Before I sent Nora back to daycare I worried about her napping and eating. I worried about missing her too much and about her getting sick. I didn’t worry about her being social, since she always seemed to be a people baby – as evidenced from her game with the hat shown below.
On Tuesday when I picked Nora up after school she ran over to me as usual and started blurting out so many words at once, trying to tell me all she had done that day. As I smiled at her enthusiastic talking, Miss Liz told me that Nora hardly talks all day, that she cuddles and sucks her thumb for much of the time. “She laughs,” she said. But she isn’t the social butterfly I had thought her to be. Miss Liz said that she and Miss Laura had decided that Nora will either be a rebellious teenager or one who makes such astute observations that you wonder where she learned it. I vote for number two.
I left daycare that day upset. I want Nora to have fun, to interact, to show all her beautiful words and songs she sings while she’s home. I took her quiet thumb-sucking as a sign of unhappiness.
My mother reminded me that when I was two and a half and spent my days at Aunt Mary’s with other kids, I had to be bribed to play. I didn’t suck my thumb, but I picked apart my stockings for comfort, refusing to interact with even my cousins or friends I had known for a while (if you can know anyone for a while at 2?). I would report to my mom when she asked me if I deserved my prize that indeed I did not. I didn’t want to play.
I actually remember some of this (scary and cool that Nora may remember soon…), and I don’t remember that I did any of this because I was unhappy.
And then at school I thought about some of my best students who are quiet. One in particular came to mind. She listens intently all class and then usually stops and chats with me on her way out, making very intelligent observations that I wish she would add to the discussion in front of everyone, but that’s not her style. And it wasn’t mine either. I’m sure my high school teachers would be shocked that I stand in front of a group and speak all day. I probably didn’t utter one word until forced in most of my classes. And I think Ken was the same way.
But, like Nora I did have my moments. In kindergarten I was the doll in the play – the center of attention, and I screamed out my lines and belted out my songs to make sure everyone heard what I had to say.
And today, when I got to daycare, Nora ran over and hugged me as usual. But then she ran away, through the tunnel they had open on the floor. She looked at her friend Emily and laughed when she came out the other side. And then she ran up the plastic slide and did her little stomp dance around the room. She was having fun. She didn’t want to run out the door.
So I guess I have to remember that quiet isn’t always bad. That she’s clearly learning (see the ABC video below) that she’s happy all day and sometimes silly. That cuddling isn’t a sign that she misses me all day, but that she loves many people. And that she will have her moments when she steps on the stage and moments when she wants to watch from the sidelines. And it will all be ok.