My in-laws took Toddler to her Mommy and Me class for the first time a couple weeks ago. Originally I planned on taking her with twins in tow two mornings a week because I really enjoy being there with her. But there were two problems with that: 1. I was sleep training babies and taking them out for two hours every other day was not conducive to creating a schedule. 2. When I did take them, I was constantly hovering around their stroller to make sure no unwanted intruders tried to sneak a peek or worse yet, poke my attempting-to-sleep children… so I’d miss a lot of the class anyway. Good thing is, Toddler is very independent and can function in class without me. But still, I’ve made friends with some of the other mommies there, and hearing about the class second hand is just not the same.
So it was with some reservation that I decided to let the grandparents take her. Toddler has never been with my in-laws in any setting other than their home without me. I thought I thoroughly prepared her, and myself, by starting over a week in advance, reminding her of what she can do by herself in class, where to eat her after-class snack, and that she would come home after snack for her nap, like we’ve always done. I had also given the same instructions in a detailed email to the in-laws. I even recruited some mommy friends to keep an eye out and help if necessary. I thought we were ready.
The hand-off went without a hitch on the morning of their first class. I went out to help put Toddler in the newly installed carseat on their car. She’s pretty good about clipping herself in, but I wanted to make sure they would know exactly how to do it too. After a couple last minute reminders and a few “love you”s, off they went.
The coming home did not go nearly as well. From what I could piece together, Toddler did not want to leave after snacks, and I guess she started t0 get whiny. She asked to go play at their house instead of coming home to sleep. I’m sure this is due to a combination of her being tired (I was in the process of moving her nap to match the babies’) and testing the grandparents. To get her in the car, Grandpa told her they needed to pick something up from mommy first, and then they would take her back to their house. So of course when they did get back, Toddler refused to get out of the car. I guess they hadn’t anticipated the one-track mind of a toddler and figured she’d forget. While they stood around chuckling at her brilliance, I got to be physically attacked by my daughter while I wrangled her out of the carseat to bring her inside. Needless to say, not ideal.
I spent the next couple of days ironing out the kinks. More reminders to Toddler, a couple of serious conversations with Husband and the in-laws. Everyone is on the same page now. Naps are not negotiable, and we do not lie to our children. I allowed the grandparents to continue to take her.
Here is the interesting thing that began to evolve: Toddler took on a new personality! Without me around, my “spies” have reported that she is much more outgoing (and she was already outgoing before) and seemed to enjoy the class more. She started dancing and singing along with all the songs, running like a hooligan with some of the other kids, and exhibiting rowdy behavior. We often see this more gregarious side of her at home, but she’s usually more reserved when I take her out. Strange…
I’m still not sure how to feel about this. Like maybe sad that she feels she can’t let loose when I’m there, or maybe relieved that she likes going to class with Grandma (although she does still says she prefers to go with me), or scared because it might mean my in-laws have no control over her behavior?
I do know one thing though: My little girl is growing up, and I will have to come to terms with the fact that I will no longer watch over every aspect of her life. I’m terrified and so proud of her at the same time. Maybe this is all for the best.
lunchldyd is mom to a 3yo daughter and her 5mo brother and sister. Letting go is super hard for her.