I just survived my first graduation as a parent. S is moving on and growing up. There was a lot of celebrating, plenty of hugs and farewells, and even a few tears (admittedly, they were all mine).
And S isn't even 3 years old. She's graduating from the family daycare she's attended for the last 2 and 1/2 years, since she was just an itty bitty thing. I still remember that first day when I dropped her off (or really, when Nick dropped her off--I couldn't bear to do it) and how nervous I was about leaving my little girl in someone else's hands. At the end of the day, I literally ran from my office to the T, and from the T to the daycare. Yes, I was that crazy lady sprinting down the sidewalk, clutching the telltale, black breastpump bag under one arm like a football.
If I knew then what I know now, I might have slowed to at least a jog. Because the truth was that not only would S be in very capable hands at her daycare, but she'd find a second family. That she'd make great friends, learn a lot, and absolutely love her first "school." And that we would, too.
The childcare providers at S's daycare are three generations of women: Jenny, whose 2 young children were classmates of S; Vicky, Jenny's mother; and Abuelita (spanish for grandmother), Vicky's mother. Jenny is the heart and soul of the operation and playfully greets the kids at morning drop-off, even at the early hour of 7:30am; Vicky is the most energetic grandmother you've ever met and makes a delicious and hearty sopita (soup) at lunchtime; and Abuelita is quick to pick you up from a scrape with a warm, enveloping hug. You'd be hard pressed to find three more patient and loving women, and it's easy to see that they not only enjoy the kids, but also each other. So I really wasn't overstating it when I said this was S's second family.
Which makes moving on so difficult. But S is now 2 years and 9 months old (or 2.9, as we parents say) and ready to start preschool. She could stay, sure, but all her little buddies are becoming preschoolers as well, and a new "class" of babies are moving into our beloved family daycare. Vicky, Jenny, and Abuelita already have their hands full--full of swaddles, bottles, and binkies. S, who can now put on her own shoes and drink out of a "big girl" cup, just wouldn't fit in.
Sigh... I guess this is just the first of many transitions. I'm sure I'll be a mess at S's preschool, high school, and college graduations, too. And I'm sure she'll enjoy some great schools in the future, with good friends and special teachers.
But I know we'll never find another Jenny, Vicky, and Abuelita.