First Day in a New Class
"Daddy, I don't want to be in Ms. Marjan's class today."
I looked down at Jason. "What? You like Ms. Marjan. And all your friends have already moved up to her class. You're going to have so much fun being in the same class with them again."
"No, I'm not," he insisted sullenly.
I adjusted my grip on Eva's carseat/baby carrier--it was her second day at daycare, but my first day bringing her--and looked down at Jason, trying to be sympathetic but firm. "I'm sorry, buddy," I said, "But it's time for you to be in her class now. You've been getting all ready for this, and now it's time."
He didn't respond, just held my hand as we kept walking.
We were running a bit late this morning, so by the time we got to his new classroom--separated from his old "room" by just a short partition running across the space--the rest of the kids were already sitting down in their circle and the teacher was handing out little cards to each of them. We hurried to get his blanket, stuffed animal, and sweater into his cubby and then I led him over to the group.
"OK, buddy, can I have a hug?" I asked, kneeling beside him. He didn't say anything, just wrapped his little arms around my neck and buried his face into my shoulder. He didn't wail or cry out, the way he usually does when he's upset. He just hugged me tightly and sniffled a little.
I pulled away from him gently. "Look at me buddy." He lifted his teary eyes to meet mine, and I could see that he was trying to hold it together. "Jay, you're going to have a really good day. All your friends are here to play with you, and it's going to be lots of fun. You're a big boy, and you can do this."
His face screwed all up and his voice broke as he threw his arms around me again. "Daddy, I don't want you to go."
I looked down to my side where Eva was sleeping in her carrier. Jason has been a wonderful big brother, and I can see that he genuinely loves his sister. But it's hard on him, too, dealing with change over the past few months. Just last night he got out of bed an hour after I tucked him in, saying that he didn't like being all by himself in his room. I know it's because Eva sleeps in a cradle by our bed, and try as we might to explain that she needs to be in our room because she's a baby, and that she'll be moving into her own room soon, he can't grasp yet that different people have different needs. He just knows that everyone--even the dog--sleeps in Mommy and Daddy's room, except him.
All of that flashed through my mind as I knelt there holding him, and my heart just about broke. I want so much to show him that I love him just as much as I always have, and just as much as his sister. I take time to play with him, and give him as much affection as he'll let me. But right at that moment it didn't feel like I'd done enough.
A few moments passed, then the teacher called Jason over to help her. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and went over, and she shooed me away, mouthing "Have a nice day!" behind his head.
As it happened, Juliette stayed home sick today, so I was the one to pick the kids up after work. When I arrived, he was out in the yard, running around and playing happily with his little friends. He ran over as soon as he saw me, smiling.
I crouched down to look him in the eyes and smiled. "Jay Jay, can I tell you something?" I asked.
"I love you very much, and I missed you a lot today," I said. "I thought about you all day."
He hugged me. "Me too, Daddy."