Since we got back from India, Mimi has had a lot to deal with.
When she returned from India, she transitioned (with aplomb) from me to our helper J.The next order of business was to get her off the bottle. Yes, my three-year-old was still drinking milk out of a bottle, only before bed. It helped her sleep easily, and we were too lazy to stop it. Also the usual reasons one shouldn’t didn’t apply – she was only using it for like 10 minutes of sucking before bed, and she would drink water after that, so it’s not like her teeth were going to decay.
But yeah, we figured we’d better bite the bullet and stop it. Ironically, we did it when Mimi fell sick with a tummy upset. I didn’t want to give her milk with a bad tummy, and anyway she was kind of zoned out and tired the first day. The next couple of days she cried and screamed. We just kept telling her the doctor said no – the doctor is the new bogeyman – and that she would get sick. We had to rock her to sleep instead, exchanging one undesirable habit for another, and still do, but just for a minute or so.
She had recovered from the tummy bug, when she got the flu. All of us did, but Mmi had it bad. And she clung to me. It was confusing and tiring, physically and mentally, because I was sick myself.
Mimi had just recovered from the flu, which was a scary bout, when she had to start school. She had been wanting to go to school for a while, having really enjoyed the playgroup she attended twice a week (before it shut down due to high rents boo!). And she hated that Benji had somewhere to go in the mornings and she didn’t.
But I knew that Mimi’s transition to school would not be seamless. She’s a fiesty kid, but she doesn’t like being in new situations without a known and trusted companion, preferably an adult. I had to find playgroups that would let someone accompany her till she was comfortable, and she took a few sessions to reach the stage at which she would let my helper or me go. To me, this seems perfectly logical. Why we expect three year olds to walk into a room full of strangers unfazed is a mystery.
So yeah, on her first day, Mimi got fitted up in her uniform and was all excited, until we had to go into the class. The teacher let me go in for the first bit, so Mimi was okay. Then, unfortunately, they had assembly. I didn’t know I could go in, so I tried dropping her in but she started crying. There was a tragic moment when she came out and told me: “But I can’t.” I then tried having her sit with Benji, who was mouthing ‘no no no’ to me because he didn’t want his bawling baby sister cramping his style. In the end, they asked me to sit in with her, which I wish they had done in the first place because it would have spared Mimi some trauma. Apparently, I was allowed to stay with her the entire first day, which I didn’t realise, and that day unfortunately, I had to go to work and teach a class. I had to have my helper come replace me haflway through which did not go down well with Mimi. The only saving grace was that when I told her that if she didn’t stay with J, she’d have to go home because I really couldn’t stay and she said: “But I want to stay!” So clearly, she wanted to be in school, just not alone.
From day 2, we couldn’t go with her. It was decided that my helper J would do the honours because it seemed like Mimi would do more drama if she had to separate from me, and honestly, I’m a big softie and would probably just bring her home. This proved to be a good decision, because last week, I decided to go in and drop them, and Mimi did a lot of drama.
However, after two days, she was pretty much fine. The first couple of days she cried 10 minutes and then would only ask to go home during class changes, which is understandably disorienting. Within the week, she was fine in school, though she seems to have mixed feelings about going, and is restless when sleeping. When we ask her if she likes it, she says she does.
Right now, Mimi is doing well at school, healthwise is ok and her bottle is a distant memory. But she is clinging to me. And I’m not dealing with that so well.
It’s ironic because a month ago, I was smarting from her rejecting me. Now the opposite is happening and I’m struggling with that. My problem is that I’m not used to a person being around me all the time. Growing up, I shied away from having a best friend for that reason. The only people I accepted being really clingy were boyfriends, and maybe that worked because we really couldn’t physically spend that much time together. Having someone not let you out of their sight, even to go to the bathroom, can be very trying.
I know – and hope – this a phase. Mimi is slowly getting better, at least she will sometimes do something with other people when I’m around. And who knows, when she detaches, I might miss it.