I returned three hours later. When I walked in the room, I couldn't find you playing in the classroom anywhere. All of a sudden I heard Teacher Claire's voice say: "She fell asleep about 45 minutes ago! Isn't she cute?".
My brain did not compute. Certainly she must have me mistaken for someone else (but she should KNOW who I AM, I thought. How could she get me mixed up with another parent? For that split second, I was so annoyed!), because you, my dear child, will not fall asleep for anyone but me (and sometimes Grandma) - no way, no how! And yet, there you were. Asleep on the big stuffed doggie in the corner of the room. My sweet sweet baby - asleep...??? This was so out of context and confusing for my brain that I immediately starting panicking internally. Yes, this over-protective mama's first thought was "AHMYGOD MAH POOR BAYBEE!" I can't explain it, exactly, but my immediate fear was that you had been so upset that you cried yourself to sleep and were scared and alone and missing your mama, and, and, and...more drama and helicopter parenting, etc.
Teacher Claire said that you did get a little sad while out on the playground, about an hour before I was scheduled to come pick you up, and that she told you that mama was coming back soon ("Mamas always come back!") and that you understood that and continued to play. Then, you came back into the classroom with Teacher Claire and went to lay down on the floor with a baby doll. She said you were a bit fussy and whiny and she thought you were tired. So she picked you up and put you over on the big soft cuddly doggie and you fell asleep.
Okay, that sounded fine... even though my brain was still confused, I thanked her, I woke you up softly and we went home.
Then I started thinking more and worrying more (haha of course!) and wanted to know all the minute details of how this went down. So, I emailed teacher Claire. She was so kind and emailed me back right away. Here is her email:
- Hi Ella, I will break down Eliza's day for you:
9-10 we have free play. Eliza played in the house area (she went on a picnic with some other friends). We read books ("The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear" SEVERAL times) She played with the magnetic train set, balls and bean bags; pushed babies around in the cart; built and knocked down block structures...kind of a usual morning here. :)
At 10:00 we have snack time. We had Cheerios and raisins. She ate a great snack and enjoyed hanging out with her friends.
Around 10:15/10:30ish we have group time. We read our book "Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin" and talked about jack-o-lanterns. We sang Halloween songs, did the 5 Little Pumpkin flannel board story and sang Baby Beluga. We talked about the letter O practicing the sounds that O makes in the microphone and discussing words that start with O. She participated at group time and enjoyed singing the songs especially.
Around 10:40/10:50ish we went outside to play. We were on the playground for about 10 minutes when she started to get sad and ask for mommy and daddy. Susan and I kept reminding her that moms and dads always come back. That seemed to help. She said "yeah" and then go play for another few minutes. This cycle repeated a few times. I asked if she wanted to come in early with me to set out lunches. She said yes, so she and some of the friends came in at around 11:20. She was so tired she was sort of whiney but not really crying. When we came into the classroom she laid on the floor with a baby and in about 30 seconds I could see that she was almost asleep. So I scooped her up and laid her on Big Puppy (mostly because she was in front of the door and I didn't want her to get stepped on when the other kids came in from the playground). She snuggled in and fell right to sleep. I was sort of expecting her to wake up when the class came in (and sat next to her on Big Puppy) but she didn't, she slept right through it!
She was sound asleep by 11:30 and stayed that way until you came to get her.
Her morning was great! She was busy all morning and played with many different toys and lots of different kids. She wasn't crabby AT ALL and she would let us comfort her and it seemed to help her to feel better. She just seemed to be worn out by the end of a busy morning. All the kids were--it takes a couple of days for them to come down from Halloween. :)
I was so very calmed and comforted by this email that I nearly burst into tears. You are such a strong, smart little girl, Eliza. "What a competent child," your Grandma said to me in an email today, "able to console herself and find comfort from others." It's so true. You are growing up not only physically, but emotionally. You are, as we say in the family field, securely attached. You know that mom and dad are here and will have your back - and so, you are independent, you are growing (tiny, for now!) wings. You know we will be here to catch you if you fall and so you feel confident going out into the world on your own. Right now, that world is small and safe - it's your day care center - but you are exploring it and mastering it with ease and confidence. Soon, it will be your grade school, your friends' houses, your peer group, your dorm room...your first job... and I know you will be just as confident in all of those settings. Even if you feel sad or scared at times like you might have today, you will look back and see us there supporting you and rooting for you and you'll know that it's okay to go and explore and discover the new world around you.
It may sound like a silly little thing to some people, that you fell asleep on your own today... but it represented so much more to your daddy and me. We love you so much and are so proud of you, and that will never change.