Monday, May 16, 2011

A Bump in the Preschool Road

With all that's been going on in the past couple of months, I realize I have not yet written about Ceeya's transition to preschool. Ceeya moved from daycare, where she'd been since she was only a few months old, to preschool at the beginning of April. It was a long search which I haven't fully detailed here (and I won't go into it now), but we ended up finding a preschool program we were comfortable with in a church about four to five miles from our house.

I love Ceeya's teacher, Miss Mary. She is clearly committed to the kids. She does special theme-based projects with them and focuses on areas of concern—she had no hesitation about working with Ceeya on her sensory processing issues and has made great strides with her in terms of potty training. We are very close to moving Ceeya out of Pull-Ups and into cloth training pants, despite training being somewhat interrupted and erratic when we pulled her out of school for a week immediately after my grandmother passed. Ceeya loves Miss Mary and talks enthusiastically about school and how she had a good day, every day.

On Friday, I worked from home and Sweet Dub had a video gig in the late afternoon, so he asked if I would pick up Ceeya. (Normally it would be difficult for me to pick her up since preschool is nearly 5 miles southwest of our house, and work is 10 miles northeast. That's 15 Los Angeles miles across town in rush hour, which translates into at least 45 minutes to get there and then another 15-20 minutes to slog back home. I am not a big fan of traffic. If Sweet Dub weren't available to do the pickup on the regular, this would really suck.) He usually picks her up by 4:00 PM so he can talk with her teacher before she leaves for the day.

As I was mired in my project, I did not make it to school before 4:00 PM. I arrived at 4:30, and as I walked from my car to the building I could see Ceeya's classmates out in the yard. When Miss Mary leaves at 4 PM, Ceeya's class gets combined with another class and the director of the school comes in to help out to ensure they have the correct ratio of adults to kids. The director and the other preschool teacher, Miss C, were out in the yard. I waved and looked for Ceeya but didn't see her—not strange because she might have been inside one of the climbing structures. I walked into the school and into Ceeya's classroom and I heard a child crying loudly.

More specifically, I heard Ceeya crying loudly.

I hurried into the adjoining classroom and Ceeya was sitting at a table with her back to me, sobbing. "Ceeya!" I called out. "What happened? Did you hurt yourself?"

She turned around and her eyes were puffy, and her nose was red, and I could tell she had been crying for a while. I looked around as I gathered her into my arms to soothe her. No adults in sight. What on earth? My brain couldn't process what might have happened, and Ceeya was crying too hard to talk. I went outside to the yard.

"Ceeya was in the classroom alone, crying," I said to Miss C, as she simultaneously asked, "Where was she?"

"What? She was inside?" she said. She looked Ceeya over with concern. "How did that happen?"

The director came hurrying over. "I was just asking, 'Where's Ceeya?'" she said. What a pile of baloney, I wanted to say. The only reason you wondered where Ceeya was is because you just saw me walk up.

"She must have followed me back inside without me knowing it, when I went back in to get balls for the children," Miss C said. "Oh, no, sweetheart, I'm so sorry."

Ceeya lay on my shoulder, quiet, but holding on tight. All I could think to myself was how lucky they were that it was me who found her, and not her dad. And then I thought how lucky we were that she didn't put something in her mouth and choke, or climb on something to get at a toy and fall, or hurt herself a million different ways. And how lucky we were that one of the outside utility workers who were there that day, working on lines outside the church, wasn't a predator looking for kids by themselves.

I spent ten more minutes there as they tried to figure it out and apologized and told me they didn't know how it could have happened. I still don't know how Ceeya got locked into the classroom by herself. All she will say is that she was by herself, and she was crying.

I still like the preschool. I'm angry that this happened, even though it was clearly not intentional. I have the feeling that Ceeya probably did closely follow the teacher back inside and then sat down with a toy somewhere she couldn't be seen, and the teacher left her there.

When Sweet Dub spoke with Miss Mary about it this morning, she had not yet heard about it, and she was livid. I feel certain this would not have happened if she were there, and I feel confident that she will always look out for Ceeya. At the same time, this can't go unaddressed. Sweet Dub was unable to find the director this afternoon when he went to pick Ceeya up. I am hoping that tomorrow morning he will be able to speak with her about our concerns.

I am also hoping that my next preschool post will be a lot more positive.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Alone, But Not Lonely

What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been. My grandmother has been gone for two weeks already and I feel like I still have not had time to process it. I have been spending a lot of time with my mother. She cared for my grandmother through her long illness and was definitely the person who was closest to her in many ways.

Because my grandmother depended so heavily on her, my mom hardly left the house except to get to doctor's appointments or to the market or pharmacy. Until two days after my grandmother's death, my mother—who lives 45 minutes away, in Ventura County—had never been to my house.

My sister and brother-in-law, who with my nephews share the house with my mom and grandma, had booked a cruise months ago for April 27th, just a week after my grandma passed. So the day after the viewing in San Diego County, as my grandmother's body was being flown back east for burial in the family plot, my sister and her family took their trip as planned. My mom was alone in the house (where my grandmother had just died) for the first time ever in more than five years.

I asked her if she would be all right, if she wanted me to come and stay with her, but I knew she would say no. My mother and I are very similar in our need for time alone. I honestly think this oddly-timed vacation was one of the best things that could have happened, to give her time and space alone to get used to a world without her mother in it. I have called her just about every day to check in, and while her sleeping schedule is out of whack, other than that she is doing fine.

Last Saturday, I took the kids up to spend the day with her. We drove to Ventura Harbor, had fish and chips and ice cream. We took lots of pictures, and laughed a lot, and enjoyed the sun and the water and people watching. My mom was happy. The kids were exhausted and happy. At the end of the day as we were driving home, Viva said, "That was the most fun I've ever had with Grandma." Bittersweet.

My mom and I have had our differences and our difficulties in the past, and she can still push my buttons like no one else can. But, at the same time, helping each other through this transition has brought us closer.

Of course, this weekend is Mother's Day. We will be celebrating together tomorrow, as my sister and her noisy bunch arrive back in Southern California sometime tomorrow and I'd like to give them their space to recoup on Sunday. Sweet Dub and Viva are on a road trip to Northern California to celebrate my 22-year-old nephew's graduation from college, returning Sunday morning, so it will be me and my ole roll dog Ceeya* holding down the fort until Mother's Day festivities can commence on Sunday.

To all: thanks for your words of support and comfort. It means more to me than I can say. Happy Mother's Day, whether you are a mom or have a mom, or are just one bad mutha-shut yo mouth. Be safe and be happy!

* I would love to be part of the road trip, but the very idea of six hours one way with a 2.5 year-old makes me want to poke a chopstick in my ear. Or my eye. Or up my nose. Whatever, it would be painful.