Yesterday was a big day around here. Yesterday, Stinkerbelle went to a sitter for the very first time.
I mean, THE VERY FIRST TIME. As in, she has never been with anyone other than her parents or her grandparents for any period of time. Meaning that I have had about 12 hours away from her in total in 2 years.
It was time.
We had met her sitter, Fran, about two weeks ago, and I liked her right off. She lives in a small town, just a few doors down from where I am working one day per week, and has good old fashioned small town common sense and affability. She is also a foster mom, and so understands all too well the whole web of paperwork and intrusion that comes with adoption and fostering.
She’s good people.
So for the past couple of days, we’ve been priming Stinkerbelle that she was going to go and hang out with Fran for the day. There will also be a little two and a half year old girl named Ruthie that Stinkerbelle would be playing with, but we have not met her yet. So, it was all about playing with Fran.
That Baby was all “whatevs” about the whole thing. We might as well have been talking to ourselves. But we kept on telling her.
The big day arrived. I packed up a lunch bucket for my girl, and a diaper bag for Fran, and off we went.
Stinkerbelle knows the car ride there by now, since she has gone to work with me many a time. So she fiddle farted around with her toys in the back seat, and pointed out cars and trucks and cows, and sang songs. I periodically talked up “going to play with Fran today!!” like it was the best thing ever.
Well, it was kind of a best thing ever… for ME. A few hours, uninterrupted, with no one to fuss at and keep an eye on and entertain, while I did some actual paying work, and not in my jammies at 11 o’clock at night. It sounded pretty good.
But I was dreading what That Baby’s reaction would be. How would she handle walking into a stranger’s house and then having her mother leave her? I imagined all sorts of scenarios. I felt more than a little nervous as we turned onto Fran’s street and pulled into her driveway.
I took Stinkerbelle into the house and Fran came to greet us. It was clear that That Baby remembered Fran from our previous visit, and although she played a little bit shy, she seemed mostly comfortable. She headed off, and started climbing the stairs, and within moments had found the 6-week-old baby that Fran is fostering and was utterly FASCINATED.
I took that as my opportunity, while Stinkerbelle was distracted, to make my exit.
I started working in uninterrupted peace and quiet. But I must admit, every few minutes I wondered how That Baby was doing. Was she upset? Was she happy? Did she miss me?
I imagined my poor darling girl, cheeks stained with big fat tears, sobbing for her Mommy. It just about broke my heart.
And yet, my cell phone sat on my desk as silent as the grave. I had given Fran my number to call in case of any emergency, most likely in the event that Stinkerbelle was miserable without me. It never rang.
Hmph. I felt mildly put out. But, I thought, Fran is a VERY experienced carer. No doubt she is able to diffuse my girl’s sadness and tears easily, and doesn’t feel the need to interrupt me at my Very Important Work.
Yeah. That’s it.
Once I’d done my few hours of work, I headed back to Fran’s. I went in. The place was quiet. I called out my hello, and Fran and the baby emerged from a bedroom.
I waited a few minutes. No Stinkerbelle.
Finally, Fran went back and talked with Stinkerbelle, and told her that Mommy was here.
And then, the thunder of sneaker-clad feet came down the hallway, and My Baby threw herself into my arms for a big hug.
She HAD missed me.
But there had been no tears, Fran said. Stinkerbelle made herself quite at home, exploring the house, playing with the toys, feeding the dog, and generally having a grand old time.
I was really pleased to hear it. My peevishness of the morning was gone. This whole working thing was going to be fine.
We drove home, and I asked That Baby about her day, about Chloe the dog, about colouring and stickers. We sang songs and she read books and then, once we got home, I tucked her up in bed for a nap.
About halfway through her nap, Stinkerbelle uncharacteristically woke up sobbing. BDH checked on her, and there was nothing wrong. She was just sitting up in her bed, crying. He very gently told her she needed to go back to sleep, and she tearfully said “Okay”.
Perhaps she had had a bad dream.
She woke from her nap and I changed her and took her downstairs for some milk and a snack. She sat in her chair, and I leaned over her to put a bib on.
She looked up at me and very clearly said to me, “Kiss!!”
She grabbed me, a hand on either side of my face, and gave me a big kiss.
Then she looked at me and said “Hug-gy!” Which, I assumed, meant “hug”. She had never said it before, but I guessed.
And she reached up and, both arms around my neck, clamped me tightly in a big hug.
When she let go, she smiled and said “Mommy”.
My girl had missed me.