you know him?”
When I picked her up that day, and asked her what she did, she told me she had played with Monty. They’d had a snowball fight. About ten minutes later a girl I didn’t recognise walked past, and Ebony pointed at her, “That’s Monty from preschool.”
I don’t know who she sits with at snack time, or whether they read stories. I don’t know what games they play, or whether she has friend other than Daisy. I don't know whether all the other kids hate her because she keeps calling them all Monty. I am completely and utterly in the dark, does anyone suffer this silence at the hands of their preschooler? Will it get better, or will she always make us walk home in stony silence?