Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Lonely Child Dilemma

Lately, I've been thinking about our only child situation. Worrying is more like it. I never intended for it to happen - it just turned out that way. Another baby is not an option for us now. I feel way too old and tired to go through it all again. Plus, I can't imagine loving another child half as much as I love Ciaran. Oh, I know I would, but it's just hard for me to picture.

He doesn't seem to mind not having a brother or sister. I guess not knowing any better he's fine playing on his own, talking for his stuffed animals and answering them back. (Maybe something else I should worry about?)

At any rate, he's a happy little guy, always laughing and making up silly songs, talking a mile a minute, asking a multitude of questions on any given subject.

I bring him to play in our local park, but we are, more often than not, the sole visitors there. Our neighborhood consists mainly of seniors citizens, and there are very few kids, let alone kids his age, to be found. It's lonely for me, with no other moms or dads to chat and compare our kids playing habits with. I'm sure it's even lonelier for my son, with no one to chase around or build sand castles with.

So, I send him off to daycare a couple of times a week for that all-important 'interaction with other children' I keep hearing about. But, all of a sudden, he is a different child. Withdrawn. Quiet. Sad.

I kiss and hug him goodbye and put on the "cheerful voice" I use whenever I feel guilty making him do something I know he doesn't want to. Maybe you're familiar with that voice too. It's slightly higher-pitched than normal, usually quite perky-sounding with undertones of anxiety.

"Okay, honey, have a good day. Have lots of fun! Mommy will be back just as soon as she can, okay? I promise, sweetie pie! Okay, bye, love you!"

He hugs me back dutifully but his eyes search mine questioningly. "Why are you leaving me here, Mom? Why can't I stay home with Nona again today?" they ask.

Every day I'd ask him how his day went, did he had fun, make any friends? As much as I am concerned for his well-being, I wanted to clear my guilty conscious. But, no, he didn't have much fun and he did not make any new friends. The friends at daycare were mean, he said. They yelled and pushed and were very very loud.

Then, one day, he started talking more and more about another little boy. Lucas. "Lucas, your cousin?" I'd ask. "No", he said. "Lucas my friend at daycare." He and Lucas had lots of fun together, mostly laughing and acting silly as 3 and 1/2 year old boys are apt to do. They giggled uncontrollably when they'd see each other and my heart felt much lighter, leaving Ciaran with his new little comrade.

They both wore the exact same red snowsuits and black hats and when I'd drop Ciaran off at daycare in the morning, he'd race to the little cubbies where the jackets are hung to see if Lucas' was there.

Then, one day, Lucas' jacket was not hanging with the others. "Oh", Ciaran frowned, "Lucas is not here". "Well, maybe he's coming a bit later," I said. "If not, then you'll see him on Friday."

But Friday came and went, then Monday, and still no Lucas. I later discovered after reading the monthly daycare newsletter, that Lucas, along with a few other children had left the center. The daycare expressed sadness to see them go and wished them the best of luck. It happens. Families move, mothers decide to stay home and take care of their little ones. I'm not sure which one applied to Lucas and his family. But my little boy still misses his friend.

The other day, while washing Ciaran's clothes, I noticed that his black hat felt different. Slightly more worn. I looked at the label inside the hat. The writing was not mine. Upon closer inspection I saw the name Lucas written on it. A remnant of my child's first friend.


tracyo said...

That is so sad, I teared up. My 11 year old son was an only child for almost eight years and I felt the exact same way. I was working full time a took him to daycare everyday. He cried and cried and broke my heart. Eventually he got use to it. Over time due to a few kids there I had to pull him and put him elsewhere until he was ready for school. At 34 and almost eight years later I had my second son. It took years to get pregnant and my dh eventually said he didn't want anymore kids and then voila....At 36, I had the last baby...a surprise baby you could say...go figure. Children are different, as long as you love them, they turn out just fine :O) My 11 year old and 3 year old fight like cats and dogs. I can just imagine in another year when the littlest guy gets big enough to do battle.
Take care,

The Mayor! said...

Sigh....that first one is so much harder on our heart strings. And my 1st was also a boy, they simply aren't ready to let go & socialize as early as girls a matter of fact, I kept him out of J.K. because I just didn't feel he was emotionally ready yet....nor was I LOL. But I promise you, it does get easier, & when the time comes to grow your family, it takes about 2 seconds to wonder how you ever got along WITHOUT that second child, despite the fear & doubt leading up to it! :-D

ElegantSnobbery said...

Aw, he sounds like such a sweet, sensitive little guy!! And awww... sorry his friend is gone! Sad that he didn't get a chance to day goodbye. My daughter had just turned three when we moved and she was so sad to leave her friend from ballet class behind! She doesn't remember anymore, but she was sad for awhile. :(

Pamela said...

Thanks for your kind words of wisdom, ladies. Good to know other Moms go through the same things:)

jesse said...

I read this at work this afternoon and got fully teared up. I don't know why I didn't tell you then, but Poor little buddy.

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